The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre is among South Africa’s best-respected animal sanctuaries. During your visit you will see creatures that are so rare that your chances of seeing them in the wild are vanishingly slim. Cheetahs are the reason the centre started, but you’ll love all the other animals too.

Did you know?

A cheetah can accelerate faster than any sports car.

The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre started, as many animal sanctuaries do, because of one person’s love for animals. Lente Roode was this person.

As a child on her father’s farm, she took charge of an orphaned cheetah cub she named Sebeka. The cub sparked a passion for these spotted cats that never left her. Later she and her husband established a private game reserve near Hoedspruit, called Kapama.

Once grown up and married, Lente established her cheetah sanctuary within Kapama Game Reserve, a massive piece of land that had once been a cattle farm. Later, more animals on the Red Data list arrived at the centre: African wild cats, ground hornbills and wild dogs. Then blue cranes and small-spotted cats (also known as black-footed cats).

Today the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre is a highly respected, very professional institute involved in research into, and breeding of threatened animals. Many are released into the wild.

From the earliest days in 1990, this sanctuary has been open to the public. The money raised from visitors helps fund the sanctuary, which in turn creates greater awareness of the plight of endangered animals.

Your tour starts with a detailed presentation to tell you about the centre. Then an experienced field guide will take you by vehicle to meet cheetahs, wild dogs, sable antelope and tsessebe. You’ll learn the difference between African wild cats and small-spotted cats, observe graceful blue cranes and comical ground hornbills, and see other animals injured or orphaned or labelled as problem animals. There might be buffalo, lion, a rhino or two, and handsome nyala antelope.

And you’ll never forget – if you’re there at the right time – the incredible sights and rare birds you’ll see at the vulture restaurant.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre
Tel: +27 (0)15 793 1633
Cell: +27 (0)83 654 2299

How to get here

There are daily scheduled flights to Hoedspruit's Eastgate Airport, which is very close to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. From Nelspruit, drive about 190km north on the R40 towards Hoedspruit. Before Hoedspruit, take a right turn to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre after the road to Acornhoek. You'll see it on your left. This will take 2 to 3 hours.

Best time to visit

The HESC is open every day except Christmas.

Around the area

Hoedspruit is very close to the Kruger National Park and other private nature reserves. You're also within driving distance of the Blyde River Canyon, God's Window and Pilgrim's Rest.

Tours to do

Standard tours leave on the hour from 09h00 to 15h00. Ask about the platinum tours too - these are exclusive and include wild dog feeding and vulture feeding.

Get around

At the centre, you'll be taken around by vehicle, or you can opt for a walking tour.

What will it cost

A standard tour costs approximately R130 per person up to R350 for an afternoon game drive. There are discounts for children under 12.

Length of stay

You could come just for a few hours, or stay overnight.

Where to stay

It's a real treat to stay at nearby Camp Jabulani, where you can stay among trained elephants from Zimbabwe, rescued by the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. You could also stay at one of the luxury lodges within the Kapama Private Game Reserve, or in the nearby Kruger National Park.

What to eat

Try out the cakes at The Deli, on the premises.

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