I’ve only visited Radical Raptors twice, but it’s had the same effect on me both times. I’m left in total wonder after having had liberal lashings of fun. I’m not into “sanctuaries” where forlorn-looking animals sit glumly, staring back at their human spectators and wishing they were just about anywhere else. Too depressing. This is anything but.
The staff members are jacked up. From Megan at the till to Mark, who conducts the show, everyone is helpful, friendly and engaging. Tickets were R120 for adults, R100 for pensioners, and R90 for children between three and 12 years old. There are three shows a day, each of which is about an hour long. During that time, you get to meet a spotted eagle owl, barn owl, Harris’ hawk and kestrel. The owls are trained to sit on your gloved fist for generous rewards (raw meat, delish), which makes for stunning photo ops and squeals of delight (and that was just me, my daughter didn’t stand a chance of competing with my excitement).
Mark chats freely with the audience, allowing everyone to have a chance to ‘hold’ the birds while sharing what is clearly years and years of insights about each animal – both the species and the individual. He’s funny too. Once the birds had impressed us, Mark did an informal display with his puppy, Gustav; demonstrating that our understanding of animals, no matter what species, is what makes us able to interact with them in such a special way. Gustav almost stole the show…so stinking cute. I loved the informal aspect and the bonus of something a little extra.
After the show, we walked around the enclosures, where we saw a magnificent rescued African fish eagle (injured by power lines), a majestic black eagle, and a host of other very special species.
We’d worked up an appetite by now and were very happy to find hot coffee and delicious meals on offer at The Heath Café and Deli, which is in the same complex as Radical Raptors. The kids could play on the mini ziplines and awesome climbing equipment under the trees, while we sat at the fire and enjoyed really generous and tasty chicken wraps. The desserts looked amazing, but my hips don’t, so I resisted. The owner chatted to us while he made cappuccinos, mentioning the huge variety of craft beers that he has available. A must for another day, I think.
The Heath complex is just outside Plett and about 20 minutes’ drive from Knysna. Have a look at some pics below: