Epic tree houses with hot tub at Cabanyes Entre Valls

Epic tree houses with hot tub at Cabanyes Entre Valls

A tree house stay overlooking the Bianya valley, Cabanyes entre Valls is a marvellous nature experience. Combining design, sustainability, childhood dreams and nature – you will not want to leave this beautiful hotel. 

Staying at a tree house is already an incredible experience as it is, but what if you added the latest wooden interior décor and a private deck with a hot tub? Now, that makes it truly remarkable! 

Looking for a unique hotel to stay at in Catalunya? Let’s dive into this review.

Cabanyes entre Valls tree house

Quick facts: 

  • Good for: couples, families 
  • Price: Starting at 169€ 
  • Location: La Garrotxa, Catalunya 

How to get there 

Cabanyes entre valls is located in la Garrotxa, an area only 1.5 hours away from Barcelona, Catalunya. 

There are different routes available but the fastest one is on the C-17 road, which has tolls. 

The road is all tarred except for the last 200m onto the property. You can definitely drive there in a city car up to reception and the first two cabins. For the last two cabins, the road is a bit more complicated but they will advise you upon check in.

We drove a Seat Mii and could go to the lowest (4th) tree house without any issues, barring a couple small scrapes to the lower part of the car. Driving slowly it really wasn’t a big deal. You can also park in their main parking lot and walk down or get a lift to your tree house. 

Cabanyes entre valls: check in 

Cabanyes entre valls is located in a beautiful property, Mas Espunya, in a nook between two hills with views of the valley below and a wide range of views of the property.

The property has a couple of houses where the owners of the property and the hotel live. The most visually stunning building you will see is the reception and restaurant area. A double story building with big wooden arches and rustic boho decoration that will make you fall in love with the place as soon as you begin your check in. 

Cabanyes entre Valls reception

The restaurant is open to the public for lunch every day of the week, and offers breakfast and dinner to guests only.   

Breakfast is included in your nightly rate and includes a variety of local, fresh produce delivered around 9am direct to your tree house.  

You can pick between vegan and non-vegan options at reception each day for the next day, with fresh and local produce like veggie pates, sourdough bread, fresh orange juice, cheese and cold meats as well as croissants & chocolate croissants for those with a sweet tooth. 

Cabanyes entre Valls pla del grèvol tree house

Dinner is not included but I highly recommend you try it at least one night during your stay. Their cuisine is really tasty, made with km0 ingredients and you can choose where to eat. If you want to go to the restaurant you can, or you can also get it delivered to your tree house. Every delivery is made with reusable containers, jars and bottles, so there is no plastic which I love!

The tree houses at Cabanyes entre valls 

They have 4 tree houses currently. Quintanic tree house is the family one. It is a duplex tree house that can host a small family, with a double bed and an individual bed upstairs. Another bed can be added for a maximum of 4 people.  

The other tree houses can all sleep two adults with the option of 1 extra guest.  

Cabanyes entre Valls tree house

They are all quite separated from each other and you have privacy on your deck, which is really important to me! 

The material used for the construction is wood and it is exquisitely decorated inside. They went for a very neutral colour palette that matches the forest and brings it all together.  

Cabanyes entre Valls tree house and bed views

The bedrooms have a queen size bed, ensuite shower and bathroom as well as a small table for dining. They all come with a nespresso machine, water bottle, glasses, cups and coffee, tea and sugar nook.  There’s a pellet stove to keep you warm too.

Cabanyes entre Valls pla del grèvol tree house
Cabanyes entre Valls pla del grèvol tree house

The private deck has two lounge chairs, a table and the star of the show: the hot tub! 

There’s a room cleaning service daily, so if you stay for more than one night, you can let them know when you’re going out so that they can clean the room for you. 

Cabanyes entre Valls hot tub in your own tree house

Looking for another unique sleep in Catalunya? Check the list of Sweet dreams here.  

Activities available at Cabanyes Entre Valls 

The property has two walking trails that are amazing. If you have enough time to, then doing both of them is a must.  

The first hiking trail is a short 20 minute each way flat path to get to a fountain. It is mostly in the shade of trees and will take you far into the property, you will get a feel for the vast size of the area. This one is good for a family with young kids or a lazy stroll. You can take a picnic and have it there, they’ll prepare one for you at reception.

