Surrounded by some of the country’s most spectacular game reserves and the famous Kruger National Park, Nelspruit offers more than just a world-class football stadium. Nelspruit is the capital of Mpumalanga Province. In siSwati,(one of the official languages), Mpumalanga means a ‘place where the sun rises’. With the unending view of rolling mountains from God’s Window to the majestic scenes of the green hills contrasting with blue rivers at Blyde River Canyon, this is definitely a place the sun would not want to leave.
Nelspruit, located in the local municipality of Mbombela. The whole area invokes the idea of a ‘Garden of Eden’, with a flourishing fruit industry and countless waterfalls which drop from dramatic cliff faces. Wild horses roam freely in Kaapsehoop.
A few kilometres north of the small town of Middelburg lies the museum village of Botshabelo. It preserves the culture of the Ndebele, who belong to the large group of Nguni people. The Ndebele presumably moved around the 15th and 16th centuries from Natal to live here in a quasi-peaceful co-existence with other Nguni groups. Nearby Pilgrims Rest is an old gold-mining town which has seems to have been forgotten by time. Also in the area is Komatipoort, which serves as a gateway to Mozambique.
Nelspruit is a good base for exploring the nearby Limpopo Trans-frontier Park, which incorporates the Kruger National Park (South Africa), Limpopo National Park (Mozambique) and Gonarezhou National Park (Zimbabwe).
History of Nelspruit
Nelspruit is named after the Nel family which settled in the area in 1905. The family farmed cattle in the area and eventually settled along the Crocodile River which runs through the centre of the province.
The nearby Sudwala caves became a place of Swazi legend. The dolomite caves were a safe haven for Prince Somquba, who sought refuge here from persecution. He eventually died, but the rest of the survivors sought refuge in the caves under the leadership of a tribal councilor named Sudwala.
Blessed to be situated in the fertile Crocodile River Valley, Nelspruit also enjoys the privileges of being the political capital of Mpumalanga one of the key provinces of the Republic of South Africa.
The history of this beautiful, fast growing metropolitan area dates back to 1892. It all started off with the construction of a station up the Crocodile river valley, built on a farm owned by the Nel family. The place Nelspruit ( Nels stream) attracted traders and farmers in high profile because of the natural richness of the soil, adequate water for irrigation and a level valley floor.
Though badly cursed with Malaria , in the early years , Nelspruit grew to be one of the largest producers of tobacco, litchis , mangoes , avocados etc. Effective control to this deadly disease helped the community in this valley to surge ahead. Today Nespruit is a substantial town situated amid the orange grove. The streets are shaded with flowering trees. In addition this town keeps the pulse of a growing province in South Africa. The town hall building attracts many tourist as the sundial on the island is in the shape of a wagon wheel and serves as a memorial to Louis Trichardt and his 1837 trek to Lourenco Marques.This town has a very important place in the tourist map as it is a stop over to the route to Kruger National Park.
Mbombela Stadium – host of the 2010 World Cup
The Mbombela Stadium is one of the newly-built stadia for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ and it takes its name from the local municipality which incorporates the city of Nelspruit. Mbombela is siSwati (one of the 11 official languages in South Africa) and literally means ‘many people together in a small space.’
The stadium, with a capacity of 46,000, is located in the city of Nelspruit in Mpumalanga Province. It is situated approximately seven kilometers from the city centre and 12 kilometers from the nearby Kruger-Mpumalanga Airport. The ground also enjoys a close proximity to various game parks, giving spectators the opportunity to see the wildlife during rest days.
The Mbombela comes as a welcome addition to football life in Nelspruit, and will leave a legacy of the beautiful game for all the people of Mpumalanga. Before the Stadium’s construction, Nelspruit had no top football venue to host international matches.
Mbombela Stadium is a new 43,500-seat stadium currently under construction as one of the ten venues for the FIFA World Cup 2010. It will be located on open land six kilometers west of Nelspruit, South Africa, with the stadium as the centrepiece of a proposed sports precinct with athletics and cricket as well as other sporting codes. Construction commenced in February 2007 with a completion date of Oct 2009. The Construction contract has been awarded to a South African–French consortium. It is proposed that most of the seats will be covered by a cantilever roof. The signature feature of the stadium are the 18 roof supports that resemble giraffes. The stadium is close to the Kruger National Park so it is apt that the stadium reflect this inter-relation. Visitors to this World Cup venue will be able to couple this with a visit to the game reserve.
