Memel, a Prussian word meaning 'surrounded by water' is an apt description for this quaint town situated in the Drakensberg area in the north eastern corner of the Free State.
Two kilometres north of Memel is one of the largest remaining wetlands of South Africa, making it a site of international ecological importance. Since the wetlands and surrounding plains are home to more than 300 species of birds, it has become a bird lover's haven.
The Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve situated within the wetland area, consists of some 220 oxbow lakes formed in the Klip River over the centuries. The last hippopotamus in the Free State was shot here in 1894. A project to re-establish them in the reserve was started in 1999 and Memel's visitors can now once again view these large creatures wallowing happily in their reclaimed waters.
Founded in 1913, Memel was home to General Christiaan De Wet, Leader of the Rebellion during the Anglo Boer War. Various battle sites and memorials can be found in and around the town.
A unique area of spectacular beauty, Memel is a popular destination for nature lovers and history buffs.