Did you know?
The respected Cheetah Preservation Foundation was started at the Cango Wildlife Ranch in 1988.
Entering the Cango Wildlife Ranch near Oudtshoorn along South Africa’s famous Route 62 is like crossing the threshold into a slightly Disneyesque animal kingdom.
The owners have cleverly selected what they call 'ambassador animals' that easily interact with visitors. As an example, just take the first part of the tour into the Valley of the Ancients. You enter into a tropical room and immediately see a huge and intriguing tank full of Malawian cichlids.
A little movement to the side, and you suddenly glimpse a blue duiker, one of the tiniest and most endangered animals in South Africa – with its sweet face reminiscent of a Javanese bambi.
A movement above you, and it’s a wildly colourful tropical bird, and oh, a flying fox!
But that’s just the first part. Ahead of you lies so much more: encounters with Malawian red river hogs, meerkats, ring-tailed lemurs, miniature hippos, Cape vultures, flamingos, frolicsome spotted-neck otters, a lorikeet aviary.
This is a perfect place to take curious children. They’ll find the whole experience fascinating, but there’s also a water and play park, plus a wallaby walkabout where they can feed young marsupials.
But the real reasons for Cango Wildlife Ranch’s fame are the cheetahs and tigers, not to mention the fact that you can safely cage-dive in crystal clear water with huge Nile crocodiles.
When there are tiger, white lion and cheetah cubs, you are allowed to play with them (under controlled conditions). There are also some adult cheetahs that will happily allow humans to touch them and marvel at their loud purring.
The Cango Wildlife Ranch was started in the 1970s as a crocodile ranch (and there are still plenty of those spectacular reptiles for you to see), but has received recognition for the breeding of endangered animals, notably cheetahs.
And if you gaze into those alluring feline eyes and fall in love, remember you can ‘adopt’ a tiger, cheetah or white lion.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Cango Wildlife Ranch
Tel: +27 (0) 44 272 5593
Fax: +27 (0) 44 272 4167
How to get here
The Cango Wildlife Ranch is about 3km outside Oudtshoorn on the R62 (which carries on to the Cango Caves). Your closest airport is George, which is a little more than 60km away. Budget more than an hour for the drive though, because you'll experience the splendour of the Outeniqua Pass on the way.
Around the area
You're only 30 minutes' drive from the Cango Caves, and there are at least four ostrich farms nearby you could visit.
Tours to do
There's a tour (included in the entry price) roughly every half an hour, taking you through the 'Valley of the Ancients'. Highly recommended.
What will it cost
The entry fee is R110 for adults and R65 for chldren aged 4-13. The encounters with tigers, cheetahs and reptiles and the croc diving are additional costs (but call first to find out about availability).
Length of stay
You could happily spend half a day or even a day here (there is a restaurant for lunch and a kiosk for snacks).
What to pack
Comfortable walking shoes and a camera. In summer, wear light clothing. Winters can be cold, so bring warm clothes.
Where to stay
There are plenty of guesthouses, B&Bs and hotels in Oudtshoorn.
What to eat
Turtles Restaurant within the Cango Wildlife Ranch offers crocodile kebabs and ostrich steaks.