Travel Guide for Nelspruit Accommodation

Aerial view of Nelspruit - Nelspruit Accommodation - Shandon Lodge

Image Source: krugerlowveld – Nelspruit City

With its breath-taking views, friendly people and lively culture, Nelspruit is quickly becoming a favourite get away destination for many South Africans. Nelspruit, the capital of Mpumalanga and home to Shandon Lodge is one of the few cities that still has the culture of a town. Whether it is your first time or 100th time coming to Nelspruit, this Travel guide for Nelspruit Accommodation will provide you with the necessary information to have an unforgettable experience.

Nelspruit is one of the under-dogs of South African holidays and although many may forget about considering Nelspruit as a holiday destination, Nelspruit is filled with sights and activities that is completely unique and to be found nowhere else.

For you to get to know Nelspruit a bit better, here are 4 quick facts about our city:

  • Nelspruit has officially been renamed to Mbombela, although many still refer to it as Nelspruit.
  • The weather in Nelspruit is mostly warm and sunny and rarely drops below 18 degrees, making it the perfect destination for outdoor activities.
  • Nelspruit has a population of 110 159 people, and was founded in 1895 by three brothers of the Nel family.
  • Mbombela Stadium hosted four 2010 FIFA World Cup matches and is currently home to the Pumas Rugby Team.
Mbombela Stadium - Nelspruit Accommodation - Shandon Lodge

Image Source: Wikipedia – Mbombela Stadium

How to get there:

There are a few different ways of entering Nelspruit, depending on your preference, you can do so by plane, car or shuttle services.

By Plane:

If travelling to Nelspruit by plane, the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport is going to be your first destination. Situated about 28km’s from Nelspruit itself, the airport will give you a taste of what is yet to come. Once inside the airport, you will find a Wimpy overlooking the incoming and outgoing airplanes, which is always a nice spot to stop and grab a quick meal before continuing with your journey. Some of the other shops and establishments you can find inside the airport would be the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks agency and various little shops for souvenirs. A flight from OR Tambo to KMI averages at around 50 minutes.

By Car:

When traveling to Nelspruit by car, there are so many little things that you see on your journey to Nelspruit that add to the excitement, such as gorgeous views of the Crocodile River and our very own roadside rock statue, Old Joe. The rock was erected by the road crew that built the Schoemanskloof Road in honor of their foreman Johannes (Joe) Barbas and has become a landmark on the road in and out of Nelspruit.

By Shuttle Service:

There are a couple of shuttle services going from Pretoria to Nelspruit every day. Some of the most well-known services are City Bug, Lowveld Link and Lime Time. These shuttle services are most probably the best form of traveling if you are traveling without a family. You will save a massive amount of money if deciding to use the shuttle service instead of driving a rented car or even your own. Some travellers even take their laptop on the bus with them to catch up on work or even watch a movie or two.

Old Joe Rock Statue - Nelspruit Accommodation - Shandon lodge

Image Source: Lowvelder – Old Joe

Upon Arrival:

Booking In:

There are several Nelspruit Accommodation options that you can choose from. A favourite among many travellers is Shandon Lodge, a Bed and Breakfast located in the heart of Nelspruit with a gorgeous view of the city. The lodge boasts 9 Luxury en-suite bedrooms of varying sizes, Free Wi-Fi, great breakfast and so much more. No matter what, we would always suggest reading the reviews of all of your Nelspruit Accommodation options, so that you can make the right decision and book with an establishment that will fit your criteria.

Shandon Lodge View - Nelspruit Accommodation - Shandon Lodge

Image Source: Shandon Lodge – Shandon Lodge Seating Area

Getting Around:

For those traveling by Shuttle or Plane, your primary way of transport is going to have to be car rental. There are a few car rental companies that can be found in Nelspruit but a few noteworthy mentions would be Avis, Budget and Europcar. Travelling around Nelspruit by car would be the easiest way of getting to know what it is truly like to be a part of our city.

A quick bite before exploring:

Upon arriving in Nelspruit, a quick bite from one of the local restaurants is a given. We know that you are eager to get around and start doing things, so sitting and waiting at a fancy restaurant for food might not be the best option at that time. Exploring the little Café’s all along Nelspruit is one of the best ways of getting to know what it’s like in Nelspruit.

