The Ash River Outfall is situated about 8 km from Clarens in the Free State, South Africa.
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project Agreement was signed in 1986 and construction started in the early 1990’s. At the time, this project was considered one of the biggest civil engineering undertakings in the world. Engineers and construction experts from several countries all over the world set up homes in the nearby town of Clarens to begin this project.
The word “outfall” refers to water being ejected from an underground tunnel into a weir before running into a river, the Ash River in this case. The large water-carrying tunnel, Trans Caledon Tunnel, was brought from the Lesotho’s high altitude dams, under the Maluti Mountains to the Ash River Outfall. Visitors can view the water flowing strongly from out of the side of the hill. It continues to flow rapidly through several more weirs until the Ash River joins it in a comparatively weak trickle. The Outfall turned a small stream into a fast flowing river and the whole project is quite something to see.
The object of the whole project was to transfer the excess water from Lesotho to the very thirsty regions of Gauteng. This was very successfully achieved and at the Outfall site is a segment of the tunnel that has been erected as a monument to the project and several commemoration plaques are also on display.
A self-drive tour of this area will provide visitors with a fascinating few hours. From the bridge it is highly possible that you will see white water river rafters coming down the river, perhaps some visitors to the area would prefer to join in the adrenalin pumping activity.
No admission fee
Open Daily during daylight hours
Rainfall occurs mainly in the mid-summer months, with December and January seeing the highest levels. Winter nights can drop below freezing.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 11˚C and 27˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between -2˚C and 16˚C.
There are domestic and/or international flights into the Johannesburg, Durban or Bloemfontein Airports on a daily basis and car rental companies are available for easy access to Clarens. All three cities are approximately a three to four hour drive away.
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