Our third night of this journey was spent at Dana Bay near Mossel Bay. It’s difficult to find a lot of information on Dana Bay, which is a darn shame, because it’s stunning. Dana Bay is a conservancy, set in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom.
Dana Bay Lodging
We stayed at the Dana Bay Guest House owned and managed by a lovely couple, Ronell and Quinton.
Rating Dana Bay Guest House (1-6 scale)
General Accommodations: 5
General Environs: 6
Scott’s booking.com review (below) sums it up beautifully, and I’d like to add that Dana Bay Guesthouse is dog-friendly! The only reason I rated the General Accommodations section 5, curiously enough, is because we prefer a more rustic lodging. It’s that simple.
From beginning to end, this place was FABULOUS! Dana Bay is a gorgeous little seaside town, close enough to Mossel Bay to be convenient. The view from the house, and from your private balcony, high up over the ocean, is to die for. A true 180 degree view of the ocean, where we saw dolphins swimming and leaping over the waves. A small greenbelt in front, where you can see the occasional bushbuck and birds of many kinds. Inside, the owners have left no detail unattended — everything is IMMACULATE and lovingly decorated, with the finest of everything: sheets, pillows, curtains, bathtub and shower amenities, coffee/tea tray, small refrigerator, very nice large flatscreen satellite TV. We’re very experienced travelers and we could find NOTHING lacking, broken, misplaced, or of poor quality. Simply amazing. On to the breakfast: Ronell serves an incredible, delicious, large, high quality and varied menu for breakfast (accommodating a vegan and a vegetarian). Sitting at a dining table with a floor-to-ceiling view of the ocean. There are just not enough superlatives in my vocabulary to describe this place — it is simply the best.
We spent only a short time in this area. Here is a quickie tour of Mossel Bay and Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse.
From Dana Bay, we took the 2-hour drive to Plettenberg. There we stayed at the lovely Milkwood Manor on Sea. Kudos to my hubby for arranging our awesome accommodations. The views just keep getting better, if that’s even possible.
Milkwood Manor on Sea rating (scale of 1-6)
I took off one point for the blackout curtains – there was a bit of mold on the side facing the window.
General Accommodations: 5
Met all our needs and there’s a Thai-type restaurant in the Manor called Lemon Grass. I had a superb curry.
General Environs: 6
We didn’t realize this place is located directly on the Indian Ocean. We could hear the ocean at night. Lovely spot. We awoke to the songs of the sea, looked out the window and saw someone washing our car! The service here in South Africa has proven to be outstanding.
Birds of Eden
160 Rand/person + 20 Rand for the bird identification booklet
There are several sanctuaries in the area, Monkeyland, The Wolf Sanctuary, and Jukani. Here is a full list. We chose Birds of Eden thanks to the recommendation of Annamarie, who checked us in at Milkwood Manor.
Visitor beware: The NSPCA has filed charges of animal cruelty against a place called Elephants of Eden. We drove by this place with no interest in going, because it felt like “entertainment” at the cost of elephant exploitation.
Folks, if you’re in South Africa, you have dozens of opportunities to view the elephants in the wild, their natural habitat. Please, please do not support an organization that removes elephants from their natural habitat and forces them into a life of slavery. Do you really need to touch an elephant that badly? Or kiss an elephant? That’s a very costly kiss – 2 seconds of joy for you and a lifetime of oppression for the animal.
Originally, I had no intention of going to this place, because it’s an aviary. I don’t like the idea of birds being caged in any way, especially after having lived in Mexico. Let me explain. Way too often, we saw guys standing along the sides of the road peddling birds in very small cages (several in one cage) – birds they stole from nests and trees. Birds they traumatized and terrorized. It turns my stomach to think of all those beautiful creatures ripped from their homes and exploited like a commodity.
But then I learned that Birds of Eden is a rescue type of place, a sanctuary for birds, and it’s the largest free-flying, multi-species aviary in the world. Birds of Eden was created to re-home unwanted birds and rescue birds. Their mission is to create a safe haven for the animals and birds. Most of these birds were once “pets” and it’s taken some of them years to figure out how to be birds again, how to act naturally. Birds of Eden acts on the notion that all animals in the sanctuary, human and non-human, are of equal importance. The visitors are given strict guidelines about not interacting with the birds despite the fact we encountered several birds who wanted to interact with us. They have old habits to break – those related to former exploitation and those used for entertainment by humans. Our job as conscientious visitors is to help them by not interacting.
A river runs through the aviary and there’s a waterfall. One has the feeling of being in a tranquil Amazonian rainforest. Scott believes he used the word “beautiful” more times during our 2-hour visit than ever before in his life. It was truly a magical experience.
If you’d like to hear a sampling of what we heard at Birds of Eden, click the audio link below.
Click on the slideshow if you’d like to see more – about 20 more plus a Cotton-top Tamarin! Birds of Eden also has some mammals including monkeys and Duikers.
Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?
Animals give me more pleasure through the viewfinder of a camera than they ever did in the crosshairs of a gunsight. And after I’ve finished “shooting,” my unharmed victims are still around for others to enjoy. I have developed a deep respect for animals. I consider them fellow living creatures with certain rights that should not be violated any more than those of humans.
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Check out the other South Africa posts below:
South Africa Post #1: Our first Kruger National Park Safari
South Africa Post #2: Babysitting a Banded Mongoose Pup in Marloth Park
South Africa Post #3: When Zebras Visit
South Africa Post #4: Daily Living in Marloth Park, South Africa
South Africa Post #5: Kruger Restcamps: Skukuza, Satara and Olifants
South Africa Post #6: Kruger Safari: Full Moon over Letaba
South Africa Post #7: Kruger Safari: Treasure Hunting in Tamboti and Lower Sabie
South Africa Post #8: There’s a Mongoose in my Ear!
South Africa Post #9: Peering through God’s Window at Blyde River Canyon
South Africa Post #10: The Dam Boat Tour at Blyde River Canyon
South Africa Post #11: Rare Sexual Encounters of South Africa
South Africa Post #12: To the Wildlife of Marloth Park
South Africa Post #13: Nelspruit to Cape Town
South Africa Post #14: Moved to Tears on Freedom Day
South Africa Post #15: Penguins in South Africa?
South Africa Post #16: The Southernmost Tip of Africa
This is South Africa Post #17: Birds of Eden at Plettenberg Bay
South Africa Post #18: Dear South Africa: I love you, but…
South Africa Post #19: Elephants at Addo National Park
South Africa Post #20: The Garden Route: Nature’s Valley and Wilderness
South Africa Post #21: Endangered Bontebok
South Africa Post #22: Top Five Cape Town Experiences
South Africa Post #23: Chasing Rainbows in South Africa
South Africa Post #24: Vegan Wanderlust in South Africa
South Africa Post #25: Ubuntu