Cabanyes entre Valls tree house from exterior

The second hiking trail is a loop taking you to the biggest tree of the property and takes about 1h to complete. This one is a little bit harder but not too challenging, although I would not recommend it for couples with young children. 

What you’ll love 

A glass of wine in your private hot tub as the sun is setting. You will spend all your time inside until every one of your fingers is wrinkled. 

Cabanyes entre Valls tree house from exterior

Having breakfast in your cabin brought to you is already the best feeling, but when they tie it to a rope that you need to pull up yourself, it adds to the overall experience.  

There’s signal throughout the property that you can use to work if you need to. We had a number of video calls on 4G and it worked great – not a bad remote working spot! 

Late check out at 12 will allow for a slow morning without any rush, enjoying the views from your elevated tree house and deck.

Staying at Cabanyes Entre Valls, a tree house hotel in Catalunya, 2 hours from Barcelona.
Staying at Cabanyes Entre Valls, a tree house hotel in Catalunya, 2 hours from Barcelona.
Star Bed at Samara Game Reserve: sleeping under the stars

Star Bed at Samara Game Reserve: sleeping under the stars

Going on safari is always magical but if you want an experience that is truly unlike any other, sleep under the stars and listen to the sounds of the bush from your Star Bed!

Are you dreaming of sleeping out under thousands of stars in South Africa? Now you can!  

This magnificent room without walls or a roof in the middle of the game reserve is one of the most unique and unusual hotel rooms you’ll ever encounter. Oh, and it’s going to be as romantic as any night in the wilderness can be. 

Here’s everything you need to know if you want to visit Samara Game Reserve and have a once in a lifetime evening! 

Quick facts: 

  • Good for: couples (the rest of the lodge is great for families and groups of friends too!)
  • Price: ZAR 3750 per person per night on Full Board + Activities (216.1€) 
  • Location: Eastern Cape, South Africa 
Epic night on Samara's Star Bed

Do you want to have a visual of the reserve and the rooms before we dive deep into details? Watch the video:

Where is Samara Game Reserve 

Samara Private game reserve is a luxury reserve in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. It lies in the heart of the Great Karoo area and is a 40 min drive from Graaff Reinet, one of the most historic settlement towns in South Africa. 

On safari at Samara Game Reserve

How to get there 

Depending on where you are coming from, the reserve can be reached by different means. 

  • International flight: if you’re arriving via international flight and your first stop is Samara, your flight to Johannesburg (JNB) or Cape Town (CPT) will connect you with a flight to Port Elizabeth (PLZ).  
  • Domestic flight: Gqeberha (previously called Port Elizabeth) is the closest airport to the game reserve. From here you can rent a car or book a transfer with the reservations team at Samara. 
  • Driving from Cape Town: on a drive from Cape Town to Samara Karoo lodge, if you were to not stop it will take 7h30min. It is a long drive and you can split it up with a visit to the Winelands or the Garden Route on your way. 

They have extensive instructions on their website and also recommend the use of what3words. It is a system that gives 3 words to every square meter in the world and lets you have a very precise and accurate location. 

On safari at Samara Game Reserve

About Samara Game Reserve

Samara is a luxury game reserve in the Eastern Cape. This award-winning game reserve has 27 hectares of wilderness, with different biomes and views over the Plains of Camdeboo in the Great Karoo. 

24 years ago Samara was made up of 11 cattle farms. The owners bought the terrain in the hopes of restoring the land, fauna and flora endemic to the area that had been killed or chased away by poor farming practices and agriculture for a couple of centuries. 

On safari at Samara Game Reserve

Today the reserve boasts more than 60 mammal species, including the big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo), cheetah, giraffe and cape mountain zebra. 

Samara has a Film and study facility that observes their cheetah as well as the first government accredited tracker school.  

They also have two lodges, Samara Karoo Lodge and Samara Manor House. We only visited Karoo Lodge. 

About Samara Karoo Lodge 

Samara Karoo Lodge is the furthest away from the main entrance of the two lodges. On arrival, you’ll be met by a roundabout in front of the main building, with a fountain in the middle. The lodge is fenced so that guests can walk between the lodge’s different areas safely. 

Upon arrival, you’ll be helped with your bags to reception while your car is driven to the parking lot. The main building is square, with a reception and curio shop facing the car entrance. The left hand side of the building is taken up by the bar and lounge area, while the restaurant is at the back.  

