Far away from the bustling city, Gariepdam is free from noise, pollution and crime. The sunsets are unbelievable and the stars so bright that the night almost seems to surround you. It's a haven of peace for those who want to "get away from it all".

Much drier than the Johannesburg area, the summer days are predictably very warm, with only an occasional brief shower. Winter days are crisp and sunny. There are none of the tropical sicknesses such as Malaria or Bilharzia and the water is very pure.

The countryside around Gariepdam is a fascinating combination of lake, rocky hills, grassland and the mighty tree-lined Orange River. The sparse vegetation favours sheep farming, but game and hunting farms are common and there are several large game reserves in the area.

Just north of the town, in the middle of a wide grassy valley, lies one of the best small airfields in the country. Once handling busy traffic during the construction of the dam, Gariep Dam Airfield has two long and wide tarmac runways, taxiway and apron. With a game reserve on one boundary and the lake only a few kilometres to the east, wild life is plentiful nearby. A high ridge several kilometres away to the north forms a long silhouette and shelter against the northerly winds. To the west the tree-lined Orange River slowly winds its long journey to the Atlantic.

Today, the airfield mostly handles occasional Eco-tourism traffic. It is also an ideal refuelling point on the way to the south. However, being located in the middle of South Africa, far away from any controlled airspace, and with such ideal weather conditions, Gariep Dam Airfield is also an ideal sport-flying centre.

Glider pilots have been going there for years, exploiting some of the world's best soaring conditions. Now, the airfield has been secured by two glider pilots who are implementing changes and improvements to make Gariep Dam Airfield the best soaring and sports aviation centre in the southern hemisphere.

Airfield at Gariep Dam
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