The magic of Africa has always been our wildlife and the attraction of the big 5, foreigners from far and wide hope to visit our country in the hope of catching a glimpse of these and many more fantastic beasts in their natural habitat. However, travelling to see these majestic creatures is not always able to fit into many travellers itinerary during their stay in sunny South Africa.
That doesn’t mean you have to miss out completely with some locations in and around Cape Town able to give you an animal experience you won’t surely forget. Pick a spot from our list and enjoy a relaxing day interacting with our furry or scaly friends.
1. DIVING UNDER THE SEA
At this underwater wonderland, you’ll find over 3000 living sea creatures. Your little ones will love the interactive touch pool, and the kiddies play centre. At this aquarium, you meet the penguins or dip your hands in the touch pools and feel the kelp, starfish, anemones and hermit crabs.
The Aquarium is free for South Africans on their birthday. Find out more about the Two Oceans Aquarium.
- Opening times: Daily: 9:30am–6pm (including public holidays)
- Price: Children under four get in for free. Prices range depending on age so check their website for seasonal prices
- Where: The Two Oceans Aquarium, Dock Road, V&A Waterfront
- Contact: +27 21 418 3823, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.aquarium.co.za
2. DISCOVER THE MAGNIFICENCE OF REPTILES
Learn all about reptiles at Le Bonheur Reptiles and Adventures through their guided croc tours, or swim with the crocodiles with their cage diving experience.
There is also a fun and interactive snake exhibit as well as educational shows on weekends. And, if fishing is more of your speed, you can hire a rod and boat and take part in some catch-and-release bass fishing.
- Opening times: Daily: 9am–5pm.
- Where: Babylonstoren Road, Simondium
- Price: R45
- Contact: (+27) 21 863 1142, email@example.com
3. ENDLESS FUN AT VREDENHEIM ANIMAL FARM
Vredenheim Animal Farm in Stellenbosch allows little ones to interact with bovine calves, Warrior the horse, friendly sheep, fallow deer, turkeys, free-roaming chickens and rabbits and – everyone’s favourite – three resident three pigs.
There is also a sizeable farm-style playground, complete with sandpit and mini bike racetrack, as well as a jungle gym and birthday party venue. Likewise, enjoy a tour on the nearby wine farm, get up close with lions, leopards and tigers on the farm’s big cats park (20% discount on Tuesdays and Wednesdays), or book an exclusive game drive (10% discount on the first Saturday of the month).
- Opening times: Every Saturday and Sunday between 10 am to 4 pm (check the Facebook page for info on daily open times during school- and public holidays)
- Price: R40 per kid (it’s R20 for adults)
- Where: R310 Baden Powell Drive, Stellenbosch
- Contact: +27 (0)21 881 3878
4.BOND WITH AN ALPACA
Alpacas are the cute and furry version of a camel that originates from South America. However, you do not have to buy a plane ticket to visit them. They produce a great fibre that is processed and weaved at The Alpaca Loom.
They offer a petting zoo and jungle gym for the kids, while the adults can enjoy tea and cake at the coffee shop.
- Opening Times: Daily 10am–6pm.
- Where: Suid-Agter Paarl Road, Klein Landskroon Farm, Paarl (directions)
- Contact: +27 84 793 3666, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.alpacas.co.za
5. EXPERIENCE THE 3D VERSION OF THE BIG 5 AT AQUILA
This private game lodge, sprawling over 10 000 hectares in the Klein Karoo, is one of the only parks within a two-hour drive of Cape Town that offers visitors the chance to view all of the Big Five.
You’ll also see hippos, giraffes, springboks, wildebeest and over 170 various bird species, including the namesake and resident eagle of the Karoo, the Aquila.
- Opening times: Daily. Phone to confirm a time for a guided tour.
- Price: Prices depend on the kind of safari chosen. Check their website for details
- Where: Touws River | Western Cape | +27 (0)21 430 7260
7. A WORLD OF FEATHERED FRIENDS
As Africa’s largest aviary, World of Birds in Hout Bay has over 3000 animals and over 400 different species, including monkeys, foxes, squirrels, guinea pigs, ducks, lovebirds, eagles and swans.
You can watch the penguins, pelicans or birds of prey being fed, or step into the monkeys’ enclosure for a close encounter which is a captivating experience.
- Opening times: Open daily: 9am–5pm; birds (like penguins and pelicans) feeding times start from 11:30 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 3:30 pm while birds of prey have feeding times at 4:15 pm.
