Though still a mecca for would-be and hardened game rangers, Hoedspruit has boomed into one of South Africa’s fastest growing towns, under constant expansion and development. It hasn’t lost its sleepy Lowveld charm though, and there’s no shortage of things to do in around Hoedspruit.
Take a hike
The rolling Blyde River Canyon is only a 40km drive from Hoedspruit, and there is no shortage of things to do in and around the canyon. It’s the largest green canyon on earth and the third largest canyon in the world, and it’s practically Hoedspruit’s backyard. The closest waterfall is just off the road after crossing the Blyde River, is only a 2km hike away that children will do easily, and has a glorious natural pool to swim in.
Enjoy dinner on the Olifants
Three Bridges restaurant on the Olifants River has an outdoor deck that faces the water, the ideal place to sip on something cold and spot hippos and elephants that often cross the river below. (079 912 9416)
Head to Kruger
Hoedspruit is equidistant between Kruger’s Orpen Gate and Phalaborwa gate. It takes an hour either way, so if you leave early you could be at one of the picnic sites by brunch time. The picnic sites all have skottels for rent for around R30, so all you need to bring is your eggs, your bacon and your binoculars. Conservation fees are R115 per adult and R57 per child, unless you have a Wild Card. You could spend the entire day in Kruger or head back into town for sundowners and supper.
Go on a boat trip
You could do this, take a scenic cruise around the Blyde dam with Blyde Canyon Safaris and be back in the Hoed for a late afternoon lunch. Blyde Canyon Safaris offer daily trips at 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm, each trip lasting an hour and a half. R290 for adults, R170 for children.
Pull in to Hoedspruit Brewing Co for the best-woodfired pizza in town and a cold draught. Sip on craft beers or ask for a tasting tray to sample the beers on tap. The brewery is right next door to an ice cream shop and has a put-put course leading off the verandah, so it’s a great spot to park off with the kids for a few hours. (060 970 7771)
Visit the Reptile Centre
Hoedspruit Reptile Centre is 15km from town, an easy drive for a morning or afternoon activity with kids. This region of the Lowveld attracts a high abundance of snakes and other reptiles, making Hoedspruit a prime location for reptile research and education. (015 795 5203)
No booking necessary. R115 per adult, R60 per child (age 4-12).
Visit the Timbavati Museum
One of the Lowveld’s best-kept secrets, the Graeme Naylor Museum is packed full of natural wonders. Located at the Timbavati headquarters, the museum showcases everything from the frogs and birds found in the reserve to the Timbavati’s famous white lions.
Adults & children over 12 (R50); Children under 12 (Free) for a 1 hour museum visit.
Indulge in a spa treatment
Hoedspruit has a number of spas, ideal for an afternoon getaway on a busy holiday with kids. For a special treat, head out to the spa at Kapama River Lodge for a treatment in the bush.
Go on a hot air balloon ride
Take to the sky for an hour over the Lowveld section of the Blyde River. It’s an early start but it’s a great way to see the citrus and game farms of Hoedspruit at the foot of the Drakensberg Escarpment. (087 806 2079)
R4 500 per person
Book a game drive
Book a morning or afternoon game drive on Pridelands, a reserve just outside Hoedspruit that’s open to the Greater Kruger. Game drives last around three hours, including a coffee break, and guests can see everything from the common plains game to big game, and the birding is excellent too.
R 650 per person per drive
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