South Africa is a large country, with a number of dams to store the water the population of the country needs. South Africa’s dams are mostly earth-fill dams, but there are also some Rockfill, gravity and concrete arch dams. In this article, we explore the 25 biggest dams in South Africa by water volume, their locations and where to stay if you want to visit them.
25 Biggest Dams in South Africa by Volume
The following is a map of the 25 biggest dams in South Africa by volume.
Next follows a list of the major dams in South Africa, starting with the biggest Dam in South Africa.
The Gariep Dam has a height of 88 metres and a length of 914 metres, giving it a surface area of 374 square kilometres.
It is South Africa’s largest Dam, with a volume of 5,340,000 megalitres of water.
These rivers and streams flow into the Gariep Dam:
- Caledon River
- Orange River
The Gariep Dam is used for electricity generation, irrigation, industrial and domestic use. The hydro-electrical power station houses four 90 MW generators.
French company, Union Corporation-Dumez-Borie Dams, built the Dam in 1965 using pure concrete. Its name was originally the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam. Hendrik Verwoerd was South Africa’s prime minister when South Africa became the Republic of South Africa. Verwoerd played a significant role in apartheid, and after the end of apartheid, the name changed to Gariep Dam on 4 October 1996. Gariep means river in Khoekhoe.
One of South Africa’s nature reserves is located near the Dam, and visitors can see buffalo, eland and fish eagles here. The area surrounding the Dam has several hiking trails and 4×4 trails. The Dam is a popular vacation destination for water sports lovers, such as boat cruises, motor boating and canoeing. There are no crocodiles or hippos because its water is too cold and varies between 9 and 12 degrees Celsius from Winter to Summer.
The Vanderkloof Dam has a capacity of 3,171,300 megalitres or 3,236 million cubic meters of water.
It is the second-biggest Dam in South Africa and covers 133.402 square kilometres. It has the highest dam wall in South Africa at 108 metres.
The building of the Dam was part of the Orange River Project. It supplies water to the Riet River catchment, including the users along the remaining portion (1 400 km) of the Orange River.
The building of the Vanderkloof Dam took place from 1973 to 1977. It started servicing the area’s needs in 1977.
The dam was built for hydroelectricity and has an installed capacity to generate up to 360 MW of power.
The Dam is popular for fishing and contains carp, catfish, mudfish and yellowfish.
The Dam’s original name was the P.K. Le Roux Reservoir. P.K. le Roux was a South African Minister of Water Affairs and Agricultural Technical Services. The name later changed to the Vanderkloof Dam.
The Sterkfontein Dam has a capacity of 2,616,900 megalitres and a volume of 19,800,000 cubic meters.
The Sterkfontein Dam is the third biggest Dam in South Africa and has the second-highest dam wall at 93 metres and 18,8 metres long. It is the largest earth-fill Dam in South Africa. Its length is 3000 metres. The Dam covers a surface area of 69.37 km².
The Dam is in the Free State near Harrismith, a town.
South Africa’s Department of Water Affairs built the Dam between 1969 and 1980. In the 1960s and 1970s, Johannesburg had a water shortage.
The name is from Afrikaans and means “Strong Fountain” in English.
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The Government started the Tugela-Vaal Water Project, which included building the Sterkfontein Dam. The Dam was built on the Nuwejaarspruit. To fill the Sterkfontein Dam, the Government had to redirect water from the Tugela River in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. The Government can release water to the Vaal dam via the Wilge River when needed.
The primary purpose of the Dam is for industrial and domestic use.
The Vaal Dam has a maximum capacity of 2,603,400 megalitres, making it the fourth largest of the water reservoirs in South Africa. It has the second-largest surface area of a dam in South Africa at 322 km².
Its dam wall is 63.5 metres high. The Dam’s shoreline has a length of 800 kilometres.
The Vaal River, Wilge River, Klip River, Grootspuit and Molspuit feed into the Vaal Dam.
The South African Department of Water Affairs and Rand Water built the Dam in 1938 to attenuate flooding.
The Vaal Dam is a popular weekend and vacation destination for fishing and water sports, including boating, swimming and waterskiing.
Pongolapoort or Jozini Dam
The Pongolapoort or Jozini Dam, also known as Lake Jozini, has a capacity of 2,445,900,000 cubic metres.
The dam wall is 89 metres high and 451 metres long.
The Jozini Dam is an arch dam.
The Dam is 280 kilometres north-east of Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
The main river feeding the Dam is the Phongolo River.
The Department of Water Affairs built the Dam in 1973 and owns it. The Dam’s purpose is mainly for irrigation for the farmers on the Makatini flats for their crops. It is also used for recreational purposes. There are many exotic animals and birds near the Dam.
