Orange River
Overview
 
The Orange River Gariep River, Groote River or Senqu River is the longest river in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. It rises in the Drakensberg
Drakensberg
The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to in height. In Zulu, it is referred to as uKhahlamba , and in Sesotho as Maluti...

 mountains in Lesotho
Lesotho
Lesotho , officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is just over in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name...

, flowing westwards through South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. The river forms part of the international borders between South Africa and Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

 and between South Africa and Lesotho, as well as several provincial borders within South Africa. Although the river does not pass through any major cities, it plays an important role in the South African economy by providing water for irrigation, as well as hydroelectric power.
Encyclopedia
The Orange River Gariep River, Groote River or Senqu River is the longest river in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. It rises in the Drakensberg
Drakensberg
The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to in height. In Zulu, it is referred to as uKhahlamba , and in Sesotho as Maluti...

 mountains in Lesotho
Lesotho
Lesotho , officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is just over in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name...

, flowing westwards through South Africa to the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. The river forms part of the international borders between South Africa and Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

 and between South Africa and Lesotho, as well as several provincial borders within South Africa. Although the river does not pass through any major cities, it plays an important role in the South African economy by providing water for irrigation, as well as hydroelectric power. The river was named by Robert Jacob Gordon
Robert Jacob Gordon
Robert Jacob Gordon , was a Dutch explorer, soldier, artist, naturalist and linguist of Scottish descent.-Life:...

 after the Dutch Royal House.

Course

The Orange rises in the Drakensberg
Drakensberg
The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to in height. In Zulu, it is referred to as uKhahlamba , and in Sesotho as Maluti...

 mountains along the border between South Africa and Lesotho
Lesotho
Lesotho , officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is just over in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name...

, about 193 km (119.9 mi) west of the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 and at an altitude of over 3,000 m. While in Lesotho, the river is known as the Senqu and parts of it freeze in winter, because of the altitude there.

The river then runs westwards through South Africa, forming the south-western boundary of the Free State province. In this section the river flows into first the Gariep Dam
Gariep Dam
Gariep Dam is a dam in South Africa, near the town of Norvalspont, Free State, province South Africa.-Overview:The Gariep Dam was originally called the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam after the first Prime Minister of the Republic of South Africa Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd on its commission in 1971...

 (the largest in the country), and on to the Vanderkloof Dam
Vanderkloof Dam
The Vanderkloof Dam is situated approximately 130km down stream from Gariep Dam and is fed by the Orange River, South Africa's largest river. Vanderkloof Dam is the second largest dam in South Africa, boasting the highest dam wall in the country at 108m...

. From the border of Lesotho to below the Van der Kloof Dam the river bed is deeply incised. Further downstream the land is flatter, and the river is used extensively for irrigation.

At the western point of the Free State, southwest of Kimberley, the Orange meets with its main tributary, the Vaal River
Vaal River
The Vaal River is the largest tributary of the Orange River in South Africa. The river has its source in the Drakensberg mountains in Mpumalanga, east of Johannesburg and about 30 km north of Ermelo and only about 240 km from the Indian Ocean. It then flows westwards to its conjunction...

, which itself forms much of the northern border of the province. From here the river flows further westwards through the arid wilderness of the southern Kalahari region and Namaqualand
Namaqualand
Namaqualand is an arid region of Namibia and South Africa, extending along the west coast over and covering a total area of 170,000 square miles/440,000 km². It is divided by the lower course of the Orange River into two portions - Little Namaqualand to the south and Great Namaqualand to the...

 in the Northern Cape Province to meet with Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

 at the 20th degree of east longitude. From here it flows westwards for 550 km, forming the international border
International Border
The India–Pakistan Border , known locally as the International Border , is the international boundary between India and Pakistan that demarcates the Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat from the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Sindh. Pakistan borders India in the east. The border...

 between the province and Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

's Karas Region
Karas Region
The Karas Region is the southernmost region of Namibia. The name assigned to the region reflects the prominence of the Karas mountain range in its southern part...

. On the border, the river passes the town of Vioolsdrif
Vioolsdrif
Vioolsdrif is a village on the Orange River in the north-western part of South Africa, known as Namaqualand.- Origin of name :The name in Afrikaans means 'the ford of the violin'. It is reportedly named after Jan Viool , who is said to have played the fiddle in these parts in the nineteenth century...

