Mpumalanga DestinationsChrissiesmeer, Grass & Wetlands
Situated in the very heart of South Africa’s shimmering lake district is the historic town of Chrissiesmeer, otherwise known as Lake Chrissie. Lake Chrissie, is the largest freshwater lake in South Africa.
It is said that the Chrissiesmeer area was first inhabited by the San thousands of years ago. The San left and abundance of fascinating rock paintings and engravings on the walls of their shelters leaving behind evidence of their presence. However, it is the more recent Tlou-tle who inspire the most well known legends. It is said that the Tlou-tle settled here approximately 1 500 years ago and, instead of building the more traditional stone walled refuges, they decided to built enormous floating villages on the large glistening lakes. This phenomenal and rather brilliant idea allowed the people in times of war to float entire villages to the safe centre of their lakes. In addition, it enabled fishermen to move the village around and follow fish.
In 1800’s, white colonialists conquered the area and soon began building with local sandstone. Many of these amazing buildings are still in use today and can be visited. There are also numerous sandstone bridges and other ruins dotted along the countryside that can be viewed.
This cosy and usually sleepy town wakes up every year for the re-enactment of the bloody Battle of Chrissiesmeer. This becomes quite the event as hundreds of enthusiasts dress in the appropriate Imperial British and Republican Boer uniforms and garb and begin staging pitched battles across the landscape.
This little town of Chrissiesmeer in Mpumalanga’s central grasslands is surrounded by more than 270 lakes and pans. These shimmering lakes lure more than 20 000 flamingos each year and is quite an awe-inspiring encounter to witness! Interestingly, in Siswati, this area is also known as Matotoland, meaning ’frog land‘. It comes as no surprise then that Chrissiesmeer hosts the annual ‘Frog Hunt’ event. Every year thousands of visitors and residents alike grab their wellies and raincoats and scramble in the mud after frogs!
The abundance of lakes also allows for a host of other activities to be enjoyed including fishing, swimming, watersports, bird watching, horse trecking, mountain biking, hiking and of course picnicking.
Not to be missed historical attractions include the Dumbarton Oaks Hotel built in the late 1800s, Billiard Cottage and the Welgelegen Farm. The host of exciting activities, events and attractions has made Chrissiesmeer a central point for holiday seekers.