8 Things to Do in Nelspruit That You Shouldn't Miss

September 13, 2017 Timmy Ribble

Nelspruit (also known by its official name, Mbombela) is a city in northeastern South Africa. It is the capital of the Mpumalanga province. Located on the Crocodile River, Mbombela lies about 110 kilometres (68 mi) by road west of the Mozambique border, 330 kilometres (210 mi) east of Johannesburg and about 82 kilometres (51 mi) North of the Swaziland border.
Restaurants in Nelspruit

1. Kruger National Park

Malalan Gate, Nelspruit 1350, South Africa +27 13 735 6152
Excellent
80%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 2 reviews

Kruger National Park

Reviewed By Sarracenia - Norman, Oklahoma

This is the one park everyone should visit if they are visiting South Africa. It is very large and there are many camps that offer a variety of accommodation at different price ranges. The quality and maintenance/condition of the accommodation appears to vary from camp to camp. Punda Maria, for example, has very nice Safar tents and the rooms are fine. In general the losing can appear dated and often things may not work properly. Still these accommodation come at a fairly reasonable price considering where you are. Many camps offer cottages with cooking facilities even though there are restaurants in all the camps. I noticed that there are many more luxurious camps inside the park. These are concessions run by private companies and they tend to be expensive. I have not been to any of those, but perhaps paying more would give you nicer accommodation and better guides (usually food and guides are included in the price of these private accommodation).
The campgrounds in general don't look that great. Not much privacy at all and dusty at times.
If staying in the cheaper SANS park accommodation I would recommend that as soon as you check in you inspect your room and if there is a problem (e.g. bat urine/guano on your sheets etc. you may have a chance to change if they have other rooms). Often they will give you another room if they have any available.
The roads are in pretty good shape so you can drive yourself and most roads don't really requiere a high clearance vehicle. The miscellaneous drives offered by the park in open vehicles can be interesting, but we found that many of the drivers (no separate guide) are not that well trained. That can vary depending on who you get. I would recommend a sunset drive since you can then enjoy sunsets and be out there at an ideal time of day to see wildlife and you get to be out there at night too.
All camps have good restaurants and reasonably well stocked shops (food and souvenirs as well as books). Be sure and buy the excellent 2015 "Kruger self-drive routes, roads and ratings". You can do that at your first camp at the store. This book has detailed routes, maps and information that will be invaluable when planning your days in Kruger.
Keep in mind that all camps have strict opening and closing gate times. It is important to be aware of those times as they change with the seasons.
For foreigners planning to stay a while in Kruger or planning to visit many national parks while in South Africa purchasing a Wild Card is recommended. They are expensive, but since you have to pay per day per person while visiting the parks and some like Kruger NP are expensive, this will eventually save you money. Again this depends on how many days you will be in the national parks.
Good WiFi is to be found through out the park. One problem that you will find in all the camps are the habituated baboons and vervet monkeys. They are a problem and they can open your refrigerator and steal your food. They can also get into your car or inside your room or cottage in no time if you leave the doors open. They are smart and fast so you really have to take them seriously and keep all doors closed at all times. Trash or food can't be left outside or in the car and if in a tent they recommend you don't leave any food inside the tent either. Monkeys will rip your tent to get in. They have been ripped screens on windows in some camps. Monkeys are a big problem and most camps don't appear to be doing too much to improve this situation. The only place where I saw some action on this was at Punda Maria where they now have a monitor (a live Sans park person) who hangs around the area where the safary tents are. He will deter or scare away any monkeys that try to get inside the tents. This tells you how bad things most have gotten for the camp manager to start doing this. Hopefully all camps will be this proactive in the future
An amazing park, vast and full of roads that you can explore while looking for wildlife. Cooking is a good option if you don't want to eat at the restaurant every day. I would return to Kruger if visiting South Africa again.

2. Lowveld National Botanical Garden

off White River Rd, Nelspruit, South Africa +27 13 752 5531
Excellent
53%
Good
40%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 272 reviews

Lowveld National Botanical Garden

The Lowveld National Botanical Garden in Nelspruit, ‘grows’ magically out of the confluence of the Crocodile and Nels Rivers and offers up a magnificent array of nature’s treasures. The two rivers create spectacular Waterfalls which give this Garden its visually spectacular character.

