So many people come to South Africa to see the “Big Five” and they end up going inland for it, often traveling quite a distance away from where they landed at the airport to do so. You don’t have to travel far and wide to see these amazing creatures of the wild, they’re right here along the scenic Garden Route on the West Coast.
The small town of Wilderness is home to Cinnamon House Boutique and Guest House, where you can get a five star luxury experience while you soak up the quiet and serenity of the outdoors in this little hamlet. It is also close to so many different things to do that you’ll be hard pressed to see and do them all during your stay!
Just down the road from Cinnamon House is Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. It sits between the Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean on 3,500 hectares of private land. You’ll find not just the Big Five, but plenty more like giraffes, rare black impalas and a generous amount of birds. You can choose to take a safari on horseback, for an intimate feeling to the experience, or choose to have a guided game drive. There are even options for the more intrepid traveler, like horseback outrides for the more experience riders, and guided bush trails (on foot). There are over 26 different species of animal in the park and more than 200 bird species, so either method you’re sure to get some amazing photo opportunities.
Also nearby is Zorgfontein, where you can walk with lions, no chains, ropes or leashes, they’re as free as you are. The walk is an hour long (more or less, depends how quickly the lions walk) and you get a real once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with these gorgeous majestic beasts in a way that fosters mutual respect and understanding. It may also forge a bond between you and the lion which can only help conservation efforts. The only requirements are that people reserve their slot in advance, be 1.5 meters or taller, not wear baggy clothing or any other attention grabbing items, and close, comfortable shoes.
There is also a walk with cheetahs, which do walk not just run! You can see other cats like the African Wild Cat, Servals, Caracals and Black-footed Cats, Meerkats, and many kinds of cranes and storks. The sunrise cheetah walk is most popular, but you can combine it with many other activities to include lunch and watching the cats’ busy lives with grooming and animal enrichment. There is nothing like being able to hear a fully grown Cheetah purring in contentment, and this is a perfect opportunity to see this stunning cat up close.
If elephants are more your style, there is an elephant walk in Plettenberg Bay which is also close by in the Knysna forest. The Knysna elephant part gives a home to orphaned elephants where you can interact with them up close and personal. There are guided elephant rides and walks offered at many different time slots, the most memorable of which are sunrise and sunset. There is no better place on the Garden Route to go see these gentle giants, and the photos you’ll bring back with you will remind you of the experience for a lifetime.
- Immersive Animals
Jamin Adventures offers other excursions besides the elephant tour, and their Animal Alley brings you birds, monkeys and snakes from the following sanctuaries: Birds of Eden, Monkeyland, Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary and Snakes. Birds of Eden takes up 2.3 hectares of land where you can explore to your heart’s content. There is a gorge complete with a waterfall here and is home to over 3000 birds taking up 220 species. Monkeyland is as fun as it sounds – it is the world’s very first free-roaming, multi-species sanctuary. It helps to raise public awareness about primates and is home to 400 apes, gibbons, capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys a howler monkey, miniature monkeys, vervets, spectacled langurs and three species of lemur. The sanctuary is 12 hectares of forest, and fully guided. Jukani is home to the Asian Tiger, jackals and many other carnivorous creatures you won’t find elsewhere. Jukani Snakes are housed in a separate part of the park, with 22 different species of snakes to observe.
Enjoy your Excursion!
There are so many different wildlife sanctuaries and safari locations near Wilderness that you’ll be hard pressed to pick your favorite one among them, and after a long day with the animals and taking photos, you can relax in your sumptuous appointments at Cinnamon House and enjoy a perfectly paired meal that matches the glow of the day.