Surrounded by some of the country’s most spectacular game reserves and the famous Kruger National Park, Nelspruit offers more than just a world-class football stadium. The city is the capital of Mpumalanga Province, which translates as the ‘place where the sun rises’ from siSwati.
With the unending view of rolling mountains from God’s Window to the majestic scenes of the green hills contrasting with blue rivers at Blyde River Canyon, this is definitely a place the sun would not want to leave.
Nelspruit, located in the local municipality of Mbombela, invokes the idea of a Garden of Eden, with a flourishing fruit industry and countless waterfalls which drop from dramatic cliff faces. Wild horses roam freely in Kaapsehoop.
A few kilometres north of the small town of Middelburg lies the museum village of Botshabelo. It preserves the culture of the Ndebele, who belong to the large group of Nguni people. The Ndebele presumably moved around the 15th and 16th centuries from Natal to live here in a quasi-peaceful co-existence with other Nguni groups.
Nearby Pilgrims Rest is an old gold-mining town which has seems to have been forgotten by time. Also in the area is Komatipoort, which serves as a gateway to Mozambique.
Nelspruit is a good base for exploring the nearby Limpopo Trans-frontier Park, which incorporates the Kruger National Park (South Africa), Limpopo National Park (Mozambique) and Gonarezhou National Park (Zimbabwe).
Recognised by the World Travel Awards as Africa’s Leading Game Reserve Brand, the Mantis Collection offers a host of properties across the country for guests interested in attending the World Cup, while Africa’s Leading Hotel Brand, Starwood Hotels, also comes highly recommended.
Nelspruit Stadium was purpose built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup
Newly-promoted side Mpumalanga Black Aces are the only professional outfit from the Mpumalanga province. Before that, Dangerous Darkies, who spent two seasons in the top flight in the early 1990s, were the last side to compete in the elite South African league but just as quickly faded from view.
The most famous footballer to emerge from Nelspruit is former Bafana Bafana fullback David Nyathi, who played in Spain, Switzerland and in Italy’s Serie A for Cagliari. He was a member of the FIFA World XI who played a match in Marseille as part of the festivities for the 1998 FIFA World Cup Final Draw.
The nearby Witbank Spurs plays in the South African First Division.
The Mbombela Stadium is one of the newly-built stadia for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and it takes its name from the local municipality which incorporates the city of Nelspruit. Mbombela is siSwati (one of the 11 official languages in South Africa) and literally means ‘many people together in a small space’.
The stadium, with a capacity of 46,000, is located in the city of Nelspruit in Mpumalanga Province. It is situated approximately seven kilometres from the city centre and 12 kilometres from the nearby Kruger-Mpumalanga Airport.
The ground also enjoys a close proximity to various game parks, giving spectators the opportunity to see the wildlife during rest days.
The Mbombela comes as a welcome addition to football life in Nelspruit, and will leave a legacy of the beautiful game for all the people of Mpumalanga. Before the Stadium’s construction, Nelspruit had no top football venue to host international matches.
Nelspruit is already a major tourist destination in South Africa
Name: Nelspruit. The city’s name has Dutch origins and means Nel’s stream.
Geography: Located on a low-lying plateau, known as the Lowveld, in the fertile Crocodile River valley in the north eastern part of South Africa.
Climate: Sub-tropical with temperatures around 23°C during winter and warming up to 29°C during summer.
Key Economic Sectors: Agriculture, Mining
Football Clubs: Mpumalanga Black Aces, Witbank Spurs (1st Division)
Group D: Australia, Serbia
Group F: Italy, New Zealand
Group G: Korea DPR, Côte d’Ivoire
Group H: Honduras, Chile