Nelspruit History | Nelspruit Information

 

 

 

                                                              NELSPRUIT, MBOMBELA HISTORY

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History of Nelspruit

Nelspruit is the provincial capital of Mpumalanga Province in South Africa. It is one of the major South African tourist destinations, due to its proximity to the world-famous Kruger National Park. Other than the Kruger National Park, there are also many tourist attractions within easy driving distance, such as Sudwala Caves, Bourke's Luck potholes, Kruger Park, Panorama Route, Kaapschehoop, Pilgrim's Rest, Long Tom Pass, Dullstroom Bird of Prey & Rehabilitation Centre and many more. There are also many things to do and adventure sports situated near to Nelspruit, in the province of Mpumalanga, South Africa.


Nelspruit is situated in the heart of the lushly beautiful Lowveld, on the banks of the Crocodile River. The place Nelspruit, which means literally Nels stream, attracted traders and farmers in high profile because of the natural richness of the soil, adequate water for irrigation and a level valley floor. Today Nelspruit offers the starting point for the many tourist attractions and places of interest in the Mpumalanga area. Nelspruit is a real tourist haven with accommodation establishments ranging for very affordable to extremely luxurious. There is a wide variety of B&B accommodation, self-catering accommodation, hotel accommodation, lodge accommodation, private game farms and guesthouse style accommodation. Of course, Kruger Park is close at hand to Nelspruit, and ther are many tour guides who offer trips to the Kruger National Park and day or overnight trips along the Panorama Route.

 

Nelspruit was named after the owners of the original farm - the three brothers Nel. It began with the construction of a station up the Crocodile river valley, built on their farm. Nelspruit was established as a railhead of the first section of construction on the railway from Mozambique to Pretoria. A time lapse in the Railway construction contract allowed the rail company to raise finance for continued construction of the railway, and during this time Nelspruit became the focal point of the Lowveld - goods still had to be transported to the interior by oxwagon from Nelspruit. 

Hugh Lanion Hall (1858-1940) arrived in the area in 1890 and established one of the greatest citrus and subtropical fruit estates in the country, which today is know by the name of Hall and Sons Limited.
The bridge over the Komati River was completed at the end of May 1891 and the railhead reached Komatipoort Station on 1 July 1892. On 1 October it reached Hectorspruit Station; on 28 December it had arrived in Malelane, and it eventually reached Krokidilpoort Station in April 1892. The railhead reached Nelspruit and was put into commission on 20 June 1892. Construction continued and by 1 June 1893 it was at Alkmaar, and on 20 January 1894 at Waterval Onder. Wateval Boven was reached on 20 June 1894 and the line was completed when the last bolt was driven by President Kruger in November 1894. 

 

Though the line was in commission by 1st January 1895 it was not formally opened until 27 June, when the Volksraad adjourned for the officicial opening and proclaimed 8,9, and 10 July as public holidays in Pretoria. Every burgher was eligible for a free ticket to and from Lourenco Marques (Maputo).  

 

The penetration of the Lowveld by settlement was for many years stifled by two natural barriers - Malaria, transmitted to man by the Anopheles Mosquito, and Nagana, transmitted to cattle, horses and dogs by the Tsetse-fly., Only once the two had been defeated was it possible for large-scale immigration into the area. In 1896 the rinderpest swept through the country killing almost all the cattle. However this would turn out to be a blessing in disguise in that it also rid the country of the tsetse-fly. The link between the disappearance of the rinderpest and the fly is not known. It was only after the the Anglo-Boer War, when cattle first re-entered the Lowveld, that the disappearance of the fly was discovered. The theory by Sir Patrick Mansonand others, and the proof by Major Roland Ross of the link between Malarial Fever and mosquitos allowed researchers to develop ways to combat Malaraia.