The Mbombela Local Municipality and the Mpumalanga Province has led the way for the Beautiful Game in SA making the world class Mbombela Stadium the envy of SA’s sports-mad nation.
The R1,050-million sports facility set to be ready for use by late 2009 well ahead of the June 2010 World Cup kickoff and has been made possible through national government funding.
The multi-purpose stadium, which is expected to host key soccer and rugby matches, will also be equipped with conference facilities.
The Mpumalanga Premier, Thabang Makwetla, said that the Mbombela Stadium will become one of the finest sports and entertainment assets in the Mpumalanga Province.
The bowl design aimed to put every seat as close as practical to the field action and maintain excellent sightlines over the heads of spectators. The seating is divided into 3 tiers with 21,000 lower tier, 3,500 middle tier and 19,000 on the upper tier.
The pitch is sized for Rugby 100x70m and Soccer 105x68m and floodlit to 2,200 lux to meet FIFA requirements. FIFA had considered artificial turf for WC 2010 but currently are staying with grass.
Lodging Accommodations nearby Mbombela Stadium
Leaves Lodge & Spa
Haden’s Rest B&B
Restaurants in the area
Things to do in Nelspruit
Kruger National Park
Whenever people visit South Africa, one of the first places they want to visit is the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga Province. It is one of the most celebrated game parks in South Africa and is home to some of the finest widlife. It is the largest game reserve in South Africa covering a total of 18,989 square km and extending 350km from north to south, and 60km from east to west. The two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga lie to the west and south of the Kruger National Park.
The park has eight main gates that allow entrance to a variety of camps. The climate of the Kruger National Park and Lowveld is subtropical. Summer days are humid and hot with temperatures often soaring to above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainy season is from September until May and the dry winter season is the ideal time to visit this region for a variety of reasons.
Shangana cultural village
South Africa is about diversity – diversity of cultures, diversity of languages and diversity of traditions. In the past, the segregation laws in the country made people with different languages unable to reside together and grouped people according to ethnicity.
The Shagana Village is home to the Shangana people who speak isiTsonga, one of the official 11 languages in South Africa. The Village, which was built by locals, is situated midway between the Blyde River Canyon and the southern Kruger National Park. The picturesque villages are set in the shade of ancient trees in a reserve of forest and grassland, and are open every day. A bustling African market village forms the centre of Shangana, where local craftspeople make and trade their craft. From here, trained guides lead guests to villages on daytime tours, midday tours with lunch, and the famed Evening Festival in the Chief’s Kraal.
The Sudwala Caves are the oldest known caves in the world, and as such, are a `must-see’ on the itinerary of any visitor to the Mpumalanga Province. These incredible caverns lie in the Drakensberg escarpment which separates the Highveld from the lowlands of Mpumalanga. The caves are situated in Pre-cumbrian dolomite rocks of the Malmani Group, formed over a period of some 3000 million years, capturing in stone a time when the area was covered by warm shallow in-land seas. These are amongst the second oldest known sedimentary rocks on earth, and represented in the cave are fossils of the first oxygen producing plants on the earth, Collenia. One can clearly see in the different layers and textures of the rock, a reflection of the results of the various weather patterns which take place in the building of an ancient seabed. Besides the awesome rock displays, the caverns also boast an array of calcium formations, aged but active, anciently and patiently still growing.
One of the envisaged places in Nelspruit is the Mac mac Falls, and while not much is known about the falls in South Africa, they are certainly one of the most artistic and innovative sites in the country. Mac Mac Falls is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the delicate charms of South Africa . It boasts a rich blend of beauty and nostalgia – stunning African beauty steeped in, and sometimes moulded by, the country’s fascinating history. The second highest falls in the Mpumalanga tour route, its shimmering waters plunge to a depth of 65m. Listen to the babbling waters of the turbulent falls and explore the natural beauty that nature has to offer. This is the best place to rejuvenate and bond with nature.
Lowveld National Botanical Gardens
When exploring Africa, one of the ‘must see’ places are the breath-taking vegetation-covered escarpments. And, when you are in Nelspruit one of the places you have to visit are the Lowveld National Botanical Gardens to enjoy the calmness that comes with the river scenery and the spectacular settings of Nelspruit’s main tourist attraction place.
The Lowveld National Botanical Gardens are situated at the heart of Mpumalanga. They also have a Visitor’s Centre which contains a restaurant, shops and information centre.