Weekend Breaks in South Africa, Nelspruit
Why Go: Capital of the Mbombela province, Nelspruit is the base for journeying on a sensational safari experience to Kruger National Park. Even though it may lack the big city buzz of Johannesburg and Cape Town, it makes up for it with its abundance of lush vegetation and proximity to gorgeous natural attractions, shooting Nelspruit right to the top of your South African bucket list. While the city itself may not overwhelm with top tourist attractions, taking the time to venture into the wider area will reward you with endless opportunities to disengage with the modern world and reconnect with nature. For spotting wondrous wildlife, the ideal time to visit is during the winter months of April-August.
What to do?
Kruger National Park: Nelspruit is the gateway to the Kruger National Park, the largest game reserve in South Africa and one of the most incredible natural attractions in the world. Embark on an unforgettable safari experience and have the incredible opportunity to spot some of the planet’s most astonishing creatures including the magnificent Big Five.
Lowveld National Botanical Garden: Set in a 159 hectare space, this gorgeous area is characterised by a rugged and rocky river scenery that sees the Crocodile and Nels Rivers snake their way around the many species of rare and exotic species. The gardens are home to a staggering 650 tree species native to South Africa, a tropical manmade rainforest and over 243 species of birds.
Chimp Eden: Chimpanzees are human being’s closest living relative, but unfortunately these fascinating primates are endangered and face extinction. The Jane Goodall Institute, just 15km outside of Nelspruit, is a sanctuary for chimpanzees that have been misplaced and mistreated. It is the only chimpanzee sanctuary in South Africa and a visit here will bring you even closer to these phenomenal creatures.
Sudwala Caves: Dating back 3000 million years ago, the Sudwala Caves are an extraordinary sight to behold as you navigate your way through an array of historic tunnels. Adventure seekers should opt to go on a crystal tour where you will journey 2000m into the heart of the caves in pursuit of the crystal chamber, awash with a dazzling collection of aragonite crystals.
Where to stay?
Tomjachu Bush Retreat: Located just 20 minutes from Nelspruit and 40 minutes from the airport, Tomjachu Bush Retreat immerses travellers in beautiful, wild landscapes alive with abundant indigenous wildlife. Adventure travellers, eco travellers, weekend breakers, families, first timers and seasoned local visitors alike are provided with unique bush experiences in a relaxed atmosphere where guests are made to feel part of the family.
Loerie’s Call Guesthouse: An intimate and stylish abode that is comprised of nine individually designed en suite rooms, each offering either a private balcony or patio as well as a private entrance. The property is surrounded by gorgeous gardens, which are home to a thriving birdlife. Guests can relax and unwind by taking a leisurely swim in the pool or by indulging in a heavenly spa treatment.
La Roca Guest House: This boutique guest house dramatically overlooks the beautiful Nelspruit Nature Reserve and is in a prime location for exploring the city centre as well as Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon, Mozambique and Swaziland, which are all within close proximity. Head to their pool terrace in the evening and gaze in awe at the mesmerising sun set over the distant mountains.
Where to eat?
Orange Restaurant: Part of the luxurious Loerie’s Call Guest House & Francolin Lodge, this fine dining restaurant is perched atop a hill, gifting spectacular views over the city and enticing diners with an exquisite menu that complements the elegant and romantic setting. Exceptional food coupled with world-class service makes this an idyllic place for dining in Nelspruit.
Zest Restaurant: The original owners of Orange Restaurant, GT and Lizelle Lundie, have opened yet another scrumptious restaurant on the streets of Nelspruit. Whether you are a weekend-breaker looking for a hearty breakfast to start the day, a business man who needs a light lunch or a couple looking for a romantic evening meal, Zest offers something for all tastes.
Kuzuri Restaurant: Situated in the heart of the luscious surroundings of the Lowveld National Botanical Garden, it is not only the stunning setting within a traditional African stone décor and charming thatched roof that will wow you, but a carefully curated menu comprised of dishes that use fresh, locally-sourced ingredients will truly tantalise the taste buds.
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