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MMpumalanga’s 2010 FIFA World Cup™ host city, Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit), has always had an enviable reputation as a place to go game spotting. Now the city has a game-spotting venue of the football kind, the Mbombela Stadium.
The Mbombela Stadium is located in a city that now too bears the name Mbombela. Nelspruit, long called the capital of the Mpumalanga province, has undergone a name change.
Translated from the siSwati language, Mbombela means 'many people together in a small place' – an apt choice for a venue that seated more than 120 000 spectators from all corners of the globe during four opening round matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
Mbombela is close to much of South Africa's prime wildlife terrain and it is small wonder that elements of the famed Big 5 have influenced the design of the R1-billion stadium. It has, in fact, been nicknamed the giraffe stadium because its 18 roof supports are said to resemble the long-necked animals that tower over the surrounding bush. It also boasts distinctive zebra-striped seats.
Located at Matsafeni Village, 6km from the town centre, Mbombela Stadium has everything you'd expect of a world-class facility – television studios, sleek corporate hospitality suites, excellent security and facilities for the disabled.
The stadium's bowl design delivers excellent sightlines from all three seating tiers, while the roof is partially translucent to maximise sunlight. It floats free from the top to allow for ventilation and views of the surrounding hills. The stadium now hosts rugby and cricket events along with soccer matches.
A trip to the Mbombela sports stadium presents an opportunity for visitors to head for the Kruger National Park and the many privately owned game lodges nearby. One of South Africa's most scenic driving routes, the Panorama Route, is also a stone's throw away.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27(0)13 757 4600
How to get here
Mbombela/Nelspruit can be reached by air from Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, with flights landing at Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. The main national highway into the city is the N4.
Things to do
The nearby Kruger National Park is South Africa’s prime safari destination. Accommodation options include rest camps operated by South African National Parks as well as private luxury concessions. The area is also host to a number of exclusive private game lodges.
Tours to do
The Panorama Route offers dramatic natural beauty, with spectacular waterfalls, the Blyde River Canyon, and sites such as God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and Three Rondavels. The heritage town of Pilgrim's Rest is another highlight.
What to pack
If you go game viewing during your visit, you will need binoculars and cameras with zoom lenses.
What to eat
You’re in big game country, so try the variety of venison served in game lodges and local restaurants.
- Mbombela Stadium
- Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport
- Mpumalanga Tourism Authority
- South African National Parks