Introducing your children to the wonders of the animal kingdom is not only an enriching experience for all involved but also a wonderfully immersive way to teach empathy, respect and emotional awareness. An early understanding of the importance of wildlife conservation is another benefit of ethically-managed animal encounters like the array of experiences available in and around Plettenberg Bay, not to mention the fun day out to be hand for the whole family!
DOLPHIN AND WHALE WATCHING
With its warm, shallow waters and mild winters, the Garden Route offers arguably the best whale watching opportunities in South Africa. From June to November, we are visited by southern right whales which migrate from chilly Antarctica to breed. Mothers and calves can often be spotted from land, cruising through Plettenberg Bay, or observed up-close on a boat-based whale-watching experience. Resident Bryde’s whales, bottlenose dolphins and Cape fur seals can be seen year-round.
THE ELEPHANT SANCTUARY IN THE CRAGS
Elephants form an intrinsic part of the history of this part of the Garden Route, where they once roamed freely through the Tsitsikamma Forest. At The Elephant Sanctuary in The Crags, visitors can experience these gentle giants up close, touching and interacting with the elephants in a number of supervised experiences including walking hand-in-trunk with them, helping with their grooming or even an immersive “keeper for a day” programme.
A family trip to Plett isn’t complete without a visit to Monkeyland – a free-roaming primate sanctuary dedicated to the conservation of our monkey cousins and their natural habitats. Touching and interaction with the monkeys is strictly prohibited; rather visitors are encouraged to observe their behaviours under the supervision of specialist guides who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and understanding with others.
BIRDS OF EDEN
Home to the world’s largest free-flight bird sanctuary – an impressive two-hectare dome set over an indigenous forest – Birds of Eden has over 3,500 birds from more than 220 African and exotic species. Most of the birds were previously caged, hand-reared or imprinted and have undergone rehabilitation before their release into the main aviary, where they have the opportunity to explore and find their preferred habitat niche. As at Monkeyland (which also forms part of the South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance) touching of the birds is strictly prohibited.
JUKANI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Managed by the same conservation group as Monkeyland and Birds of Eden, Jukani is a big cat rescue centre where visitors can observe lions, tigers, leopards, pumas and jaguars in a close approximation of their natural habitat. A 90-minute guided walking tour is available where visitors can learn about the importance of apex predators in the ecosystem and the threats facing their species. As a hands-off facility, no interaction with the animals is permitted.
The Old Rectory welcomes children of all ages and provides a peaceful oasis at the end of a long day of exploring. Enjoy a cocktail at the bar, take a dip in the pool, visit the spa or simply unwind in the comfort of your luxurious suite; recharging your batteries for another day of fun and adventure.