The capital of Mpumalanga province, and now known as Mbombela it is the gateway to the Kruger National Park. The beautiful sub tropical climate leads to an abundance of sunshine and lush hills and valleys that go for as far as the eye can see. My memories from a child were always of the delicious fruit we would buy in this region and still the mango’s,avos and bananas were waiting for us as we passed through on a whirlwind weekend road trip.

This clean town has a lot to offer, we of course couldn’t see everything in 2 days but did as much as possible and encountered delays ( which were much appreciated of course ) such as having to go past Chippo’s no less than 3 times for our hot chips fix. Then the women who were selling fruit and nuts along the road side where another much appreciated delay so much so that we landed up with a car full of fruit and that meant on returning home the meals were going to be a variety of fruit smoothies for the next couple of days.

All said and done these are some of the recommend places that we enjoyed and would definitely return to.

Puzzle coffee shop at Sonheuwel Central is a riot of colour with tin cups dangling from the brookie lace and bright pink walls. Every nook and cranny has a creature peering out at you. Smokers sit out side but I was happy to join them as it looked out onto a big tree house built around three trees in the car park, the breeze was an added benefit. They are known for their breakfast and the open omelette I had was delicious. The prices are good and the food is fresh. Dont expect wifi, you either read the newspaper or chat to people around you, the good old way of communicating.

Sunset Manor situated on a rocky ridge above the city with magnificent views of the city and escarpment. The tranquility of the neighbourhood was ideal especially in the morning when waking up to the sounds of the birds signing in the trees. With a swimming pool for the hot summer days it was ideal. I was thrilled to find a shongololo in the garden and hastily picked him up to feel the 100’s of legs crawling along my arm. The garden outside our room was home to all sorts of creatures reminding us that we really were in Africa.

For a giggle stop past the The naked sheep shop. In the Sonheuwel centre it is the local wool shop. The owners have been very creative with the shop front and made a patch work wall of crochet pieces and then created a frame for passers by to stand in and take their photo.

Chippo’s is an institution , known as the champions food, I can vouch for that title. I would never have thought of going inside this shop to buy a takeaway if my travel companion had not recommended it. After all how often does one get out at the petrol station to get slap chips ? if these chips fell into a category for voting they would over take any of our well known brands. They are slightly crunchy with some peri peri and sliced chilis on top but strangely not hot. When you reach the oil at the bottom licking your fingers in public is deemed more than acceptable.

Nelspruit airport, is the best way to describe the route but we didn’t actually reach the airport. It was the turn off from the main road and then we stopped on the bridge to admire the beautiful river below flowing over large round boulders. When we tried to trace to the route of the river all we could see was the magnificent African bush and blue skies going on forever

Stop and smell the lilies along the road side. During the month of February the mountain side is covered in white lilies. Some areas are have larger clusters, take the time to appreciate their beauty.Every so often there are purple flowers scattered amongst them also.

Kaapsche Hoop was probably my favourite spot on this epic weekend trip. Set higher up in the mountain range the mist often rolls in. Besides the waterfall and old grave yard and historic town that one can amble through were the wild horses. They excited me the most, there are approximately 180 horses in the area broken up into various herds as the stallions break away. When we found a herd along the road side and then in the forest next to us I was ecstatic to see what good condition they were in , there were some foals in the herd and one mare was pregnant. The horses ad to the ambience of the area, as they mysteriously appear out of the mist. The locals love the horses and there are many signs up warning motorists to watch out.

Sunset from the soccer ball. It was just a plain water reservoir but then with the soccer world cup in 2010 it was painted to look like a soccer ball. There is no access to the top of the actual ball but you can go out onto the deck next to it and the rocks below to watch the sun set over the beautiful city.

The Halls Farm Stall is the final stop when leaving Nelspruit. It started out as a small farm stall then over the years has grown into a modern shop selling anything from bottled preserves, ground coffee, mampoer to teddy bears and knick- nacks. There is a coffee shop and an up market nursery. The covered parking is perfect on a hot summers day and they even offer to wash your car while you are inside eating. The hot crocodile sauce is a special recommendation from this store for anyone who likes to set their mouth on fire when they eat.

We left this amazing town as we headed out on the Panorama Route , the home to more waterfalls than any other part of South Africa. Also the land of potholes, many locals will will tell you that the letter “ P” on the Mpumalanga number plate stands for potholes so best not to drive at night and keep your eyes peeled on the road during the day.

A magnificent part of the county, the lowveld offers something for everyone