Hoedspruit is situated at the centre of the Kruger to Canyons Route – hence the name, Heart of the Kruger to Canyons. It is a small bush-town halfway between the Orpen and Phalaborwa gates to the Kruger Park. This is where the Kruger to Canyons world comes together and on one side there is an endless stretch of Bushveld, with plains of marula, acacia, combretum and mopane woodlands, with on the other a beautiful view of the magnificent escarpment.
The town is a platform from which to explore the Blyde River Canyon, and also offers a wildlife experience with the opportunity to see the Big Five and learn about these animals through various conservation and research projects. Hoedspruit provides a variety of activities for all interests. Visitors can “play” in the Blyde River Canyon, and/or enjoy a range of adventure activities from hot-air ballooning to white water rafting, and boat rides on the Blydepoort Dam, from which there are also amazing views of the canyon from the bottom.
Although no-one seems to be certain, some sources explain that the name Hoedspruit, which means "hat creek," originated from an incident after a long trek over the mountains in the heat of the Lowveld, when one of the pioneers removed his hat, threw it into the cool waters of the Sandspruit River and decided to stay.
Interestingly the town used to be relatively untouched by tourism and was mostly geared towards agriculture. The Central Lowveld area has two irrigation districts, namely the Olifants River System and the Blyde, with its associated irrigation scheme. They support the production of banana, mango, citrus and vegetables. Orchards can be seen along the road into Hoedspruit, which is at an altitude of about 515m (1 700 feet) above sea level. Its low altitude makes it hot and humid.
Hoedspruit recently transformed into a tourism hive, with a tourism centre, Kamogelo, providing visitors with a wide range of services. A range of accommodation is available to suit most tastes and pockets. This includes luxury lodges and game farms, cosy B&B's and laid-back backpacker facilities. Some of the well-known private game reserves located here include Kapama, Timbavati and Thornybush. Roads winding around the canyon and Klaserie areas have restaurants around every corner, and interesting places to visit, with plenty of facilities for special events. The town has not lost its special character, however, and the African sunsets behind the Blyde River Canyon re-emphasise the magnificence of its natural setting.
Hoedspruit and surrounds showcase a great diversity of cultures that come together here. The town also forms the heart of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve. The reserve aims to address sustainability issues in the region. The town is within easy reach of Phalaborwa and tarred roads that lead the way into Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Besides exploring the heights and depths of the Blyde River Canyon, there are many educational or leisure activities in and around Hoedspruit. Also explore Mariepskop Mountain, situated on the eastern side of the Drakensberg Escarpment, facing away from the Blyde River Canyon.
According to the South African Weather Bureau, based on data gathered between 1977 and 1990, the yearly average maximum temperature is 28.6°C, and the yearly average minimum is 15.4°C. The hottest months of the year are usually December, January and February, with an average monthly maximum temperature of over 31°C, and a minimum of 20°C. The coolest month of the year, July, registers an average maximum of 24.7°C, and an average minimum of 9°C.
Hoedspruit’s average yearly rainfall is 513mm. Rain usually falls between October and March, peaking in December and January. On average, there are thunderstorms for 25 days of the year, with brief periods of heavy rain accompanied by spectacular lightening.
Things To Do In Hoedspruit:
Khamai Reptile Park – herpetology centre on the R527 between Hoedspruit and the Strijdom Tunnel, where visitors can learn about snakes and reptiles. The park has been in the area since 1984, and was formerly known as the Swadini Reptile Park. Visit www.kruger2canyons.com for more information.
Bombyx Mori Silk Farm – one of only two commercial silkworm farms in South Africa. The name refers to the Latin scientific name for the mulberry silk moth, which is farmed here to produce a very high quality silk. The silk is made into duvets and refined into hypoallergenic cosmetic products.
Boat Trips to Blyde Dam – a boat trip for the whole family, with stunning views of the Blyde River Canyon, and educational information on the environment. Also spot birds and a hippo or two.
Blyde Canyon Adventure Centre – from quad-biking to river rafting, to rock climbing (see participant list for more info).
Blyde River Canyon Hiking – various hikes in the Blyde River Canyon region.
Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre – the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre is a unique project that conducts essential research on endangered species and provides the opportunity to view animals that have found a home here in their natural surroundings.
Hoedspruit Cheetah Project – there are more than 80 cheetah to be seen, including tame individuals, cubs and the beautiful king cheetah. Interestingly, these cheetahs have stripes rather than spots.
Tracker Guided Walks – educational walks on a unique game farm (see participant list for more information and photos).
Jessica’s Place – visit Jessica the famous hippo.
Moholoholo Animal Rehab Centre – a home for many of South Africa’s abandoned, injured and poisoned wildlife and a highly regarded contributor to wildlife education in the country.
- Ambri Africa - +27 15 795 5107
- Barcelos – +27 15 793 2248 (central Hoedspruit)
- Blyde Club – +27 82 789 2608
- Blyde Steakhouse – +27 15 795 5831
- Cotton Club Café – +27 15 795 5682
- Dumbwaiter – +27 15 793 9136 (Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate)
- Eden Tea Garden - +27 73 403 8936 (see participant list for photos and more info)
- Hoedspruit Hengelklub – +27 15 795 5214
- Jos Mac’s - +27 15 793 2951
- Kalimambo – +27 15 793 0079
- Ngena Deli (at the Kamogelo Tourism Centre) - +27 15 793 0452
- O’Hagans - +27 15 793 0738 (Central Hoedspruit)
- Sleepers – +27 15 793 1014 (Central Hoedspruit)
- Tractors – +27 15 793 0444 (Central Hoedspruit)
Information sourced from local newspapers – Kruger2Canyon and Hoedspruit News.
Also visit www.hoedspruit.co.za for more information
The Mariepskop complex is a mountain enclave with a unique floral diversity. It is at 1 945m above sea level and views from the top include the Indian Ocean and even Maputo on a clear day. It is the highest peak in the northern Drakensberg Escarpment, and has military radar equipment on top of it, which has led to its conservation because development has been restricted.
Mariepskop contains more than 2 000 plant species, with savannah at its foothills, montane forest species on its slopes and in its kloofs and semi-detached grassland hilltops, including highly protected cycads. At the top visitors will find a combination of tropical mist forest and capensis Fynbos species.
Apart from its floral assortment, there are over 905 vertebrate species, including 58 endemic animals and a 109 red data book species.