Here are a few of our favourite spots to grab a quick bite before continuing you adventures:

  • Shandon Lodge Breakfast

Before heading out and exploring Nelspruit, having a delicious breakfast whilst enjoying the breath-taking view of the Nelspruit is a great way to start your activity filled days! Shandon Lodge can provide guests with more than just a delicious breakfast, although it is not included in your accommodation package.

A recent Google review of Shandon Lodge Breakfast:

“Amazing place… great decoration and very kind hosts. Shandon lodge is a perfect and quite place for a couple, it also has a taste of home. Loved the breakfast. I totally recommend a visit!!”

  • Chippo’s Nelspruit

Chippo’s is very well known among the people of Nelspruit and is definitely a go-to spot for many on a Friday afternoon. Chippos is known to be the best place in town for potato chips. Their menu has a great selection of comforting Wood Fired Pizzas, Burgers, Ribs and more.

A recent Google review of Chippos Nelspruit:

“Best Salt and vinegar(slap) chips in town. Their pizzas are made in a wood-burning oven and are always perfect. Try the Lizani, Estelle or Marelize pizza – absolutely delicious every time. Peak times are always a bit of a mission, though, so it’s best to call and order ahead, and just collect.”

  • Feast – The handheld food company

Situated centrally in Nelspruit, Feast caters to all those that are in a hurry. You can expect quick service and all-round smiles when ordering from Feast. Their menu consists of all sorts of Burgers, Steak rolls, Toasted sandwiches, Prego rolls, footlongs and more.

A recent Google review of Feast:

“Food is always consistently good, been eating here for 20 years, it has an awesome beachside restaurant feel to it, attention to detail on the decor and the food is yummy, my favourite staple is the cheese chips.”

A burger from feast - Nelspruit Accommodation - Shandon Lodge

Image Source: TripAdvisor – Feast Restaurant

General Nelspruit Weather:

The general weather in Nelspruit is sunny with barely any clouds in the sky, making it the perfect location for a good holiday get away. Be sure to pack mostly summer clothes but do bring your jacket along, just in case. We would always suggest having a look at the forecasted weather for your selected dates and to pack accordingly.

Top 5 Things to in Nelspruit:

A quick Google Search of “Things to do in Nelspruit” will show The Panorama Route or The Kruger National Park (which are amazing options if possible). Assuming you don’t have time to travel all the way to some attractions in the surrounding area – Here are the Top 5 things that you can do in the city of Nelspruit and surrounds.

  1. Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Institute

Located only 20kms from Shandon Lodge, the Jane Goodall Institute for Chimpanzees is something you will never forget. Situated perfectly on a 1000-hectare game reserve, Chimp Eden is home to many chimps that have been rescued. The intention of the institute is to rescue and care for Chimps in need of refuge. Chimp Eden offers guided tours everyday at 10:00, 12:00 and 14:00. Being the 1st and only sanctuary for Chimpanzee’s in South Africa, this is something you don’t want to miss out on.

A recent TripAdvisor review of Chimp Eden:

“Chimp Eden is an absolutely phenomenal sanctuary. They all put their hearts into the care of these animals and no doubt they put them first. The enclosures are so well kept and the tour was amazing. I’d recommend anybody to go and learn and see first-hand at the rehabilitation and sanctuary for the chimps, as well as to support Chimp Eden to keep them going!”

  1. The Ice Rink at I’langa Mall

For those that enjoy Ice skating, this would definitely be worth checking out. Located in I’langa Mall, (8.5km from Shandon Lodge) you can shave off an extra hour while waiting for your event or before a meeting. The entrance fee to the ice rink is R55 and then an additional R25 skate hire fee. We would suggest taking a bag with some dry clothes and a towel for those that are unfamiliar with ice skating.

A recent Google review of The Ice Rink at I’langa Mall:

“Incredibly fun outing for the whole family! The ice rink is a fun place to spend time with friends. The rates are reasonable and there’s a discount for groups larger than 10 people. The atmosphere is jovial and relaxed. Food and beverages are sold here, but you can also bring along your own. The ice is well maintained and the skates are of good quality. A fun place for amateurs and seasoned skaters alike.”

