Best Wildlife Experiences Near Franschhoek
You won’t have to travel far from your Franschhoek accommodation to observe and interact with the stunning African wildlife.
In our list of wildlife experiences in South Africa, we’ve collated our top wildlife sanctuaries and animal encounters that are only a short drive from Franschhoek.
Drakenstein Lion Park
Paarl, 30 minutes from The Coach House in Franschhoek
Drakenstein Lion Park, located in Paarl, makes for the perfect day out for animal lovers, particularly lovers of big cats.
This amazing park has been around since 1998, offering an incredible service to the mighty lion and those of us who love this majestic animal. Kings and queens of the jungle they may be, but that doesn’t mean they are a species unaffected by abuse.
The Drakenstein Lion Park offers their animals a safe haven in a lifelong home with ample space, quality feeding and most of all, protection.
With a staggering 50 acres of ideal lion habitat, upon your visit, you can watch in awe as these creatures live out their days in peace and comfort. These guys are the real deal when it comes to being named a genuine sanctuary for lions—that means no petting, but you can watch the lions feed at their designated feeding/viewing times (Mon, Weds and Fri, 4:00 pm).
As well as watching the lions feed, visitors can plan their trip to also join the park for one of its many special events throughout the year, such as exclusive evening tours of the park.
Cape Town, 1 hour from The Coach House in Franschhoek
Arguably one of the best zoos in Cape Town is Monkey Town. Predominantly, this place is a sanctuary for our favourite primates. They care for, nurture and provide a forever home for abandoned and captive-bred monkeys.
So if you’re always up for a bit of monkey business, visiting these furry tree-swinging guys and girls makes for a great day out.
For kids, this is a wonderful opportunity for them to learn all about the monkey kingdom in a fun and engaging way. Here, they have an abundance of primate species—26 to be exact—including:
Despite what its name may suggest, Monkey Town has more than just monkeys; they have a wide variety of animals waiting for you to see, such as:
- Koi fish
Also on-site are braai and picnic facilities to squeeze in a bit of calm lunch during your fun-filled visit. There are also 3 swimming pools at Monkey Town—a deep one, a large one and a shallow one for the children. Be sure to book ahead if you’re going to want a spot to eat or a dip in the pools when you visit. Consider this place another reason to visit the Cape Town area when you stay in Franschhoek.
Le Bonheur Reptiles & Adventures
If river monsters and scaly reptiles are more your thing, you could visit Le Bonheur Reptiles and Adventures in Paarl.
Here, you can do more than just observe these strange and sometimes slimy creatures by getting stuck in with one (or more) of this park’s many activities. If your adrenaline can take it, we recommend this place to visit for a real hands-on approach to nature and wildlife—both local and exotic.
So what can you expect when you visit Le Bonheur Reptiles and Adventures?
- Crocodile Pond Tours – This is your opportunity to learn and view Africa’s largest predator in a pond of over 200 crocodiles. You’ll do so via rampways and an underwater viewing area
- Snake Exhibitions & Shows – A self-guided adventure that will immerse you in the world of the snake. Observe these fascinating creatures in their spacious enclosures, watch an interactive snake show and even touch the snakes with your own fingers!
- Crocodile Cage Diving – Take on the Nile croc (Africa’s apex predator) in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You’ll safely dive underwater and float on the surface with the crocs to marvel at how these intriguing monsters act in their natural habitat. See croc cage dive video here
Visitors can also partake in other, less daring, activities, such as bass fishing, cycling, rowing and of course, visit the restaurant for a scrumptious wood-fired pizza.
Boschendal Estate Horse Riding
Franschhoek, 15 minutes from The Coach House in Franschhoek
A more relaxing way to enjoy your passion for animals is to partake in a day of horseback riding.
We imagine that horseback riding in South Africa is a frequent entry on many people’s bucket lists. Why? Because you could not pick a better setting for a session of horse riding than South Africa. More specifically, horseback riding in the heart of the cape winelands—a guaranteed way of creating a fond core memory that will last a lifetime.
