It is inevitable to find the most interesting things to do in Hoedspruit because Limpopo is a province that borders Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. And Hoedspruit is situated in the dense Mopani region of the Limpopo Province, at the base of the Klein Drakensberg Mountains.
Hoedspruit was named in 1844 by farmer Dawid Johannes Joubert after losing a hat he adored to a flooding river during one of his exploratory ventures through the region. Multiples of tourists regularly flock to this part of the country to enjoy what is known as ‘the home of the green.’ Hoedspruit is a palette full of greens and is skirted by the Kruger National Park and the Blyde River Canyon. Because of this, it is:
- Surrounded by the largest privately owned conservation area in the world.
- The Leading Green Belt – Hoedspruit is one of the major agricultural contributors in South Africa – specialising in Mango and Citrus production.
- A driver in the Green Movement – Hoedspruit is the heart of the UNESCO-registered Kruger to Canyons Biosphere and is host to several green community initiatives that include recycling activities.
Hoedspruit is unbelievably amazing. It represents nature at its finest and is a habitat for the legendary Big 5 (the Lion, Leopard, Rhinoceros, Elephant, and the African Buffalo).
List of Things to do in Hoedspruit
You must be prepared to have your mind blown and to forget about home as you get lost in the wildlife and culture of Hoedspruit. Because of its indigenous biodiversity, the number of Safari options in Hoedspruit can be compared to the food at a buffet table. These are the 14 most captivating things to do in this Eden in the North of the country:
We must admit that we just could not get enough of Hoedspruit and trust that you will soon feel the same if you haven’t heard of it yet. Hold on tight… this is quite a ride.
Big Five Sunrise and Sunset Game Drive Safari
This Game Drive safari provides a scenic view of the bushveld. This private 4-hour tour departs from Leadwood Big Game Estate with All or Nothing Adventures as the hosts. Tourists can enjoy close encounters with Elephants, Black and White Rhinos, Lions, Leopard, Hyenas, African Wild Dogs, Cheetahs, Honey Badgers, and other smaller game as well as birds.
The trips are weather-dependent, and the vehicle capacity is nine passengers. Traveller pick-ups and drop-offs are available at an additional cost. Refreshments such as light snacks and drinks including local beers, red & white wine, and soft drinks will be available on the trip.
This tour is a novel and extraordinary way to experience the African sun.
Watch a morning safari teaser video here
Full-Day Private Kruger Park Safari
What sets this safari apart is that it takes place at the iconic Kruger National Park. The Kruger National Park is notorious the world over for its nearly 2 million hectares of an unmatched variety of life forms, as well as historical and archaeological sights.
The tour starts early in the morning to ensure that the wildest predators can be spotted. The manifold bird species and animals like the Hippo, Crocodile, Giraffe, and Zebra can also be seen throughout the day, and depending on the animals, there may be visits to different parts of the park. Trip experiences vary because they are dependent on the unpredictability of the inherent wildlife.
The tour itinerary for the day is as follows:
05h00: Departure to the Kruger National Park
05h30: Enter the Kruger National Park Orpen or Phalaborwa Gate
10h00: Brunch at Picnic Site
12h30: Lunch at rest camp (self-funded)
14h30: Afternoon Game viewing
18h00: Back to the lodge
And the tour includes:
- Driver – Kruger Park Qualified guide
- Packed Breakfast
- Bottled water
The service requires a minimum of 4 people per booking.
You may have not heard of this too-good-to-be-true kind of tour, but African Big Five Horseback Safaris do exist! For experienced riders, there are overnight tours ranging between 3 and 10 days. Beginners are welcome to horse ride at some locations for an hour or two. The minimum riding age for the shorter trails is 6.
The Big Five Safari service that is hosted by Wait a Little is offered all year round. It is a challenging, 8-day trail ride for advanced horse riders. Patrons get to experience a 7-night safari in 3 different camps – Wait a Little main camp, Beacon Rock, and the fancy XiDulu Lodge.
