Things to do in the Vaal area

The Vaal area is the perfect inland spot for water babies, offering plenty of water activities and leisure attractions, thanks to the Vaal Dam and the Vaal River.

A welcome reprieve from being landlocked comes in the form of the Vaal Meander, named for the river that runs through southern Gauteng and the northern Free State. The area has been aptly called the Vaal.

The Vaal offers a tranquil escape from the grind of city life – whether you opt for a relaxing or action-packed day out, or a full-on holiday, there’s always something to experience and do, something to suit every taste – and plenty of establishments to help you do it.

Multifaceted, the Vaal caters to different interests, from culture and history to shopping and extreme sport.

The Vaal River features more than 50km of navigable water, making it an ideal destination for water-sport and leisure activities. Many attractions can be found along the Vaal River, with boating, yachting and water-skiing being major attractions on the Vaal Dam.

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(Image: James Fisher)

If you’re staying a little longer at the Vaal there’s plenty to discover, like outdoor adventure centres that provide all sorts of activities, from leisurely boat cruises to adrenaline sport. Or you can spend some time visiting little country hideaways and inns; or delve into the arty side of the Vaal with craft factories and flea markets.

There are also nature walks and game drives on offer, sporting facilities, upmarket country conference venues, and floating as well as land-bound leisure and dining establishments. The possibilities are vast and ever-growing.

Some tours on offer include the Sharpeville Precinct Tour, where guests can relive South Africa’s history by visiting the site of peace negotiations and learning about the Sharpeville Massacre; and the Shebeen Nightlife Tour, where guests can experience township life.

Rafting and tubing are huge on the Vaal, with several packages available. Adventure sports like quad-bike rides and group adventure tours provide a variety of outdoor experiences.

Those looking for a bit of relaxation and pampering can indulge in spa treatments and wellness packages offered by several establishments along the Vaal River.

A definite must-see in the area is the Vredefort Dome, the site of a meteorite crater that attained UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2005.

There are also several places that offer horse riding on the banks of the Vaal River and shores of the Vaal Dam.

For a taste of the high life, why not kick back and relax on an hour sundowner cruise on the Liquid Lounge? Take in the beauty and serenity of the surrounds, nature and pristine real estate while cruising down the Vaal.

The town of Vereeniging offers kayaking, rafting, paintball, quad biking, snorkelling, fishing, tubing and bungee jumping, while those partial to the greens can have a round or two of golf at Maccauvlei Golf Club, which welcomes visitors.

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The Vredefort Dome landscape. (Image: John Karwoski)

Deneysville in the Free State is the largest town on the Vaal River and about 40 to 45 minutes away from Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark. It’s a water-sport centre where you can indulge in swimming, kiteboarding, yachting, boating, catamaran cruising, jet-skiing, windsurfing, snorkelling and fishing. Equipment is always available should you leave yours at home.

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(Image: cait_mh)

For a nature trail and birdwatching, visit Marievale Bird Sanctuary and Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, which are situated close to the Vaal area.

To help you plan your Vaal trip here are a few websites to look at:

  • Vaal Meander is informative with names and contact details for everything from eateries and accommodation to activity centres and tour operators
  • Tapimanzi Adventures and Vaal Adventures offer the following: white-water rafting (Upper Vaal and Parys), paintball, quad biking, snorkelling, fishing trips, tubing, abseiling, riverboarding, accommodation and events
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(Image: Sharon C)