  1. Sudwala Caves – The Oldest known caves in the World

Set in Precambrian dolomite rock and located 44kms from Shandon Lodge, the Sudwala caves are the oldest caves in the world. Right here on our doorstep and part of Nelspruit’s history, the caves feature various speleothems (Cave structures) known as “Samson’s Pillar”, “Lowveld Rocket” and “The screaming monster”. Some of these structures have been dated to 200 million years old. The Sudwala Caves are open 365 days a year and gives visitors a chance to experience the caves to the full extent with a guided tour. These tours are conducted daily and ticket sales are only available at the entrance of the cave.

A recent Google review of The Sudwala Caves:

“One of the top attractions in Nelspruit. One of the oldest cave systems of its type in the world, with a remarkable and intriguing history. Huge rock chambers, magnificent structures and informative storyboards make this a fantastic experience.”

  1. Nelspruit Botanical Gardens

Located in the heart of Nelspruit’s business district and 11kms from Shandon Lodge, the Nelspruit Botanical Gardens features a manmade rain-forest and provides an unforgettable experience. One of the main attractions being the Crocodile River and Nels River that merge in the garden, creating a spectacular view and amazing opportunity for pictures. The gardens are home to 600 naturally occurring plants species and a further 2000 species that have been introduced to the garden, it is safe to say that if you are a nature lover, there is no better place to be.

A recent TripAdvisor review of The Nelspruit Botanical Gardens:

“Beautifully kept gardens, a delight to see. Very natural surroundings too. Access is easy, the paths are well indicated, a walk through the “rain forest” is as real as it can be. 100% happy with this visit.”

  1. Escape Hour

Situated in Sonpark Centre, Nelspruit (6.7kms from Shandon Lodge), Escape Hour is a fun challenge for you to enjoy with your spouse or the whole family. The escape rooms provide a real-life adventure, filled with exciting mysteries and challenges waiting for you to solve them and escape the room! Come prepared, you are going to need team work, thinking outside the box and taking notice of every single detail if you want any chance of escaping within an hour. Just do make sure you don’t book this activity before a business meeting, especially if you don’t solve that puzzle in time.

A Recent Google Review of Escape Hour

“What a fantastic surprise! On a holiday in Nelspruit, we came across this recently established escape room and had great fun exploring each of their two very different story lines. A couple of dedicated escape room enthusiasts have transformed a small apartment into a true adventure zone.”

Image Source: ChimpEden – Chimp Eden Sanctuary

Top 5 Best Attractions in the Surrounding Areas:

When you are visiting Nelspruit, there are so many amazing experiences right here on your doorstep. Although the city of Nelspruit itself features many great attractions and activities, the surrounding area of Nelspruit features world-renown attractions such as The Kruger National Park or The Panorama Route. If you are visiting Nelspruit for an extended period of time and are able to travel to attractions, sparing some time to check out some of the below mentioned attractions before you leave Nelspruit will be well worth it and could make your trip even more memorable.

  1. Kruger National Park – 54km from Nelspruit

Located approximately 54kms from Nelspruit, the Kruger National Park is on the bucket list of many travellers across the globe. Spanning across 19,633 square kilometres, The Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve in Africa. Home to 505 species of birds, 148 species of mammals, 118 species of reptiles, 53 species of fish and 35 species of amphibians. The most popular animals among this list and one of the many reasons why tourists visit the park is the Big 5 – Lion, Leopard, Rhinoceros, Elephant and Cape Buffalo. The park features 13 camp-sites all across the park, each offering something unique. The closest entrance gate to Nelspruit is Numbi Gate, which is 53.7kms from Nelspruit. It would take about an hour’s drive to get to the park, it may seem like quite some distance but you can take the trip rest assured knowing it will be worth it.