, the Customs and Excise
Customs and Excise
Customs and Excise refers to customs duty and excise duty.In certain countries, the national tax authorities that are responsible for collecting those duties are named Customs and Excise, including:...

 post between South Africa and Namibia.

In the last 800 km (497.1 mi) of its course the Orange receives many intermittent streams and several large wadi
Wadi
Wadi is the Arabic term traditionally referring to a valley. In some cases, it may refer to a dry riverbed that contains water only during times of heavy rain or simply an intermittent stream.-Variant names:...

s lead into it. In this section, the Namib Desert
Namib Desert
The Namib Desert is a desert in Namibia and southwest Angola that forms part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, the largest game reserve in Africa. The name "Namib" is of Nama origin and means "vast place"...

 terminates on the north bank of the river, so under normal circumstances the volume of water added by these tributaries is negligible. Here the bed of the river is once again deeply incised. The Hundred Falls or Augrabies Falls
Augrabies Falls National Park
Augrabies Falls National Park is a national park located around the Augrabies Falls, about 120 km west of Upington in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. It was established in 1966....

 are located on this section of the Orange, where the river descends 122 m (400 ft) in a course of 26 km (16.2 mi).
The Orange empties into the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 at Alexander Bay
Alexander Bay, Northern Cape
Alexander Bay is a town in the extreme north-west of South Africa, also known as the region of Little Namaqualand. It is located on the southern bank of the Orange River mouth. It was named for Sir James Alexander, who was the first person to map the area whilst on a Royal Geographical Society...

, which lies about equidistant between Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

 and Walvis Bay
Walvis Bay
Walvis Bay , is a city in Namibia and the name of the bay on which it lies...

. Some 33 km (20.5 mi) from its mouth it is completely obstructed by rapid
Rapid
A rapid is a section of a river where the river bed has a relatively steep gradient causing an increase in water velocity and turbulence. A rapid is a hydrological feature between a run and a cascade. A rapid is characterised by the river becoming shallower and having some rocks exposed above the...

s and sand bars and is generally not navigable for long stretches.

The river has a total length of 2200 km (1,367 mi).

----

Tributaries of the Orange River

The river starts at the border between KwaZulu-Natal
KwaZulu-Natal
KwaZulu-Natal is a province of South Africa. Prior to 1994, the territory now known as KwaZulu-Natal was made up of the province of Natal and the homeland of KwaZulu....

 and Lesotho
Lesotho
Lesotho , officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is just over in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name...

, high in the Drakensberg Mountains as the Senqu River
Senqu River
The Senqu River is a river located in the rural highlands in the district of Mokhotlong in the country of Lesotho in Southern Africa. Its tributaries include the Senqunyane River.-Wild life:...

. Tributaries in Lesotho
Lesotho
Lesotho , officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is just over in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name...

 include: the Koakoatsi River, Tlhanyaku River, Moremoholo River, Mokhotlon River, Sehonghong River, Khubelu River, Makhoaba River, Bobatsi River, Mphelebeko River, Semena River, Nashai River, Litsoeyse River, Matebeng River, Liboleng River, Tsoelike River, Linakeng River, Qabane River, Kolo-La-Tsoene River, Senqunyane River
Senqunyane River
The Senqunyane River is a river of central Lesotho. rises in the Maluti Mountains in the country's northwest, flowing south for 120 kilometres before joining the Senqu River in the country's southwest.-References:...

, Qhoali River, Meletsunyane River, Qhuasing River, Outing River, Sebapala River, Thaling River, Masitise River and the Tele River (the border river between South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 and Lesotho
Lesotho
Lesotho , officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is just over in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name...

.
Tributaries in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 include: the Makhaleng River
Makhaleng River
The Makhaleng River is a river of western Lesotho. The river flows southwest from the Maluti Mountains past the towns and villages of Molimo-Nthuse, Makhaleng, Ramabanta and Qaba, flowing into the Orange River at the international border...

 (the west border of Lesotho), Kromspruit, Bamboesspruit, Gryskopspruit, Winnaarspruit, Knoffelspruit, Wilgespruit, Nuwejaarspruit, Kraai River
Kraai River
Kraai River is a tributary of the Orange River which flows near Barkly East, Eastern Cape, South Africa. The river originates to the south of Lesotho and flows westward, where it joins the Orange near Aliwal North.- See also :...

