Nelspruit on the banks of the Nels River lies in a fertile sub-tropical valley that is the gateway to the Kruger National Park and the neighboring country of Mozambique. The abundant sunshine and lush hills and valleys make it the perfect base for exploring the province of Mpumalanga, of which it is the capital.
The Mbombela Stadium seven kilometers outside the town was erected for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup but is already showing promise of attracting sports fans to its forty thousand seat capacity for many years to come on account of its truly first world facilities.
Although the town itself may not enchant, it is the gateway to many wonderful places. The following are but a small selection:
Kruger National Park
No visit to South Africa can be complete without a visit to the Kruger National Park, which stretches for over three hundred and fifty kilometers from north to south. All the “Big Five” game animals can be found here and there is a big selection of accommodations available no matter what kind of adventure you are looking for.
Far-sighted planning has resulted in the removal of fences between the park and the adjacent Mozambican game reserves, creating the synthesis of two great world assets and allowing traditional migratory practices to return.
Lowveld National Botanical Gardens
The Lowveld National Botanical Gardens just outside the town of Nelspruit extend across one hundred and sixty hectares of rugged rocky scenery containing a vast variety of naturally occurring plant species. The Crocodile and Nels Rivers both enter the sanctuary down cataracts before meeting in a placid pool surrounded by scarce natural rain forest.
Perry’s Bridge Reptile Park
Perry’s Bridge Reptile Park on the boundary of the Kruger National Park and on the road to Blyde River Canyon provides a perfect opportunity to view anacondas, reticulated pythons, black mamba, green mamba, rattlesnakes, boomslang, gaboon adder, and cobras in natural surroundings, as well as poison dart frogs, iguanas, ancient leopard tortoises and huge Nile crocodiles.
The Sudwala Caves are a natural phenomenon over thirty kilometers in length that date back three thousand million years to the time when the Drakensberg Mountains were formed. The six kilometers, which are accessible to the public, are adorned with an incredible array of mighty chambers studded with giant examples of stalactites, stalagmites and flowstone formations. Hour-long tours introduce visitors to a crystal chamber with dazzling examples of sparkling aragonite crystals – a once in a lifetime experience which involves stretches of crawling through tunnels.
Fifteen kilometers outside town lies Chimpanzee Eden, a one thousand hectare refuge established by Jane Goodall for animals that have been deprived of their natural homes and families. Many other species of game also roam the beautiful bush land to the delight of visitors.
There’s a great deal more to Nelspruit than meets the eye – in fact, it is the perfect place to rest awhile in one of the many fine hotels before sallying forth into nature.