Focus on Vaal Triangle, South Africa

Visiting the Vaal is a unique experience. A getaway from the hustle and bustle of the pressures of city life, from the street corner hassles and the jam packed freeways of modern living. With a shuttle service less than an hour away from Johannesburg’s main airport, O R Tambo, it makes sense to stay at one of the Vaal’s hotels or guest houses.

Why not relax in a riverside hotel or enjoy the heady experience of a bed and breakfast in the heart of Sharpeville. Soak up the atmosphere of a local shebeen or bargain with a street seller for one of the local works of art. Or you can take a leisure cruise on the Vaal River or sail the shores of the Vaal Dam. For the business man, the area has many excellent hotels and guest houses with full conference and function facilities. Privately owned bed and breakfast and self catering accommodation within the towns are available to suit the pockets of all visitors.

But it is not just the river leisure or the excellent accommodation and supporting facilities in the large towns that make the Vaal. The smaller towns and villages should also be included in your places to visit. Parys with its quaint antique shops and riverside accommodation specialising in adventure sports such as white river rafting, Heidelberg with its historic buildings and the stately English village of Henley on Klip.

Traditionally, the Vaal Triangle has always been known as a triangular area of land formed by Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark and Sasolburg - three small cities that together comprise a substantial urban and industrial complex. Meyerton and Heidelberg, due to their close proximity, are also seen as part of the area. The Vaal Triangle lies in the Highveld region of South Africa at an altitude of approximately 1500 meters above sea level and is home to about 1 million people. The Vaal River, which forms the border between the Free State and Gauteng provinces, separates Sasolburg (which lies on the river’s southern banks in the northernmost corner of the Free State) from Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark (located on the northern banks of the Vaal river in southern Gauteng). For over 100 years, the area has been a weekend getaway and recreation playground destination for many visitors attracted to its river and dam waters.

Early History of the Area

With the advent of the Voortrekkers into the interior of Africa in the 1830’s, two provinces – the Orange Free State and Transvaal - were proclaimed. Potchefstroom, established in 1838, was the first town north of the Vaal River and was the original capital of the Transvaal Province. The historical town of Heidelberg was established as a trading station for people travelling from the Province of Natal to Potchefstroom. Although Vereeniging was only established in the 1880’s, after coal was discovered in the area, a significant event that happened more than thirty years earlier in 1857 was the announcement that ‘Hans Viljoen had a ferry on the Vaal River and that he will carry over wagons, horses, large and small stock at very reasonable prices’. Thus was established a crossing of the Vaal River which later came to be known as Viljoensdrift.

Vaal Tourism

Perfectly situated for the visitors stay in South Africa, the Vaal is less than an hours drive from Johannesburg. With some of South Africa’s most beautiful towns situated along the Vaal River and the Vaal Dam, the visitor can relax and enjoy one of South Africa’s most unique areas. With its fantastic river views and the scenic Vaal Dam, the Vaal has it all.

For those who are contemplating visiting other areas of South Africa, the O R Tambo airport (formerly Johannesburg airport) is a comfortable drive from the city of Vereeniging. The Vaal is fast becoming the stepping stone to Africa.

Towns & Cities in and around the Vaal

The Vaal Triangle was formed by the city of Vereeniging and the towns of Vanderbijlpark and Sasolburg. It was known as the Industrial hub of South Africa in the latter half of the twentieth century. More recently, particularly in the tourism industry, the use of the term Vaal has become common. The Vaal comprises the many towns and resorts which are situated in the vicinity of the Vaal River and the Vaal Dam. Although most of these are situated in the Sedibeng District Municipality (shown in yellow below), it is also prudent to include the towns in the Metsimaholo, Ngwathe and Potchefstroom Municipalties.

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