A recent TripAdvisor Review of The Kruger National Park:

“I have been to Kruger Park more than 5 times and I keep going, every trip is different and one gets more surprised and amused. Excellent options for people of all ages. Try to be there early, you are more likely to see more”

  1. Kaapsehoop – 25km from Nelspruit

Located 37km from Shandon Lodge, Kaapsehoop is set perfectly atop the mountain pass of the Drakensberg escarpment above the city of Nelspruit. Kaapsehoop is a mystical little town unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The streets of the little village are gravel, lit by lantern-style lights; the signs indicating street names have been specifically designed to set the scene; there are a series of picturesque little shops and eateries; and the climate is moderate, as rain and cloud are often the case at this altitude making it a lot cooler up here during summer whilst the Lowveld bakes below. The little town has an array of things to do, although the most popular would be to hike up through the rocks and experience the astonishing view of the Barberton Valley. Kaapsehoop is home to a herd of wild horses, which are said to be descendants from horses sent with the British troops stationed here during the South African War. The mystical little town of Kaapsehoop is sure to deliver something you have never experienced before, making it a perfect holiday outing.

A recent TripAdvisor review of Kaapsehoop:

“If you are in Mpumalanga this is really worth the effort. Kaapsehoop is a beautiful town and the wild horses make the experience even better. Take a hike up to the stone circles for breath-taking views. We did not use a guide as this is an easy hike and you can take your time at the stones. We were accompanied by the horses the whole way.”

  1. God’s Window – 99km From Nelspruit

Located in Graskop and 106km from Shandon Lodge, the beautiful God’s Window is situated on the Drakensberg escarpment, it only takes is one look down to see why it is called God’s Window. Although it is quite some distance from Nelspruit, God’s Window is one attraction you don’t want to miss. The magnificent views, canyons, waterfalls and rock formations that you will lay your eyes on are what makes God’s Window so special. We recommend going to God’s Window on a clear day, this will allow you to see all the way to the Kruger National Park and even Mozambique! Once you have completed your hike, take a moment and just sit and soak up the sheer beauty of the Blyde River Canyon, the largest vegetated canyon in the world. It is no surprise that many people consider God’s Window to be the most beautiful place on earth. Ensure that you have sufficient storage space and fully charged camera batteries before departing to God’s window, you’re going to need it.

A recent Google Review of God’s Window:

“A definite must see. Not only does this place feel like something in another world, but entrance fees are affordable, staff are friendly and it will also give you pictures that holds the most amazing memories.”

  1. Elephant Whispers – 67km From Nelspruit

Located in Hazyview, approximately 67kms from Nelspruit and 74kms from Shandon Lodge, Elephant Whispers offers visitors something very special. Visitors experience a true unique and unforgettable wildlife encounter when coming in contact with elephants. Elephant Whispers offers visitors the chance to touch and even ride on one of these majestic animals. At Elephant Whispers guests have the chance to meet their five magnificent African elephants and learn about their extraordinary behaviour whilst observing first-hand how the elephants have developed trust with the Elephant Whispers team. A trip to Elephant Whispers is guaranteed to leave you with a newfound admiration and respect for these gentle giants of Africa.

A recent TripAdvisor Review of Elephant Whispers:

“We recommend a visit to everyone; it was absolutely spectacular to touch an elephant and be so close to them. The information provided and the way they handle the animals is outstanding. Super friendly staff.”

  1. Shangana Cultural Village – 72km From Nelspruit

Situated in between the Blyde River Canyon and the Kruger National Park, 79kms from Shandon Lodge. The residents of the traditional villages of Shangana invite guests to experience the way of life of the Shangaan people. The small and picturesque villages of Shangana are set in the shade of old, lush trees in a reserve of forest and grassland. A visit to the village is sure to be a brand-new experience for many and a very good way to indulge in a new culture. The village is owned and run by the local people who aim to keep their rich heritage while teaching tourists about their beliefs and way of life.

A recent TripAdvisor Review of Shangana Cultural Village

“Attended the village’s cultural evening event, with my husband and teenage children. Loved the drumming, the dancing and the dinner. We all found it fun and informative, I would highly recommend it to anyone. Memorable event!”

Image Source: Elephant Whispers – The Elephant Whispers Sanctuary

Top 5 Places to Eat in Nelspruit:

One of the best ways of getting to know your holiday destination is through the delicious local cuisine. Nelspruit features a wide array of different restaurants, catering for everyone’s needs. Here are some of the 3 most well-known restaurants in Nelspruit:

  1. Orange Restaurant

If you are celebrating a special occasion, there is no better place in Nelspruit than the Orange Restaurant. The service and views of Orange Restaurant are un-matched and of top-class. Orange Restaurant is a well-known spot for proposal’s and is known as one of the best restaurants in town. The superb quality of food and service you receive at Orange Restaurant will be well worth the price on your slip!

