Lifestyle - In and Around Hoedspruit

Hoedspruit (Afrikaans for Hat Creek) is a small tourism and agriculturally orientated town in the Central Lowveld nestled between the Kruger National Park & the Blyde River Canyon situated at the foot of the Klein Drakensberg (Afrikaans for "Small Dragon Mountains" range), in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Hoedspruit is surrounded by the largest privately owned conservation area in the world. The surrounding area is also one of the major agricultural contributors in the country - specialising in Mango and Citrus production.

As the story goes, one of the town’s pioneers had just made a gruelling trek across the mountains in the sweltering Lowveld heat, and making an impulsive decision to call this place home, threw his hat into the Sandspruit River that runs through the area.

Today, Hoedspruit still seems to employ some kind of wizardry to seduce those who enter its boundaries. Some will say it’s the abundance of wildlife and Big Five game-viewing opportunities on the surrounding reserves such as the Klaserie, Timbavati and Umbabat Private Nature Reserves – even the world-famous Kruger National Park is just a short drive away. Others will tell you it’s the unique, strikingly beautiful landscape – dry bushveld and sandy riverbeds mesh with lush forests found in the nearby Blyde River Canyon and hills leading up to the peaks of the Drakensberg. There’s magic in those mountains.

Conservation is one of the main economic focus areas of Hoedspruit, and you’ll also find many tourist-friendly animal rehabilitation centres in the vicinity. Be sure to visit the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, http://www.moholoholo.co.za, situated along the R531 on the slopes of the Mariepskop – the highest peak of the Drakensberg escarpment, 1 945m above sea level. The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, near the Kapama Game Reserve, is also a must-visit. Both centres offer valuable insight into vulnerable animal species, and give a fascinating overview of the conservation efforts playing out in these regions. Get up close with cheetah, wild dog, lion and other rare and endangered species.

Take a trip to the nearby Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. Over 300 bird species have been identified here, making it an ideal spot for birding enthusiasts. Take a boat cruise on the river, or make your way to the beautiful waterfall hidden at the end of a short forest trail. Monkeys often watch your progress along the leafy path with cheeky curiosity. Drive to the Mariepskop picnic site, situated on the banks of the turbulent Blyde River amid the misty forests of the Drakensberg mountains. The scenery while travelling into its peaks would not be misplaced in a JRR Tolkien novel. The river is great for tubing, and you can launch yourself into the refreshing water with a rope swing.

There is an airstrip in the middle of town, which has a couple of flight schools. So for Professional Flight Training organisation that also offering scenic flights in pristine wildlife areas of the Lowveld: http://www.airborneafricanadventures.co.za. And dont forget a amazing bush ride on horse back with an incredible crew and trainer, with African Dream Horse Safaris: http://www.africandreamhorsesafari.co.za

In the evenings, if you’re not braaiing under the stars, there are a number of great restaurants scattered about the town. Try the Hat and Creek across the road from the Kamogelo Tourist Centre; the Safari Club at the entrance of Raptor’s View Wildlife Estate; Madhams, awesome, Cafe at Rock fig lifestyle centre for great coffee, atmosphere and delicious fresh bites; for authentic Italian, Cala la Pasta - This family run Italian Restaurant in Hoedspruit is one of the vibiest restaurants in the Lowveld serving real Italian food.

There are so many other things to do and see in this beautiful bushveld haven – No matter what you get up to, or how long you intend to stay, be warned – once Hoedspruit gets under your skin, it’s there to stay.