Archive for the ‘Hoedspruit’ Category

Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

A visit to the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is an unforgettable experience. Its known from National Geographic Channel. Moholoholo is located at the base of the Drakensberg in the Limpopo Province. Hoedspruit is the nearest town, about 20 miles away. On a Game Farm owned by wildlife enthusiast Mr. Strijdom, the center was started in 1992. Brian Jones was managing the place with a crowned eagle. One day people brought a old zebra, who needed special care. From there word got out that Brian was able to care and release animals and birds which is how the rehab center started.

The center provides a home for many of South Africa’s abandoned, injured and poisoned wildlife animals and is a highly regarded contributor to wildlife conservation in the country. From all corners of South Africa wildlife is brought to the center, and once healthy enough re-introduced into their natural environments. Those creatures who cannot be returned to the wild due to the nature and extent of their injuries, are cared for at the center and are used to educate the many tourists who visit the center each year, both from across South Africa and abroad. The aim is to get to the public awareness of the plight of the Environment in Southern Africa. The rehabilitation center has birds of prey, lions, wild dogs, hyena’s, cheetah’s, rhino’s, a leopard as well many other different species.

Another important function of the center is breeding. Moholoholo runs a successful breeding program, over 150 of these cats have been bred and released back into natural areas. Some of the females have since mated with wild males in the area, so was reported. They also have successfully bred and released into the wild the endangered crowned eagle, Moholoholo is for now the only facility in South Africa which can do that. The taita falcon, one of the rarest falcon species in Africa, is also part of the breeding program. The conservation efforts of Moholoholo make a huge difference to many species, including raptors.

The Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre is a non-profit organization, relying completely on the support of the public. At first donations where welcomed, but as the rehab grew, the costs have been high, so they decided to also ask an entrance fee. The money is used for medicines, keep up of the cages and the expense of feeding. The management and staff are very committed to the preservation of wildlife. Their knowledge of the animals, they so lovingly care for and protect, is nothing less than impressive.

The tour guide shows all the animals they have and explains the conservation efforts they are pursuing. Almost all of the animals are close enough to touch. You can get in the cage whit the vultures to feed them. That’s is really a exiting experience, they are quit heavy and large when they are sitting on your arm. Last year (2009) they had also little rhino’s which you could pet, little baby’s weigh 200 pound, but so charming.

The entrance fees are for a child 45 rand (about $6.00 US) and for grownups 95 rand (about $12,70 US).

Balule Nature Reserve

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Balule nature reserve is situated in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Southwest of Phalaborwa, and north of Hoedspruit. The Balule Private Nature Reserve was created when a few enterprising farm owners decided to drop the game fences between their farms. This has grown into a 40 thousand hectare Private Nature Reserve, with the Olifants River flowing for about 12.5 miles through the center of the reserve. Balule nature reserve forms a part of the 2 million hectare Greater Kruger Park ecosystem, the fence between the two has been removed. Because all fences are dropped the animals are allowed to roam freely between the Kruger Park and the private reserve on its western boundary.

Large numbers of lion, cheetah, leopard as well elephant, buffalo and rhino now move freely between Balule and the eastern border of the Kruger Park. A game drive experience is very exciting. Search for animals on a game-drive, conducted by a qualified guide. Experience nature from an open vehicle and enjoy the African bush. Your guide will give you information about animals, birds and more. At sunset there is a stop for a sun-downer after which the safari continues in the dark, looking for nocturnal animals such as civet, genet, bush baby and owls. A game drive can be arranged by the lodge where your staying.

In Balule there are several accommodations, we stayed at Amukela Game Lodge, located deep in the African bush. Amukela means ‘welcome’ in the local language Shangane. Amukela is ideal located to explore the diverse sightseeing and attractions in the region or for a self safari in Kruger park. They have a nice terrace to relax, covered in shade by 2 large trees. There’s a small swimming pool to cool down. Both have a view on the small waterhole which is lit by a spotlight at night. Then there is the Mercury star deck from where you can see the Milky way in all of its glamor. The southern hemisphere is perfect for star gazing and the owners of Amukela can tell you a lot about it. More information about the Amukela Game Lodge you can find at

From Johannesburg it’s a beautiful drive to Balule, you take the N12 towards Witbank, here it becomes the N4, follow this road until Belfast. At Belfast you take the R540 towards Dulstroom and Lydenburg. In Lydenburg follow the R36 leading to Ohrigstad then take the R527 to Hoedspruit. In Hoedspruit you follow the road until you have reached a 4-way stop , turn left here towards Phalaborwa on the R40. After 16 km you see on your right-hand side the sign Balule – Olifants West Gate, turn right here. You are now at the entrance gate of the Balule game reserve.

The main entrance gate of Balule is situated just 10 miles. north of Hoedspruit. An entrance-fee of R60 per vehicle is payable at the gate. There is also the possibility to take a plane to Eastgate Airport, near Hoedspruit, then it’s just a half an hour drive.

