Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve lies on the North West province side of the Bloemhof Dam, on the dam’s northern shores; the Sandveld Nature Reserve is on the other (Free State) – a rather confusing division of nature reserve that surrounds the dam that also happens to fall right on the border between the two provinces.

Did you know?The Bloemhof dam supports more than 5000 waterbirds and one particular count registered over 10 000 individuals.

The Bloemhof Dam, which lies roughly 320 kilometres from Johannesburg just outside the little town of Bloemhof, is regarded as one of the largest dams in South Africa covering an area of 25 000 hectares that lies at the confluence of the Vaal and Vet Rivers.

Bloemhof is one of the angling destinations in the country, extremely popular with fishermen of all shapes and sizes and the site of both major local and international angling competitions. Consisting of mostly Kalahari scrub and thornveld, the reserve’s open plains are also home to large herds of black wildebeestelandspringbok and gemsbok and over 250 species of birdlife have been recorded here.

The dam supports more than 5000 waterbirds and one particular count registered over 10 000 individuals. Herons breed on the north-east side of the bridge over the Vaal River, whilst the thornveld that surrounds the dam supports several large raptors

The Bloemhof dam is possibly the main feature for weekend visits from locals who use the dam for any number of water sports and launch their power boats here. Approaching the reserve from Bloemhof village when the river is in full flood is supposed to be well worth the detour as the dam wall is pretty impressive when overflowing.

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Christiana is a small farming community that is situated idyllically on the banks of the might Vaal River. This part of South Africa, known as the North West Province, shares a border with Botswana in the north. However, the town of Christiana is situated in its southern portion, and is home to around 20 000 locals. It may be quiet, somewhat secluded, but Christiana has earned its place on the globe for being a significant hub during the diamond rush of the 1870’s.

Diamonds were discovered further down the Vaal River during the late 19th century. Seeing the value of the entire area, the little settlement of Christiana (named after the daughter of President Pretorius) was established. As predicted, when diamonds were found in the gravel close to this little town in the 1870’s, hordes of hopefuls descended on the region, inhabiting this town (and many others of its kind). They brought with them a medley of cultures and customs, which continue to ‘flavour’ Christiana and add a distinctive character

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Christiana, South Africa


When diamonds were discovered in the Vaal River in the 1870’s Transvaal Government established a settlement on the banks of the river in 1870, in an attempt to control and alleviate land disputes over diamond discoveries further down the Vaal River. This town was established on the farm Zoutpansdrift (“salt pan drift”) and named Christiana, after the only daughter of President Pretorius of the old Transvaal. The first residential stands were sold in 1870.

Two years later diamonds were discovered close by in the gravel bed of the Vaal River, and the inevitable manic rush followed. As usual, the initial rush petered with the diamonds. In 1997, diamonds were rediscovered along the banks of a farm on the Free State side of Christiana. This led to a new diamond rush and diggings that continue to this day.


The town contains one of the biggest diggers’ bells ever to exist in the world. The bell is currently underwater in the Vaal River as it once sank and ended in the drowning of several diggers. There were a few attempts to get the diggers’ bell out, as it is said that there are diamonds still in it, but it was in vain as it is surrounded by too much mud.

Christiana is one of the corners of the “Maize Rectangle”, with the mainstay of the economy being the production of maize, potatoes, onions, sorghum, groundnuts and beef. The main farmers in the area are the de Beer’s and Callender-Easby’s. South Africa’s top horse stud, Callaho Warmblood Sport Horses, can be found near Christiana.

Christiana is well known for its water sports along the Vaal River, as well as the Diamond Diggers Festival (Delwers Fees) that occurs annually. Other tourist attractions include the Diggers’ Diamond Museum (authentic digging equipment and old photographs pay tribute to the town’s diamond industry) and San Bushman rock art (excellent examples can be viewed 6 km out of town on the Farm Stowlands) and Stows Kopje (prehistoric rock engravings which are a provincial heritage site).

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