The entire family can get up close with colourful birds, mammals and reptiles at this tropical haven
There aren’t many places on the planet where you’d be able to see the ostrich-like South American greater rhea having a drink of water in the same pool as a sub-Saharan spur-winged goose, or where you’d find the pre-historic looking Australian cassowary hanging out in the same habitat as a common turkey from North America. But then again, there aren’t many places on the planet quite like World of Birds in the Hout Bay Valley.
Billed as the largest park of its kind in Africa, World of Birds houses a kaleidoscopic collection of aves, mammals and reptiles within a tropical garden setting, and the park features a web of aviaries and enclosures where visitors can wander for hours on end admiring the brilliantly coloured fowls and interacting with curious primates. It’s a great place to introduce little ones to nature since they get to walk amongst the winged animals and, therefore, learn about looking without disturbing, and it’s also perfect for enthusiasts who want to get up close to rare or foreign birds.
World of Birds boasts an impressive 3 000 species on site, and aside from offering visitors from far and wide an opportunity to interact with some of the earth’s most awe-inspiring inhabitants, the park also serves as a conservation site. Many of the birds that reside there are rescues – there are some clever parrots saved from horrible owners, orphaned owls that couldn’t fend for themselves in the wild and pigeons and ibis (that’s a hadeda to you and me) that were found injured in people’s gardens. The sanctuary focuses on preservation, breeding, education and research, and the aim is to provide an environment that’s as natural as possible for the animals.
The park is designed around a series of circular walkways made up of aviaries with an assortment of beautiful birds revealing themselves from one enclosure to the next. Some of them are in cages, while others get to roam about freely, fly overhead or waddle about along the path looking for food or the nearest pool to splash in. Guests get front row access to the unbelievably bright golden pheasants, cute yellow and orange weavers, rainbow-hued parrots and many unfamiliar types – the shimmering snow white peacocks for one – as well as different kinds of water fowl, from grey herons and pink flamingos to clumsy penguins and big-billed pelicans. In short, there are many opportunities for picture-perfect snaps and selfies, especially during feeding times for the birds of prey, penguins and cormorants.
Aside from the winged ones, World of Birds is also home to a variety of small mammals and reptiles. There are charismatic little primates from all corners of the globe that will want to make friends or mimic your movements at the monkey jungle, as well as curious meerkats, giant porcupines, a honey badger and a couple of goats to name just a few. If the kids are keen to get touchy feely, they can pop into the guinea pig and tortoise enclosure where the furry rodents and shelled reptiles don’t mind being gently patted and loved. Plus, there’s a section with snakes, iguanas and more tortoises to admire.
With so much seeing and strolling to be done, it’s a good idea to take a break somewhere in between for snacks and drinks, and folks can either grab a light meal at the resident Robin’s Nest café or, even better, bring a long a picnic to enjoy from one of the tree-side tables at the Flamingo Terrace. Lastly, the young ones will also love the walk through the magic forest, and families can cap off the visit with a stop at the curio shop for mementos (and in support of the sanctuary’s cause).
Whether you visit once or a million times, World of Birds promises an exciting and educational time for the entire family, and it makes for a sunny Saturday activity or a sight-seeing stop on the way to nearby attractions. Little ones will get to expend some extra energy with all the walking, and older kids will appreciate the bird spotting, and, of course, moms and dads will have a time of it too.
Tip: If you can’t get enough of World of Birds you can become a member. This entitles you to free access to the park for a year and, as a bonus, you’re also helping make life for the birds and animals a little bit better.
The bill: Entry to the park costs R85p/p for adults, R40p/p for children and R55p/p for students and pensioners (with relevant ID). Group and school bookings are also available.
Opening times: World of Birds is open seven days a week, all year round from 9am to 5pm each day. Visit Worldofbirds.org.za for the various feeding times.
If you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day, take a look at our guide to indoor activities for kids.