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Mbombela (formerly known as Nelspruit) is a vibey little city that is home to Mpumalanga's provincial government. There's lots to see and do in and around the city, including visits to the oldest caves on earth and a remarkable botanical garden.
The city has an international airport and it's a pleasant and handy stopover if you're on your way to the game reserves and national parks further north. It's the centre of a huge farming area specialising in citrus − those oranges and grapefruit you buy in your home market could well have come from Mbombela.
There's much more to Mbombela than just being a gateway to Big Five country, For instance, it boasts the superb Lowveld National Botanical Garden featuring over 500 indigenous plants , a man-made rain forest and a spectacular exhibition of ferns and cycads.
Helicopter flips are a great way to see Mbombela's attractions from the air. If you prefer your feet on the ground then venture to the Sudwala Caves, believed to be the oldest cavern system in the world. The Crystal Tour of the caves is a must, but if you're at all claustrophobic, rather visit the open-air dinosaur park that recreates the world as it was when the caves were first formed.
Mbombela has a small but dynamic nightlife with clubs and restaurants, but chances are you will want to get to bed early after a full day of exploring the natural riches of the area.
But, if you do fancy a show and a drink, visit the Barnyard Theatre at the Casterbridge Centre on the city's outskirts. Casterbridge also has great shopping and a motor car museum.
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