There are several reserves in the area surrounding the Dam, including the Pongola Game Reserve and other private game reserves.
The Bloemhof Dam has a capacity of 1,240,200 megalitres.
It has the most extended crest of all dams in South Africa at 4,270 meters with a height of only 33 metres. Its surface area is 22,262 hectares, but it is a shallow dam.
The Vaal and Vet Rivers feed into the Bloemhof Dam.
The Bloemhof Dam was constructed in 1960 and completed for commissioning in 1970. Initially, it was called the Oppermansdrif Dam.
The Dam is located at the Vaal and Vet Rivers’ confluence point between the North-West and Free State Provinces of South Africa.
The Dam’s primary purpose is for irrigation and fishing. It holds run-off water below the Vaal Dam to supply water to the Vaal River region’s industrial, municipal and domestic users. Popular activities near the Dam include bird watching and picnicking.
The Kruismansrivier Dam has a capacity of 637 900 megalitres.
The dam wall has a height of 18 metres and covers a surface area of 18 hectares.
The Dam is an earth-filled reservoir.
The Dam was built in 1992 along the Kruis River in the Western Cape Province.
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry completed the construction of the Dam in 1992 and now manages it.
The Dam’s water is used for irrigation and domestic purposes.
The Threewaterskloof Dam has a capacity of 480 200 megalitres.
The Dam can hold up to 480 million cubic meters of water.
The dam wall has a height of 25 metres and a length of 645 metres. The surface area is 5059 m².
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry built the Dam in 1980 on the Sonderend River near Villiersdorp in the Western Cape Province. The Dam is the biggest in this province and is the leading water supplier for Cape Town. The Sonderend River feeds into the Dam.
The Dam’s purpose was to supply water for industrial and domestic use. Farmers use its water for irrigation purposes.
It is a popular attraction near Cape Town for hiking, fishing and golf.
Greater Brandvlei Dam
The Greater Brandvlei Dam has a total capacity of 474,046 megalitres.
The Dam has a height of 21.5 metres and a length of 1250 metres, resulting in a surface area of 4110 m².
The Greater Brandvlei Dam is an earth-fill dam.
The Dam was completed in 1989 when the Brandvlei Dam (Lake Marais) and Kwaggaskloof Dams were combined to form this new Dam.
The Greater Brandvlei Dam is near Worcester in the Western Cape Province.
The Dam is used for irrigation and for human consumption in residences.
The Heyshope Dam has a capacity of 4,534,400 megalitres.
It has a height of 28,5 metres and a length of 1,030 metres and covers an area of 5,023.8 hectares.
The Assegai River feeds into the Heyshope Dam.
This Dam is an earth-fill reservoir.
It opened in 1986 and is the largest Dam in the Mpumalanga Province.
The Dam is used mainly for fishing and forestry. Some fish you can find here include yellow fish, largemouth bass and carp.
The Woodstock Dam is one of the large dams in South Africa, with a capacity of 373.26 million cubic meters.
The Dam is located near Tugela in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
It is the primary source of water for the Thukela-Vaal Transfer Scheme.
The Dam was completed in 1982 to provide municipalities with water for industrial use. It is also a tourist attraction.
The Tugela River feeds into the Woodstock Dam.
The Loskop Dam has a capacity of 362,000,000 megalitres.
It has a height of 49 metres and a length of 105 metres, resulting in a surface area of 12285 km².
You can easily visit Loskop Dam while doing the Panorama Route, one of South Africa’s best road trips.
Loskop Dam is an arch-gravity dam.
The Oliftants River feeds into the Loskop Dam.
The Dam is next to Groblersdal. It is a popular getaway destination because of water sports and recreational activities.
The Dam’s water is used for irrigation in the agricultural activities of the farms in the surrounding areas.
The Government built the Dam in 1939. The Dam houses hundreds of crocodiles.
The Loskop Game Reserve is near Loskop Dam.
The Grootdraai Dam has a capacity of 350,000,000 megalitres.
It is a unique dam. It is a composite structure with a 360-metre-long gravity section.
The Dam is 42 metres high and 2,180 metres long.
The Grootdraai Dam Reservoir was built in 1981 and is one of the largest dams in South Africa.
The Vaal River feeds into the Grootdraai Dam.
The Dam is used for hydroelectricity. It delivers water to several power stations in the area.
The Dam is ideal for windsurfing because of the strong winds here. The wind also helps with power generation. It is popular with tourists because of the range of water sports you can do here.
De Hoop Dam
The De Hoop Dam has a capacity of 374,600,000 megalitres.
It is a gravity dam with a dam well with a length of 1 kilometre and a height of 81 metres.
It is a gravity dam built on the Steelpoort River near Burgersfort to facilitate the exploitation of mineral reserves in Limpopo province.
