Runs: 1120 kilometres | Province: Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West
In the mid-19th century, this river (known as Lekwa in Sotho) formed the northern border of Moshoeshoe’s Basotho Kingdom at its height and then later became the boundary between the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.
Regardless of a history steeped in two bloody Boer Wars, the Vaal River has become the Hollywood of South African rivers. The beautiful plain it traverses up north, pebble tools that come about during excavations and spectacular attractions such as the Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site, the Vaal Dam and the Vaal Meander Wine Route, to mention a few, have added the glitz and glamour to a river that once had a rather dark side. During flood seasons the water would turn into a depressingly dull colour as it carried a lot of silt. With its source in the area of Breyten in Mpumalanga, the Vaal River runs an admirable 1120 kilometres and is the largest tributary of the Orange River.