Formerly known as Nelspruit, Mbombela is the capital city of the Mpumalanga province. The city lies on the Crocodile River and is the nearest South African city (just 110km) to the Mozambique border. The name of the city is the siSwati translation for “a lot of people in a small space” and is fitting, given its large population.
The city is also known as the gateway to Kruger National Park and is usually regarded as a drive through town when travelling to Kruger or Mozambique but Mbombela is so much more than that. Steeped in human history, the area is home to some of the oldest caves and San Rock art sites in the world. Its National Botanical Garden features a man-made rainforest with over 500 indigenous plants and is a must-visit for nature-enthusiasts.
With a sub-tropical climate, Mbombela is popular year-round. If you visit in spring, you’ll find the air pleasantly scented with the smell of orange blossoms from the many orange orchards around. The city is located just 330km east of Johannesburg and 27km from the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport if you’re flying in.
What to do in Mbombela
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.
Where to stay in Mbombela
Where to eat in Mbombela