The Steelpoort River flows into the De Hoop Dam.
You can find the De Hoop Dam near Burgersfort in Sekhukhune.
The Dam was built to provide water to the mines in the Limpopo Province. It is one of the largest dams in Limpopo. Its water is also used for domestic purposes.
The Kalkfontein Dam has a capacity of 258,274,000 m³.
The Dam has a length of 317 metres and a height of 36 metres.
The Riet River feeds into the Kalkfontein Dam.
The Dam is near Kalkfontein in the Free State Province. Its water is used for irrigation on local farms and for domestic use.
The Department of Water Affairs built the Dam in 1938 and manages the Dam.
The Dam is popular for camping and fishing.
The Goedertrouw Dam has a capacity of 301,000,000 megalitres.
It has a height of 88 metres and a length of 660 metres. It is an earth-filled reservoir.
The Mhlathuze River feeds into the Goedertrouw Dam.
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry started building the Dam in 1980 in the KwaZulu-Natal Province and completed it in 1982.
Its water is used by the industrial businesses in Richard’s Bay. It is popular for fishing with an abundance of bass fish species.
Albert Falls Dam
The Albert Falls Dam has a capacity of 290 million cubic metres of water.
It has a length of 2 kilometres and a height of 33 metres.
The Umgeni River feeds into the Albert Falls Dam near Pietermaritzburg in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
Find out about the attractions of the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
The Dam was built in 1976 for storing water, irrigation, and domestic purposes.
The Albert Falls Dam’s primary purpose is domestic and irrigation.
The Dam is popular with campers and those who love to fish.
The Brandvlei Dam has a capacity of 303,800,000 megalitres.
It is an earth-filled reservoir.
The Brandvlei Dam is connected to the Kwaggaskloof Dam with an adjoining wall. When the water covers this wall, the two dams combined have a capacity of 58 million megalitres.
The Holsloot River feeds into the Brandvlei Dam.
The South African Department of Water Affairs built the Dam in 1983.
The Dam is used for yachting, fishing and camping. It is the best fishing spot for small-mouth bass fish in South Africa.
The Spioenkop Dam has a capacity of 272,265,000 m³.
Its height is 33 metres, and its length is 2 kilometres. Its surface area is 15 km².
The Tugela River feeds into the Spioenkop Dam.
The Dam is located between Ladysmith and Winterton in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
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The Department of Water Affairs started building the Dam in 1976 and completed it in 1977.
The Dam is popular for recreational activities.
The Mthatha Dam has a capacity of 253,674,000 megalitres. It has a surface area of 2541.7 hectares and a catchment area of 886 km².
It is an earth-filled reservoir.
The Department of Water Affairs built the Dam in 1977 along the Mthatha River in the Eastern Cape Province.
The Mthatha River flows into the Mthatha Dam.
Its water is used for industrial and municipal purposes.
The Driekoppies Dam has a capacity of 251 000 000 cubic metres.
It has a height of 50 metres and a length of 2340 metres.
The Driekoppies Dam is a gravity or earth-filled Dam.
The Komati River flows into the Driekoppies Dam.
The Dam is located near Malelane in the Mpumalanga Province.
The Government built the Dam in 1998 for irrigation purposes.
The Inanda Dam has a capacity of 241,700,000 cubic metres.
It has a height of 65 metres and a length of 595 metres.
The Inanda Dam is an earth-filled reservoir.
The Dam is located on the Mgeni River near Inanda in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
The Government built the Dam in 1989 for domestic and industrial purposes.
The Midmar Dam has a capacity of 235,000 megalitres.
It has a height of 30 metres and a length of 1,423 metres.
The Dam is a gravity and earth-filled Dam.
The Midmar Dam is located near Pietermaritzburg and Howick in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
It is a popular spot for water sports and recreational activities, including swimming, boating, waterskiing, fishing and picnicking.
The Midmar Mile occurs at the Dam annually. It is a swimming race known as “the world’s largest open water swimming event”.
The Government completed the Dam in 1965 for industrial and municipal use.
The Dam is popular for camping and caravanning. There is a yacht club at the Dam.
The Erfenis Dam has a storage capacity of 212,340,000 cubic metres.
It has a height of 34 metres and a length of 489 metres.
It is an earth-fill dam near Theunissen in the Free State Province.
The Government completed the Dam in 1960 for irrigation purposes.
The Rhenosterkop Dam has a total water capacity of 206,000,000 cubic metres.
It has a height of 36 metres and a length of 515 metres.
The Rhenosterkop Dam is a gravity and arch-type dam.
The Elands River flows into the Dam.
The Government completed the Dam in 1984 for industrial and municipal use.