Memel is located at the junction of the R722 and R43.
Memel was laid out in 1911 as a town and became a municipality in 1913. Memel is a Russian word which “surrounded by water” and is named after a small town in East Prussia , the hometown of surveyor called Straszacker. This pristine country village is situated in the northern-eastern corner of the Free State close to the drakensberg escarpment. 240 KM from Johannesburg and 300 km from Pietermaritzburg. The temperature of Memel averages from -5 to 26 degrees. It is at an altitude of 1620m above sea level. It has averages of 700mm rainfall per year.
The village of Memel is a central hub of the local farming community, but is fast becoming one of South Africa’s most sought-after birding spots. Sheep and cattle are farmed in the area. The district has a rich history and of particular interest are a number of sites relating to activities during the Anglo-Boer War, as well as various other earlier wars. The Anglo-Boer War and the Rebellion have contributed to the region’s rich history. Various memorials and battlefield may be observed. The well-known Amajuba Mountain is only 40 km from Memel. The Rebellion, led by General Christiaan de wet, began in Memel in 1914. A monument, in memory of this popular revolt, was erected in the town in 1915.
Memel is a small town in the Free State province of South Africa, nestled close to the provincial boundaries of both kwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. Commercial farming in the upper Klip River valley started in the late nineteenth century and resulted in the establishment of the town of Memel by the early twentieth century.
Memel falls under the Phumelela Local Municipality which is a Category B municipality situated within the Thabo Mofutsanyana District in the Free State Province. It is the largest municipality in the district, making up a quarter of its geographical area.
Vrede (‘at peace’) rests in the north-eastern Free State about 20km east of the N3, close to the Mpumalanga border. Vrede is surrounded by undulating Highveld hills. It is 220km from northern Johannesburg and about 30km from Cornelia on the R102 to Warden and Harrismith, on the Volksrust-Newcastle Road. It is the spine of the Drakensburg off the N3 highway from Durban to Mbombela (previously Nelspruit), and the alternative Durban to Johannesburg, and also on the main route from Johannesburg via Newcastle to the North Coast and Zululand. Travellers from down south can use it to make their way to the Kruger National Park.
Warden is a town situated on the N3 highway between Johannesburg and Durban. The town has one of the largest Dutch Reformed Churches in South Africa, with seating for 1 750 people.
Memel is a Russian word meaning ‘surrounded by water’ and is named after a small town in east Prussia. This pristine country village is situated in the north-eastern corner of the Free State close to the Drakensberg escarpment, 240km from Johannesburg and 300km from Pietermaritzburg. The village of Memel is the central hub of the local farming community but is fast becoming one of South Africa’s most sought-after birding spots. Also, the well-known Amajuba Mountain is only 40km from Memel.
Cities/Towns close to Memel, Vrede, Warden
Contact details: 058-924 0400
Seekoevlei Nature Reserve near Memel is known as 1 of the finest bird-watching spots in the country. The wetlands here attract a number of birds, including crowned and blue cranes, yellow-billed storks and wattled cranes. Hippos have also been introduced to the wetland. Seekoei-vlei Nature Reserve, is a massive wetland spanning some 30 km², surrounds the town of Memel, in the Free State, province of South Africa, which was declared a Ramsar site in 1999 designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites).
Adventure sport and angling
Mountain biking, canoeing and angling, particularly fly-fishing opportunities, are offered in and around the town.
The Dumela Private Caravan Park offers caravan sites with clean ablution blocks and undercover “braai” (barbecue) areas at reasonable tariffs.
Botha’s Pass and the surrounding escarpment are ideal for 4×4 enthusiasts. However, some of the roads might pose a problem during the rainy season (in the summer months).
Ronderus Guest Farm offers rest and tranquillity; a good way to spend a weekend or short holiday. For thrill-seekers there are many hiking, mountain-biking, hang-gliding and rock-climbing opportunities.
Umvubu Horse Trails offer you the chance to explore the Zeekoeivlei Nature Reserve on horseback by day or night! Umvubu Bush Camp, situated close to road R34 next to the Reserve, offers easy access to the Reserve and makes a good base from which to explore the area.
Memel and its surrounds have a number of wonderful hiking trails, such as the Sediba (“Fountain water”) Trail, that traverse and explore the mountains, waterfalls, forests and caves in the area. Do not be surprised if you come across buck, baboons or monkeys.
Hunting packages are offered in season on some of the game farms in the area.
FAUNA AND FLORA
Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve
On the Drakensberg Escarpment at Moorefield, only 25 kms from Memel, big areas with unspoilt indigenous forest are to be found. To the north and west the landscape comprises mainly undulating grasslands and includes the extensive 5000 ha Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve. The spectacular internationally important 2000 ha Seekoeivlei Wetlands – listed as a Wetland of International Importance (RAMSAR) – is situated in the Reserve along the Klip River. The wetlands are made up by an extensive meandering floodplain and are now once again home to the hippo, 100 years after the last one was shot in the area.
The Memel district is also noted for its estimated 350 bird species including many ‘specials’ and 15 Red Data listed species. Memel is becoming a great birding destination. At certain times of the year thousands of water birds congregate on the wetlands, and the grassland areas abound with bird life, making the area a true birding paradise. Scarce and endangered species such as the Wattled, Blue and Crowned Crane may be seen and sometimes roost together in the same part of the wetland. Special birds of the grasslands include Southern Bald Ibis, Blue Korhaan, Rudd’s and Botha’s Larks and Yellow-breasted Pipit.
HISTORY AND ARCHITECTURE
The British erected forts along the escarpment for defence purposes during the Anglo-Boer War, which still stand.
The Rebellion Memorial, to commemorate the 1914 Rebellion of the Boers against the British, was erected in front of the Dutch Reformed Church. The rebellion was planned on the farm Allenvale and executed from there. It was the result of many Afrikaners disagreeing with the South African government about whether or not South Africa should invade the German Colony of South West Africa on behalf of Britain. Many Afrikaners were still bitter about the Anglo-Boer War and did not want to fight on the side of the British. Furthermore, many regarded and were in fact related to the people of the then South West Africa (now Namibia). The memorial also marks the spot where General Christiaan de Wet’s son, who died during the uprising, is buried. General de Wet was one of the Boer leaders who instigated the rebellion.