A recent review of Orange Restaurant:

“Beautiful setting. Romantic atmosphere with a breathtaking city view. Excellent service. Friendly and well-presented waiters making you feel like a VIP! The food was delicious. We had chocolate chilly fillet, duck risotto, profiteroles tower and some cocktails. All items on the menu were reasonably priced. Would recommend the Orange Restaurant for anyone looking for fine dining, breathtaking views and a night to remember!”

  1. The Greek Kouzina

Another Nelspruit classic, The Greek Kouzina is the perfect place to go for a nice dinner. Offering foodies, a wide selection of unique foods on the menu such as their speciality Kleftiko (Greek Dish), a variety of salads and various types of other meat dishes. The prices are affordable and the food is of really high standard, those 2 things are the perfect combination to having an amazing restaurant experience. Greek Kouzina has a warm and cozy but modern feeling with options to sit inside or outside on the deck.

A recent review of The Greek Kouzina:

“We had an amazing evening. Harold, our waiter, was friendly and professional. We had the mixed mezze platter and enjoyed every element. It was good value for money and extremely flavoursome. We will definitely recommend this place for excellent Greek cuisine.”

  1. Turn ‘n Tender

For those that are more in to the meaty side of life, Turn ‘n Tender is sure to meet your expectations. The staff at Turn ‘n Tender are highly trained and are familiar with all the different steak cuts. This is without a doubt one of the best spots to get steak in Nelspruit, they also have a wide selection of fine wines for those interested.

A recent review of Turn ‘n Tender:

“At first glance, one may think this restaurant is expensive… However, the service, and helpfulness from staff will make you forget about the prices. The big serving sizes and the flavours of the culinary pieces put before you are definitely worth it. I would definitely recommend this gem of a restaurant.”

  1. The Jock Pub & Grill

Located in the middle of Nelspruit, The Jock Pub & Grill has been around for years and is extremely well-known among locals. The Jock is a unique combination of a pub and an upmarket restaurant, merging the classy indoor with the spectacular Lowveld outdoor is clearly a recipe for success. Jock & Java is one of the best places to go in Nelspruit to get to know the culture. Regularly hosting events such as live music shows, quiz nights, rugby nights and much more. To check out upcoming events, we suggest checking out their Facebook page.

A recent Review of The Jock Pub & Grill:

“One of the most popular gathering hubs in Nelspruit, live bands and DJs in the evening and a playground for the kids! Great food and coffee! Excellent atmosphere. You can catch the games live one the multiple TVs around the venue. Even has 3 bars for your choice. Great place.”

  1. Rocomamas Nelspruit

Rocomamas is definitely one of the the best place to be in Nelspruit if you super hungry. This casual burger, wings and ribs joint serves massive portions that stops a stomach growl in its tracks. The vibe at Rocomamas is great with a really open and airy restaurant, topped with great customer service. Once you take a seat at Rocomamas you will either have a choice to build your own burger or choose a different meal from the menu instead. Amazing food isn’t the only thing Rocomamas has to offer, featuring their “Freak-shakes” with flavours such as “slow death by chocolate”, “Candyliscous” “Peanutology” and more.

A recent review of Rocomamas Nelspruit:

“The food was really fantastic. I had a nice lunch here. Staff was really friendly and food was served really quick! Would definitely recommend trying this place out. You can build your own burger if you do not like whats on the menu, and their milkshakes are absolutely crazy!”

Image Source: TripAdvisor – Orange Restaurant

We hope that this travel guide helped you make informed and educated decisions about traveling to Nelspruit. We wish you nothing but the safest and most enjoyable journey to Nelspruit and invite you to book your stay with Shandon Lodge. Our Lodge is one of the oldest Nelspruit Accommodation establishments and is well known by many. Located in the heart of Nelspruit and surrounded by lush green vegetation, Shandon Lodge is sure to creep into your heart and provide you with an unforgettable Nelspruit experience.