Located just outside Plettenberg Bay is one, or rather three, of the best tourism attractions in the Garden Route.
If names like Monkeyland, Birds of Eden or Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary make you think of something resembling a zoo, you are in for a big surprise! The aim of these sanctuaries is to educate and breed understanding and to ‘re-wild’ previously caged and/or human imprinted animals.
A delightful experience for visitors of all ages, these sanctuaries will enchant you beyond your wildest expectations. Monkeyland is the world’s first free roaming (and currently only) multi-specie primate sanctuary and entering through their gates will transport you back to a time when we all still looked at the world with wide eyes full of wonder.
More than 500 primates roam the forest. The forest can only be entered in the company of a guide on tours departing every 15 to 20 minutes. The guided walks are informative with exactly the right mix of knowledge and entertainment and are neither too long or too short. The end of an hour will leave you just slightly disappointed that it is all over. Even the 128m suspension bridge is skilfully turned into an adventure for the vertiginous among us. Repeat visitors will find themselves mourning the loss of one of the primates or rejoicing in a mate that came for a lonely bachelor.
You can wander on your own through Birds of Eden, situated right next to Monkeyland, the only one of the sanctuaries where this is possible. To enjoy it to its fullest, you should spend 45 min to an hour and a half in the company of these feathered creatures. All three the sanctuaries have restaurants though, in Birds of Eden, you won’t be able to visit the restaurant without paying the entrance fee although, with over 3 500 birds of more than 280 different species, you will be well entertained.
Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary is about 7 km away and tours, the same as Monkeyland, start at 09:00 with the last one beginning at 16:00. Tours are one and a half hours with the exception of 4 o’clock when you will be limited to an hour. At the end of your tour you may join for another, an option you may very well choose for time in the company of these magnificent creatures.
You can buy tickets for all these sanctuaries individually or buy a combination ticket for two or all three sanctuaries. For visitors who are here for a short period, you may want to make a day of it although the triptic allows you the wonderful option to visit the sanctuaries on three different days.
In all three these sanctuaries a ‘no-touch’ policy is strictly adhered to and, while you definitely want to take your camera along, GoPro extenders and selfie sticks are not allowed in any of the sanctuaries.
The South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance (SAASA) consisting of Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and The Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary are the current winners of the following awards:
- Lilizela Service Excellence Awards – Best Visitor Experience ‘Wildlife Encounters’;
- Skål International Sustainable Tourism Award – Best Major Attraction;
- ‘Best Animal Welfare Initiative’;
- World Responsible Tourism Awards – overall winner.
These sanctuaries are a magical experience and, with their commitment to sustainable ecotourism as well as being Fair Trade Tourism certified, visiting one or all of them cannot be recommended too highly.
To see more about the work of the South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance, take a look at their video below:
For more of their spectacular videos, visit their Youtube channel at http://ow.ly/wreO302drrc
You can contact Monkeyland and Birds of Eden on 044 534 8906
Find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MonkeylandBirdsofEden/
You can contact Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary on 044 534 8409
Find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jukani.wildlife.sanctuary/
Or visit their website on www.jukani.co.za