An easy stay in what passes as God's paradise
Who needs the Bahamas when we have the majestic Mpumalanga province right on our doorstep?
One hundred sho't lefts, yet there's always something to explore in what I've termed God's paradise.
Having passed through Mbombela, I had never stayed for an entire weekend.
And it seems I chose the most appropriate time, with the town packed to capacity due to a bikers rally as well as an Africa Day fashion show which took place on the weekend of June 7.
Both events were in close proximity to where I was staying, at Stayeasy Emnotweni.
Although the hot Mbombela days may make you forget that winter has arrived, it does get a tad chilly in the evening. Bikers at the nearby Mbombela Stadium rolled in at the hotel in droves - seems it's the ideal last-minute accommodation, and easy on the pocket too.
The rooms are small but modern and comfy with grey and blue walls, a large shower and a pull-out sofa bed for the kids. Provision is made for luggage on a neat rack in a little corner with visible hanging space. Clever!
The hotel has 115 en-suite rooms equipped with air conditioning, TV with DStv, and in-room coffee facilities.
Breakfast, which is included in the R1319 room rate, is also a treat. They actually know how to make proper scrambled eggs.
There's also free WiFi but somehow, this service wasn't reliable and kept cutting off.
The outside pool area is ideal to relax with a book or a dop - whatever floats your boat.
If it's entertainment you seek, the Emnotweni Casino and mall is right across the road. The more upmarket Southern Sun Emnotweni Hotel is a few steps away.
The food at this four-star spot is top notch from the buffet to the a la carte menu. From the grilled fish to the perfectly cooked steak. But the best on this menu has to be the Portuguese-inspired half chicken, chips and the strawberry-filled tartlets. It tastes like more.
For partygoers, Zero 13 and Cayote are where the cool people are - classy shisanyamas.
For Joburgers who naturally seek something other than malls and gambling, the Lowveld National Botanical Gardens, a mere five minutes away from the casino, is a must see. It costs only R35 to enter and proved to be quite an adventure.
One path leads to the gorgeous Nelspruit Waterfalls whilst the other takes you through a winding forest ideal for a romantic picnic.
We are told the Crocodile River gushes through the narrow, pot-holed solid rock gorge, while the Nels River cascades down a waterfall from the west. The two merge into a gentle pool loved by hippos.
If it's inner peace you seek, then find your way through the three-year-old labyrinth of the evergreen garden.
Curated by Taki Mamatsharaga, the labyrinth is believed to impart a calming and introspective effect.