Eco-Lite Mini-Trip: Cango Wildlife Ranch, Oudtshoorn

Are you a busy executive traveling through and need a break from work?  Are you traveling with kids too small to take on expeditions in the bush but want to let them see bird up close?  Do you want a closer look at the birds you saw/will see in the wild?  Then Eco-Lite Mini-Trips are for you!

OVERVIEW

Cango Wildlife Ranch is much more than just an aviary and offers some exciting natural encounters with South African animals. You can pat a cheetah or tiger cub and hold a snake if you want. Bird lovers will enjoy the lorikeet enclosure where you can feed the birds. They are friendly and curious and always hungry!

HOW DO YOU GET THERE?

Cango Wildlife Ranch is a few km out of Oudtshoorn.  A Google map is available.

HOW MUCH IS IT?

Standard Ticket

Adult: R140.00

Child: R90.00 (5 – 13 years)
Premium Ticket (includes entrance and 1 encounter of choice)

Adult: R270.00

Child: R180.00 (5 – 13 years)

HOW LONG SHOULD YOU SPEND THERE AND WHAT SHOULD YOU SEE?

We were there for about 2 hours and saw the main attractions and did an Animal Encounter with the cheetahs as you will see in the photos below.  You could easil spend more time here if you want to cover all the animals and do more encounters.

VALUE TO CONSERVATION

Very extensive involvement in several conservation programs.  Details are on their website.

WHERE TO STAY NEARBY ON POINTS

Oudtshoorn is a fairly small town and has no major international chain hotels.  Most people stay in local guesthouses and backpacker places.  You can earn airline miles if you go through PointsHound.

PHOTOS

Through the jaws!

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Meerkat ManorIMG_0566 IMG_0567 IMG_0568 IMG_0572 IMG_0714

Walkway leading to crocodiles, fish tanks and other smaller exhibits.IMG_0734 IMG_0728 IMG_0725 IMG_0726 IMG_0737 IMG_0736 IMG_0718

Big cats have their own large enclosures.IMG_0579 IMG_0580

Tiger cubsIMG_0585 IMG_0670 IMG_0669 IMG_0667

Stunning eyes!IMG_0666 IMG_0675 IMG_0676 IMG_0662

Lorikeet Aviary – you can feed them and they will come to you.IMG_0588 IMG_0590 IMG_0600 IMG_0604 IMG_0606 IMG_0611 IMG_0616 IMG_0619 IMG_0636 IMG_0640 IMG_0651

Snack barIMG_0663 IMG_0664

Animal Encounter with Cheetahs.  This costs extra but is worth it!  The money raised goes to their conservation fund.IMG_0709 IMG_0707 IMG_0704 IMG_0702 IMG_0697 IMG_0683

Eco-Lite Mini-Trip: World Of Birds, Hout Bay, South Africa

Eco-lite Mini-trips are for everyone!  Families with small kids, busy business travelers who need a break or eco-tourists who want to see the birds up close to be able to recognize them in the bush!

OVERVIEW

World of Birds is the largest bird park in Africa and one of the few large bird parks in the World.  Over 3 000 birds (and small animals) of 400 different species are uniquely presented in more than 100 spacious landscaped walk through aviaries, allowing you the most intimate closeness with nature.   A tropical garden setting in the Hout Bay Valley
is the environment in which the aviaries are spaced over 4 ha of land, framed by the back of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, Constantiaberg, Chapman’s Peak and Little Lion’s Head. A paradise for nature lovers and photographers, the World of Birds is one of Cape Town’s premier tourist attractions which no visitor should miss.

HOW DO YOU GET THERE?

The Hout Bay Fishing Village and Fishing Harbour just 10 km outside Cape Town can be reached either along the scenic routes of the Coastal Drive via Camps Bay and Llandudno or via Kirstenbosch and Constantia, or on the way to and from Cape Point Nature Reserve via the spectacular Chapman’s Peak Drive.

HOW MUCH IS IT?

Entrance fees are:

Adults R95
Children R45
Pensioners and Students (with card) R55

HOW LONG SHOULD YOU SPEND THERE AND WHAT SHOULD YOU SEE?

