From the furriest little bunny to the scariest snake or reptile, children love all animals. We’ve wrapped up a bunch of animal activities for children in the Cape Winelands. A handy list to put on the fridge for future reference and holiday inspiration!
Originally game farmers from KZN, the owners of Vredenheim started the Big Cats Park at Vredenheim in 2011 to celebrate the majestic cats and to educate the public about these wild cats. Two adult brown lions, two adult white lions, one white lion cub, two brown lion cubs, two caracal, one cheetah, one leopard and two Bengal tigers may be viewed from viewing decks and from behind enclosure fences. The park is open Monday to Sunday from 09:00 to 16:30. Guided tours start every hour and feeding times are at 11:00 and 15:00. Entrance fees are R65 per adult and R40 per child. Get a Big Cat Park entrance ticket plus a wine tasting for R90 p.p (May 2015 prices).
021 881 3878 | Vredenheim, R310 Baden-Powell Drive, Stellenbosch
There are plenty of butterflies to see at Butterfly World but that is not the only “animals” you will see. Butterfly World is also home to dassies, marmosets, meerkats, hamsters, exotic birds, reptiles and awesome big spiders such as tarantulas (in glass cages – before the moms get a heart attack) and much more.
The Amazon-like greenhouse that houses the butterflies is filled with colourful butterflies sitting on plants and shrubs or flying through the air. Keep your eyes peeled for small deer hiding behind the bushes or an iguana crouching in a the tree . Entrance fees are R65 per adult and R37 per child or R167 for a family package for 2 adults and 2 children (As from Dec 2014).
021 875 5628 | R44, Klapmuts
The Cheetah Outreach program was launched at the Spier Estate but has since moved to Paardevlei in Somerset West (De Beers Avenue just before Strand’s entrance). Adult cheetahs, cheetah cubs, serval, caracal, bat-eared foxes, jackal and meerkats are all to be seen at the facility. Do not miss the opportunity to watch the Cheetah Run in season ( Nov – Apr). The best runners have a run on a large enclosure in true greyhound racing-style. The run takes place twice a week on good weather days starting at 08:15.
Free tours start every half hour at Cheetah Outreach. The wild animals are very shy and it is worth it to stick around for the tour to see the facilitators enter the camps and the wild cats running up to greet them! Cheetah Outreach is open 7 days a week from 09:30 to 17:00. Entrance is R10 on a weekday and R5 on a weekend or holiday and there is an ATM available on the premises (Prices for 1 Dec 2014- 30 Nov 2015). Encounters with the cheetahs, cubs, meerkats and bat-eared foxes are charged at an extra cost per person – see their website.
021 851 6850 | Paardevlei, De Beers Avenue, Somerset West
Drakenstein Lion Park is a sanctuary for lions that were born in captivity and provides a space where the lions can live free from abuse. The park has the largest population of lions in the Western Cape. Chimp Haven also forms part of the lion park and is home to the chimpanzees and other small animals that have been left homeless after the closure of Tygerberg Zoo.
Lions are fed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 16:00. Open daily from 09:30 to 17:00 (Chimp Haven 09:30 – 16:30). Closed on Christmas Day. Entrance fees are R60 per adult and R35 per child and no pets are allowed onto the premises so kindly leave “Fifi” at home! (Prices on website as on April 2015).
021 863 3290 | Old Paarl Road, Paarl
Eagle Encounters is a rehabilitation and interactive education centre for birds of prey. An entrance fee of R70 per adult and R60 per child (3-12 yrs) includes four flying shows, two porcupine shows and an interactive visit with African Wood owls, the dancing barn owls, Bengal Eagle owls, snakes, bearded dragons, tortoises, rabbits, guinea pigs and more (Prices on website on April 2015). A highlight of the visit is the Spotted Eagle owls flying out to meet visitors in the front enclosure. Open Mondays to Sundays from 09:00 to 17:00.
021 858 1826 | Spier Wine Estate
Giraffe House Wildlife Awareness centre is home to a plethora of animals although there is only a small number of each specie. The list of animals that can be seen at Giraffe House includes: meerkat, eland, bontebok, giraffe, springbok, duiker, zebra, caracal, warthog, farm animals, reptiles and snakes, Nile crocodile as well as birds such as ostrich, stork and blue cranes. Since the closure of Tygerberg Zoo Giraffe House is the place to go to in the Western Cape to see a wide variety of birds and animals. Daily interactive encounters that include a reptile show and the opportunity for kids to touch one of the creepy reptiles take place at 11:00/ 13:00 and 15:00. On weekdays school visits may disrupt these times so phone ahead if you are visiting in the week.
Adults pay R45 and children (2 – 15 years) R25 to enter. Open 09:00 – 17:00 seven days a week except for Christmas Day when it is closed. Giraffe House also feautures a play area with three jungle gyms and has a kids party venue. The facility is open air so take along hats and sunscreen during Summer or rain jackets during Winter. Do take cash as no ATM facility is available on the premises.
Read our article: A visit to the Giraffe House wildlife awareness centre.
021 884 4506 | Corner of R304 (Klipheuwel/Stellenbosch road) and R101 (Old Paarl Road)
Monkey Town has 28 species of exotic monkeys and apes that can be viewed by the public. The Monkey Town Tour starts everyday at 12:00 and includes the 12:30 forest feeding and 13:00 chimpanzees feeding. Apart from viewing the primates Monkey Town has a fully-licensed restaurant with a large play area including swimming pools, braai and picnic facilities. Monkey Town is situated along the N2 driving from Somerset West to Grabouw.
Open seven days a week from 08:00 to 17:00. Fees are: adults R85, teenagers R75, children (3-12 yrs) R40, and toddlers (1-2 yrs) R20 (Prices on website on April 2015). For R15 extra get access to the newly opened Reptile Garden with more than 35 species of reptiles including puff adder, Cape cobra, yellow anaconda and exotic pythons.
021 858 1060 | N2, Somerset West
Le Bonheur is home to over 1000 crocodiles. Guided tours of the crocodile ponds on elevated ramps across the ponds leave every 45 minutes. The tours are free and children get to touch the baby crocs and witness a feeding in summertime – phone in advance to inquire about feeding times.
Other activities at Le Bonheur includes catch and release of Bass and Tilaia in the pond at the visitor’s centre (you can rent fishing rods at the farm if you do not have your own), a gift shop, coffee/ lunch at the café with safe play areas for children, pre-booked picnics as well as a kiddies party hosting service. Free fishing “permits” with every picnic basket. Entrance fee is R48 per adult and R28 per child (April 2015).
021 863 1142 | Babylonstoren Road, R45, Simondium
Petting Zoos and other animals
Fairview’s infamous goats near Paarl will have the children in giggles as they attempt to climb the stairs up the Goat Tower in their camp at the Goatshed Restaurant. The favourite of many children! The restaurant also has a kids menu.
Le Pommier and Wild Clover both have a petting zoo on the premises. Not seen from the main seating area at both of these venues but close enough to walk with the kids to go see animals like chickens, llama, hamsters and rabbits and exotic birds (exotic birds at Le Pommier only).
*Disclaimer: times and prices correct per venue websites as at time of publication in May 2015. Please phone the venues to inquire about availability.