At the Boschendal Wine Farm, you can journey on a 1-hour guided tour of the winelands on horseback. Picture this, just you and your travelling companions on horseback, gliding through the vast vineyards and picturesque natural scenery.
Little ones can also enjoy this magical experience with pony rides available on weekends and public holidays.
Who knows, after your unforgettable South African horse riding trail, you could end the day with a glass of wine, courtesy of Boschendal Wine Estate.
After all, is this really a Franschhoek blog without the odd mention of wine?
Ashia Cheetah Center
Paarl, 30 minutes from The Coach House in Franschhoek
Meaning ‘hope and life’ in English, Ashia Cheetah Center’s name is birthed from the standout work they do on behalf of our spotty sprinting pals.
This wonderful center has been standing since 2016 to provide this declining species with the chances for survival they deserve. Through its Reintroduction and Research Programs, this center is able to reintroduce cheetahs into reserves and national parks in Southern Africa.
Cheetah conservation may be the core of what they do here, but this cheetah wildlife center also offers an incredible chance for those who love animals to discover more about this species and observe them in their element.
What opportunities do they provide for their visitors?
- Tours – Through their tours, you can learn all about the extraordinary work this center does for the cheetah, while observing these magnificent creatures for yourself in person
- Volunteer for a day – Work side-by-side with the resident animal careers and aid them in preparing the cheetah’s meals, feeding rounds, daily cleaning and to top it all off, enjoy a meal as part of their team
- Cheetah Run – We all know the cheetah for their unbelievable speed and agility. This is an opportunity like no other to see and photograph the cheetahs here as they take off!
The Ashia Cheetah Center in Paarl has become a renowned name among communities of animal lovers and wildlife enthusiasts around the world, and you could see it in person on your upcoming visit to South Africa.
Chamonix Game Drive (Mini Safari)
Franschhoek, 5 minutes from The Coach House in Franschhoek
If you were to stay at our Franschhoek guest house, the Chamonix game drive is only a short drive away and what a hidden gem it is.
Located on the Chamonix Wine Estate in Franschhoek, this game drive counts as one of South Africa’s simple pleasures; it mixes stunning countryside with peaceful wildlife to create a lovely experience for those who have a love of animals.
Residents of this wildlife reserve include:
Though this reserve isn’t typically open to the public, you can cast your eye over this estate’s reserve as a type of mini safari as you drive through its vast vineyards.
Here’s a helpful hint, you can visit this wine estate and sample some of its award-winning wine, along with watching the wildlife, via the Pink and Grey line of the Franschhoek Wine Tram.
Apex Shark Expeditions Shark Diving
Cape Town, 1 hour and 40 minutes from The Coach House in Franschhoek
For more of a thrilling encounter with the wildness of South Africa, take to the sea for your chance to swim with a great white shark in Cape Town.
There are a handful of amazing Cape Town shark tours available when you visit, but for this blog, we’re focusing on Apex Shark Expeditions—with just under two hours of driving time between them and your Franschhoek accommodation, this activity makes for a day out filled with adrenaline and will result in a great story to tell friends and family when you return home.
This shark tour and diving experience promises the most natural encounters with these beasts of the sea. You and your party will be equipped with professional diving gear and set sail out into the vast Atlantic ocean.
Then it’s time to see if you’ve got the guts to submerge yourself in the water and observe the sharks in their natural habitat up close.
It’s not just great whites you could potentially interact with, but also:
- Sevengill sharks
- Bronze Whaler sharks
- Blue sharks
- Mako sharks
While the spotting of a great white shark isn’t guaranteed, there’s no doubt that Apex Shark Expeditions offers an unforgettable experience for you to connect with the fascinating creatures that dwell in the deep blue.
So that settles it, if you’re a lover of all animals and open to taking on some incredible opportunities to get up close and personal with nature, then Franschhoek is the place for you.
Remember, for the inside scoop on the local area of Franschhoek, whatever the nature of your question or query, The Coach House live-in managers, David and Jenny are always on hand and happy to help you out.
For luxury accommodation in Franschhoek, stay with The Coach House.