Explore the Free State – Sterkfontein Dam

The Sterkfontein Dam is a 7 000 hectare water wonder located in the eastern Free State and is situated in a 12 000 hectare nature reserve offering a compelling variety of landscapes, activities and wildlife. Not only does the Sterkfontein Dam offer some of the most picturesque views in Southern Africa, it is also home to the biggest hydro-electric power station and is the third largest dam in South Africa.

For the holidaymaker, Qwantani is the ideal place to stay to take advantage of this spectacular gem. The resort is on the north-facing shore of the 20 km long Sterkfontein Dam in the Sterkfontein Nature Reserve and within walking distance of the Drakensberg escarpment at the KwaZulu-Natal/Free State border. The resort holds an RCI Silver Crown award for 2010 and consists of 52 chalets and a central complex including a restaurant, pub, shop and conference facilities.

Each luxury self-catering chalet consists of 3 bedrooms, sleeping up to 6 people. Besides the breathtaking scenery, the resort offers a wide range of activities such as outdoor chess, a swimming pool, squash, tennis, mini-golf, horse riding and all manner of dam-based water sports. Weather permitting, daily boat trips aboard the barge, Emmi, are arranged and there is an ongoing entertainment programme for the children.

After a day on the water or exploring the reserve from your quaint chalet, there is little to beat than putting a few coals on the braai and sitting back and watching the twilight dance between the water and the mountains.

The dam forms part of the Tugela Vaal water transfer scheme, which is a pumped-storage scheme involving the transfer of around 630 million m³ of water from KwaZulu-Natal to augment the water supply in the Vaal River.

The deep and cool waters of the dam make this an angler’s delight. The Sterkfontein Dam is often referred to as one of the finest hotspots for yellowfish, offering a catch-and-release adventure where this freshwater fighter, renowned for its gameness, seriously challenges your skills. You will mainly catch the Orange or Vaal smallmouth here, but there is a small population of Orange or Vaal largemouth that is worth a try catching.

Vaal smallmouth

If you’re a windsurfer, when the high winds blow here they will take you on a joy ride across this vast expanse of water, spanning about 7 000ha in this 19 000ha nature reserve.

wind surfing

As a bird-watcher you’ll want to spend several days here, with 230 recorded species on offer, including the Cape vulture and the bearded vulture.

For the wildlife enthusiasts try spot Oribi, reedbuck, mountain reedbuck, grey rhebuck, the bald ibis, the blue and whitebellied korhaan, the buffstreaked chat, the ground woodpecker and the sentinel all found wandering around the reserve.

Mountain Reedbuck

The precipitous ravines are populated with yellowwood, koko, wild peach, silky bark, and black bark trees as well as bush guarri. Wild grapes have grown up into the tops of the trees forming a dense canopy of leaves. Fungi and lichen sit against rotten and living tree trunks alike. The mountain slopes are adorned with wild myrtle, silver sugarbush ouhout, highveld protea, redwood, hush guarri, and the tree fern.


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