The kitchen and staff area are in the middle and the rooms are on the right hand side of the building, with views over the mountain. 

Outside the bar and restaurant area, you’ll find comfortable couches and chairs, decorated with vivid colours that match the colonial style of the lodge. There is a beautiful and big grass garden next to the restaurant outdoor area, where they can set up lanterns around the dinner tables to light things up. 

Next to the main building, the pool area is surrounded by a beautiful stone wall, providing some privacy for the guests lounging around it. The pool has hammocks and umbrellas around it, as well as a covered gazebo with outdoor furniture. There is a kids play area next to it. 

The Karoo Retreats and Sibella Family Suite are standalone rooms on the left hand side of the main building, following a path that takes you to each of them. 

The rooms at Samara Karoo Lodge  

The rooms are big and spacious, with an open living space for the bed, the lounge area and the fireplace. There’s a private porch with views of the reserve and comfortable chairs. 

There is a four posted bed with a mosquito net around it and they provide tea and coffee facilities and a mini-fridge. 

The bathroom is located behind the bed’s wall, with open walls on both sides of the room. There are double basins, a dresser, an enclosed toilet and an enclosed shower, as well as a bath. 

To top it all off, there’s also an outdoor shower! 

Star Bed at Samara Game Reserve 

Set against a dramatic mountain backdrop in a secluded location away from the reserve roads, the platform has a 360º view over the bush from Samara.

An epic night at Star Bed room in Samara

It comprises a four-poster bed with a draped mosquito net. An eating area with a laid out table and a drinks table to set up with gourmet picnic baskets and cold drinks with ice. 

There is no roof whatsoever, this activity is only available when the weather permits. Creature comforts are taken care of with luxurious sheets, dressing gowns and Lindt chocolates on your bed. There is a bathroom enclosed with bamboo poles and a basin with fresh water.  

An epic night at Star Bed room in Samara

A truly luxury Karoo sleep out experience – lit by twinkling stars overhead and lanterns all around the deck of the Star Bed. 

An epic night at Star Bed room in Samara

When night came, all of our expectations were exceeded! Lanterns off for the night and in the middle of a game reserve, the stars were everywhere. We lay in bed trying to grasp the immensity of the starry night and the milky way above us, and made every effort to not fall asleep too quickly. 

What to bring to the Star Bed 

On the day of your special experience, you’ll leave on a shorter afternoon safari to get to the Star Bed with plenty of time to enjoy the back dropping views, the sunset and the night. 

An epic night at Star Bed room in Samara

As drinks of your choice and a gourmet picnic including more than 3 courses and snacks are packed for you, you just need to pack a quick night bag before departing. Don’t forget to pack: 

  • Warm layers, it can get pretty cold once the sun sets 
  • Charged camera and phone, I can guarantee you will run out of space taking photos and videos!

Activities available 


The basis of the reserve is Full Board and activities. The activities include 2 daily safaris, one in the morning (approx. 6-9am) and one in the afternoon (approx. 4-7pm). These are included in your price and take place on their 4×4 cars with your guide and a tracker. 

On safari at Samara Game Reserve

There’s the option to go on a full day trip experience instead (5-6h) and have a picnic lunch somewhere on the reserve. As it is so big, some guests choose to do that so they can see more of the area.

Please note animals are generally not active during the hot hours of the day, so you are less likely to see as many animals as if you were doing the two regular game drives. 

Tracking cheetah on foot 

This is their flagship activity. We had been tracking them and when Dom (our guide) stopped the car and told us to grab our cameras we couldn’t see anything. 

After walking for about 100m I could see them for the first time. There were 9 of them, the mother and cubs, lying on the ground, blending in with the environment.  

We arrived at just the right time, as the sun was coming out and that’s when the animals start getting more active. 

Tracking cheetah on foot at Samara Game Reserve

The cheetahs are habituated to humans (more on this below) and did not care that we were quietly observing them. We were perhaps 4-6m away from them, able to sit down on the floor and set up my tripod to watch them for a couple of hours. 

This was such an insane experience, only comparable to gorilla trekking in Uganda. During our time with them, the sun started shining and getting hotter and slowly but surely they all started stretching, licking themselves or each other and moving to the shade of a nearby tree. 

Tracking cheetah on foot at Samara Game Reserve

I cannot recommend this experience enough, it is a must do when visiting Samara Game Reserve. 