, Melkspruit, Sanddrifspruit, Stormbergspruit, Moddelbulspruit, Palmietspruit, Caledon River
Caledon River
The Caledon River is located in south-east Africa, rising in the Drakensberg Mountains in Lesotho. Origin in the former bantustan of QwaQwa, near the border with Lesotho, southwest of Witsieshoek. It then flows south-west, marking the border with South Africa and Lesotho before entering South...

, Oudagspruit, Broekspruit, Bossiespruit, Brakspruit, Suurbergspruit, Donkerpoortspruit, Oorlogspoort River, Rietkuilspruit, Vanderwaltsfonteinspruit, Otterspoortspruit, Paaiskloofspruit, Seekoei River, Kattegatspruit, Knapsak River, Hondeblaf River, Berg River
Berg River
The Berg River is a river located just north of Cape Town in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. It is approximately 294 km long with a catchment area of 7,715 km² and outlets into the Atlantic Ocean. About 65% of the Berg River area is under agriculture...

, Lemoenspruit, Vaal River
Vaal River
The Vaal River is the largest tributary of the Orange River in South Africa. The river has its source in the Drakensberg mountains in Mpumalanga, east of Johannesburg and about 30 km north of Ermelo and only about 240 km from the Indian Ocean. It then flows westwards to its conjunction...

, Withoekskloof, Lanyonspruit, Diep River
Diep River
Diep River, drains the area between the Kasteel Mountain and the northern slopes of the Durbanville Hills, in Western Cape, province South Africa....

, Brak River, Karabeeloop River, Prieska River, Rooiloop River, Kat River, Marydale River, Soutloop River, Elmboog Sloot, Eselfontein River, Matjies River, Donkerhoekspruit, Helbrandkloofspruit, Hartbeer River, Slang River, Brabees River, Molopo River
Molopo River
The Molopo River is located in southern Africa. The river generally flows to the southwest from its source, and has a length of approximately 960 kilometres. River flow is intermittent. When in flood, the flow discharges into the Orange River, which it meets downstream of Augrabies Falls National...

, Bul River, Kourop River, Bak River, Kraalputs de Loop, Narrie se Loop, Samoep River, Kaboep River, Mik River, Hartbees River, Brak River, Matjies River, Groen River, Kahams River.
Tributaries in Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

 include: the Kleinap River, Ham River, Udabis River, Velloor River, Sambok River, Eendoorn River, Girtus River, Hom River, Davignab River, Haib River, Sambok River, Gamkap River.

Catchment and rainfall

In the dry winter months the volume of the water in the river is considerably reduced because of the rapid run-off and evaporation
Evaporation
Evaporation is a type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs only on the surface of a liquid. The other type of vaporization is boiling, which, instead, occurs on the entire mass of the liquid....

. At the source of the Orange the rainfall is approximately 2,000 mm per annum but precipitation decreases as the river flows westward; at its mouth the rainfall is less than 50 mm per annum. The factors that support evaporation, on the other hand, tend to increase in a westerly direction. However, in the wet season (summer) the Orange river becomes an impetuous, brown torrent. The huge mass of sediment carried constitutes a long-term threat to all engineering projects on the river.

The total catchment of the Orange River (including the Vaal) extends over 973,000 km², i.e. equivalent to about 77% of the land area of South Africa (1,268,5358 km²). Approximately 366,000 km² (38%), however, is situated outside the country in Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia.

Name of the river

The river was first discovered by indigenous Nama people, who called it the Nu Gariep. The river was named the Orange River by Colonel Robert Gordon
Robert Jacob Gordon
Robert Jacob Gordon , was a Dutch explorer, soldier, artist, naturalist and linguist of Scottish descent.-Life:...

, commander of the Dutch East India Company
Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia...

 garrison at Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

, on a trip to the interior in 1779. Gordon named the river in honour of William V
William V, Prince of Orange
William V , Prince of Orange-Nassau was the last Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, and between 1795 and 1806 he led the Government of the Dutch Republic in Exile in London. He was succeeded by his son William I...

 of Orange. A popular but incorrect belief is that the river was named after the supposedly orange colour of its water, as opposed to the colour its tributary, the Vaal River
Vaal River
The Vaal River is the largest tributary of the Orange River in South Africa. The river has its source in the Drakensberg mountains in Mpumalanga, east of Johannesburg and about 30 km north of Ermelo and only about 240 km from the Indian Ocean. It then flows westwards to its conjunction...

