The saying “great things come in little packages” comes to life in the South African Lowveld town of Hoedspruit – South Africa’s safari capital and gateway to the Kruger National Park and some of the country’s best-loved tourism attractions…
Never judge a town by its size! What Hoedspruit lacks in area it more than makes up for in tourism offerings, punching well above its weight in terms of breathtaking scenery, phenomenal hospitality and a smorgasbord of things to see and do.
Just five hours from Johannesburg, with a great regional airport that offers direct flights from both OR Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport, Hoedspruit enjoys a pretty much perfect location on the edge of the Greater Kruger National Park.
This is South Africa’s famed Lowveld, which begins a few short kilometres away at the foot of the towering Drakensberg Escarpment and stretches eastwards all the way through the Kruger National Park to the border with Mozambique. To the north lies Phalaborwa, Tzaneen and (eventually) Polokwane. To the south is Hazyview, White River and Nelspruit.
It’s this unique position that makes it the ideal “parking spot” for holidaymakers keen to tap into an amazing array of tourist attractions, activities and experiences while kicking back, relaxing and soaking up the wonderful Lowveld vibe.
Here’s some of the best things to see and do around Hoedspruit…
Eat out in style: You can drive through Hoedspruit in five minutes, and yet this lovely little town is blessed with some of the best cafes and restaurants in the area, if not South Africa! From the relaxed, pub grub vibe at Sleepers on the site of the old Hoedspruit railway station to the excellent Hoedspruit Cafe with its phenomenal sourdough breads and baked goodies and wonderful menu packed with fabulous food, you really are spoiled for choice.
The Hat & Creek restaurant is famed for its fine dining and the brand new Farmery on the outskirts of town offers farm to table fare that’s fresh and tasty. We can also recommend The Brewery out at the Bosveld Centre on the R40 and Thirsty Giraffe Bush Pub and Grill, on the main road to Phalaborwa – famous for its espetadas and bushveld setting.
Hoedspruit is also the home of the Yum Factory food truck which dishes up fabulous thin crust pizzas and a range of prego rolls for that ultimate take-out experience.
Game drives: Whether it’s morning or afternoon game drives in open safari vehicles in one of the many private Big Five game reserves that surround Hoedspruit or a full-day guided safari in the Kruger National Park, you’re going to be in for a treat when it comes to wildlife encounters.
Hoedspruit really is safari central and its reputation as the safari capital of South Africa is very much deserved. With easy access to some of the best game viewing in Southern Africa it’s the perfect hub from which to explore and experience truly superlative sightings.
The Kruger National Park’s Orpen Gate is just 40 minutes from town, as is one of South Africa’s best-kept secrets – the Manyeleti Game Reserve. The Klaserie, Timbavati, Sabi Sands and Balule private nature reserves are also on Hoedspruit’s doorstep. The wildlife even roams freely in town – so watch out for warthogs when you drive around and even the odd leopard and painted wolf (African wild dog) who are regularly spotted in and around Hoedspruit.
The Panorama Route: Just an hour away at the top of the impressive northern Drakensberg Escarpment (and the equally impressive Abel Erasmus Pass), the Blyde River Canyon marks the start of this phenomenally scenic tourism route that winds its way along the edge of the escarpment to the small town of Graskop.
One of the world’s largest “green” canyons, the Blyde is certainly one of its most picturesque with jaw-dropping views out over the entire Lowveld from its precipitous edge. Take in the geologically fascinating Bourke’s Luck Potholes and a selection of fantastic waterfalls and view points before descending to the bottom of the Graskop Gorge in a glass-sided lift at the Graskop Gorge Lift (an absolute must!).
Drive yourself or do a guided tour. Whichever you choose, the landscapes are not to be missed. It’s the perfect day trip while you are in town.
Adventures galore: With all of its incredible scenery, it stands to reason that Hoedspruit is a hub for hikers looking to explore the escarpment and the rolling landscapes below it. With dedicated hiking and mountain bike trails, it’s perfect for adventurous spirits who want to test themselves and enjoy the incredible views and hidden places this area is so famous for.
Alternatively, explore on horseback, or take a fabulous cruise on the Blyde Dam and experience the escarpment from a unique viewpoint. If more excitement is your thing, then a helicopter flight over the Blyde Canyon, microlighting and hot-air ballooning are bound to get the heart thumping and are easily booked in Hoedspruit.
Bush Cinema: Book dinner and a movie in one of the most unusual experiences on offer in Hoedspruit out at its luxury cinema – Cinema Oase – at the 7-Star Oase resort at Wild Rivers. This small, 18-seater state-of-the-art cinema and its terrace restaurant are out in the bush, surrounded by wildlife with stunning views of the escarpment and offer great food and entertainment par excellence.
Craft Gin, Beer, Chocolate, Coffee: Try a tasting out in the bush! Whether it’s craft gin, locally brewed beers or chocolate and coffee pairings, you do a game drive and then stop for sundowners and try some of the amazing range of artisanal food and drink on offer in the area. Hoedspruit is also home to some wonderful art galleries, artisan craft and cultural centres.