The History of Hazyview
Hazyview is strategically situated at an altitude of 1740ft (530m), 35kms east of Sabie and 10km west of the Kruger National Park, midway between the spectacular scenery of the great escarpment and the world-famous game lodges - a town on a crossroads, where six major roads, all leading to different tourist attractions, converge.
Within a short drive of Rissington Inn are the Numbi, Phabeni and Paul Kruger Gates of the world's largest Game Reserve. The Blyde River Canyon, the third largest in the world, with magnificent views and drops as deep as 3000ft (1000m) is half an hour away, as are God's Window, a sweeping view over the Lowveld from high up on the escarpment, Bourke's Luck Potholes - where the Blyde and Treur rivers meet, causing fascinating rock foundations - and Pilgrims Rest, the restored gold rush town, home of Jock of the Bushveld.
Not to mention all the magnificent waterfalls, superb and varied scenery, deep and wonderful caves and plenty of history from Bushmen to Voortrekkers....
The town was founded by a builder named Perry in the early 1900s. He had run away to the Lowveld because he thought, whilst accidentally inebriated, that he’d killed a woman in Bloemfontein by dropping a brick on her head when building her a house. He hadn’t killed her, as it happened, but he had given her a headache and he was probably wise to leave.
He was a friend and Hazyview neighbour of another local legend, the hunter Harry Wolhuter, who killed a lion with his bare hands and two stabs to the heart with a penknife in 1903. Wolhuter is reported to have said that the stench of the lion’s breath was foul and the thought of being eaten by it infuriated him.
Perry was granted a farm on the Sabie River by the government and there he founded a trading store. He had no family and, on his death, he willed the farm to Wolhuter, who was obliged to sell it to liquidate Perry’s debts.
Arguably, the town’s first trading store had been João Albasini’s store founded long before, in 1846 on the Phabeni stream, right by the Phabeni Gate (Kruger’s newest access, opened in 2002, only 12km from Hazyview). There is a small museum at the site, including such details as the fact that Albasini bought the land from Chief Magashula for 22 oxen. It had apparently been Albasini’s plan to colonise the entire Lowveld region for Portugal – it was to be known as ‘Colónia Da Santa Luiz’, a punchy name and only slightly more ludicrous than the name ‘Hazyview’ – but the rinderpest and tsetse fly put paid to João’s dreams (and, presumably, to Magashula’s oxen).
These pestilences were eradicated in the early 1900s but livestock never really returned to the area. Instead by the 1950s, everyone had gone, literally, bananas – and mangoes – as fruit-growing took over Kiepersol, up the hill from Hazyview.
The Selati Railway Line, constructed in 1893, was rerouted to Hazyview in 1973. Prior to that it had passed through the Kruger National Park (or Sabi Game Reserve as it then was) with stops at Sabie Bridge (now Skukuza) and Newington.
In the winter of 1923, in a stroke of genius, South African Railways offered what was called the ‘Round-in-Nine Day Tour’ from Pretoria via Tzaneen to the entertainment hotspots of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), taking in the sights of the Lowveld and the Escarpment and passing through the Game Reserve on the way. It stopped at a couple of places within the Reserve, where rangers would accompany the visitors on bush walks. It was a massive success and was the precursor to the permanent camps and access roads that would follow in the late 1920s.
The town of Hazyview was officially promulgated in 1957 and it has grown from 14 shops in 1982 to over 300 now. The valley’s first hotel, Sabi River Bungalows, opened in 1932 and boasted 13 rondavels with private bathrooms and six single rondavels for chauffeurs. Access to The Kruger National Park was through the M’timba Gate (now Numbi). Nowadays, Hazyview has more than 80 accommodation establishments and Sabi River Sun (formerly Bungalows) has sixty rooms and a large timeshare resort.
Hazyview is now not only a tourism hub, but also a thriving farming community - a centre for the farming of bananas, coffee, avocados, mangoes. litchis/lychees, citrus fruits and macadamias among other things. Almost half of the world's bananas were at one point apparently grown within 100km of Hazyview and the ground is so fertile it is said that if you planted a gumboot, you'd grow a rubber tree! The bananas were planted in the 1950s and since then the number of farms has grown and grown.
Hazyview is the perfect place for a base for a holiday - golf, tennis, bowls, horse-riding, squash, river-rafting, bird-watching, hiking, mountain biking, history tours and magnificent game-viewing are all available and to be strongly recommended.