We spent a couple hours there leisurely wandering through the aviaries.  It looks like it has grown since we were there in 2009 so maybe allow 3 hours.

VALUE TO CONSERVATION

World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary is an independent institution.

Preservation, breeding, education and research projects undertaken by World of Birds can be supported through
The Wild Bird Trust (Reg. No. T834/91)

(Wild Birds & Small Mammals Preservation, Education & Scientific Research Trust)

WHERE TO STAY NEARBY ON POINTS

Numerous options are in Cape Town.

PHOTOS

Here is a day we spent exploring this wonderful bird park where we got a close glimpse of many African species we normally wouldn’t get to see up close. Originally published on Feathered and Free which is now being merged to MTTW.

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Eco-lite Mini-trip: Bird Land/Hot Park, Goiania, Brazil

OVERVIEW

Hot Park is mostly a family theme park sort of like Busch Gardens in Florida but they do have one fun attraction that appeals to bird lovers – Bird Land.  Bird Land is a large walk-in aviary that you pay extra to enter.  There are lots of different Brazilian parrots flying freely and they will land on you.  You aren’t allowed to take your own camera inside, you have to pay for their photographer to take a photo of you with the birds.  I couldn’t resist a shot with a friendly Golden Conure.

HOW DO YOU GET THERE?

Goiania is a few hours drive from Brasilia or you can fly in on Gol or Tam.  Once in Goiania, you need to rent a car to get to the Hot Park.

Goiania

HOW MUCH IS IT?

  • Online – – – R$ 110,00
  • Ticket Office – – – – – – R$ 140,00

HOW LONG SHOULD YOU SPEND THERE AND WHAT SHOULD YOU SEE?

Allow around 1 hour for the aviary so you can get a good look at some very nice parrots up close.  You will probably also want to relax in the hot pools and walk around the rest of the park having come this far.

VALUE TO CONSERVATION

No affiliations that I can see.  It’s a nice place to take kids as there is lots for them to do and getting close to the parrots can foster an interest in seeing them in the wild.

WHERE TO STAY NEARBY ON POINTS

No points hotels.  Hot Park has a resort attached to it.  We ended up staying at a hotel of dubious reputation as it was almost midnight and I was so tired from driving and we didn’t have anywhere booked.  We just stopped at the first place we saw that had a safe car park.  Looking back, the “safety” is probably intended more to conceal the cars from passers-by than to protect the cars from thieves!

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We stopped here for breakfast, it’s near the Hot Park.0Z-4

PHOTOS

The entrance to the park.  While waiting in line, we saw some Peach-fronted Parakeets flying overhead and in the trees near the ticket office.

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There are maps and information boards all over the park – you won’t get lost!

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I’m not sure what this bus is for.3HP-08

Hot pools3HP-03 3HP-04 3HP-09

Bird Land Walk-in Aviary3HP-06 4BL-05 4BL-06 4BL-07 5DSC_7553 5DSC_7559

It was a very pleasant day and I really enjoyed seeing the birds up close as I usually see them darting rapidly overhead!

 

Eco-Lite: Kuala Lumpur Bird Park

OVERVIEW

Located in the serene and scenic famous Lake Gardens, the KL Bird park is also well known as “World’s Largest Free-flight Walk-in Aviary”, offers a 20.9 acres of verdant valley terrain to be explored.

HOW DO YOU GET THERE?

The park is located about a 20 Ringgit taxi ride from the central Kuala Lumpur area.  Beware of taxis trying to overcharge on departure, walk down the road and hail a taxi passing by as the private ones operated just outside are very expensive.  Use miles and points to get to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

HOW MUCH IS IT?

Adults 50 MYR, Children 41 MYR.

Credit cards accepted.

HOW LONG SHOULD YOU SPEND THERE AND WHAT SHOULD YOU SEE?

It’s a fairly large park and has several shows so try to give it at least half a day.

VALUE TO CONSERVATION

There aren’t any particular projects mentioned on their website.  The park does give an opportunity to see some rare Malaysian species, especially hornbills up close which can later help you identify them in the wild.  It’s a great place to bring kids and exhibits are well-signed.