 

In the 1930's the Government of the day decided that the time had come to fight an all-out battle against Malaria.The results of this all-out attack on the disease were little short of miraculous and when, at a later date, D.D.T became available, the victory was won. In the comparatively short space of 8 years Malaria cases admitted to hospitals dropped from some 2000 per annum to 200. Effective control of this deadly disease helped the community in this valley to surge ahead and Nelspruit grew to be one of the largest producers of tobacco, litchis , mangoes , avocados etc.
Nespruit is now a flourishing town with beautiful streets shaded by flowering trees. The town itself, its rich history, and the many attractions in the surrounding areas close by, make it a major tourist attraction.Perhaps most attractive of all, is its proximity to the famous Kruger National Park.

Mpumalanga means 'Place where the sun rises', and is bordered by Mozambique and Swaziland in the east, and Gauteng in the west. It is situated mainly on the high plateau grasslands of the Middleveld, which roll eastwards for hundreds of kilometres. In the north-east it rises towards mountain peaks and then terminates in an immense and breathtaking escarpment. In places this escarpment plunges hundreds of metres down to the low-lying area known as the Lowveld. Mpumalanga is located on the South of Northern Province, East of Gauteng, North West of KwaZulu Natal, West of Swaziland and Mozambique.

 

Mpumalanga falls mainly within the Grassland Biome. The Escarprnent and the Lowveld form a transitional zone between this grassland area and the Savannah Biome. Long sweeps of undulating grasslands abruptly change to the thickly forested ravines and thun- dering waterfalls of the escarpment, only to change again to present the subtropical wildlife splendour of the Lowveld. The escarpment and the Lowveld have always been popular tourist attractions. Now that new borders have been drawn for this province, only the southern, albeit most popular, part of the Kruger National Park is within this province. The Kruger National Park will, however, remain an untouched unit, a province for wildlife on its own.

The area is crisscrossed by a network of excellent roads and railway connections, making it highly accessible to the tourist. Because of its popularity as a tourist heartland, Mpumalanga is also well served by a number of small airports.

Nelspruit is the legislative capital of the province. This town is the administrative and business centre of the Lowveld and provides a perfect base from which to explore the province. Witbank is the centre of the local coal-mining industry; Standerton, in the south, is renowned for its large dairy industry; Piet Retief in the south-east is a production area for tropical fruit and sugar; while a large sugar industry is also found at Malelane in the east. Ermelo is the district in South Africa which produces the most wool; Barberton is one of the oldest gold-mining towns in South Africa; and Sabie is situated in the forestry heartland of the country. The green gold of Sabie and Graskop provides a large part of the country's total requirement for forestry products.

 

These forestry plantations are also an ideal backdrop for ecotourism opportunities, with a variety of popular hiking trails, myriad water-falls, patches of indigenous forest and a variety of nature reserves. The biggest of these is the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, where God's Window provides unforgettable vistas of the Lowveld. An oasis is provided by the mineral springs at Badplaas. Chrissiesmeer is the largest natural freshwater lake in South Africa. It is famous for its large variety of aquatic birds, especially flamingos. The Sudwala Caves, deep in the dolomite rocks of the surrounding mountains, is a worth- while tourist stop. This evergreen comer of the country has enormous tourism potential.

 

The People

Even though it is one of the smaller provinces (some 79 490 km2 in surface area, which is 6.5 percent of the country's earth surface.), Mpumalanga has a population of about 2.6 million people. Extreme levels of poverty are evident. The province has the second lowest literacy rate in the country, while the population growth rate is higher than the national average. The main languages spoken are SiSwati, iSiZulu and iSiNdebele. A large proportion of the population of Mpumalanga has limited participation in economic activity. A low productive capacity prevents the disadvantaged communities from improving their lot. During the last decade, growth in employment opportunities has been negative. Mpumalanga attracts sizeable corn- muter and migrant labour flows from across its borders, including refugees from neighbouring Mozambique.

