Exploring Tourism in Swaziland
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Maguga Dam

Mbabane, Swaziland

Maguga Dam, an impresseive expanse of blue water, can be reached via a loop road east of the MR1, which crosses the Nkomati Valley at the dam wall. It is Swaziland’s largest reservoir and its wall, which stands 115m high, is the fourth largest in southern Africa. Visitors can pause to take in the view at various points. Boating and fishing are both available on the dam, with fully equipped houseboats for hire. You might even glimpse one of the hippos that sometimes make their way here along the Nkomati.

The dam was built under the auspices of the joint South Africa/Swaziland Komati Basin Water Authority (KOBWA), and today produces hydroelectric power and supplies irrigation to farmers across a wide area. When completed in 2001, it received the South Africa Institute of Civil Engineering award for ‘most outstanding achievement’ in the international category.

For many visitors Maguga Dam is just a scenic pit-stop between Mbabane and the Kruger Park. In this respect, the Maguga Lodge restaurant is beautifully located. Seated on southern shore, its terrace overlooking the glittering waters. With more time, you can enjoy hikes to local bushman paintings and waterfalls, bird-watching and mountain biking.

Planning and purpose[edit]

In 1992, the eSwatini and South Africa signed a treaty covering the "design, construction, operation and maintenance" of the Driekoppies and Maguga Dams.[3] As the former benefited South Africa exclusively (though the resulting reservoir lay partially in Eswatini), South Africa bore the entire cost for that dam.[3] As for the latter, Eswatini was responsible for about 40% of the cost.[3] The dam's primary purpose is irrigation (for water-intensive sugar cane, forestry and "about 1000 of Eswatini's small farmers"[6]) but a hydroelectric power station with a capacity of 20 MW (generated from two units, each with a capacity of 9.9 MW[7]) was to be completed in October 2006.[1]


Maguga is a "clay-core rockfill embankment dam".[8] The dam embankment comprises approximately 800,000 cubic metres (28,000,000 cu ft) of clay, 2,800,000 cubic metres (99,000,000 cu ft) of granite rock and 43,000 cubic metres (1,500,000 cu ft) of filter material.[9] It has an overall height of 115 metres (377 ft), a crest length of 870 metres (2,850 ft) and a base width of 400 metres (1,300 ft).[9] It has a capacity of 332,000,000 cubic metres (1.17×1010 cu ft) and a surface area of 10,420,000 cubic metres (368,000,000 cu ft).[5] It has been designed to withstand a probable maximum flood of 15,000 cubic metres per second (530,000 cu ft/s).[8] There is a 181-metre (594 ft)-long labyrinth spillway.[8]

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