• OCT 14, 2019
  • WRITTEN BY: Alex Mullen

From adorable meerkats, to majestic elephants and charismatic dolphins, animal experiences are a great way to learn more about your favourite feathered, fluffy or marine friends. If you have an animal obsessive in your life, there’s no better gift than the chance to interact with their favourite creatures in the flesh, or learn more about their habitats and what makes them tick. Whether they want to watch from afar, drive through on a safari, or take part in feeding the animals, there's something here for everyone. Read on to find out more about the top animal experiences in South Africa…

1. Sunrise Wild Meerkat Tour in Oudtshoorn - R 660

Is there anything more adorable than a meerkat? We’ll answer that for you: no, there is not. With their big beady eyes, long snouts and permanently tucked-in arms, these little guys are infectiously curious and cute. Animal-lovers are bound to delight at the opportunity to take part in this tour, which will showcase the meerkats' unique traits and behaviours from the comfort of a portable chair, right in the middle of their natural habitat!

Your lucky giftee will meet their tour guides in the morning, and embark on their 2 - 3 hour tour. The guides will show the group to the meerkat burrows, where hot cups of coffee will be served (the perfect way to begin a few hours of meerkat observation.)

As the sun rises, everyone can sip their complimentary drinks, get settled in the chairs provided, and prepare for the show of a lifetime! The meerkats themselves are wild but habituated to humans, so provided everyone sits with David-Attenborough-esque stillness and quiet, these curious critters will emerge from their burrows and go about their daily routine undisturbed. Though it's not possible to feed or handle them, this experience provides you with something even better: the privilege of observing them in their natural environment, going about their adorable business! Meanwhile, your guides will educate you on their unique behaviours and complex social patterns, enabling you to make sense of all the activity taking place in front of you.


2. Half-Day Safari - Addo Elephant National Park - R 1350

This half day safari in the Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth will delight animal lovers, young and old. Whoever you're looking to buy for, they'll jump at the unforgettable opportunity to join a group of experienced guides for a four hour drive through some of the Eastern Cape's most pristine wildlife habitats. Snacks, drinks and a braai lunch are included with this voucher, so all your giftee has to bring is their enthusiasm and a camera. 

Established in 1931, Addo Elephant National Park is South Africa’s third largest—home to a wide variety of rare flora and fauna. As well as over 600 elephants, visitors can spot endangered black rhinoceros, Cape buffalos, lions, leopards, various antelope species and more! During this four-hour safari, your giftee will learn all about the animals and their natural habitat, while travelling through the park in a closed vehicle. Light snacks and drinks are provided, and the tour will pause for a braai at lunchtime. The park’s animals are always on the move, so guests can rely on the expertise of the guides to ensure the best sighting opportunities. No two tours are the same—each one’s an unpredictable and unique wildlife adventure!



3. Elephant Interaction at Camp Jabulani in Hoedspruit - R 975         

Another brilliant experience for elephant enthusiasts! During this approximately 90 minute interaction in Hoedspruit, your giftee will experience the awe-inspiring beauty of Camp Jabulani’s elephant herd. Not only will they witness the majesty of these gentle grey giants; they'll also learn about their lifestyle, habits and history – elephants really are fascinating! Arriving at sunrise, guests will be offered complimentary tea and coffee, plus the chance to meet the elephants before they head off into the bush to forage in their natural environment. Groups for this experience are kept small, so everyone gets their own personal encounter and the full 90 minutes to ask the guides any questions they have about these interesting creatures. These guides know their big, clever friends very well after years of looking after them, so they have plenty of fun anecdotes and stories about their time on the reserve. Some of the elephants were born there, while others were rescued and brought to the camp for rehabilitation and integration into the new habitat. During this encounter, guests will get to feed the elephants and exchange trunk greetings, giving the bolder ones a friendly stroke as they curiously explore their new visitors. A true educational exploration for those interested in the finer details!


4. One Hour Horse Riding Trail in Lydenburg - R 350

If your giftee has a penchant for the equestrian, no gift could be more perfect than a horse riding trail through the lush green mountains of Lyndenburg - but they won't just be meeting horses. During this experience, guests will also interact with the friendly pigs, cows and goats that call the farm home, making this a truly multi-faceted wildlife adventure!

