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Grasslands & Wetlands


The charming, historic town of Chrissiesmeer is the centre of Mpumalanga’s grasslands and wetlands region. This area is dubbed the ‘Lake District’. Chrissiesmeer is home to the largest freshwater lake in South Africa. Some 270 other lakes and pans that are permanently filled and have never dried out.

This is birding central. Covering over a thousand hectares, the hundreds of lakes and pans in the Chrissiesmeer area are home to over 150 bird species. Thousands of greater and lesser flamingos pay a spectacular annual visit.

The Chrissiesmeer area is also known as Matotoland, from ‘matoto’ in Swazi, which means frog. The name refers to the many frogs that are an integral part of the wetland system here. Frogging is a popular pastime in Chrissiesmeer and every year there is a lively Frogging Festival.

Chrissiesmeer offers a charming combination of beauty and history. The area has historical bridges and buildings, national monuments and memorials. Every year this sleepy little town wakes up for the re-enactment of the famously bloody Battle of Chrissiesmeer. Hundreds of enthusiastic townspeople dress up in uniforms of either British or Boer and stage pitched battles about the place.

Chrissiesmeer is also a good stopover en route to Swaziland and has strong historical ties with the country.

Look out for

Birding - The lakes and wetlands here are home to some 82 aquatic and 170 other bird species. You have a good chance of seeing crown cranes, chestnut-banded plovers, African marsh harriers, spoonbills, grebes, herons and egrets.

Historical Chrissiesmeer - There are a number of sites of historic interest in the area, notably the Dumbarton Oaks Hotel built in the late 1800s, and Billiard Cottage. The latter was transported by ox-wagon all the way from Bloemfontein in the Anglo-Boer War.

Giant footprint - A mysterious giant footprint imprinted in the rock is the subject of much interest and speculation.

San rock art - You can see rock art in various rock shelters around Chrissiesmeer. It is also said that the Tlou-tle settled here around 1 500 years ago and built floating villages on the lakes.

Eco-adventure - With its amazing lakes and pans and dams, Chrissiesmeer is a great place for water sports - including canoeing, kayaking and fishing. The area is also wonderful for hiking, walking and photography. You can also enjoy a guided astronomy evening.

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