Reviewed By skippie1973 - Krugersdorp, South Africa

On our way to visit family we stopped over for lunch at the Lowveld National Botanical Gardens in Nelspruit one very hot afternoon. They have a beautiful restaurant with a MIST cooling system in the outside Seating area that helps with keeping the insects at bay and to cool down. The food was great and my daughter enjoyed her milkshake. We went for a quick walk to view the waterfall but unfortunately could not stay longer to explore the rest of the Gardens which is impressive. We definitely will be back with more time on our hands to experience more of this wonderful place. TIP: Come prepared with good walking shoes, a water bottle, hat, sunblock and insect repellent.

3. Sudwala Caves

R539, Nelspruit, South Africa +27 83 446 0228
Excellent
45%
Good
47%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 457 reviews

Sudwala Caves

The Sudwala Caves is the oldest known caves in the world and lie in the Drakensberg escarpment.Regular guided tours take you 600 meters in and 150 meters underground. Tours leave every 10 min (approx) and take about 30 minutes.The caves have some amazing formations including stalactites, stalagmites, flow stones and pre cambrian fossils. The most famous formation is the Screaming Monster. This is actually a stalactite that has joined with a stalagmite and has formed a column that is 200 million years old.

Reviewed By Des1963 - Johannesburg, South Africa

This is my second visit to the caves and I thoroughly enjoyed it again. It's a must see experience when visiting the Lowveld. It's interesting, amazing, fascinating, beautiful. I am in awe of nature when I observe the changes that have happened over millions of years. Absolutely incredible. The tour guides are knowledgeable, funny and clearly love what they do. Highly recommended activity.

4. Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Eden Sanctuary

Approximately 10 kilometers on the Barberton Road | Umhloti Nature Reserve, Nelspruit, South Africa +27 79 777 1514
Excellent
55%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 249 reviews

Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Eden Sanctuary

Reviewed By JAKTracks - Roodepoort, South Africa

Very interesting place and worth a visit, most of the chimps have such unbelievably sad back grounds and stories of bad treatments. The enclosures are all neatly kept and the guides are very informative and friendly. Its the best place for the chimps as they cannot be returned to the wild.
There is a coffee and curio shop as well.
Thanks guys great work with the chimps

5. Ilanga Mall

Cnrs of Bitterbessie and Flamboyant Streets, Nelspruit, South Africa
Excellent
27%
Good
53%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
2%
Terrible
4%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 48 reviews

Ilanga Mall

Reviewed By MAXIMVS M

The mall is under a lot of construction work (cinemas, new shops, etc) and plenty of shops seemed to be revamping. Surely this will be a major improvement in the diversity and quality, but for now it is not a pleasant shopping experience.

6. Riverside Mall

White River Road Riverside Park | Government Boulevard Riverside Park, Nelspruit 1200, South Africa +27 13 757 0080
Excellent
23%
Good
44%
Satisfactory
26%
Poor
7%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 26 reviews

Riverside Mall

Reviewed By Mark S - Nelspruit, South Africa

Lowvelders tend to call this The Mall. That's because it is the first and still the most prominent of all the mall type shopping experiences. Recently upgraded to provice more parking the Riverside Mall is very spacious and has a consistently upmarket feel about it. There is a nice mix of entertainment, eateries and retail to satisfy a variety of needs. Most key tenants have been there a long time, so locals tend to know what the centre offers.

7. Open Skies Wilderness Expeditions

14 Henkrin Park | Enterprise Crescent, Nelspruit, South Africa
Excellent
100%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 11 reviews

Open Skies Wilderness Expeditions tailor makes tours and expeditions to suit all budgets and needs. Perfect for small groups or families looking for something different. Let us introduce you to the African Wilderness we like to call home.

Reviewed By twoceans - London, UK

We had three amazing days in Timbavarti with Open Skies and Brian and Dean were absolute stars. Brian's knowledge of both the game and the environment was outstanding and we were lucky to see baby leopards, the nine month old white lion cubs and hyena cubs as well as adult leopards, lions, rhino, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, etc. Which was not a bad result for our first trip to the Kruger Park! One of the highlights was a bush walk during which we encountered kudu, zebra as some sleeping lions. Thank you very much to Brian and Dean and Open Skies for a truly amazing few days. I would definitely recommend Open Skies to anyone thinking about planning a trip to the Kruger.

8. Mbombela Stadium

1 Bafana Road | Mataffin, Nelspruit 1200, South Africa +27 13 757 4600
Excellent
67%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
33%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 6 reviews

Mbombela Stadium

Reviewed By kdgarlipp - Pretoria, South Africa

This stadium that was built for some of the 2010 world cup soccer matches and is currently used for soccer and rugby matches. The steel support structure has a striking and discernible resemblance of giraffe necks, giraffe being a common animal in Mpumalanga. The gym inside is impressive, but the large investment in this stadium is under utilised.

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