Guests can expect the following (or similar depending on the wildlife) program during their stay:
Day 1: Morning orientation followed by sundowners with a view of the Drakensberg Mountains.
Day 2: The first-morning tour starts after a light breakfast. The tour guide will lead guests through the Karongwe Private Game Reserve and angle for the routes with the most sights to see. The group will then return to the camp for lunch and an escape from the heat of the sun. A short afternoon ride will close off the day.
Day 3: The earlier part of the day is the same as day 2. But the afternoon consists of a game drive to give the group a rest from the long hours in the saddle. The guide will take a route along the Makuthswe River in hopes to find the most magnificent of animals. This will be followed by sundowners in a beautiful rest stop. The group will return to camp in the dark using the spotlight to seek out nocturnal species.
Day 4: With a change of venue to Beacon Rock, the day starts with another morning ride, and an attempt to seek out wallowing Elephants or a Lion Pride. The afternoon ride will take guests up to the summit of the hill for a view of the entire lowveld escarpment and reserve to watch the sun set behind the Drakensberg rockface and set up camp. The group will then spend the night around a campfire, after scoffing up a traditional braai/barbeque before retiring underneath the stars.
Day 5: The group will cross over to the Greater Makalali Game Reserve to get to the XiDulu Lodge, which has large open plains. Guests will arrive in time for lunch and a sensory respite. This time can be spent in the room, the viewing deck, or the infinity pool. Elephants can be seen from these places in the lodge; they often visit the dam to cool off during the midday heat. This is followed by an afternoon game drive where the guide can track the footprints and signs left by the animals earlier in the day.
Day 6: The day is filled with a morning ride, brunch by Ana served with a backdrop of the dam in view, and an evening game drive.
Day 7: The group returns to Wait a Little camp and ends the day off with an afternoon drink.
Day 8: Departure
The whole experience is heavenly!
Drakensberg Mountains Tour
The Drakensberg Mountain range – translated as ‘dragon’s mountain’- is an amalgamation of the most glorious peaks on the continent: God’s Window, Pinnacle Rock, Three Rondawels, Blyde River Canyon, Wonder View, and Berlin Falls. The Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world!
The tour is experienced from a luxury minibus taxi and lasts for about eight hours. Travellers are taken from the Kamogelo Centre and make rest stops at strategic points of interest – the JG Strijdom Tunnel, Bourkes’ Luck Potholes at the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, Wonder View in Graskop, God’s Window on the Drakensberg escarpment, the awesome Glass Lift hosted by the Graskop Gorge Lift Company (to take in the Drakenberg in a more fun way including a bridge swing or zipline), the Pinnacle Rock, Berlin Falls, and finally back to the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve for a final round of awe and pictures.
The trip fee covers bottled water, coffee or tea, and entrance fees to the various venues. It does not however include meals and the extra activities offered at host locations.
Blyde Dam Cruise
The Blyde Bam Boat Trip is a 90-minute interpretation tour. The Kadishi Tufa Waterfall is the Canyon’s main attraction; it is about 200 meters (660 feet) tall and is the second tallest tufa waterfall on the planet. The boat is guided through the rare and vibrant waterfall and the Three Rondawels by an experienced driver who will elaborate on the indigenous wildlife and the natural history of the Blyde Canyon. The Kadishi Tufa Fall resembles the face of a tormented person which is the reason it is sometimes referred to as ‘the weeping face of nature.’
The dam and its environment claim a wide range of animal species such as the Kudu, Duiker, Leopard, and other small carnivores. The dam is resident to Hippos, Crocodiles, Fish Eagles, and African Finfoot which may be spotted along the journey.
The trips are weather reliant and welcome patrons of all ages; children under 2 years of age board for free.
For water-resistant travellers, the Blyde Canyon offers Game Viewing on a Quad Bike Trail. Only passengers older than 16 years of age are eligible for the trail.
Paintball, Hot Air Balloons, and Panorama Tours of the Canyon are also available.
The activity options at the Canyon are equally exhilarating and make it hard to decide on where to go.
