Hoedspruit lies at the foot of the Klein Drakensberg on the old Selati railway line from Phalaborwa to Kaapmuiden. A direct translation from Afrikaans is “hat creek”. The story says one of the town’s pioneers who took off his hat, after a particularly arduous trek over the mountains into the heat of the Lowveld, and threw it into the Sandspruit River, making an impulsive decision to stay. Hoedspruit finds itself in an enviable position today because of its access to the private game areas of the Timbavati and Klaserie.
Hoedspruit is essentially an agricultural town located a stone’s throw away from the Kruger National Park and is surrounded by game-rich country that makes it an obvious stopover. What began as a couple of shops, a bank and a little rondavel that served as a station building, has grown into a premier eco-tourist destination because of its association with some of the best ‘Big 5’ viewing in South Africa.
Hoedspruit retains a great deal of its rural charm, despite the number of scheduled airlines flying into the air force base just outside town, now conveniently used for civilian aircraft. The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre is a non-profitable organisation working to conserve all endangered animal species and is one of the country’s leaders in the breeding and research of endangered species. Breeding programmes include cheetahs, blackfooted cats, African wild dogs and wild cats, and blue cranes. And the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre also welcomes day visitors who can enjoy a couple of hiking trails in the area.