 ( 'vaal' being Afrikaans
Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

 for pale or grey). Since the end of apartheid, the original name, "Gariep" has had greater favour in official correspondence in South Africa, although the name "Orange" has greater international recognition. In Lesotho
Lesotho
Lesotho , officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is just over in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name...

, where the river rises, it is known as the Senqu River.

Economy

As the collection point for the majority of South Africa's water, the Orange River plays a major role in supporting agriculture, industry and mining. To assist in this, two large water schemes have been created, the Orange River Project and the Lesotho Highlands Water Project
Lesotho Highlands Water Project
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project is an ongoing water supply project with a hydropower component, developed in partnership between the governments of Lesotho and South Africa. It comprises a system of several large dams and tunnels throughout Lesotho and South Africa. In Lesotho, it involves the...

. Historically, the river played an important role in the South African diamond rush, with the first diamond
Diamond
In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

s in the country being discovered in alluvial
Alluvium
Alluvium is loose, unconsolidated soil or sediments, eroded, deposited, and reshaped by water in some form in a non-marine setting. Alluvium is typically made up of a variety of materials, including fine particles of silt and clay and larger particles of sand and gravel...

 deposits on the Orange. Today, several commercial diamond mines operate along the final stretch of the Orange River and around its mouth. Finally, because of the lack of dangerous animals and high water levels during summer, the river is used for recreational canoeing
Canoeing
Canoeing is an outdoor activity that involves a special kind of canoe.Open canoes may be 'poled' , sailed, 'lined and tracked' or even 'gunnel-bobbed'....

 and rafting
Rafting
Rafting or white water rafting is a challenging recreational outdoor activity using an inflatable raft to navigate a river or other bodies of water. This is usually done on white water or different degrees of rough water, in order to thrill and excite the raft passengers. The development of this...

.

Orange River Project

The Orange River Project (ORP) was one of the largest and most imaginative projects of its kind in South Africa. It was constructed by Hendrik Verwoerd
Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd
Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd , commonly identified as H.F. Verwoerd, was Prime Minister of South Africa from 1958 until his assassination in 1966...

's government at the height of the apartheid era. The ORP was built to utilise the unused water of the Orange River — which, without the Vaal River, represents some 14.1% of the total runoff in South Africa — and in the process, to satisfy an increasing demand for water. The main objectives of the project were:
  • to stabilise river flow,
  • the generation and transmission of hydro-electric power,
  • to provide a reliable water supply
    Water supply
    Water supply is the provision of water by public utilities, commercial organisations, community endeavours or by individuals, usually via a system of pumps and pipes...

     for users in the Orange river basin, and
  • to give a new lease of life to water-deficient areas in the Eastern Cape
    Eastern Cape
    The Eastern Cape is a province of South Africa. Its capital is Bhisho, but its two largest cities are Port Elizabeth and East London. It was formed in 1994 out of the "independent" Xhosa homelands of Transkei and Ciskei, together with the eastern portion of the Cape Province...

     such as the Great Fish
    Great Fish River
    The Great Fish River is a river running through the South African province of the Eastern Cape, it originates east of Graaff-Reinet and runs through Cradock, just south of this the Tarka River joins it...

     and Sundays River
    Sundays River
    The Sundays River is a river in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa and is said to be the fastest flowing river in South Africa. The Khoisan people originally named this river Nukakamma because the river's banks are always green and grassy despite the arid terrain that it runs...

     valleys.


The Gariep Dam
Gariep Dam
Gariep Dam is a dam in South Africa, near the town of Norvalspont, Free State, province South Africa.-Overview:The Gariep Dam was originally called the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam after the first Prime Minister of the Republic of South Africa Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd on its commission in 1971...

 near Colesberg
Colesberg
Colesberg is a town with 17,354 inhabitants in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, located on the main road from Cape Town to Johannesburg....