Picnic at Mariepskop
The Mariepskop Picnic spot is one of the most blissful places to visit in the world. At 1,945 meters above sea level, it is one of the highest peaks in the northern Drakensberg and the highest point of the Blyde River Canyon. It intersects three conservation areas: the Mariepskop Forest Reserve, Mariepskop State Forest, and the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. The mountain is bordered by sheer cliff faces on several sides and is composed of Proterozoic sedimentary rocks of the Transvaal Supergroup.
Since this is a full-day visit, guests can swim in the warm rock pool waters when lunch and a scenic drive to the mountain summit and back have been completed.
The Hoedspruit Reptile Centre
The Hoedspruit Reptile Centre is distinctive in its dedication to “conservation through education and research”. Its founders wish to save and relocate vulnerable and endangered reptiles and establish viable captive populations of vulnerable and endangered reptiles. The facility displays an assortment of local and exotic reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids and offers an extensive selection of accredited educational programs, reptile handling courses & training, photographic tours, volunteering opportunities, and internships.
It is open to the public seven days a week including public holidays and is accessible for the learning and excitement of people of all ages.
- opt for a self-guided tour that is concluded with an exclusive snake demonstration
- take an interactive tour with a curator that allows for the handling of live and preserved specimens
- photograph the animals (the reptiles, insects, and arachnids) outside of their enclosures in natural or studio settings.
The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC)
The HESC was registered in South Africa as a cheetah breeding centre in 2003 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The organisation aims to sustain and increase the numbers and genetic multiplicity of Southern Africa’s free-ranging Cheetah population. They facilitate a limit to inbreeding in small, free-ranging groups of Cheetahs.
Unfortunately, the estimated number of remaining Cheetahs in Africa is 7,000, of which only 1,200 reside in South Africa. 300 to 450 of the local Cheetahs roam the wild while the rest are kept in reserves. The HESC is passionate and dedicated to its work; it has a myriad of stories of triumphs experienced through the rescue of and love for the animals – and heartbreaking losses of endangered species to poachers.
Given its endeavours, the HESC has gained popularity amongst local and international tourists. During a tour through the reserve in guided open safari vehicles, visitors should expect to see endangered and other species such as the Cheetah, White Rhino, Wild Dogs, Sable Antelope, Southern Ground Hornbill, and many types of Vultures at the Vulture Restaurant.
Art Gallery Tours
A five-star reviewer of the iNyoka Art Gallery suggests that tourists “please, go in there and get inspired!” The gallery can be found at Kinyonga Cultural Centre and is run and made for the town’s people. The art pieces are the work of the talented people living, working, and creating in and around Hoedspruit.
Another wonderful gallery to visit is the Warren Cary Wildlife Gallery which showcases over twenty of South Africa’s top wildlife artists. There are more than 150 works to view in across the categories of fine art, bronze sculpture, fine art photography, and many others. The gallery was founded by four artists including the brilliant Warren Cary and Karen Kay. They crafted a reputation for quality by creating an elegant space that is refined and welcoming to its patrons.
The venue also includes the African Detail boutique (which makes bespoke uniforms for safari, lodge & hotel industry staff), quality dry media art supplies, and a room for art classes. In addition, there is a snack bar called the Yum Factory which offers coffees, hand-crafted ice creams, and a food truck that serves wood-fired pizzas.
Leading Edge Flight School
If you have ever had the fantasy of being a pilot, the Leading-Edge Flight School can make your dream come true. The weather is perfect for the most remarkable experience one can have because it is optimal throughout the year and Hoedspruit cannot be topped as a location. The flight school won the Aviation Company of the Year Award in 2018.
The school allows its patrons to choose their experience, with the exceptional option to fly a plane and to select the plane they prefer. Flight lengths are variable (ranging from 20 minutes to an hour and a half), and guests can either fly a microlight or a light sport airplane.
The facility offers Flying Safaris over Big 5 game farms in the area and options for longer flights over the Blyde River Canyon. Flights are completed on a one-to-one basis with unbelievable panoramic views.
