In the Grass and Wetlands of Mpumalanga, the water dominates, with lakes and rivers brimming with bird life. There are a host of activities on and off the water to suit every taste, some drenched in history from colonial times to literally the dawn of humankind.

Did you know?

The Barberton area has four 'secret' nature reserves, each dedicated to conserving a single rare plant species.

Bordered by KwaZulu-Natal in the south and Swaziland in the east, the Grass and Wetlands of Mpumalanga are the Lake District of South Africa: a network of hundreds of lakes and rivers that draws bird-watchers from around the world. Four of South Africa's biggest rivers − the Tugela, Vaal, Olifants and Pongola − have their source in the grasslands of Mpumalanga.

At the heart of the Mpumalanga wetlands lies the town of Chrissiesmeer, a world within a world, graced by the presence of the greater and lesser flamingo. With some 270 lakes and pans within a 20km radius and plentiful accommodation within the town itself, Chrissiesmeer is a logical starting point for a wetlands adventure. If you're an avid bird-watcher, your work's already cut out. Can you log all 82 aquatic and 170 non-aquatic bird species? A picnic on the banks of Lake Chrissie, South Africa's largest freshwater lake, is a good start. The small town of Wakkerstroom near the KwaZulu-Natal border is another birding mecca.

Unsurprisingly, the Grass and Wetlands of Mpumalanga offer countless outdoor activities, both on the water, such as sailing, boating, fishing, water-skiing, and off − quad-biking, 4x4 trails, horse trails and hiking. Then there are the experiences unique to the region. Ever fancied going on a frogging safari? What about a star-gazing weekend? Keen to explore ancient San rock art? Or measure yourself against Goliath's footprint, embedded in the rock? Heard of the lost Legoya nation and its huts? They're still there waiting for you 1 000 years after they were built.

Then there's the dilapidated colonial Dumbarton Oaks Hotel now designated for restoration, along with Billiard Cottage, shipped by ox wagon all the way from Bloemfontein to serve as the Officers' Mess for British soldiers in the 2nd South African War, or the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Chrissiesmeer.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Mpumulanga Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)13 759 5300

Chrissiesmeer Information
Tel: +27 (0)82 802 2146

How to get here

The Grass and Wetlands region is approximately two hours' drive from Johannesburg on the N17.

Best time to visit

Many travellers prefer the cool, dry winter season between May and August, the best time to visit for game-viewing because the vegetation is less dense making sightings more frequent.

Around the area

Places to look out for in the Grass and Wetlands region include Badplaas Golf Course, Nooitgedacht Dam Nature Reserve and Songimvelo Game Reserve.

Tours to do

Day tours of the Kruger National Park can be arranged easily from the Grass and Wetlands region.

Get around

The best way to get around the Grass and Wetlands region is by car, and then on foot

Length of stay

How long you stay depends entirely on how much you need to unwind. A weekend will suffice for a single attraction, but plan to stay at least a week to do justice to the region.

What to pack

Hat, binoculars, camera, sunscreen, water, waterproof shoes/boots

Where to stay

Check out the Chrissiesmeer website for lots of accommodation options

What's happening

Frog Night every December, Crane Festival July, Wildflower Day January

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