Wakkerstroom

Wakkerstroom, (Awake Stream), is the second oldest town in Mpumalanga province, South Africa.

The town is on the KwaZulu-Natal border, 27 km east of Volksrust and 56 km south-east of Amersfoort.

The settlement was laid out on the farm Gryshoek by Dirk Cornelis (Swart Dirk) Uys (1814-1910), proclaimed in 1859, and administered by a village council from 1910. Swart Dirk Uys originally named the town Uysenburg, but the name was changed by the Executive Council of the South African Republic to Marthinus-Wesselstroom, also known as Wesselstroom.

In 1904 the name of the town was changed again to Wakkerstroom, meaning ‘awake stream’ or ‘lively stream’, which is an Afrikaans translation of the Zulu name for the river uThaka (English: awake) that flows near the town.

Environment

The area surrounding the town is mountainous with kloofs, mountain springs, vlei areas, dams, conservation and heritage sites. It is internationally renowned as a "birders paradise". Due to the high occurrence of high priority wetlands and the proximity to the sources of three rivers, the Vaal, Tugela (via Buffalo tributary) and Pongola, it was declared a National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Area. It is also a protected area under the Protected Areas Act, which means that mining is generally not allowed.