Did you know?
Black-footed cats, half the size of a domestic tabby, are among the rarest indigenous cats.
Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre specialises in the rehabilitation and conservation of indigenous South African wildcats. This Garden Route wildlife sanctuary exists foremost to mend injured creatures (not only wildcats) and reintroduce them back into the wild wherever possible.
Wildcat tours at Tenikwa begin with a guided Sunrise Cheetah Walk. Limited to six adults, or children taller than 1.5m, the experience lasts 90 minutes as guests accompany two cheetahs on a meander of the cats choosing.
Most guests then move on to the Wildcat Experience. This is a one-hour guided walking tour, suitable for the whole family. First, guests are taken through the educational awareness centre before meeting servals, caracals, leopards, African wildcats, black-footed cats, and cheetahs in enclosures specially designed to mimic the cats’ natural habitat.
During the encounter, guests are discouraged from touching the animals, with the exception of non-sighted visitors who are permitted to feel the cat’s fur under a guides’ supervision.
Even just observing, you’ll get near enough to these amazing felines to hear them purr and maybe feel a whisker-tickle or two, as your guide explains their unique attributes, the threats they face, and how your being on a wildcat tour at Tenikwa supports the centre’s wildlife rehabilitation programme.
Though used to humans, these are wild cats, so stick to taking their pictures and savour watching them, up-close, in near natural surrounds.
If you’re not an early-riser, opt for the Sunset Cheetah Walk that concludes with sundowners, snacks, and a chance to learn about the plight of Africa’s threatened cats from Tenikwa’s owner-managers, Len and Mandy Freeman.
Other tours on offer are an exclusive four-person wildcat photographic safari, and a full-day Crazee Cat experience where you’ll enjoy two cheetah walks, a wild cat tour, and spend time with the keepers during their daily routine.
Visitors to Tenikwa can also see marabou storks, blue cranes (South Africa’s national bird), endangered African penguins, and meerkats. Education is central to Tenikwa’s conservation message, and their non-feline residents are valuable in educating guests on biodiversity and the interconnectivity of species within the food chain.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre
Tel: +27 (0)44 534 8170
Cell: +27 (0)82 486 1515
How to get here
From the N2, 20km north-east of Plettenberg Bay, turn right at the Kurland village turnoff. Continue on the Forest Hall road and pass Kurland on the left. Follow the gravel road and take the right-hand fork. Drive 900m to the Tenikwa sign.
From Port Elizabeth, take the N2 to Storm’s River. Go though the N2 toll, and follow the R102 to Natures Valley. Pass the Natures Valley turnoff and take the Kurland Village turn-off to the left. From Kurland, proceed as above. The journey from Port Elizabeth will take 3 to 4 hours.
Best time to visit
Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is open 365 days a year. There are morning or afternoon tours.
Around the area
There's no shortage of attractions and animal encounters nearby. You could visit Storms River, Natures Valley, do the Bloukrans Bungee, explore Plettenberg Bay, visit Tsitsikamma National Park, Monkeyland and the Elephant Sanctuary.
What will it cost
Wildcat Experience costs R185 for adults, R95 for children 6-16 years, under 6’s free. Cheetah Walk: R580 p/person (age limit 16 and height restriction of 1.5m).
Length of stay
Two to three hours for the Wildcat Experience or half a day for the Cheetah Walk and Wildcat combo.
What to pack
Dress comfortably, but leave your scarves, tassles and fur at home. They're too much of a temptation for cats.
Where to stay
The closest would be Kurland Hotel. But there are plenty of other options in nearby Plettenberg Bay.