Mpumalanga's population can be broken down as follows;

Male

  48.6 percent

Female

  51.4 percent

African

  89.2 percent

White

  9 percent

Coloured

  0.7 percent

Indian

  0.5 percent

 

The Lowveld area is rich in the history of pioneers and explorers. Gold-rush towns such as Pilgrim's Rest, Graskop, Kaapsche Hoop and Barberton, give tourists the feel of days gone by. Pilgrim's Rest is a museum town, while Barberton boasts the first stock exchange established in the country. Botshabelo Mission Station near Middelburg is a romantic reminder of the days when European missionaries came to Africa to spread Christianity. Ermelo has attractions ranging from the corbelled huts of the extinct Leghoya/Tlokoa peoples, to well-preserved San paintings.

A visit to Mpumalanga is not complete without testing the trout streams around Belfast, Dullstroom, Machadodorp and Lydenburg; experiencing a trip on the Rovos Rail steam train, walking the Fanie Botha Hiking Trail, the very first established in the National Hiking Way System of South Africa; driving up Long Tom Pass to reach the highest point in Mpumalanga; and visiting Skukuza Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park, one of several overnight stays available in the park. Many upmarket, private game lodges cater to the tourist's every need.

 

The Economy of the Province

Gross Geographic Product:

R50 billion

8 percent of total South African production

Electricity & water

20

GG

8

Agric & Forestry

8

Mining

20

Manufacturing

25

Other 

19 GGP by Sector: 1998

 

Main Economic Activities

 

Mining : 80 percent of South Africa's coal

 

Agriculture and Forestry : South Africa's major production region

 

Tourism:

Beautiful vegetation biomes, viz. Indigenous forests, grassland and savanna. The Drakensburg mountain range. The Kruger National Park. Pilgrims Rest and Graskop's natural features like Gods Window, Mac Mac Waterfalls, Blyde River Canyons and the Three Rondavels. The historically significant Sudwala Caves. Songimvelo Game Reserve hiding between the Gold mountains of Barberton (the mothercity of gold) and the forests bordering Swaziland

Road Infrastructure: The Maputo Development Corridor - Backbone of the Provincial infrastructure and gateway for Foreign Direct Investment and regional economic cooperation. Africa's first International Toll Road

 

The Maputo Development Corridor Spatial Development Initiative

A Spatial Development Initiative focuses on the N4 route stretching from Witbank in South Africa to Recano Garcia in Mocambique. The Corridor programme is more than just the construction of the road but includes the following key anchor infrastructural projects as well: the railway line, telecommunication, dredging the habour and upgrading port facilities.

The corridor is developed according to the Public-Private Sector Partnership (PPP) policy and has seen the concession of the N4 road to TRAC on a Build Operate, Maintain and Transfer (BOMT) arrangement for 30 years. A total of five toll plazas have been erected along the length of the road, two in Mocambique and three in South Africa.

 

The SDI/ Corridor objectives are mainly fivefold

  • Attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

  • Unearth and unlock local economic potential of the landlocked parts of the country and thus generate sustainable economic growth

  • Promote regional economic cooperation

  • Create sustainable jobs

  • Exploit spin-off opportunities that ooze out of the crowding in of FDI

Corridor's Major Users

Industry:
This province is very rich in coal reserves. The country's largest power stations, three of which are the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere, are situated here. Unfortunately, this causes the highest levels of air pollution in the country. Secunda, the petroleum-from-coal installation, is also located in this province. One of the country's largest paper mills is situated at Ngodwana, near its timber source. Middelburg produces steel and vanadium, while Witbank is the biggest coal producer in Africa.Highveld Steel and Vanadium (20 km west of Witbank overlooking the N4), Ferrochrome and manganese producing Samancor's Columbus Steel (Middelburg), and its eastern chrome mines in Steelpoort.

