So far our roadtrip through to The Crags for the first day of our Garden Route getaway to the Far Hills Country Hotel in George was going pretty well. Having spent the morning walking among the birds at the splendid Birds of Eden bird sanctuary, followed by a bite to eat and game time at the Plett Puzzle Park, we next stepped into the world of big cats with a trip to Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary.
Primarily a big cat sanctuary, the award winning Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary has been running in one form or another since 2005, originally started by Jurg and Karen Olsen in George. We’re familiar with the facility from its Mossel Bay stint between 2007 and 2013, but this was our first time visiting them at their new home in The Crags.
(Because they are now a part of the South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance (SAASA), which consists of Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and now Jukani, it made sense for them to move closer to the other two – despite the logistical nightmare such a move must have been!)
First off, I have to say that the new premises for the cats is fantastic! Massive enclosures, with plenty of grass and trees makes for a stunning environment in which to watch these magnificent predators go about their daily lives.
We had an excellent guide in the form of Elvis, who took our group for a lengthy tour around the sanctuary, showing off Jukani’s massive collection of lions, tigers, jaguars, mountain lions, wild dogs, cheetah, hyena, and of course… their snakes. (The only thing that we didn’t get a close up view of on the day were the leopards, mainly because they didn’t seem too keen on coming up close to us!)
For me the stars of the show were the massive tigers right at the start of the tour, but without a doubt the stand out moment of the trip was right at the end, when a massive male lion, having just finished chewing up his donkey leg, started vocalizing to let everyone know that he was now done.
Literally shivers down my spine!
Tickets are a bit on the pricey side, but this sanctuary is definitely one of the best big cat sanctuaries that I’ve ever been to, so it really is well worth a visit.
Of course, my phone camera didn’t do well with all the tree shadows and fencing to contend with, so the photos are quite poor for the most part, but hey, at least you get a good idea of what is on offer at Jukani:
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(Amazingly, the girls literally just had enough energy to finish this one off, rounding off what had been quite a day of walking for the two!)
P.S. Jukani is of course also famous for its legendary and well documented black leopard story, which essentially has a bad tempered leopard named Diablo completely transform his personality through little more than a name change to Spirit on recommendation of animal whisperer Anna Breytenbach:
Oh, and a map just in case you want to know where Jukani is now situated:
Related Link: Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary