Things to Do in Nelspruit – The Top Ten
Although it might not be the biggest or busiest city around, finding things to do in Nelspruit doesn’t have to be a daunting task, as this ‘small’ city has some of the most unique and unforgettable experiences up for offer. Check out Shandon Lodges’ recent blogs – Botanical Gardens Nelspruit & Queen Rose Hiking Trail
1. Chimp Eden
Chimp Eden is part of the renowned Jane Goodall Institute and was established to rescue, care for and rehabilitate one of the most intelligent animals on earth. Chimp Eden is only a stone’s throw away from Nelspruit (15-minute drive), but watch out! Cozy the chimp also likes to throw stones. All the resident chimpanzees at the sanctuary have been rescued from the bush meat trade, illegal pet trade, circuses and even night clubs where the chimps were given alcohol and cigarettes. The rescued chimps have been given a second chance at living the life they are meant to, with large bushy enclosures to romp around in and companions. The chimpanzee tour is conducted three times a day and gives visitors the opportunity to meet some of the sanctuary’s chimps and learn their life story.
2. Sudwala Caves
The Sudwala Caves are the oldest caves in the world, with many fascinating stalactite and stalagmite features such as the ‘Screaming Monster’ which is around 200-million years old. After exploring the caves, head over to the Dinosaur Park to view life-size dinosaur models. The Sudwala Cave is an all-round educational experience which will be unforgettable.
3. Kaapsehoop Scootours
Kaapsehoop is a small picture-perfect town located on the Highveld escarpment and only 25km from Nelspruit/Mbombela, Mpumalanga. Think, huge pine trees all around, birds in the sky, wild horses roaming the fields and a 6km downhill scooter dash. The Scootour takes you through some dense indigenous forests, over rivers and above the breath-taking De Kaap and Elands Valley. The best part about the Scootours is that the scooters used are eco-friendly, with no engine at all. Only relying on gravity to take you on an unforgettable journey.
4. The Panorama Route
The Panorama Route has been described as the ‘most beautiful place on earth’ by some, and is known to be one of the most scenic self-drives in the country by many. The route is centred around the Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world. The route features numerous waterfalls and one of the largest forested areas in South Africa.
5. Graskop Gorge
The Graskop Gorge Lift Company is in the centre of the Panorama Route, and is a perfect stop over point. The Lift Company offers visitors the opportunity to go in a viewing lift, which runs 51 metres down the face of the gorge, taking you into the dense forest below where wooden walkways and suspension bridges are part of the 600-metre trail through the forest. If that isn’t enough excitement for you, you can take a leap off the edge of the Gorge with the ‘Big Swing’ – the world’s highest cable gorge swing.
6. Botanical Gardens Nelspruit
The Botanical Gardens is 159 Hectares of heaven on earth, home to over 600 naturally occurring plant species and an extra 2000 introduced species. The Gardens feature one of the largest collections of South African trees, which have created a haven for over 243 bird species. Besides birds, reptiles and butterflies, hippos are also frequent visitors in the Garden, but thankfully only at night.
About 25kms from the busy city of Nelspruit, Mankele is a hidden gem located in the same mountains as the Sudwala caves. Mankele is known as one of the best mountain biking parks in the country, but even if you don’t ride, there is still plenty to do. You can choose between staying just for the day or you can grab a mallet and pitch a tent, although, for some, staying in an air-conditioned log cabin may sound like the better option. Mankele offers a variety of activities such as paintball, zip lining, river tubing and much more.
8. Kruger National Park
You can’t have a ‘things to do’ list without mentioning the world-renowned Kruger National Park, which covers approximately 19 485 square kilometres. Although the main attractions of the park are the Big Five: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo, the Kruger National Park is also home to 148 species of mammals, 505 species of birds and 118 species of reptiles. The Kruger National Park also offers a wide variety of accommodation across the whole park.
9. I’langa Mall
I’langa Mall is a premium lifestyle centre located only 9.3Km from Shandon Lodge. The lifestyle centre has over 10 restaurants, an indoor ice rink and a top-class movie theatre. I’langa Mall is the perfect place to go if the weather does not permit any outdoor activities.
10. Africa Silks Farm
Last but definitely not least, we have the Africa Silks farm – Be amazed by the African silk making process, you can book a one hour guided tour from Monday to Sunday. After the tour, you can treat yourself to some of the finest quality silk products, such as clothing and silk-filled duvets. After being as busy as a silk worm, grab a bite to eat from The Deck restaurant. Their home-made ginger beer is always a winner.