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Centre of our Lake District
Chrissiesmeer is a small little town just over two hours from Johannesburg, ideal for weekend getaways for the Joburg city folk.
Chrissiesmeer is a place of incredible beauty, rolling hills, lakes and legends! Lake Chrissie is the largest freshwater lake in South Africa. The area is known as SA’s Lake District and its beauty is considered equivalent to the famous lake districts of England and Scotland – 270 small shallow lakes dot the landscape of the Mpumalanga Highveld within a 20 km radius of the town. The natural heritage of the lakes is undeniable however, the sheer beauty of the area and its abundant bird-life is just as important for tourism and in turn it is the tourism based economy that helps protect these areas.
The Lakes are home to about 80 aquatic birds and 170 other species. The biggest attractions include the 20 000 odd greater and lesser flamingos that gather here near the end of Summer – September to March is the best time to visit if you are an avid bird watcher!
This area is also known as Matotoland, a Siswati word meaning ’frog land‘ and it comes as no surprise then that Chrissiesmeer is proud of the 13 frog species that call the area home – the town offers unique evening frog tours which is a must for visitors to the area.
Chrissiesmeer also offers a mix of cultural and historical sites, bushman sites, gravestones with stories to tell and beautiful buildings. If you really want to immerse yourself in the past you can book into the old Jail House, a popular self-catering accommodation establishment known simply as the Jail Guesthouse where the rooms used to be actual cells.
There are many accommodation options in the area, which include B&B’s, Guesthouses, Lodges, self-catering cottages and fully working farms offering self-catering and camping options.
Things to do and see
- Chrissiesmeer Cemetery
- The Florence & La Rochelle San Rock Sites
- Birding & Frogging Tours
- Fishing & Picnic Spots
- Horseriding, Hiking & Mountain Biking
- Dumbarton Oaks Hotel
- The Old & New NG Church Building
- St George’s Anglican Church
- Rainbow Route
- McCorkingdale’s Cave
- Goliath’s Footprint, 30 km
- The Natural Bridge, 30 km
- Randell’s Ranch Tractor Museum, Lothair
Chrissiesmeer receives approximately 704 mm of rain annually with most of its annual rainfall during summer.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 13˚C and 25˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 2˚C and 20˚C.
There are daily flights into O R Tambo International Airport approximately 249 Km’s away along the N12 and N4. Car hire facilities are available at the Airport.
The San have left an abundance of evidence of their presence in the area however, it is the more recent Tlou-tle who inspire the most well-known legends of Chrissiesmeer. It is believed they settled here approximately 1 500 years ago and, instead of building the more traditional stone walled refuges, they built enormous floating villages on the large glistening lakes.
White colonialists arrived in the 1800’s and a certain Alexander McCorkindale, a Scottish settler, fell in love with the area that reminded him of his homeland and bought 200 farms from the government. He gave them all Scottish names such as Lochiel, Dundonald, Bonnie Brae and Arthur’s Seat, many of which are still used.
McCorkingdale renamed Zeekoei Pan in 1864, naming it Miss Chrissie’s Lake after the daughter, Christina, of President Pretorius who the family was very fond of. Over time the Lake naturally took on the name Lake Chrissie and more recently Chrissiesmeer. The town started as a staging point for the wagon route to Delagoa Bay (now Maputo), which was to become the first tsetse fly-free route to the coast and later it also became an important stopover for wagons travelling to the gold mining town of Barberton.
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