More than just a drive-through town, Mbombela is regarded as one of South Africa’s oldest human historical sites. Visit the Sudwala Caves, the botanical gardens and Jane Goodall’s Chimp Eden – which is the first and only chimpanzee sanctuary in South Africa.
Why you should visit: Formed around three billion years ago, the Sudwala Caves is known to be the oldest caves in the world. The caves are 30km in length, with only six metres of that being accessible and consist of chambers covered with huge flowstone, stalagmite and stalactite formations. For an experience like no other, be sure to take the Crystal Tour, an adventure tour that really gets to the heart of the caves.
How much does it cost: Entrance to the caves is R100 for adults and R60 for kids. The Crystal Tour costs R450 per person and bookings are essential.
How to get there: Find the caves off the N4 on R539, travel for 10km until you see the Sudwala signboard.
Open-air dinosaur park, Mbombela
Why you should visit: Situated next to the Sudwala Caves, the Dinosaur Park is an open-air museum featuring life-size models of prehistoric animals.You’ll find displays of reptiles, dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals and prehistoric man. Be sure to also check out the Nile crocodiles on display – for something a little more lively.
How much does it cost: Tickets are R70 for adults and R40 for children.
How to get there: The Dinosaur Park is right next to the Sudwala Caves, on the R539.
Jane Goodall Institute – Chimp Eden
Why you should visit: Just 15km outside of Mbombela, Chimp Eden is the first and only chimpanzee sanctuary in South Africa. The sanctuary cares for chimps that have been misplaced from their natural habitats in Africa. Tours occur twice daily and bookings are essential.
How much does it cost: R240 per adult and R110 per child.
Lowveld National Botanical Garden, Mbombela
Why you should visit: Opened in 1971, the Lowveld National Botanical Garden is one of the nine National Botanical Gardens in South Africa and is a jewel in Mbombela’s crown. The 160 hectare garden is filled with over 600 indigenous plants, lush forests and river scenery.
The Crocodile and Nel Rivers both flow through the garden and form stunning waterfalls which can be seen from the Nels and Cascades viewpoints. Bring your camera and comfortable walking shoes to take it all in.
How much does it cost: Entrance fees are R40 for adults and R15 for children.
How to get there: The garden is situated just outside the town, on Emnotweni Avenue, Riverside park, Mbombela.