Sudwala Caves Cultural Village
Did you know?
Four of South Africa's 11 official languages are Nguni languages, namely Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, and Ndebele.
Sudwala Caves and Cultural Village is close to the city of Nelspruit and the Kruger National Park. The village takes its name from the Sudwala Caves, an incredible array of chambers characterised by stalactites, stalagmites and flowstone formations.
While the caves invite you to discover the history of the earth itself, this Mpumalanga cultural village invites you to discover the history, arts and crafts of the Nguni people.
The village largely represents the traditional way of life of three of the Nguni subgroups: the Zulu and the Swazi and the Ndebele.
Many of the crafts used in traditional daily life, such as sleeping mats, kitchen utensils, weapons and decorative items are still produced in the village. Traditionally, the manufacture of these items is a basis for trade and empowerment in Nguni communities. Today, artists have adapted their craft to meet the demands of the marketplace, although traditions are maintained and practiced in cultural villages in Mpumalanga, as well as in other rural villages.
Traditional items to look out for when visiting Sudwala Caves and Cultural Village include beadwork, clay pots, woven items, woodcarvings and ceremonial artefacts. Most materials are gathered from nature and, adapting with the times, some incorporate found materials such as recycled copper wire.
What makes these arts and crafts unique is the way in which traditionally they are imbued with social meaning. Beadwork for example combines colour and composition to shape messages that are woven into decorative geometrical designs. These shapes are also significant and the craft itself is a way of communicating ideas, feelings and information relating to a person's status and social relationships.
At the village, you are also invited to explore the different types of housing preferred by each group, noting the different techniques, materials and decorative styles used. You can also meet a local healer, enjoy traditional dancing and singing and share a specially prepared meal.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Sudwala Cultural Village
Tel: +27 (0)13 733 3073
How to get here
Take the R532 towards Mashishing (Lydenburg), then follow the R37 towards Nelspruit for 20km. Take the R539 off ramp at Rosehaugh, travel 16km and turn right at the T-Junction, 50km outside the town of Sabie.
Best time to visit
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8am to 5pm.
Around the area
You are close to the Kruger National Park.
Tours to do
A tour of Sudwala caves takes you 150m underground on a return route. The more adventurous can try the crystal tour to a chamber full of sparkling aragonite crystals that involves stretches of crawling through tunnels, some of which contain water.
What will it cost
Daily tours cost bwteen R40 and R100. Booking is essential.
What to eat
Enjoy a traditional African meal in the guest hut in the village.