Things To Do in Nelspruit Mbombela

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.

Two chimps sitting at Chimp Eden - Things to do in Nelspruit - Shandon Lodge

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.

Entrance to the Sudwala Caves - Things to do in Nelspruit -Shandon Lodge

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.

Riding through the plantation - Things to do in Nelspruit - Shandon Lodge

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.

Scenic view of the Panorama Route - Things to Do in Nelspruit - Shandon Lodge

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.

Viewing lift going down the face of the Gorge - Things to do in Nelspruit - Shandon Lodge

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.

Suspension bridge in the botanical gardens nelspruit - Things to do in Nelspriut - Shandon Lodge

7. Mankele

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.

Guests enjoying pool at mankele - Things to do in Nelspruit- Shandon Lodge

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.

Tourists taking pictures of leopards in the Kruger National Park - Things to do in Nelspruit - Shandon Lodge

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.

I'langa mall entrance - Things to do in Nelspruit - Shandon Lodge

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.

Entrance to the africa silks farm - Things to do in Nelspruit - Shandon Lodge

To book Nelspruit Accommodation, book with Shandon Lodge, a four star Nelspruit Lodge and one of the oldest and most popular guest houses in Nelspruit

11. The Mbombela Stadium

Some of the finest sporting entertainment in Nelspruit happens at Mbombela Stadium. The first and only stadium in the city, it was built specifically for the 2010 Soccer World Cup and has since been used to host local and international rugby and soccer matches, as well as other events like fun runs. The stadium is surrounded by open spaces, which are sometimes used to host smaller events, while across the road from the stadium on a Saturday morning the local Park Run takes place.

12. The Mafunyane Water Park

Summers in the Lowveld are green, humid, and best known for being so hot that all you want to do is spend the day lounging in the pool, any pool. In response to this unbreakable heat, the Mafunyane Water Park was built in the grounds of the Riverside Mall. With a selection of cooling swimming pools and thrilling water slides, as well as various places to sit under the shade of a tree or an umbrella to enjoy a picnic, a morning, afternoon or full day spent at Mafunyane is definitely one of those summer treats that you should indulge in, if you find yourself in the city.

13. The Kaapsehoop Scootours

Up on the escarpment, twisting through the lush Berlin Plantations, and winding down the mountain to a beautiful creek, the Kaapsehoop Scootours offer a unique perspective of the wildness that surrounds the ancient mountain village of Kaapsehoop. Guests to the area looking for a very action packed thing to do can sign up for a morning or afternoon scootours trip. Such an adventure consists of climbing on a specialised scooter and, with a guide at the helm, zipping down narrow paths, all the while looking at the forest trees and occasionally catching sight of a mountain animal.

14. The Blue Moon Live Music Venue

One of the most iconic places in Nelspruit, in terms of live music, has got to be Blue Moon. A couple of years ago, the venue closed down and it was generally accepted that the era had come to an end. Recently, this legendary place, where many a local has had their first real introduction to the South African live music scene, reopened its stage and now the sound of guitars, drums, and trumpets, are once more reverberating across the hilly outcrop in which the venue has been set. For now, the events are sporadic, but if you are in town when there is a show on, you should make the effort to take the drive out of town to see it for yourself.

15. The Geo Trail

Did you know that Nelspruit and especially nearby Barberton, is home to some of the world’s oldest rocks? The area is regarded as a geological wonder and it attracts geologists, students and rock enthusiasts from all over the world. When you visit Barberton, embark on the Geo Trail to have a closer look at the natural wonders that contain the story of the formation of our world. One of the best ways to see the rocks, and to take in the outstanding beauty of the surrounding mountain ranges which are in and of themselves a spectacular sight to behold, is to head out on the Geo Trail. This trail winds its way up the mountains and will give you a unique look at some of the sights that you would never be able to see otherwise.

16. The Barberton Museum

While you are in the Barberton area exploring the Geo Trail, you can swing into the Barberton Museum. There is a lot of history to read about here, and there are also plenty of family heirlooms and old letters written by one of the towns pioneering families. The main museum forms a part of a group of museums dotted all throughout the town, with many of them in old houses which have been redecorated to look exactly like they did back in the early 1920s. The town also has the old mining museum which is full of relics from back when just about the entire economy of the town was held up by the gold mines.

17. The Kaapsehoop Horse Trails

Just one day in Kaapsehoop will have you falling in love with this special place. Not only is the atmosphere up in this mountain village quite otherworldly in that there really is that sort of magical feel of being in a place that doesn’t really fit into the modern world, but the surrounding landscape is rather spectacular. Venturing out of the village, across the road, and through the Berlin Plantation will take you to the Kaapsehoop Horse Trails. The Kaapsehoop area is already well known for its wild horse population, and at the horse trails, you can ride a tame horse through some exceptionally beautiful scenery.

18. The Kaapsehoop Ghost Tour

Definitely not everyone’s idea of a fun night out, if you are in Kaapsehoop in the evening and you are looking for a real thrill, why not sign up for a spooky night of ghostly adventures? Kaapsehoop is a very old town, and like all old towns with long histories, the tales of ghosts roaming the night and haunting hotels and restaurants are spoken in hushed tones. Not everyone is a believer, and for those who do believe, not every night is full of visitations, but if you are up for a scare, you can either find out more about the Ghost Tour or ask the locals to share a few creepy stories.

19. The Padstalls

The areas around Nelspruit are pure farming community. You won’t drive even 15 minutes out of the town without entering farm land of some sort. That is partly what makes this corner of South Africa so special. Although the town is a bustling business hub, and bordering on becoming a city, the farm roots run deep here. And part of this local culture is the Padstall. You will find these small shops from the N4 all the way to Halls Farm Stall, which is just as you enter the town. If you continue onto any of the smaller surrounding towns, you are likely to find many more of these unique, family run roadside shops.

20. The Kruger Tour

If you find yourself in Nelspruit for more than a few days, going on a guided safari tour of the Kruger is always a great experience. Many think that going on a guided Kruger safari is something only for visiting tourists, but locals can benefit from these adventures too. Many guided Kruger safaris leave from Nelspruit (or can be arranged to leave from Nelspruit), and take away the need to drive yourself.

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