, named the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam when built, is the main storage structure within the Orange River. From here the water is supplied in two directions: westward along the Orange River (via hydro-electric power generators) to the Vanderkloof Dam
Vanderkloof Dam
The Vanderkloof Dam is situated approximately 130km down stream from Gariep Dam and is fed by the Orange River, South Africa's largest river. Vanderkloof Dam is the second largest dam in South Africa, boasting the highest dam wall in the country at 108m...

 which was previously named the PK le Roux Dam , and southward through the Orange-Fish Tunnel to the Eastern Cape.

Hydro-electricity

Eskom
Eskom
Eskom is a South African electricity public utility, established in 1923 as the Electricity Supply Commission by the government of South Africa in terms of the Electricity Act . It was also known by its Afrikaans name Elektrisiteitsvoorsieningskommissie . The two acronyms were combined in 1986 and...

 operates hydro-electric power-stations at both the Gariep Dam
Gariep Dam
Gariep Dam is a dam in South Africa, near the town of Norvalspont, Free State, province South Africa.-Overview:The Gariep Dam was originally called the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam after the first Prime Minister of the Republic of South Africa Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd on its commission in 1971...

 and the Vanderkloof Dam
Vanderkloof Dam
The Vanderkloof Dam is situated approximately 130km down stream from Gariep Dam and is fed by the Orange River, South Africa's largest river. Vanderkloof Dam is the second largest dam in South Africa, boasting the highest dam wall in the country at 108m...

. The hydro-electric power station at the Vanderkloof Dam was the first power-generation station in South Africa situated entirely underground. The towns Oviston and Oranjekrag were established to facilitate the construction and operation of the new infrastructure.

Irrigation

Irrigation in the vast area downstream of the Vanderkloof Dam, which has turned thousands of hectare
Hectare
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

s of arid veld into highly productive agricultural land, was made possible by the construction of the Gariep Dam and the Vanderkloof Dam. Old, established irrigation schemes such as those at Buchuberg, Upington, Kakamas and Vioolsdrif
Vioolsdrif
Vioolsdrif is a village on the Orange River in the north-western part of South Africa, known as Namaqualand.- Origin of name :The name in Afrikaans means 'the ford of the violin'. It is reportedly named after Jan Viool , who is said to have played the fiddle in these parts in the nineteenth century...

 have also benefitted because regulation of the flow is now possible.

In recent years the wine producing areas along the Orange River have also grown in importance. See the article Northern Cape wine.

Irrigation in the Eastern Cape has also received a tremendous boost, not only from the additional water that is being made available but also owing to improvement in water quality. Without this improvement the citrus
Citrus
Citrus is a common term and genus of flowering plants in the rue family, Rutaceae. Citrus is believed to have originated in the part of Southeast Asia bordered by Northeastern India, Myanmar and the Yunnan province of China...

 farmers along the Lower Sundays River would almost certainly have continued to suffer losses of productivity.

Lesotho Highlands Water Project

The Lesotho Highlands Water Project was conceived to supplement the water supply in the Vaal River System. Water is delivered to South Africa by means of the Delivery Tunnel which passes under the Lesotho South Africa border at the Caledon River
Caledon River
The Caledon River is located in south-east Africa, rising in the Drakensberg Mountains in Lesotho. Origin in the former bantustan of QwaQwa, near the border with Lesotho, southwest of Witsieshoek. It then flows south-west, marking the border with South Africa and Lesotho before entering South...

 and then under the Little Caledon River south of Clarens in the Free State and discharges into the Ash River
Ash River
-See also:*List of rivers of Minnesota-References:**USGS Hydrologic Unit Map - State of Minnesota...

 about 30 km further to the north. The scheme became viable when water demands in Gauteng
Gauteng
Gauteng is one of the nine provinces of South Africa. It was formed from part of the old Transvaal Province after South Africa's first all-race elections on 27 April 1994...

 reached levels that could no longer be supported economically by alternative schemes such as the Tugela River
Tugela River
The Tugela River is the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. The river originates in the Drakensberg Mountains, Mont-aux-Sources, and plunges 947 metres down the Tugela Falls...

-Vaal River
Vaal River
The Vaal River is the largest tributary of the Orange River in South Africa. The river has its source in the Drakensberg mountains in Mpumalanga, east of Johannesburg and about 30 km north of Ermelo and only about 240 km from the Indian Ocean. It then flows westwards to its conjunction...

 pumped storage scheme, which utilized the Sterkfontein Dam
Sterkfontein Dam
The Sterkfontein Dam, located just outside the town of Harrismith, in the Free State, province of South Africa, is part of the Tugela-Vaal Water Project, and located on the Nuwejaarspruit, in the upper catchment area of the Vaal River...

