Spier Wine Estate: Cheetahs and Predator Birds

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I always love visiting Spier Wine Estate; the rolling green grass, traditional African curios on sale and the combination of chicness with farm-style life always puts me into a great mood.

We took a drive out there last week to spend an hour or so strolling around in the intense heat and, as always, had a wonderful time.

Spier is located in the heart of the Cape wine lands and produces an award-winning wine. It’s a popular tourist destination and accommodates its visitors with a relaxed outlook, luxury hotel and conference centre, well-kept grounds and a medley of activities to enjoy.

At Spier visitors will encounter a place where the heritage of the land plays a vital role, but where the lifestyle is also contemporary. The winemaking technique of the estate respects tradition yet challenges convention which makes visiting this estate an entirely new experience.

There are eating experiences unlike any others here including a sophisticated African restaurant and a farm-to-table dining restaurant. We enjoyed an excellent meal at the latter.

There is an extensive collection of contemporary art for those looking to satiate their cultural curiosity, but my favourite activity has to be the wildlife conservation programmes.

The Cheetah Sanctuary and conservation project is a definite draw card for the area with hundreds of tourists hoping to feel the rough fur of a wild cat under their fingers. Most of the 20 cheetahs at the sanctuary were born in captivity, and cannot survive in the wild. The organisation uses the magnificent creatures as “ambassadors” for wild cheetah. The main focus is on educating and raising awareness among the public sector in an attempt to preserve the animal.

Visitors view the cheetahs from a relatively close range. For an additional fee visitors can enter an enclosure and experience the wild cat up close. This is particularly popular when there are young cubs.

You can also choose to walk with the cubs or watch the adults exercise. The runs take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When we went to see the graceful cats I was surprised at how busy the area was with tourists from all around the globe “oohing” and “aahing”. We decided to head into the wild bird rehabilitation section instead.

The Eagle Encounters Raptor Rehabilitation Centre is a relatively new operation. Injured, abused and poisoned wild birds are brought to the sanctuary for rehabilitation where they are cleaned, fed and exercised until they are healthy enough to be released back into the wild. Sometimes the birds cannot be released and so become permanent residents. At this non-profit bird hospital you’ll come face-to-beak with some of the most majestic birds I’ve ever seen.

For additional fees you can experience some of the predators up close, and you’ll be able to lightly ruffle the feathers of a Barn Owl or two. The centre aims to create public awareness and educate people about the plight of these birds through community outreach programmes.

Eagle Encounters Display Times:

11 am – Eagle Training
13 pm – Falconry Display
14 pm – Secretary Bird
16 pm – Built for the Kill

All Day – Up Close and Personal (A personal encounter with an Eagle)

How to get to Spier Wine Estate:

Get onto the N2 away from the city, take the R310 off-ramp to Stellenbosch (left), SPier is on the right about 5km from Stellenbosch. As you enter the parking area the cheetah and wild bird sanctuary is on your left.

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