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This peaceful, countryside retreat in Mpumalanga’s grasslands and wetlands region is an ideal family getaway and a birder's paradise. Chrissiesmeer is the place to go to get away from it all and the friendly locals will make you want to extend your stay.
Known as the Matotoland Lake District, Chrissiesmeer has two large freshwater lakes and over 320 pans that are inhabited by 82 water bird species and more than 100 other species. The circular, 60km self-drive birding route winds its way along the wetlands. Chrissiesmeer is also home to three crane species – Blue, Grey Crowned, and Wattled – as well as the lesser flamingo. Lake Chrissie, after which the town is named, is the largest freshwater lake in South Africa measuring
7km in length and 3km in width. This grasslands and wetlands region also attracts various frog and butterfly species, and the lakeside village hosts an annual Frog Festival each December and a Wild Flower Festival each January that see visitors coming back year after year, not only for the flora and fauna but for the warm-hearted hospitality too. Due to its relative isolation from big cities and its small size – only 150 people live in Chrissiesmeer proper – it's an ideal place for
stargazing and taking long exposure photographs of the Milky Way.
Besides its natural beauty, Chrissies – as it is affectionately referred to by locals – also attracts those interested in learning about the history of Alexander McCorkindale and the 70-odd Scots who in 1866 settled in the region with the intention of establishing a New Scotland Republic, namely a sheep farming and mining enterprise that would act as a buffer zone between Swaziland and greater South Africa. There's even a love story about Lieutenant Arthur William Swantson, who died during the Anglo-Boer War and was sent flowers annually on the occasion of his death by his finacee in England. The locals continue the tradition to this day.
Hint: for an unusual experience to write home about stay in a reconditioned, sandstone jail cell at
the self-catering Jailbird, with the charge office as your kitchen and bathroom.

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