Panorama Route

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

The Panorama Route is one of the most beautiful travel sightseeing’s in South Africa. It leads right through the rugged mountain range of the northern Drakensberg in the Mpumalanga province. The view from the Drakensbergen shows a huge, abrupt elevation, which ensures fantastic views of the plains of the Lowveld a thousands of ft below. The panorama route takes you along the Blyde river canyon, Bourke’s Luck potholes and Gods windows. Other highlights are the waterfalls in Graskop and Sabie as well the lovely towns Hazeview, Ohrigstad and Pelgrim’s rest.

Blyde river canyon cuts through the Mpumalanga part of the Drakensberg mountain range, one of the seven major mountain systems in Africa. Blyde river canyon is the third largest canyon in the world and one of the most spectacular sights in Africa. There are magnificent panoramic views over cliffs rising thousands of ft above river bed. The wonders of these views can be witnessed while walking the unforgettable trails laid out on the rocks. The Three Rondavels are huge rock spirals rising out of the far wall of the canyon. They consist slate under a hood of hard quartz where pine trees grow. They have been named after the traditional cabins from de Xhosa tribe, because they look alike.

The ‘Pinnacle’ is a single quartzite column rising almost 100 ft out of the deep wooded canyon. The Blyde river canyon nature gives home to spectacular wildlife, bird-life and plant-life. Klipspringer and dassies find food and shelter in the rocky areas. The grassland supports grey roebuck, rodents, reptiles, seed-eating birds and plenty of insects.

Bourke’s Luck Potholes are named after gold digger Tom Bourke who found some at this place. He thought that there would be more, but it didn’t make him rich. The potholes where created by the water, at the meeting point of the Blyde River and the Treur River the swirling water carved strange cylindrical sculptures. The smooth red and yellow rocks stand in contrast with the dark pools.

God’s windows is a spectacular viewpoint of canyons, waterfalls and rock formations. God’s Window is a small part of a 155 miles long earthwork of sheer cliffs and extravagant beauty. One can observe the hills and forests as far as the eye can see. There are curio stalls and toilet facilities at the parking area. Wonder view is at 5700 ft, the highest viewpoint along the Panorama route.

Pilgrims Rest is a beautiful and romantic spot in a world where a gold rush took place, it has been declared a National Monument. Near Sabie there are some impressive waterfalls like the “Bridal Veil Falls”, the “Horseshoe Falls” or the 230 ft high “Lone Creek Falls”. Particularly beautiful are the “Mac Mac Falls” between Sabie and Graskop, they are twin waterfalls with a height of 180 ft. Graskop lies above the Kowyn’s Pass, it was founded in 1880 as a settlement for gold diggers like many other villages in this area. It a very nice town , with shops, restaurants and curio stalls. For a wonderful cultural experience visit Shangana Cultural Village in Hazyview. Shangana offers tours during the day, traditional lunches and a festival at night.

Eastgate Airport

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport (SA) lies just outside Hoedspruit, a little town in South Africa. Its situated in the province Limpopo, at the foot of the Klein Drakensberg. Eastgate Airport is part of the Air Force Base Hoedspruit which is an airbase of the South African Air Force. The base was officially opened on 1th of July 1978. It was designed to be a highly protected wartime base, therefore it has underground hangars close to the runway.

The base gained international media attention in 2000, when it hosted the United States Air Force in order to provide rescue and humanitarian support to areas of Mozambique, devastated by the severe flooding caused by Cyclone Eline. It is also an emergency landing site for the Space Shuttle. In the late 1990s an unused portion of the base was converted into a civilian airport which we know as Eastgate Airport. The airport is located within a double fence, with a watch tower at the gate.

Eastgate airport is used for civilian domestic flights. Eastgate can accommodate any sized aircraft from an private aircraft to an Airbus. In 2003 the former premier of Limpopo, Ngoako Ramathlodi, announced his approval of an international license for Eastgate Airport, but nothing has come of it. The tourism and agricultural sectors have been identified economic growth points for the region and international status for Eastgate is crucial for servicing these sectors.

Eastgate Airport service daily scheduled flights from and towards Johannesburg as well Cape town by South African Airways. There are also other domestic carriers who have regular flights to this airport. Eastgate Airport is also ideally suited to the handling of private charter flights. Eastgate Airport services over 65 luxury accommodations, B&B and lodges nearby the airport as well close to the world famous Kruger National Park, the towns Hoedspruit, Tzaneen and Phalaborwa.

From Johannesburg it’s just an 1 hour and 15 minutes flight. Because it’s a short flight, the plane flies lower than usual creating beautiful sightseeing over tropical African landscapes. Tourists can sometimes spot cheetah’s while landing on Eastgate Airport. They have been plotted in the field nearby, to chase away the birds and other animals.

