You don’t need to be an avid bird watcher to enjoy a visit to Africa’s largest bird park, located just a short drive away from the luxurious Steenberg Hotel in Cape Town. For 39 years, The World of Birds in Hout Bay, one of this seaside fishing village’s landmarks, has cared for and provided a place of safety to over 400 species of birds and animals, and offers an unparalleled experience for all ages, from toddlers to the elderly.
The park, which spans over 4 hectares in size, is home to over 100 walk-through tropical aviaries, each one beautifully landscaped – and perfectly maintained – to mimic the natural environment of the birds and animals that call it home. Most of the birds and animals in The World of Birds came to the park as injured or abused, either dropped off by concerned members of the public, or brought to the sanctuary from other zoos and parks. Looking at birds through a cage is one thing – but being able to walk amongst them, as they fly overhead, sit on branches at eye-level, or walk at your feet, is an entirely rare and exceedingly special experience. Whilst many of these birds are obviously outside of their natural habitats, a great number of them are on the brink of extinction – and it is highly unlikely that we’ll ever be lucky enough to view them where nature intended. The World of Birds gives visitors the rare opportunity to encounter them in real life, an experience that far surpasses having to look at photos in a history book.
Expect to see turkeys, toucans, penguins, bat-eared foxes, meerkats, owls of every shape, size and hoot (including the Giant Eagle Owl whose hoot sounds exactly like a large warthog’s snort), guinea pigs, peacocks, emus, storks, black eagles, hawks, ducks, parrots, flamingos, cockatiels, pelicans, cassowaries, jackals, ibises, herons, tortoises, buck, kites, pheasants, vultures, lovebirds, hornbills, geese, quails, and spoonbills – and hundreds more. It’s fascinating to enter an aviary of a specific species, and then to see many different birds or animals within that species.Visit during the daily feeding times and enjoy observing how each animal eats – whether it’s an owl clasping its food in its claw, a stork tossing its prey around in the air to get it in the right direction for swallowing, or a monkey carefully sorting through its fruit to find his favourite piece.
In addition to housing some of the most beautiful, rarest and intriguing birds in the world, the park is also home to a number of fascinating mammals. They have some of the most incredible monkeys, from Capuchins (the same breed of monkey that terrorised Ben Stiller’s character in the movie Night at the Museum) to tiny Marmosets the size of your hand. Visitors can enter the exciting Monkey Jungle, a large walk-through enclosure where one can enjoy direct contact with 38 squirrel monkeys and delight at their hilarious antics.
Tickets to visit the park cost R75 per adult, R40 per child, and R55 per pensioner/student. The park also relies on the kindness of the public to be able to continue their work, so if you’re a regular visitor to the Cape, then consider applying for an annual membership (allowing you and a guest free entry for one year) at just R275 per adult.