, located near Harrismith
Harrismith
Harrismith, named after Sir Harry Smith, is a large town in the Free State province of South Africa, situated on the N3 highway approximately midway between Johannesburg, about 300 km north-east, and Durban. The town is at the junction with the N5 highway, which continues west towards the...

 in the Free State.

Alluvial diamonds

In 1867, the first diamond discovered in South Africa, the Eureka Diamond
Eureka Diamond
The Eureka Diamond was the first diamond discovered in South Africa. It weighed , and was found near Hopetown on the Orange River in 1867. The diamond, cut to a cushion-shaped brilliant, is currently on display at the Mine Museum in Kimberley.-Discovery:...

, was found near Hopetown
Hopetown
Hopetown lies at the edge of the Great Karoo in South Africa's Northern Cape province. It stands on an arid slope leading down to the Orange River. The first diamond discovered in South Africa, the Eureka Diamond, was found at Hopetown.-History:...

 on the Orange River. Two years later, a much larger diamond known as the Star of South Africa was found in the same area, causing a diamond rush. This was soon eclipsed by the diamond rush to mine diamonds directly from kimberlite
Kimberlite
Kimberlite is a type of potassic volcanic rock best known for sometimes containing diamonds. It is named after the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where the discovery of an diamond in 1871 spawned a diamond rush, eventually creating the Big Hole....

 at Kimberley
Kimberley, Northern Cape
Kimberley is a city in South Africa, and the capital of the Northern Cape. It is located near the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers. The town has considerable historical significance due its diamond mining past and siege during the Second Boer War...

 in 1871, although alluvial diamonds continued to be found in the Orange. Today, several commercial diamond mines operate on the last stretch of the river, as well as the beaches around its mouth. Diamond mines also operate on the middle stretch of the river.

Rafting and canoeing

During the temperate months of March and April, given good rains and the sluices of the dams being open a canoeist (or rafter) can easily travel 30 km per day. The lower reaches of the river are most popular, because of the spectacular topography. Commercial tours are available and these expeditions depart from the border town of Vioolsdrif
Vioolsdrif
Vioolsdrif is a village on the Orange River in the north-western part of South Africa, known as Namaqualand.- Origin of name :The name in Afrikaans means 'the ford of the violin'. It is reportedly named after Jan Viool , who is said to have played the fiddle in these parts in the nineteenth century...

.

Miscellaneous

  • Because of the river's geographical position, it is too cold in winter to support crocodile
    Crocodile
    A crocodile is any species belonging to the family Crocodylidae . The term can also be used more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia: i.e...

    s.

See also



Dams on the Orange River
  • Armenia Dam
    Armenia Dam
    Armenia Dam is a dam in the Leeu River, near Hobhouse, Free State, province South Africa. It was established in 1954.It has a capacity of , and a surface area of , the wall is high.- References :...

  • Egmont Dam
    Egmont Dam
    Egmont Dam is dam on the Witte Spruit, near Van Stadensrus, Free State, South Africa. It was established in 1937.- References :* from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry...

  • Gariep Dam
    Gariep Dam
    Gariep Dam is a dam in South Africa, near the town of Norvalspont, Free State, province South Africa.-Overview:The Gariep Dam was originally called the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam after the first Prime Minister of the Republic of South Africa Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd on its commission in 1971...

  • Newberry Dam
    Newberry Dam
    - References :* from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry...

  • Vanderkloof Dam
    Vanderkloof Dam
    The Vanderkloof Dam is situated approximately 130km down stream from Gariep Dam and is fed by the Orange River, South Africa's largest river. Vanderkloof Dam is the second largest dam in South Africa, boasting the highest dam wall in the country at 108m...

  • Welbedacht Dam
    Welbedacht Dam
    Welbedacht Dam is situated in South Africa, and was established in 1973.Bloemfontein is the sixth largest city in South Africa with a population of approximately 300 000. It is situated in the Modder River catchment which has insufficient water resources to meet the growing water requirements...



Waterfalls on the Orange River
  • Augrabies Falls
  • Twin falls

External links

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