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South Africa’s Vaal River flows through four provinces, namely Gauteng, the Free State, the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga. The river is the main tributary of the Orange River and is 1210km long. This magnificent waterway forms a boundary between the four provinces mentioned above and supplies water to the country’s industrial heartland.

The Vaal Dam was constructed in 1938 and lies 77km south of OR Tambo International Airport. The dam is South Africa's second biggest dam by area and the fourth largest by volume.

The Vaal River in Dutch means ‘drab’ or ‘dull’ and is aptly named because if its brown-grey colour. It has been divided into three catchment areas and has an 880km shoreline, which spans over three provinces. The shoreline is a favourite destination for water sports such as canoeing, paddle-boating, power-boating,jet-skiing, and fishing.

If you are in Pretoria, a 90 minute drive, or a short 60 minute drive from Johannesburg will bring you to this piece of paradise. If you happen to be an avid birdwatcher, then this is the place for you! Bring along your binoculars and your birding book and you’ll be sure to be impressed by the many species of birds that are found on the river. The river has something to offer for everyone – not only the biriding enthusiasts. During the summer, visitors enjoy swimming, skiing and sunbathing. As soon as the sun sets, the braais are lit under the starry skies. Autumn, winter and spring bring beautiful, misty mornings and quiet days – perfect for a still getaway.

Unless travelling with a tour operator, you will need a car to reach the Vaal and explore the many small towns along its banks. The Vaal is a year-round destination. White water rapids are best from November through January.

Lodging Near Vaal Dam & River