Once the plane has landed safely, passengers proceed walking towards the arrival halls while the luggage is brought by tractor and trailer. The arrival hall is the same area where security screening is taking place which doesn’t go like the usual. No X-Ray machinery to check your carry on luggage. Military will do examination of your bags while staff are casual and friendly checking your passport and paperwork. There’s a restaurant on the airport which serves light meals, as well a curio shop and foreign currency exchange office. Travelers have the ability to rent a car from Avis or choose from one of the many airport taxi’s which can bring you to your next destination.


Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Hoedspruit is a small tourism and agriculturally orientated town in the central Lowveld, just outside the famous Kruger National Park, half way between the Orpen and Phalaborwa gates. This small bush-town is well-situated in the midst of the region’s attractions like activities as birding, hikes, horse riding and exclusive “getaways”, the Cheetah Breeding Project, a micro light Flying School, Blyde River Canyon, the Panorama route, Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre, Balule Nature Reserve and more. Hoedspruit offers accommodation to suit all pockets, from the world’s leading five star safari luxury to budget backpackers retreats.

The town has a beautiful setting- the towering cliffs of the Escarpment and endless expanses of bushveld with plains of marula, acacia, and mopane woodlands stretching as far as the eye can see.

Hoedspruit is well supplied with a variety of shops and restaurants, and is growing rapidly. It is a town full of character and friendly people. Hoedspruit acquired its name when, after a long trek over the mountains into the heat of the Lowveld, one of the pioneers removed his hat and threw it into the cool waters of the Sandspruit River and decided to stay, the river is now largely dry. There is a heat-repelling plastic statue of a hat, to celebrate this, outside the train station

The yearly average maximum temperature is 28.6°C, and the yearly average minimum is 15.4°C. The hottest months of the year are usually December, January and February, with an average monthly maximum temperature of over 31°C, and a minimum of 20°C. The coolest month of the year, July, registers an average maximum of 24.7°C, and an average minimum of 9°C. The area is free of Malaria, but it is advisable to take precautionary measures and use insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites during the rainy season, which is between October and March, peaking in December and January. Hoedspruit ’s average yearly rainfall is just 513mm There are around 25 thunderstorms in a the year, with brief periods of heavy rain accompanied by spectacular lightening. After the rain, the sun will come quickly and the weather is fine again. During the summer the surroundings are colored brown en yellow, but when the rains fall it transforms in a lush green paradise.

In Hoedspruit you find the Kamogelo Tourism Centre’s which has a unique East African architecture. The centre has over twenty eight shops and restaurants, whit various activities and a wide variety of products. There is a store whit beautiful African silks, a Summer spa, a hairdresser, a gift shop, a jeweler, a car wash, a photographer, a pub, diners and more.

A must-visit is Alex Zamoumis’ new Tribal Art Gallery in the Kamogelo Centre, this gallery exhibits collections of tribal art collected in southern Africa during the last 30 years. The gallery, has monthly exhibitions concentrating on a wide range of different aspects of indigenous culture ranging from beadwork, basketry, pottery, weapons, medical and spiritual devices, ritual and cultural objects. Alex and his associates are involved with many ’self-help’ projects where they have encouraged rural people to maintain their tradition skills and art as a source of sustainable income.

Ngena deli is led by the Dutch owner. It has a bakery, whit delicious fresh bread. They also have imported food and cheese. It is an open air restaurant, a deli and a coffee shop, whit a nice view from the terrace. In Hoedspruit banks are open from 09h00 to 15h30 during the week and from 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays. Automatic teller machines are found in Kamagelo shopping centre and the Engen garage. There is a hospital on the Drakensig Military Base and doctors, pharmacies and a dentist in town.

In Hoedspruit is a railway. In 2009 a shiny new Premier Class train service between Johannesburg and Hoedspruit has been launched, providing an added attraction to Limpopo’s big-five reserves. This train offers visitors a five-star service, including private cabins, five-course meals and spa facilities. The service operates once a week, leaving Park Station on a Thursday evening and arriving mid-morning on Friday in Hoedspruit. It returns on the Sunday evening, arriving back in Johannesburg on the Monday morning. There is an airport just outside Hoedspruit, used for civilian domestic flights.

Eastgate Airport service daily scheduled flights from and towards Johannesburg, according as Cape town, by South African Airways. There are also other domestic carriers who have regular flights to this airport. And Eastgate Airport is even ideally suited to the handling of private charter flights.

Car hire is available in Hoedspruit, with Avis at the airport. And Budget at the offices of McFarlanes Safaris next to Lebamba, they deliver your car if you require it at the airport, because the airport is around 10km out of town.

From Johannesburg it’s a beautiful drive to Hoedspruit, you take the N12 towards Witbank, here it becomes the N4, follow this road until Belfast. At Belfast you take the R540 towards Dulstroom and Lydenburg. In Lydenburg follow the R36 leading to Ohrigstad then take the R527 to Hoedspruit. It is possible to rent the car in Johannesburg to leave in Hoedspruit or the other way around. So you can take the train or airplane for one of the rides.