Vaal Dam

The Vaal Dam

The Vaal Dam (Image: Gauteng Tourism Authority)

Situated 77km south of Johannesburg the Vaal Dam is South Africa’s second biggest dam by area and fourth largest by volume. It has more than 800km of shoreline, spans three provinces – Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Free State – and is a favoured destination for water sport enthusiasts. It's one of the popular inland water tourist attractions in South Africa.

Construction on the dam began in the early 1930s and was completed in 1938. The water level was raised in the early 1950s and again in the mid 1980s, and the Vaal Dam now has a full supply capacity of about 2 500 million ㎥  of the country’s cleanest water, which the dam receives from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project via the Wilge River.

When looking for water related things to do in Gauteng then this is the pace to go to, with sports here including boating, water skiing and swimming. There are a number of yacht clubs and two marinas. The dam has its own island which hosts the annual Round the Island race, holder of the Guinness World Record for the largest inland yacht race. Other world class boating events on the dam include Keelboat Week and the Bayshore 200km jet ski race. The largest town on the Vaal Dam is Deneysville.

The region boasts numerous great options when it comes to accommodation in Gauteng, including Southern Sun’s Riverside Lifestyle Resort and the Emerald Resort & Casino – humorously called “Vegas on Vaal”. Alternatively you can opt to stay on a houseboat and guide yourself along a cruise down the Vaal river.

The Vaal River

The Vaal River (Image: Gauteng Tourism Authority)


From Johannesburg, take the N3 highway following the signs to Durban. Continue until just before Heidelberg and take the first Heidelberg off-ramp, signposted Heidelberg North. At the top of the off-ramp, turn left, and left again just after you have crossed the highway. After about 5km you will reach Heidelberg central. Drive on until you see a Vaal Dam sign. Turn right and drive for about 45km until the dam comes into view.