Image: Supplied Nelspruit

Mbombela/Nelspruit has gone from town to city in the last decade – and it is now a busy commercial hub and gateway to the region. To the north is the world famous Kruger National Park; to the east is Mozambique and Swaziland, to the west, some of the most industrialised regions of southern Africa. Here’s how to navigate the Mpumalanga capital:

BEST STRESS-FREE BUSINESS STAY: Definitely the stylish Francolin Lodge which, along with its sister lodge, Loerie’s Call, is luxurious and efficiently run. It’s in a quiet suburb, but close to town, and is built on top of an enormous granite boulder overlooking the Nelspruit CBD and the Lowveld beyond. There’s fast WiFi, secure parking, a chic lounge for meetings, peace and quiet and an excellent restaurant right there on the premises.

BEST CENTRAL OVERNIGHT STAY: The Emnotweni Sun in Government Boulevard, Riverside Park. The hotel is big and efficient and geared for business travellers. You can expect fast WiFi, DSTV, air con, writing desks, a fitness centre, conference facilities, laundry services – the works. It’s also close to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, one of the city’s most interesting buildings to be commissioned after democracy. The legislature has an excellent African art collection open to public viewing. 

Emnotweni Sun Nelspruit
Image: Supplied Emnotweni Sun Nelspruit

BEST GOLF STAY: Close to the city centre but surrounded by nature and next to the Nelspruit golf course, Matumi Golf Estate Lodge is a retreat with a golf bonus. Matumi is five star, and it hits all the spots – peaceful rooms, Internet, vehicle assistance, a pool and a bar, and of course the golf course. Matumi is a bed and breakfast, so it’s a good place for a power breakfast ahead of a busy day.

BEST RESTAURANT TO IMPRESS CLIENTS: The Orange Restaurant is by far the most sophisticated and stylish spot in town. Enjoy night time views of the city skyline with contemporary fusion cuisine and excellent wine.

The Orange Restaurant
Image: Supplied The Orange Restaurant

EMERGENCY DRY CLEANER: Laundry Dynamics in the Grove Shopping Centre is on the main road, the R40 road between Nelspruit and White River – and nearby the Emnotweni Sun, Riverside Mall, the Mpumulanga Provincial Legislature. This centre is a good go-to spot for general business needs.

BEST COCKTAIL BAR: Famous for its views of the city, The Glass Bar at Emnotweni Casino in Government Boulevard is a trendy spot with floor to ceiling windows and modern, sophisticated interiors.

There’s also Carisma Cocktail in Sonpark Boulevard, an upmarket establishment with classy interiors and exciting cocktails. Cnr Madiba Drive & Le Roux Street.

The Glass Bar
Image: Supplied The Glass Bar

TWO HOURS TO KILL: The best place in this city for a quick head clearer is a walk in the botanical gardens. Set at the confluence of two rivers, the Crocodile and the Nels, these luscious gardens are a wonderful feature of Nelspruit. Take a stroll through the rain forest, sit for a moment next to the river to compose your thoughts and sharpen your wits.

Nelspruit Botanical Gardens
Image: Supplied Nelspruit Botanical Gardens

BEST PLACE FOR A QUIET WORKING LUNCH: Kuzuri is stylish, spacious and set in the visitor’s centre on the edge of the Nelspruit Botanical Garden. You can dine outside on the deck with views of the waterfall, or inside in their high-ceiling thatched African restaurant. Kuzuri is popular as a venue for weddings, media briefings and conferences. Call Robert 072 164 1909 or Sandra 076 923 8098

BEST SPOT FOR WOMEN TRAVELLING ALONE: The friendly, quirky and colourful Chez Vincent is close to the city and offers dinner to its guests so you can check in after work and stay in. It is a laidback place with outdoor dining in summer and fireplace dining in winter. Chez Vincent Restaurant is open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays. The menu is Afro-Mediterranean, and Chez Vincent also hosts wine-tasting evenings for those that have a real passion for local vintages.

Chez Vincent
Image: Supplied Chez Vincent

BEST DOWNTOWN COFFEE: Need a quick fix in between meetings downtown? Head for Food Fundi in ABSA Square in the middle of Nelspruit CBD. This is gourmet quality fast food using fresh ingredients sourced from local farms; also freshly baked breads, Illy coffee and free WiFi.

BEST PLACE FOR A PAMPER: De-stress in a tranquil setting at Leaves Spa. They offer a range of indulgent packages for women and men. Try the Relax, Rebalance, Belief treatment, the Leaves Ultimate Indulgence which includes a full body massage, exfoliation and pedicure; or let yourself be covered in Dead Sea mud and relax in the rasul shower.

The Leaves Spa
Image: Supplied The Leaves Spa

BARBER SHOP AND HAIRDRESSER: The Moroccan Barber is an excellent spot for men to go for a classic Moroccan wet shave, a beard and moustache trim and shape, a haircut, and an indulgent facial. The Moroccan experience takes you back to a time in the past where men really knew how to pamper themselves. This is the time-honoured traditions of barbering and hot towel shaves, as well as a contemporary styling, executive hand details, and gentlemen’s facials, all at a great price.

The Moroccan Barber
Image: Supplied The Moroccan Barber

BEST PLACE FOR GIFTS AND SOUVENIRS: Need a client gift or a souvenir for the family?  Best retail therapy is a short drive away at Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre in White River – an upmarket centre with art galleries and high end shops doing designer chocolates, antiques, leatherware and artisanal gin and craft beer. Combine it with fine dining at Magnolia Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge in the same centre.

BEST WEEKEND ESCAPE: Hit the Maputo Corridor N4 and head for the sea. The Mozambican capital of Maputo is a few hours’ drive from Nespruit and you can take advantage of the weekend specials at the Southern Sun Maputo, the place where all the business deals go down in Maputo. Think sea views, excellent food, good nightlife and fabulous people.

MOST HAPPENING NEW LOCAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: Mpumalanga is one of the country’s top agricultural regions  and the new Mpumalanga International Fresh Produce Market is in the throes of being developed and will take advantage of access to Maputo and Mbabane. For general information about trade and investment opportunities within the province check out

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