Agriculture and Forestry:
This is a summer rainfall area divided by the escarpment into a Highveld region with mild winters, and the Lowveld region, which has a subtropical climate. The escarpment area sometimes experiences snow on high ground. Thick nust is common during the hot humid summers. An abundance of citrus fruit and many other subtropical fruits - mangoes, avocados, litchis, bananas, paw-paws, guavas, granadillas - as well as nuts and a variety of vegetables, are produced here. Nelspruit is the second largest citrus-producing area in South Africa. It is responsible for one third of the country's export in oranges. The Research Institute for Citrus and Subtropical Fruits is situated there. The natural forests of the area could not supply enough timber for the burgeoning mining industry in the early days of gold mining in this area, so plantations of exotic trees, mainly pine, gum and Australian wattles, were established to supply the wood for the mine props. These trees did so well that the Sabie area became the biggest single region of forestry plantation in South Africa. These plantations supply half of the country's total timber needs. Groblersdal is an important irrigation area which produces a wide variety of products such as citrus, cotton, tobacco, wheat and vegetables. Carolina-Bethal-Ermelo is a sheep- farming area. Potatoes, sunflower seeds, maize and peanuts are also produced in this region.

Sugar Company TSB, Citrus Producing HL Hall and Sons and Dick and Hall Products, Outspan - the Pretoria-based citrus export marketing company. Mondi and Sappi Forests (paper, pulp and wood products)

 

TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY:

The Songimvelo Circle
The Songimvelo Game Reserve as pillar is home to the 'Big Four' (excluding the lion). Is located adjacent to Swaziland's Malolotja Reserves. Landscape beauty, hiking, horse riding, mountain biking.

The Trout Triangle
A fishing triangle formed by Waterval Boven, Machadodorp, Belfast along the N4 and Dullstroom en route to Pilgrim's Rest, Bourkes Luck, God's Window, Mac Mac Falls and the Kruger Park. Activities include fly fishing, rock climbing, abseiling, river-rafting, hiking and mountain biking.

Lowveld Escarpment
The area is locked between the Drakensburg escarpment in the west, the N4 in the East, the Mpumalanga-Northern Province boundary in the north and the South African-Mozambique border in the east. Attractions include the Kruger National Park, provincial, community and private reserves, spectacular waterfalls, the potholes, caves, mountain passes and historical places.

Nkomazi
Areas lying just south of the Kruger Park: Malelane, Hectospruit, Nkomazi West, Nkomazi East, Komatipoort, Hectospruit and Marloth Park. Apart from the park, attractions include private game parks e.g. Marloth Park and the Samora Machel monument. There is potential for cultural torism, agritourism and flora tourism (cycads), recreational tourism (Lake Matsamo).

The Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park (KNP) opened to the first visitors in 1927. The KNP stretches 380 km from North to South and 60 km wide. It boasts 16 distinct ecosystems, 147 species of mammals, 118 reptiles, 2 million hector prestine Africa, 336 tree species and the 'Big Five' which include the white rhino and the endangered black rhino, the elephant, the lion, the most elusive leopard and the buffalo.

Gates to the Park include Phafuri in the North to Malelane and Crocodile Bridge in the South. Other gates are Numbi, Orpen, Skukuza. It also boasts of the following camps:

  • Bushveld Camps

  • Berg-en-dal

  • Bia Miti

  • Ximumini

  • Pretoriuskop ( one of the oldest camps) thick bush and long grass in the surroundings

  • Lower Sabie , thick riverine vegetation - hippo's and lions

  • Skukuza (the one who sweeps clean - James Hampton), biggest camp, admin capital, most popular, airport nearby

  • Satara : second largest. Buffalo's and the predators that follow them e.g. lions

  • Olifants Camp : on a cliff overlooking the Olifants River

  • Letaba : Halfway into the full length of the park, famous for the Elephant Hall of fame hosting the actual tusks of the renowned magnificent seven elephant bulls. These were popular for the way they displayed their tusks: Jumbo, Maponyane, Ndlulamithi, Xangu, Xingwedzi, Jawu and Gambagu.

Private Camps (exclusive and privately owned)

  1. Mopani Camp

  2. Xingwedzi Camp and Caravan Park (San paintings suggesting that the San people might have been the first visitors to the park)

  3. Jock of the Bushveld

  4. Pondo Maria Camp : famous for Lala trees, the elephants' favourite

Peace Park for Africa (Removal of the border between the KNP and the Mozambican park.
Symbolic of a vision for the next generation: co-existence side by side between Mozambique and South Africa. It further practicalises the need and recognition for national coorperation and co-existence espoused by the

     

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