This breath-taking 1 hour trail is suitable for both beginners and advanced riders, so whether your giftee is an expert horse-rider or a complete novice, they'll be catered for. The trail will begin with a warm welcome to the farm, where guests will catch a glimpse of the horses' fellow farmyard animals before the trail begins. The instructor will then talk everyone through what to expect from the trail, before your giftee and their fellow riders don their helmets to prepare for the adventure ahead. 

Next, they'll be introduced to the horse they'll be riding - their companion for the rest of the journey. As the trail begins, guests will be amazed by the benefits of this outdoor activity: fresh air, exercise and the achievement of learning a new skill… It just doesn’t get much better than that! Your giftee will explore the wilderness and mountainous areas of Lyndenburg on their trusty steed, and learn tips on becoming a great rider from their professional instructor. Once back on the farm, guests can spend some time with the other animals.


5. One Hour Falconry Hawk Walk in Cape Town - R 300 

Know any crazy bird ladies? (or men?) Don't look at us like that, we know you do - and this educational Falconry Hawk Walk in Cape Town is the perfect gift for anyone looking to learn more about their feathered friends.

The unique experience in Stellenbosch offers a truly timeless natural encounter. After a brief introduction at the eco-tourism centre, guests will embark on an hour’s guided walk through the region’s stunning native bushveld, accompanied by two majestic Harris Hawks. These charismatic birds have become increasingly popular among contemporary falconers, who favour their aerial prowess and social disposition. Throughout the gentle hike, the hawks will follow the group freely – periodically swooping to and from gloved arms!



6. Dolphin Watching Excursion - Plettenberg Bay - R 570

Treat the marine enthusiast in your life to a gift with a difference!

This dolphin-watching excursion in Plettenburg Bay begins when the group convenes at the office. The boat will then launch from Central Beach and travel east to the striking Arch Rock. From here, it'll head back across the bay – beyond the point of Robberg Peninsula – to the ‘wild side’, before returning to Central Beach via the site of an original whaling station. Along the way, participants can hope to spot an astounding variety of marine life – including Common, Bottlenose and rare Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins; Bryde’s, Southern Right and Humpback Whales; Fur Seals and several species of shark. All tours strictly adhere to current regulations and conservation guidelines, so participants can feel reassured that animal welfare is an absolute priority. During the trip, they'll also gain a new perspective on the coastline’s unique geology and colourful history. With feet back on dry land, they can admire their photographic efforts and reflect on some truly startling encounters.


7. Full Day Safari and Lunch in Touws River - R 2140

Yes, okay, it's another safari - but we just couldn't resist. After all, when you're talking about the best animal days out in South Africa, it'd be rude not to shine a spotlight on the cornerstone of South African wildlife tourism - and this full day Touws River safari is a perfect example of how magical this kind of experience can be. Nestled in the mountains just off the N1 lies a small slice of paradise; a scenic private game reserve with incredible views, which is eagerly awaiting your giftee’s arrival! During their stay, they’ll enjoy a full day at the reserve, with breakfast, lunch, a game drive and free time to enjoy the luxury surroundings.

Driving through the impressive wooden gates, their day will begin with welcome drinks at the lodge, and a delicious buffet breakfast to set them up for the adventure ahead. The game drive then leaves at 10:15, heading through the rugged Western Cape landscape past a variety of plant life and majestic animals. If they’re lucky they’ll see buffalo, giraffes, lions, hippos and more - they may even get to check off all the Big Five Game! At around 1pm, the group will arrive back at the lodge for a well-deserved lunch, then they’re free to explore the reserve and make use of the various amenities. For an additional cost there are quad treks, horse trails, spa treatments and more available, so there's something for everyone!

 Thank you for reading!

... Thank you for reading! We hope you've found the perfect gift for your animal-crazy giftee on this list - but if you're still looking, you can browse our full range of animal experiences here. You're sure to find something suitable for the wildlife enthusiast in your life. If you have any questions about the experiences in this list, feel free to leave us a comment; we'd love to hear from you! Until then, don't forget to walk on the wild side...


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