Elephant Moments is a facilitated 90-minute immersion into some of the most majestic creatures on the globe. Not only are visitors given invaluable insights on elephants, but they also get an opportunity to meet a few of the gentle giants to understand them more intimately and to learn about their immense importance to the provincial ecosystem.
The Jabulani Herd stables are home to a tight-knit herd that has not only accepted one another as orphans but continues to welcome orphaned calves that need a family to accept them unconditionally, something that is rarely seen in wild herds. Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development (HERD) provides a safe place for the herd to thrive in a semi-wild environment. Side by side, the Jabulani Herd graze, swim, and play in the beautiful bushes of the Kapama Reserve. And guests help contribute to their wellbeing.
Coffee, tea, and biscuits are provided upon arrival as a courtesy and will be accessible to enjoy throughout the experience. Souvenirs will be available for purchase in the gift shop and the proceeds will go to the HERD Trust.
Citrus Farm Tour
Embark on a tour that will ignite a refreshing admiration for citrus fruit after this behind-the-scenes tour of an active citrus farm. The guides share fascinating stories about the different phases of fruit cultivation while guests enjoy the backdrop of the Drakensberg mountains. The trip ends with sips of Hoedspruit’s very own craft gin in the form of cocktails on the riverbanks of the Blyde River.
The farm produces a gin named Primos. In Spanish, Primos means cousins. In Italian, primo means first. These definitions form the productive origin of the lemon-fermented gin that’s the first of its kind in South Africa, expertly crafted by two cousins: Marnus and Rossouw Kruger. The gin is made from the lemons that are grown on the farm, which are fermented, rather than the usual process of fermenting grain. The alcohol is then double distilled with a Brazilian strain of juniper berry.
Since the spirit is lemon fermented instead of lemon infused, the fruit forms the foundation of the spirit. Therefore, Primos Gin’s lemon flavour is intrinsic, rather than layered on top. There are also subtle aromas of spicy juniper and fresh citrus zest, with a dry finish. The drink is perfectly balanced between sweet and bitter, which is a tribute to the cool clear waters of the Blyde River and the Drakensberg.
Visit Primos Gin’s website here: https://www.primosgin.co.za/
Silk Farm Tour
The Godding & Godding Silk Factory introduces guests to the amazing world of Silk at the 24 Degrees South Country Estate. Guests are taught about how silk cocoons are processed to make an array of wonderful products.
The factory manufactures the best silk-filled duvet & pillow inners, Egyptian cotton percale linens, and the best silk-based skin care products that are infused with African plant extracts. Visitors can indulge in a special African Marula or Baobab massage at the G&G Spa, or just recuperate over a picturesque meal at the popular Cotton Club Cafe or a light lunch at The Snack Shack. The location has numerous shops as well as Classic Car and Motorbike Showrooms. There are several restaurants and other attractions on the property.
Silkworms are no longer farmed at Godding and Godding due to dangerous exposure to pesticides.
Pilgrim’s Rest is an old mining village that is so named because of the first group of prospectors in the area who called themselves pilgrims. The mining village is still intact; a dedicated team of historians, architects, curators, and special interest groups closely monitor all developments and refurbishments in the village to maintain its historic appearance. The largest gold nugget found there weighed about 11 kilograms (24 lbs)! Pilgrim’s Rest can be explored guided or unguided, with a museum on location for patronage as well.
The uniqueness of this historic village is vividly evident in its museums and historic sites. It offers its guests a fascinating peek into the past and captures the atmosphere of a bygone era and its people in their quest for gold.
The town of Pilgrim’s Rest was declared a National Monument in 1986 as a living memory of the early gold rush days in South Africa during the late 1800s/early 1900s.
Hoedspruit is indescribably unique! From endless safaris through beautiful terrains with astonishing inhabitants to farm tours and historic towns; the things to do in Hoedspruit are replete. How can anyone keep themselves away from such a fairy tale of a place?
They don’t. They tell their friends by sharing this article, find some time in their calendar, make a booking, and go!
We cover so many other thrilling places around the country in our blog. Visit our recent post on Mossel Bay here.