Situated in the Central Lowveld region of the Valley of the Olifants, Hoedspruit, Klaserie and surrounds are prime destinations for wildlife enthusiasts. The charming town of Hoedspruit is close to the Kruger National Park, a mere 70 km from Orpen Gate. Hoedspruit (“Hat Creek”) acquired its name from a pioneer who threw his hat into the cool Sandspruit River and decided to stay in the area. Since then the town has become an ecotourist destination with a large number of game reserves and lodges in the area surrounding the town.
Adventure And Sport
Adventure Tourism: Several hiking trails, horse trails and mountain-biking trails and walks traverse the many reserves. Visitors can also fly over the area in microlight planes or explore in their 4×4 vehicles.
Leguan Adventure Safaris: This company organises abseiling expeditions, hiking in “Big Five” territory (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros), as well as mountain-biking and 4×4 trails.
River-rafting: Full-day white-water rafting trips can be undertaken on the Blyde River. Mini-rafting is possible on easier sections of the river.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
Stone Age Sites: The area has several sites where Early Stone Age tools, rock paintings and iron smelting works reveal the ancient history of the Pedi, Tsonga (Shangaan) and Venda people.
Nyani Tribal Village: The village near Klaserie is an accurate replica of a traditional Shangaan village of 50 odd years ago. The huts are constructed and decorated with traditional methods and materials. The floors are covered with cow dung, and white, black or terracotta clay from termite mounds decorates the walls. The patterns on the walls indicate who sleeps there. The present (2004) host and guide is the grandson of the last traditional chief of the area and he and his family offer guided tours of the village, as well as demonstrations of counting games and a display of the snares traditionally used to catch small animals and bigger birds. Tribal dancing is done on request, subject to prior booking, and overnight stays in the village can also be arranged. Visits to the Nyani Cultural Village should be organised through Nyani Game Farm.
Fauna And Flora
Aventura Eco Swadini Holiday Resort: This resort lies some 34 km south-west of Hoedspruit, near the Blyde River Canyon, one of Southern Africa’s acknowledged natural wonders. The resort lies within the boundaries of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. This reserve, although renowned more for its diverse vegetation and natural beauty, is inhabited by the full range of South African primates. Be on the lookout for baboons, vervet monkeys, samango monkeys and bushbabies!
Eyrie Birding Lodge: More than 500 species of birds are found on the flats of the Lowveld and many of these can be seen in the region. While the animals reign over the land, the birds rule the skies with their exuberant colours. The lodge is run by an ornithologist and experienced tour guide. Could conditions be more ideal for the perfect bird-watching trip?
Hoedspruit Research and Breeding Centre: The Centre is in the Hoedspruit Safari Park, from which it also oversees the Cheetah Breeding Project at Kapama Game Reserve, about 20 km south-east of Hoedspruit. Guided tours are conducted hourly.
Hoedspruit Safari Park: The 300-ha Safari Park is next to the Cheetah Breeding Centre and offers views of giraffe, zebra, kudu, blue wildebeest, nyala, duiker, impala, waterbuck and steenbuck. Funds generated by visits are used to fund the Breeding Centre’s research projects.
Kapama Game Reserve: Kapama, home to the Big Five, lies about 20 km south of Hoedspruit and covers some 13 000 ha of land. Giraffe, hippo, zebra and many species of antelopes and birds call this reserve home. Visitors may follow the numerous guided walking trails or opt for early morning or evening guided game-viewing drives. Accommodation is provided in luxurious tented camps or in the Kapama Guesthouse. However semi-selfcatering accommodation is also available.
Klaserie Private Nature Reserve: The reserve lies on either side of the Klaserie River, a tributary of the great Olifants River. It covers 60 000 ha of land and in the east it adjoins the Timbavati Reserve and the Kruger National Park. All the boundary fences between these reserves have been removed. The reserve has many species of birds and is also home to all the larger types of game and to a very impressive population of giraffes. Members of the public may only enter the reserve on a guided five-day hiking trail.
Moholoholo Forest Camp and Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre for Birds: The Centre lies against the slopes of the Moholoholo (“Mariepskop”) Mountain, some 15 km west of Klaserie. View the more than 300 species of birds recorded here, as well as giraffe, eland, tsessebe, nyala, bushbuck, kudu, wildebeest, hyena, jackal, leopard, warthog and bush pig. The Centre also cares for injured raptors and wild animals. Follow the guided or self-guided walks through the indigenous forest, or take the day or night drives. The reserve also conducts training and educational courses for ranger guides, game-farm owners, school and conservation groups.
Nyani Game Farm: Nyani is a private game reserve situated between the Kruger National Park and the Blyde River Canyon. The Klaserie River, its banks dotted with huge trees, flows through the reserve. The reserve contains a cultural village, Nyani Cultural Village, and the Gamela Lodge with its beautiful gardens. Game drives and other outdoor activities are available. Fireside dinners in the “boma”, provide a perfect ending to an exciting day.
Swadini Reptile Park: Visitors can view a number of fascinating species of reptiles species in the park. The boat trips on the Swadini Dam allow views of the hippos and crocodiles that live there.
Timbavati Wildlife Reserve: This reserve encompasses a massive 65 000 ha and consists of the combined properties of more than 30 private landowners. The reserve does not allow professional trophy hunting and its owners concentrate their efforts on reintroducing animals such as white rhino, sable antelope and cheetah. Although the main claim to fame of the reserve is its unique white lions – the original breeding pair is alive and well -it reputedly has the densest giraffe population in the world. The reserve also boasts impressive herds of impala, blue wildebeest, zebra, buffalo and elephant as well as several different predators, other small mammals and birds. Several smaller lodges, camps and game reserves are included in the Timbavati Reserve, such as Kambaku Game Lodge, Kings Camp and Motswari Game Lodge and its sister camp M’bali, Ngala Private Game Reserve, Tanda Tula Game Lodge and Umlani Bush Camp. All these camps offer top-class accommodation in beautiful surroundings, as well as a variety of outdoor and educational activities, such as guided day and night game drives in open 4×4 vehicles, as well as guided bush walks and hikes that enable visitors to see the famous, unique white lions at close quarters and to learn about them at the same time.
Tshukudu Game Lodge: The Tshukudu Reserve is about 6 km north of Hoedspruit and offers visitors an exclusive and individualised African wildlife experience. The reserve covers some 5 000 ha and is dedicated to preserving the vegetation, animal and insect life of this piece of Africa in order to share it with future generations. Guests are treated to “close encounters” with the animals in the area and are also introduced to orphaned animals that are cared for in the reserve.