- Price: Adults R120/p, children R45/p, pensioners and students (with a card) R75/p.
- Where: Valley Road | Hout Bay | +27 (0)21 790 2730
8. MEET YOUR FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS AT IMHOFF FARM
Enjoy hours of entertaining at the Higgeldy Piggeldy Farmyard, petting goats, pigs, sheep, ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and ponies. And for the courageous visitors, there are snake encounters that invite you to hold the cold-blooded, slithery creatures for a memorable photo moment.
Imhoff Farm also offers horse-riding outings on the beach, and well as camel rides on the farm.
Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday: Camel rides are available from 12 pm to 4 pm, and snake encounters are open from 9 am to 5 pm. Monday – Sunday: Horse rides leave at 8 am, 12 pm and 4 pm.
Price: A short camel ride is R50/p for children under 12 and R70/p for adults. A scenic camel ride costs R300/p, while a horse ride is R550/p and a snake encounter costs R70/p for adults and R50/p for children.
Where: Kommetjie Road | Kommetjie | +27 (0)21 783 4545
9. BUTTERFLY WORLD ZOO – MORE THAN JUST BUTTERFLIES
At Butterfly World, you get to walk through a warm tropical area filled with colourful insects. Try and spot them in between the beautiful flowers and bushes, or watch them as they fly in the air.
Here you will also find reptiles, tarantulas, birds, marmoset monkeys, meerkats and more
- Price: Adults R88/p, children R49/p, students and pensioners R79/p.
- Opening times: Daily: 9am–5pm.
- Where: Route 44 | Klapmuts | Paarl | (near Stellenbosch, just before the Franschhoek turn-off)
- Contact: email@example.com, www.butterflyworld.co.za , +27 (0)21 875 5628
10. STEP INTO THE GIRAFFE HOUSE
The Giraffe House, just outside Stellenbosch, is where your kids can have an educational petting zoo experience and allow you to feed them.
This well-maintained farm has a long list of four-legged friends to accompany the Gerry, the giraffe: Cape fox, the bat-eared fox, warthog, caracul, prairie dogs, ostrich and even zebra and springbok.
- Opening times: Open daily: 9 am – 5 pm. Reptile show is at 11 am and 1 pm or the late show at 3 pm.
- Price: Adults R50/p, children (2–15 years) pay R30/p, seniors R35/p.
- Where: Corner of R304 (towards Stellenbosch) and R101 (towards Paarl)
- Contact: +27 21 884 4506, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.giraffehouse.co.za, +27 (0)21 884 4506
11. SIT ON AFRICA’S LARGEST BIRD
The Cape Town Ostrich Ranch offers you the chance to get up close with ostriches. You do not only learn about the magnificent giant birds, but you get to engage with them in many exciting ways. You can feed them, see the baby chicks (in the right season) and if you are feeling brave enough, you can sit on their backs and snap a great pic.
For those who would instead admire at a distance, you get to test the strength of an ostrich egg by standing on them. If this does not persuade you, then you should know that the world’s smallest ostrich, named Tom Thumb resides there. He officially holds the Guinness World Record.
- Price: Adults R80/p, children (2-6 years) R31/p, children (7-16 years) R65/p.
- Opening times: Monday to Sunday: 9 am – 5 pm.
- Where: Old Malmesbury Road, Cape Town
- Contact: +2721 972 1669, email@example.com, www.ostrichranch.co.za
12. PENGUIN VIEWING AT BOULDERS BEACH
Part of the Table Mountain National Park, the area, which comprises three beautiful rock-laden beaches and three meandering boardwalks, is home to over 2000 of these adorable feathered friends. Visit one of the few African penguin colonies in the world at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town.
- Opening times: Open daily. April to September: 8am–5pm, December to January: 7am–7:30pm, February to March: 8am–6:30pm, October to November: 8am–6:30pm.
- Price: R75/p for adults and R40/p for children under 12.
- Where: Boulders Beach | Simon’s Town
- Contact: +27 21 786 2329
Live the wildlife
We realise the thrill of exploring and meeting our wildlife is a drawcard for many foreigners but cannot always get out to the more rural areas to experience the true magic of African wildlife which makes these options attractive for anyone spending their next holiday in Cape Town.
It also means you don’t have to sacrifice on your experience since there are so many options available; your visit to South Africa will be a memorable experience.
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