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The Katse Dam is situated on the Malibamatso River in the Kingdom of Lesotho. It is the highest dam in Africa. It is by far the most efficient storage dam in Africa due to its great depth and relatively small surface area, which reduces evaporation. In addition it receives abundant water from summer rains and winter snow.

• Double curvature, arch dam
• Height above foundation 185 m 
• Crest length 710 m
• Spillway length 150 m 
• Dam thickness at foundation 60 m 
• At crest 10 m 
• Concrete volume 2.32 million/m3 
• Tons cement - fly ash (70 / 30 ratio) 687 thousand ton 
• Type of rock-basalt 
• Sand & aggregate made from crushed basalt 
• Tail-water dam height 32 m 
• Spillway height 17 m

• Cement railed from Ulco to Ficksburg and hauled by 26 trucks to dam
• No steel used in main structure of wall 
• Steel only used in spillway; crest; keying in diversion tunnels x two - height  7 m. Conveyer length from primary    crusher 2,5 km 
• Conveyer passed through mountain to secondary crushers and batching plant. 
• Length of tunnel 1.4 km
• Batching plant capacity 6,000 m3/20 hour day.

• Cumulative catchment area 1,866 klm3 
• Total storage 1,950 million/m3 
• Surface area of dam 35,8 klm2 
• Length of dam +/- 50 km cement - fly ash deliveries 
• Distance to Katse 150 km 
• Travelling time loaded 8 hours 
• Empty 4 hours 
• Highest point traversed - Mafika Lisiu Pass 3,090 m 
• Total number of passes 3 
• Number of major gradients 120 and 728 bends with 550 gear changes 
• Maximum tons delivered in one month 24,600 ton

• Total length of the tunners are 82 km with a diameter of 4.8m

• The outfall is outside of Clarens on the Bethlehem road. From here it flows  into the Ash River, Liebenbergs Vlei River, Wilge    River and finally into the Vaal Dam. There are no pumping stations in the whole system 
• Number of tbm (tunnel boring machines) used 5

• The tunnel at Muela Dam has 3 turbines - rated at 24MW 
• Height of dam wall at Meula is 55 m 
• Volume of concrete 65,000m3

• Designed to supplement Katse with water 
• Weir height 15 m 
• Crest length 180 m 
• Tunnel length 5.7 km 
• Tunnel height 5 m
• Tunnel width 4 m

• Rock filled, concrete faced dam on the same level as Katse Dam.  Situated on the Senqunyane River 
• Height of wall 145 m • Crest length 600 m 
• Length of tunnel 32 km the Matsoku and Mohale will nearly double the water capacity.


The Katse Dam, built high in the Maluti Mountains and named after a revered man who once lived at the site, is at the heart of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. This is the land of the “blanket people”, who ride their sturdy ponies, build picturesque houses and greet visitors with a dignified salute. 

All the major rivers of landlocked Lesotho are well-stocked with the finest trout, and with the exception of the Tugela, flow west into the Atlantic Ocean. (The Orange River starts as the Senqu River near Cathedral Peak). The Lesotho Highlands Water Project has changed all this, with water now being diverted north by gravity. 

On the way to Katse the road passes the intake tower near Ha Lejone from where the crystal-clear water starts its long journey, at 18 cubic metres per second, encased in the 82-kilometre tunnel through basalt, sandstone and under six rivers, and through turbines at Muela. 

It eventually tumbles into the Ash River, between Clarens and Bethlehem, then into the Liebenbergs Vlei River, which joins the Wilge River near Frankfort before finally reaching the Vaal Dam. Five massive T.B.Ms (tunnel boring machines) were used in the construction phase. They were introduced into the mountains through six additions.

Future phases are planned to increase the supply to 70 cubic metres per second. The bridge near the intake tower has also received acclaim, rising 90 metres above the bed of the Malibamatso River. (Incidentally, this is one of the few straight stretches of road). The scheme attracted worldwide attention for its concept, its magnitude and for the engineering feats involved, not least of which is the fully tarred, 150-kilometre access road from Ficksburg. 

It traverses three magnificent passes, the highest being, the 3,090 metre high Mafika Lisiu Pass. The flora, bird life and photographic beauty of the area will astound, as will the winter snow, which has no equal in Southern Africa.The statistics are startling indeed. 687,000 tons of cement and fly-ash were hauled from Ficksburg by a fleet of 26 trucks which covered in excess of 7.2 million kilometres. The double curvature, arch dam is 185 metres high, (the highest in Africa and 50% higher than Kariba), with a crest length of 710 metres. The aggregate and fines used were crushed on site from the basalt rock. 

All major critical components of concrete manufacture were duplicated, including the ice plant used in summer for cooling the curing concrete, the steam plant for winter, the batching plant (with dual computer systems ), and the two Blondin cableway cranes, used to deliver the concrete day and night at a rate of 6,000 cubic metres per 20 hour shift. A further dam at Mohale, together with a small weir on the Matsoku River, has virtually doubled the capacity of Katse.
Mohale is accessible through Maseru on another magnificent road. A 45-kilometre tunnel to Katse will connect it. The well- maintained road allows access to the exquisite vista, but extreme caution is necessary to deal with the steep climbs and sharp curves. A normal saloon car is adequate. At the dam, there is an information centre where a model and a video of the project can be viewed. 

A lodge, which can be used for an overnight stay, overlooks the dam and provides a well-deserved lunch, for the day-tripper. Make all the necessary arrangements and you will be on your way to a great and breathtaking adventure, to wonder, not only at what nature has to offer, in the form of spectacular scenery, but to be lost in admiration at what man can achieve.

Tour of Dam Wall +266 229 10805  / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9
Other Tours at Katse +266 633 20831 / 289 10202
Fax: +266 229 10002      
GPS S 29º 19' 53.6 E 028º 30' 36.6

Tours of the dam wall are as follows:
Monday - Friday
09:00 and 14:00

Saturdays, Sundays and Lesotho Public Holidays
09:00 and 11:00

Call: Fax: +266 229 10805 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9
+266 229 10002
Orion Katse Hotel +266 633 20831 +266 289 10202
GPS S  29°19'50.56"  E 028°28'52.14"

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