WHERE TO STAY NEARBY ON POINTS

Hilton, IHG, Hyatt, Wyndham and Marriott all have hotels in Kuala Lumpur, however unless you really need a posh hotel, I recommend paying for a hotel as prices are so low here.

PHOTOS

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Eco-Lite: Casela Nature Park, Mauritius

Mauritius is a destination that appeals to all kinds of travelers with its beautiful beaches and family friendly atmosphere.  The Casela Nature Park is a great option for families and others who want a quick look at some local and exotic birds.  There are no Echo Parakeets here.

OVERVIEW

Out of sight down Rivière Noire road, lies 14 hectares of lush green which is now home to a big variety of fauna and flora. Some 1,500 birds, a selection of wildcats, zebras, giant tortoises, long-tailed monkeys, among other species, can be watched on site.   There are also plenty of activities  like canyoning or hiking Via Ferrata, double and triple ziplines and the adventurous cable bridges.   It kind of reminded me of Busch Gardens in Florida, same kind of appeal to families in particular.

HOW DO YOU GET THERE?

Casela Nature Park is easily reached from the main road between Curepipe and Flic en Flac.    There is a small shopping centre on the intersection of the A3 and Flic en Flac road and the park is signposted.

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HOW MUCH IS IT?

Basic admission is fine if you just want to see the birds.  There are additional charges for other activities.

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HOW LONG SHOULD YOU SPEND THERE AND WHAT SHOULD YOU SEE?

We arrived pretty late in the afternoon and had just under an hour to scurry around and see the birds.  This turned out to be enough time for what we wanted.  We only saw the birds, didn’t have time to see or do anything else.

VALUE TO CONSERVATION

No affiliation with any conservation projects.

WHERE TO STAY NEARBY ON POINTS

Flic en Flac is the closest town although no where is really far on Mauritius.  The Hilton in Flic en Flac has rooms starting at 40,000 Honors points.

PHOTOS

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The highlights for me was seeing the wild birds such as this Madagascar (not Mauritian)  Fody flying around the grounds.

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Eco-Lite: Birds Of Eden Revisted – Part 2

Continuing on from yesterday, we pick up the virtual stroll through the Birds of Eden walk-in aviary at the first pond where you can see Scarlet Ibises and other water birds, then past the grassy area to the main pond and the area surrounding the Jandaya Cafe.  Sadly, the Jandaya Cafe is now screened in and the birds no longer are able to join you for lunch.  The food was good though!

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(Don’t look if you are under 18!)IMG_3285 IMG_3288 IMG_3294 IMG_3295 IMG_3298 IMG_3283 IMG_3300 IMG_3302 IMG_3308 IMG_3315 IMG_3535 IMG_3538 IMG_3311 IMG_3323 IMG_3324 IMG_3328 IMG_3331 IMG_3341 IMG_3343 IMG_3344 IMG_3345 IMG_3347 IMG_3349 IMG_3351 IMG_3354 IMG_3355 IMG_3356 IMG_3362 IMG_3359 IMG_3358 IMG_3368 IMG_3541 IMG_3567 IMG_3566 IMG_3370 IMG_3353 IMG_3357 IMG_3367 IMG_3371 IMG_3554 IMG_3562

 

Birds wondering why they can’t get into the cafe.  Maybe because they don’t have credit cards?IMG_3561 IMG_3539 IMG_3542 IMG_3543 IMG_3544 IMG_3546 IMG_3547 IMG_3548 IMG_3549 IMG_3551 IMG_3553 IMG_3557 IMG_3564 IMG_3373 IMG_3375 IMG_3376 IMG_3378 IMG_3380 IMG_3381 IMG_3382 IMG_3374

 

Eco-Lite: Birds Of Eden Revisted – Part 1

A little over a year ago, I shared some pics of the many gorgeous birds you can see flying freely in the huge Birds of Eden walk-in aviary and details of how you can visit them.  If you are using miles, Port Elizabeth makes a great gateway city as you can easily get award flights there and redeem hotel points for free stays as I wrote in my main Port Elizabeth blog post.

