It’s not every day that you get to hang out with a pack of wolves, but during a road trip along the Garden Route, that’s exactly what we did!
At the time of our visit, The Garden Route Wolf Sanctuary was home to 15 pure blood wolves, 8 wolf-dogs, 4 huskies, and a selection of farmyard animals (don’t miss the llama’s!). The sanctuary offers a unique experience to interact with the wolves, an opportunity we’ve never had before.
Standard tickets cost 100 rand/pp or 175 rand/pp for a guided tour. Tours depart on the hour, every hour, between 10:00 – 16:00. Entry fees also included a bag of pellets to feed the farmyard animals.
All the enclosures were named accordingly, but there isn’t otherwise a huge amount of info on site. We were keen to learn more, so opted for the guided tour with a chance to get up close and personal with the wolves. We weren’t too sure what to expect, but this turned out to be a fantastic sanctuary that not only cared about their animals but put the animals first.
Luckily, we were allocated our own one-on-one guide, who having grown up onsite, was insanely knowledgeable. His mother was also a guide there too! He gave us a background on the sanctuary itself, how it begun, the history of wolves, as well as explaining loads of interesting stuff about them.
All the animals on site have been re-homed from across the country. Some coming from zoo’s. Some as former pets. Once a wolf reaches the age of two, they are classified as an adult, and become highly unmanageable. There’s also that small fact that they require some 10k of exercise per day! This is roughly when they are re-homed.
The wolf enclosures was divided into three areas focusing on the young cubs, the rowdy teenagers, and the retired oldies. Our guide took us into all three enclosures, where we were able to interaction with (some of) the wolves. All the wolves were 100% pure bred, so initially I wasn’t sure if I should be slightly scared, but they were honestly so gentle and friendly.
As we wandered through all the enclosures, we learnt how pack life works. Walking around with his tail up, the Alpha let’s everyone know who’s in charge. He will fight until injured (or death), with the Beta of the pack there to support him. The Omega is the bottom ranking wolf. He lacks confidence and will walk with his tail down. Wolves can climb the ladder to a higher rank position in the pack, but only ever one position at a time. Hard grafting if you ask me!
The Cubs – There was strictly no interaction with the cubs, who to be honest, were far too shy to say hello anyway. We were taken into their enclosure, where the two siblings (both just under one year old) lived with their parents. Whilst, we didn’t get to see a great deal of the cubs who were hiding out back, mum and dad were really friendly! The cubs will be kept together until they are old enough to join the pack of teenagers.
The Teenagers – It’s easy to understand why the younger wolves are referred to as ‘teenagers’. Within minutes on being inside their enclosure, it was a whirlwind of fur, barking and scattered toys everywhere. We were able to pet these guys – but that’s if they stood still long enough to be petted! There were three male 10-month old siblings who had one intention that day, and that was to play! Our guide did manage to stop one of the males for long enough to pick him up for a hug though!
The Oldies – The last enclosure we were taken into was for the much older ‘retired’ wolves, who were roughly 14-years old. These guys lived a quiet a peaceful life, having a snooze, and enjoying the sun. We were asked not to pet these wolves as not all of them had grown up onsite. They’d come from a mix of backgrounds, including zoo’s, however were really calm as we were wandered freely between them all.
Wolf-Dogs – Understandably, we were able to interact much more with the wolf dogs, who basically looked like huge huskies! We were taken into several enclosures to play with them all. Quite frankly, their appearance was so similar to the wolves that it was difficult to tell how pure bred they were.
Huskies – I’m not quite sure why the huskies were onsite, but there were four gorgeous dogs also onsite to meet. These guys were super friendly and cute!
Farmyard Animals – Rather random, but there was a large section of the sanctuary that homed a range of animals from pigs, to goats, to llama’s! We were able to hand feed all the animals with the pellets we were given on arrival.
Absolutely! I really enjoyed the GRWS. It was a convenient stop just outside of Plettenberg Bay and was fairly priced for what they offer. Suitable for kids of all ages, this would also make a fun visit for young families.