Birthday Getaway Review: Jukani sanctuary, Knysna
We are in Knysna, East Coast of Cape Town for my birthday and I’m both old and excited!
Just turned 28 yesterday. We are up here on the garden route, best small town in South Africa, in my opinion anyways. I wanted to get away from the usual vibes: dinner with family and friends, going out later with friends later to a club dancing and drinking, then a huge hangover in the morning. I really didn’t feel like that this year. I just wanted a quiet time with the people I love most in the world, surrounded by nature.
Jukani was on my wish list, with my son wanting monkeys and elephants, and my husband wanting to see sea horses, which is impossible unless you go diving in the coldest ocean water😖in winter. Which obviously no one is keen on. Adventure for another holiday.
I’m fascinated by the white tiger! I’ve never even heard of it. And they have such a variety of cats.
I was so impressed! The tour was so well organised, with a guide, Bert, so knowledgeable and clearly passionate about the animals and his job. Always happy to go into detail and crack a few jokes here and there. He addressed so many myths about some of the animals. He even shared some of his personal stories growing up with Cheetahs in Namibia. Such a good guide.
I have been to a couple of wild cat parks in South Africa and this was by far the most interesting, educational, and exciting.
My biggest moment was seeing the jaguar! For the very first time in my life!😳. I’d also never seen a black leopard, white tiger obviously, hyena, pumas, and jackal ( ujakalase as the Zulu stories, my grandmother used to tell, would go).
I was so impressed with the hyena! Did you know a female hyena has a pseudo-penis it can control. She can change its shape, length, girth etc., and give birth through it! A hyena eats bone marrow and can break the toughest bones, even an elephant’s femur, with its teeth. How they are so clever and powerful and can bring down the largest animal in the wild. I thought they were just scavengers.
I want to be a hyena when I’m big.
We even got to see a show from the 3 male lions in opposite cages who were obviously not happy with each other. The loud roars and banging against the fence that separated them. And we were in the walkway in the middle😳. I loved how all the females were just minding their own business and I’m sure rolling their eyes ‘the lioness way’! It was spectacular.
The tour lasted 2 1/2 hrs, and we all loved it. It catered for everyone, with the different wild cats, from different parts of the world. My son enjoyed seeing the cats, and learning that there’s more than a lion, tiger and Cheetah. But mostly being able to run up and down amongst the biggest killers in the world, protected by the fence on either side obviously.
My husband enjoyed the stare downs and seeing the different animals he hadn’t ever seen before. And I enjoyed the details about them, what they eat, how they hunt, how they reproduce. And the guide and I even went as deep as genetics.
I liked how the animals were not in cages, but rather large enclosures with flowing water, standing water pools, trees, grass etc.. There weren’t just confined spaces. They had partners too, with the exception of those animals who don’t like socialising with the opposite sex, of course.
Findability: 9/10. Very well sign-posted
Affordability: 7/10. It was worth every cent. I would even pay more if they asked me to! But it’s still not accessible to an average South African!
Child friendliness: 10/10. Very child friendly with the open spaces, the 2 fences between the dangerous wild cats and the walkway made it feel very safe. My 3 year old son loved it! Ask him about the Siberian tiger and he’ll tell you about his eyes!
Experience: 10/10. If I could give it 15/10 I would👍👏.
Service: 10/10. superbly excellent
Overall rating = 9/10
Very, very, very recommended!! I would even do it again.
NB: try go with a small group and not in winter when it rains!