Immerse yourself in the peaceful paradise of Birds of Eden – the largest single dome free-flight multi-species bird aviary in the world. Situated just outside Plettenberg Bay along the Garden Route, Birds of Eden is accessible and central, close to a number of other fabulous attractions. This makes it the ideal addition to your holiday itinerary.
Our expectations were high, after hearing fantastic reports of this facility from so many different sources. Our experience did not disappoint.
Birds of Eden and neighbouring Monkeyland were both established by Lara and Tony, who continue to have a hands-on approach to these two facilities. Their unwavering passion and commitment to establishing a hands-off sanctuary that allows rescued, unwanted, wild and somewhat-tame birds to live within a natural environment.
We loved that touching and human interference is not allowed, as the avian residents are able to enjoy protection while not being confined or made to feel nervous at the hands of quizzy tourists. Still, we got up close and personal with a number of the species, since they are free to roam and fly wherever they please. Curiosity seemed to get the better of them as they sat on the railings and examined us with almost as much intrigue as we did them.
The sanctuary is, basically, a huge dome created by a steel KnitMesh net. This protects the birds from flying away, but provides ample room for even the mammoth macaws and Blue Cranes to soar overhead unrestrained. Incredibly, there is enough wire in this KnitMesh canopy to go halfway around the world, giving some indication of the sheer size of this aviary.
Birds of Eden is home to about 3 500 birds of more than 200 different species. These include cormorants, herons, flamingos, swans, ducks, geese, exotic pheasants, weavers, turacos, and an incredible array of parrots.
There are a number of water holes, as well as a river that runs through the entire facility and even a small waterfall, under which the visitor trail winds. These water sources lure the birds, who swim lazily on hot summer days and take a drink at leisure.
There is a restaurant, Thanda Café, overlooking one of the largest water holes, providing plenty of bird species to watch while enjoying a refreshing drink and a burger or toasted sandwich. The restaurant is completely open with a mesh protection, so that the sounds and sights of the birds are never interrupted, but they are not able to steal morsels of food from your plate.
An amphitheatre is secluded in the forest. It seats about 200 people and allows visitors to enjoy the orchestra of bird calls in serene seclusion.
A fabulously detailed handbook is on offer so that you are able to identify the many birds you see and even tick them off as a record of your experience. Interesting facts are included to make this a valuable keepsake and reminder of your visit.
The curio shop offers unique Birds of Eden clothing, jewellery, ornaments, postcards, toys and more. These make for great mementoes and for gifts for the family.
It took about 90 minutes to complete the course through the aviary. Being an extremely hot and sunny day, we did not spend as much time at the open watering holes as we would have liked (just another reason to return as soon as possible). The entire facility is wheelchair-friendly.