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The San name Xhariep or the anglicised version “Gariep” is derived from the Khoisan phrase meaning ‘red waters’. The small town of Gariep is prehaps the most centrally situated in town in South Africa and an ideal midway break between the larger South African cities on Johannesburg to the north, Cape Town to the south and west of the coastal towns of East London and Port Elizabeth. The Free State capital of Bloemfontein is only a hours drive away in a northerly direction making Xhariep the perfect over night accommodation stay for cross country travellers.
Naturally the town is most famous for its dam, with the start of the dam construction in the 60s the town was created to serve as a housing site for the numerous workers and their family and to later develop the town into a tourism destination as it was centrally situated not only for South African travellers but also for the proposed Orange River Scheme..
During the 80s and early 90’s the now holiday town of Gariep was managed by the local Provincial Government run from Bloemfontein under the guidance of the Free Sate, in 1995 however this changed and with a new municipality under the Kopanong district opened up the area to private investment. This saw the town grow to is current tourism oasis situated in the dry surround Karoo area.
With the town growth at about 300 properties and permanent residents numbering around 1, 400 the town as retained its peaceful and crime free environment whilst offering crisp winter days and warm relaxed summer nights the surrounding rural lifestyles with both commercial farmers and local inhabitants make Xhariep the perfect budget holiday family get away in South Africa.
Whilst the town may appear peaceful the adventurous outdoor loving holiday maker will find numerous activities available in the area. Whilst game viewing, birding, tennis and nature hikes are available its really the dam with its water related activities that take preference. Various sailing yachts and motor boat are available whilst fishing, skiing and late after water cruises are recommended. Due to the dams immense size days can be spent exploring the shore line.
The entire Xhariep District is widely considered home of South Africa’s largest fresh water resource with the Xhariep Dam situated on the main Orange River tributary. The Kopanong district in the South Eastern Free State province lays off the beaten path and remains mostly undiscovered. The landscape is characterised by the vast open arid Karoo and the great African sky above. Whether is a tranquil holiday with the freedom to roam or an adventurous water sport filled holiday, Gariep Dam Accommodation is the place top be.