Did you know?
Over 20 000 Lesser and Greater flamingos can be seen at Lake Chrissie.
Chrissiesmeer, in Mpumalanga's lake district, was once an important staging post for transport wagons making their way to and from the interior to Maputo in Mozambique.
But the coming of the railroad reduced its strategic position and the area turned to farming and forestry. Today, however, Chrissiesmeer has once again become an important destination – not for gold miners and transport drivers, but for visitors looking for natural beauty, history and hospitality.
The charming little town is surrounded by 270 lakes and pans and is named after its biggest lake, Lake Chrissie. The story goes that an entrepreneurial Scotsman, Alexander McCorkindale, came to the area in the 1850s, fell in love with it because it reminded him of his native country and bought up many farms in the area.
He was also an ardent admirer of then-President Pretorius' raven-haired, beautiful daughter, Christina (Chrissie), and named the largest lake after her. And so the name of the town was born.
There's a lot to experience in Chrissiesmeer. The lakes and grasslands, havens of tranquillity, are home to abundant birdlife – look out for Blue cranes, Red-winged francolins, Chestnut-banded plovers, the elusive Red-chested flufftail, flamingos and, in summer, migratory waders.
It's not only feathered friends but froggy ones too that draw the crowds. Every December there's a Frogging Festival. Florence Guest House hosts the annual festival that lures frog fans from far and wide to an action-packed night filled with facts, wetland expeditions and 'ribbiting' fun. Interestingly enough, the Siswati name for Chrissiesmeer is Matotoland, which means 'frog land'.
The little town is full of fascinating historical buildings and the 1901 Battle of Chrissiesmeer, a defining battle in the Anglo-Boer War, was won here by General Louis Botha against a vastly superior British force of 12 000 men.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
How to get here
From Johannesburg, take the N4 towards Machadodorp and the R33 to Carolina. Travel 4km out of Carolina, turn right and travel 20km to Chrissiesmeer.
Best time to visit
Spring (September to October) and summer (October to March) offers the best weather. If you're a frog fan, then visit the annual Frogging Festival in December.
Tours to do
Even if you’ve never thought of it before, go on a frogging safari. You’ll love it and learn so much about these critically important creatures.
Birding is best done from the roadside, so stay in your vehicle or take to the verges on foot. Frogging involves wading.
What to pack
Comfortable walking shoes, binoculars, camera, sunscreen and a hat. Gumboots for wading while frogging are usually supplied by your hosts.
Where to stay
Florence Guest House is one of many welcoming guest houses in the area. Farm stays are also an attractive option.
The annual Frogging Festival in December.