We only had two days on the Garden Route between Port Elizabeth and Knysna and this was definitely a highlight.
Aware that so many “sanctuaries” are not true rescues or sanctuaries, we were wary going in. I am delighted to review that Tenikwa is truly legitimate and one of the most amazing animal sanctuaries I’ve ever been to. The sanctuary has two primary missions. The first is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release back into the wild wildlife ranging from birds and sea mammals to turtles, warthogs, meerkats, and wild cats. Human interaction is forbidden with these animals so that they can be released back into the wild. This part of the centre is not visible by visitors and I respect that immensely. One thing we’ve learned is that wildlife that is exposed to humans cannot be successfully released back into the wild so I was excited and encouraged that places like this truly exist.
The 2nd mission is to educate the public on threatened, endangered, and at-risk wildlife by exposing visitors to a wide-range of animals that permanently live at the centre and therefore exposure to humans does not put them at risk.
We chose the private guide for a more intimate tour. Our guide was Mthobisi and he was fantastic! The tour lasted about 2 hours and included a light lunch at the end. The tour started with meerkats and warthogs and progressed to African penguins and several large bird species before moving on to the cats, which are the highlight. It was a cool and cloudy day so we almost had the place to ourselves and because of the cool, cloudy weather, the animals were active and very visible, except for the African Cat, it was a bit more elusive a lot like a house cat. The caracals and servals were very active (about 6 each) and we actually entered the enclosure to the servals for a more up-close encounter (again, I must stress that touching is prohibited, which is actually a very good thing).
Up next was a leopard and he was stunning. The white lion and lioness were perched on the top of a knob, at first sleeping, and then attentive to our presence. Finally, the cheetah came running to the fence line, pacing and purring so loud it could be heard up to 25 feet away. She was within inches of us and an absolute gorgeous creature (again no touching!).
The centre is a true sanctuary that rescues and releases hundreds of wildlife each year back to the wild or permanently houses. Be aware that some “sanctuaries” are actually breeding centers for sale to private hunters so do your research whenever booking these. Also, touching encounters are generally bad and should not be supported but there are exceptions – again do your research to ensure support of ethical centers.
Tenikwa staff is very friendly and the guides are amazingly informed. Oh! and the pet cat in the reception is quite special and adorable. If you are looking for an intimate experience with African wildlife within an ethical and responsible rescue, then this is the place for you!
Absolutely recommend this place and I promise you will not be disappointed. Please support their awesome mission.
Date Experienced: May 2019