Just last month, we got to revisit this awesome bird park and spend the whole day there.  Since today is Boxing Day in Australia and tomorrow will also be a busy post-Christmas day, I will hold off on travel posts and simply enthrall you with some photos of beautiful birds!

I have WAY too many photos and not time to caption them so just relax and enjoy them!

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In this part, I will show you the forest walkways and the birds that you can see there.  Tomorrow, I will show you the Jandaya Cafe area, the ponds and the birds in those areas.IMG_3182 IMG_3569IMG_3187 IMG_3186 IMG_3190 IMG_3192 IMG_3193 IMG_3196 IMG_3199 IMG_3200 IMG_3202 IMG_3205 IMG_3207 IMG_3208 IMG_3210 IMG_3212 IMG_3213 IMG_3214 IMG_3216 IMG_3218 IMG_3223 IMG_3228 IMG_3230 IMG_3233 IMG_3240 IMG_3241 IMG_3243 IMG_3246 IMG_3249 IMG_3255 IMG_3257 IMG_3259 IMG_3262 IMG_3266 IMG_3270 IMG_3386 IMG_3390 IMG_3392 IMG_3394 IMG_3398 IMG_3399 IMG_3400 IMG_3401 IMG_3402 IMG_3403 IMG_3411 IMG_3424 IMG_3427 IMG_3430 IMG_3431 IMG_3435 IMG_3438 IMG_3442 IMG_3443 IMG_3446 IMG_3452 IMG_3453 IMG_3460 IMG_3461 IMG_3464 IMG_3469 IMG_3470 IMG_3471 IMG_3479 IMG_3480 IMG_3481 IMG_3490 IMG_3496 IMG_3498 IMG_3503 IMG_3506 IMG_3508 IMG_3512 IMG_3515 IMG_3519 IMG_3520 IMG_3526 IMG_3530

 

Eco-Lite: Loro Parque, Tenerife, Spain

OVERVIEW

Loro Parque sets the standard for zoos, especially zoos that feature walk-in aviaries!  The exhibits reflect the bird/animal’s native habitat and there are detailed explanations about where they come from and if they are endangered and why.  Loro Parque will appeal to all members of the family whether they are bird-crazy or not!  In addition to the most diverse genetic reserve of parrots in the world (more than 4,000 specimens of 350 different species and subspecies), there are also shows featuring Orcas, Dolphins, Sea Lions & Penguins.  If you bring your family with you to the International Parrot Conference, this is a great way to keep them entertained!  I am not usually a fan of trained animal shows but Loro Parque does treat their birds and animals right.  You will see this in the photos below.

You can’t go past the top zoo in Europe and 3rd best zoo in the world!

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HOW DO YOU GET THERE?

Use your OneWorld alliance miles (Avios work well here) for an Iberia flight to Tenerife Norte from Madrid.  This cost 7500 Avios in 2014 each way.  It’s pretty easy to get to Madrid from anywhere in the world.  I wasn’t a fan of MAD, its a huge airport and information/maps are hard to find.  Make sure you fly to the northern airport TFN rather than TFS, it’s much closer to Puerto de la Cruz, the home of Loro Parque.  The bus was 6 Euros from TFN to Puerto de la Cruz and stops outside several major hotels including Hotel Botanico.  If you haven’t rented a car, use Loro Parque’s free train from the main plaza in town to get to the park.

HOW MUCH IS IT?

They have several ticket options depending on if you want transfers and admission to Siam Park as well on their website.

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HOW LONG SHOULD YOU SPEND THERE AND WHAT SHOULD YOU SEE?

I could spend all day just hanging around Katandra Treetops and walking around where the parrots are.  For normal people (not bird-crazy) you can still spend a full day here if you take in all the shows.  You’ve come all the way to Tenerife so best to do this park justice and not rush through it!

If your time is limited and you want to concentrate on the parrots, I have shown the best routes to follow in red on the map below.  The short walk towards the gorillas is where the Lear’s Macaws are.  The other paths are where you can see rare parrots in beautifully appointed aviaries, grouped by geographical region.