Go Wild for These 11 African Animal Experiences
Giraffe Manor, Kenya
Imagine being nuzzled to sleep by an endangered Rothschild giraffe. An overnight stay or a visit to Giraffe Manor should top any animal lover's bucket list. Guests can feed the giraffes from the courtyard or right from the breakfast table. You never know when they'll stick their necks in for a visit.
Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia
As the largest organization in existence dedicated to saving cheetahs in the wild, the Cheetah Conservation Fund's educational facility offers a run where you can watch the world's fastest animal in action. It's also a popular site for ecotourism and has released 450 cheetahs back into the wild since 1990.
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Kenya
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is an elephant orphanage and rescue in addition to a pioneer of habitat protection in East Africa that has raised more than 150 infant elephants and reintroduced them to the wild. It also cares for elephants and rhinos who have had their ivory and horns poached.
Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre, South Africa
Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre was born when the owners started rehabilitating injured birds in a shed behind their house and is now one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the Western Cape. Its conservation-minded tours introduce visitors to the area's indigenous species.
Agatha Crocodile Ranch, South Africa
Reptile lovers get their fix of all things croc at Agatha Crocodile Ranch where they can touch a baby crocodile, watch a live feeding show or feed one of the predators themselves. More than 220 Nile crocodiles live at the ranch, the longest being a 13-foot croc named Rufus who's one of the ranch's living legends at 49 years old.
Kalahari Meerkat Project, South Africa
The habits and homes of South Africa's meerkats were made famous on Animal Planet's "Meerkat Manor," but have been studied since 1993. You can visit the site of the show's filming in the Kuruman River Reserve at the ongoing Kalahari Meerkat Project.
Cango Wildlife Ranch, South Africa
One of only six such facilities accredited by the African Association of Zoos & Aquaria, the Cango Wildlife Ranch is home to more than 90 different animal species, many of whom have been rescued or bred in captivity to ensure the survival of the species. The guided tours highlight the environmental issues each species faces.
Africat Foundation, Namibia
The survival of Namibia's predators in their natural habitats is the Africat Foundation's central goal; but the animals are often hunted because these habitats are located on or near the country's farmlands. Since 1993, more than 1,000 carnivores have been saved, and 86 percent have been released back into the wild.
Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary, South Africa
Witness more than 550 primates on your very own "monkey safari" at the Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary, where animals are free to roam in this unencumbered forest habitat. Encounters with capuchins, black-and-white ruffed lemurs, squirrel monkeys, langurs, vervet monkeys are gibbons are possible.
Hout Bay, South Africa
A quaint seaside town, Hout Bay is known for its proximity to Duiker (Seal) Island, home to a colony of about 7,000 Cape Fur seals. Get face-to-face with these gorgeous creatures on an unforgettable seal snorkeling excursion—these curious creations will swim right up to you.
A continent teeming with wildlife, Africa is home to national parks, sanctuaries and one-of-a-kind animal experiences that offer visitors a chance to see endangered species in their native habitats.
In addition, such facilities educate travelers on the dangers these species face and promote eco-tourism. While education and conservation is always top of mind, these experiences are also delightful, meaningful and sometimes provide unfettered access to animals. Go beyond the traditional safari experience to enrich your travels with these close animal encounters.