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Goal.com takes a look at one of the smaller host cities for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Nelspruit.


Nelspruit
Facts

* capital and largest town of the Mpumalanga province (previously Eastern Transvaal)
* 330km east of Johannesburg and 100km west of Mozambique
* ideal climate for the area's fruit cultivation
* city dates back to 1905 and the Nel brothers
* town lies in the fertile Crocodile River valley
* population around 235,000
* located in the east of South Africa
* agricultural center and tourist base
* Situated in Mpumalanga to the very east of the country

Nelspruit is the centre of the Safari and wildlife industry of South Africa. There is plenty to see, plenty to do in and around Nelspruit.

Stadium

The new 43,000 seater stadium for the World Cup is complete. It is situated in an area of Mbombela which is 7 kilometres to the north of the city centre and in the general direction of the Kruger Park entrance gates.

The video below was filmed in June 2009.


The stadium was completed in  October 2009.


Mbombela Stadium

Places of interest

Nelspruit is a major victualling point for the private and national game parks and ranches in the area and many a beaten up Land Rover and khaki-clad game ranger, intent on their purchase of stores and spare parts, can be seen around the town.


Kruger National Park

It is 50 kilometres to the southern entrances of Kruger National Game Park -so famous, it has its own page.

Animal rehabilitation projects and parks also abound in the region, namely:

The Crocodile Enviro Park, just to the north east of the city, the largest reptile and crocodile park in Africa. Besides the crocodile pits and enclosures there is a Turtle Pond and Fish Pond linked by cascading waterways. The park is on the banks of the Crocodile River and offers tropical gardens and riverside trails.

Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre - one of the original projects established to save the magnificent, but endangered cheetah. Their are also different orphaned baby animals of various kinds, wild cats, vultures and elephant back safaris at the centre.


South Africa | Cheetah Reserve

Dullstroom Bird of Prey and Rehabilitation Centre is west of Nelspruit en route from Pretoria. One can watch flight demonstrations daily of eagles, falcons and hawks, and view and handle various species.


Nelspruit | Downtown

Mac-Mac Falls, named by Scottish gold diggers to the area, and situated 40 kilometres north of Nelspruit near the town of Sabie, are an awesome sight and offer a refreshing swim in the pools below.

The Sudwala Caves, are among the oldest known caves in the world, dating back 300 million years. In the past they were used as a refuge by Swazi kings against marauding Zulu raiders, and they are now open to the public. Situated 30 kilometres north west of Nelspruit.

Within the city and on the edge of the Crocodile River there are the 150 acres of the Nelspruit Botanical Gardens - home to 2,500 plant species and 650 tree species. The Nelspruit Falls lie within the gardens and midday concerts are held near by.

Going Out

Night life in Nelspruit is not prolific, though there are some good and original pubs frequented by hardy game rangers and modern day prospectors.

You can try The Pub on 10 Jones Street (013 7554861) for decent beer and a good old-fashioned Afrikaans drinking hole and pub food.




Nelspruit
| Pork Chops, Chips And Beer In 'The Pub'

Just a five minute walk away is  The Keg & Jock. This is the best pub in the city (01 3-755 4969; Ferriera St) and big enough to hold a good number of football fans. There is lots of seating and standing room both inside and out, an impressive pub menu and a good selection of draught beers.


Nelspruit | A June Evening In The Keg & Jock

You can also try a pub called Why Not? if you like good beer and dubious eighties rock music. This is situated on the right side of the street just after you enter the city (from Joburg), just after the Mercure Hotel Suites - a good place to stay.

Tourist Offices

The Lowveld Tourism Center (Tel: 013 755 1988) is in the Nelspruit Crossing Mall on Louis Trichard Street.

The Mozambique Consulate (Tel: 013 752 7396) is on Bell Street and does same-day visas.

Getting There

Air
- Just to the north east of the city the local airport, Mpumalanga Kruger International Airport (Tel: 013 753 7500) connects internally with Johannesburg (one hour), Durban (90 minutes) and Cape Town (2 hours).

Maputo Airport in Mozambique is growing, and presently accepts flight from Lisbon, Mauritius and Paris.

Rail -  There is an overnight train service (Komati) to and from Johannesburg which takes 10 hours.

Bus - Nelspruit is situated on the eastern edge of South Africa close to the border with Mozambique and Swaziland. Mozambique’s capital Maputo is a long 160 kilometres distant but does have excellent beaches, scuba diving and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

The N4 national route, both from Pretoria and Johannesburg, is an excellent road all the way through to Nelspruit and involves 6 hours driving.

Road travellers from Durban should take the N3 to Ermelo, then continue north on the N11 before joining the N4. Alternatively, from Ermelo they can turn head towards Carolina, the mineral springs at Badplaas and continue north through the mountain passes of Nelshoogte and Bothasnek.

Luxury coaches travel the N4 route which connects to Johannesburg, Pretoria and Maputo but be careful of travelling on June 25. This is Mozambique's Independence Day when border crossings will take a much longer time than usual and buses back to Joburg from Nelspruit (originating in Maputo) will be late.

If football fixtures dictate that your team is playing consecutively in Polokwane and Nelspruit consider driving north through the Kruger Park to Klaserie, passing Timbavati, home of the white lions, and Hoedspruit, which is also a safari supply centre, and then turn inland to Polokwane, all on very good roads through more wild life parks.


Stop Over At Pilgrim's Rest

Getting Around

The minibus taxi park is behind Nelspruit Plaza with destinations including White River (20 mins), Barberton (40 mins), Sabie (60 mins), Hazyview (60 mins), Graskop (90 mins) and Komatipoort (2 hours).

There are a number of private taxi firms which can be called from every hotel.

Football Teams

The South African professional football season runs from September to May, and currently no teams in the area take part in the top flight, the PSL.


The Three Rondavels

Weather

The climate around Nelspruit, in the winter time, is mild with day time temperatures rarely going below 18 degrees Centigrade. There should be no rain at the time of the World Cup.

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