Fly Camping 

During warm months (October to May) they offer the option of fly camping. This means going on a bush walk with your tracker across the reserve and sleeping in a comfortable tent set up in the middle of the reserve, after a delicious meal. 

Mountain biking 

They have guided routes in the area where there are predators and non guided in the area with only plains game where land is still rehabilitating. 

Conservation and rehabilitation at Samara 

They currently have 26 hectares that are being rehabilitated, but only 13 of those are open to the public and safaris. When they bought the land their goal was to bring back the flora and fauna, and they’ve done an incredible job already!

On safari at Samara Game Reserve

The endemic species typical from the Karoo make the landscapes of Samara very different from any other safari I’ve ever been on. 

They are planning to open up some more areas when the flora has grown more, but their work never ends. 

They also have a ‘Plant a Spekboom’ initiative where all guests get a spekboom, an endemic South African plant that helps to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by acting as a carbon sponge.

You can take the spekboom with you to nurture and grow at home (if you live in SA) or plant it in the reserve, where they have a giant area dedicated to removing carbon dioxide. There’s also the option for international businesses to pay to plant a large section of spekboom to offset their emissions. 

On safari at Samara Game Reserve

They are carefully reintroducing animals, one at a time always taking their food habits into consideration (ie how many antelope does a new, fully grown lion need to eat in a week? How many lions do we have? How many antelope do we have?) to not have an imbalance between predators and plain game. 

You can organize a conservation journey with them in which safaris are on offer but you will be spending time with trackers and Samara’s experts on various activities like wildlife monitoring, land rehabilitation or camera trapping.  

Why is it an ethical wildlife safari destination?

Samara’s goal was to rehabilitate the land to what it once was by reintroducing species that used to live in the area 125 years ago, like cheetahs. They are conducting an incredible conservation and rehabilitation effort, introducing animals to live wild inside the reserve. 

All animals are habituated to 4×4 cars, and the cheetah are habituated to cars and humans walking. There is no further interaction with the animals, which makes it an ethical wildlife destination. 

Safari at Samara Game Reserve

If you have doubts about what makes a wildlife encounter ethical head to this link to understand more. Essentially it means there’s no touching, no petting, the animals are wild and humans don’t stop them/prevent them from killing, reproducing, dying or otherwise living a wild life.  

What exactly does it mean they are habituated? They are wild and live wild lives. But they are habituated to humans, meaning for generations mothers have taught cubs that humans sometimes get close on car or foot and observe them. If the mom is calm the pups learn the behaviour and continue it. Doing this does not interfere with their wild lives at all. 

What you’ll love 

Sleeping in a Star Bed in Africa will top your unique hotels list for sure! It is really special to watch the sunset on a 360º view of the bush, sipping on your drink of choice and hearing the sounds of nature and animals as the sun sets. 

Once it is truly dark, and you turn off the lanterns what you thought you knew about stars becomes obsolete. Everywhere your eyes can see is littered with stars, and you won’t want to close your eyes to go to sleep!

Would you dare spend a night at the Star Bed?

Epic night sleeping at the Star Bed
Epic night sleeping at the Star Bed


Kagga Kamma Lodge: the best cave hotel you need to know

Kagga Kamma Lodge: the best cave hotel you need to know

How amazing would it be to sleep in a luxurious cave?  

If you’re looking for one of those far-away places that is completely unique then Kagga Kamma Lodge is your answer. Go to this magical property with luxury caves for rooms! 

Quick facts: 

  • Good for: Couples and families 
  • Price: ZAR 4080 per night, per cave room (231€) 
  • Location: Cederberg mountains, Western Cape, South Africa 
Kagga Kamma Wilderness Lodge views

How to get there

Kagga Kamma is a cave hotel in the Cederberg, South Africa.

From Cape Town, the drive will take you around 3h25min. The last 35km are driven on a gravel road.  

It is a scenic gravel road and can be driven in a city car for most of the year. The last 10km are a bit more complicated and a high clearance is advisable if it is the rainy season or has been raining recently, as this may cause the road to deteriorate. 

About the lodge 

Kagga Kamma lodge has a client parking lot next to reception.  

Next to the reception you will find their delicious restaurant where they offer seasonal menus that will make your experience in the hotel that much better. They offer a fine-dining, but homemade, style of food for their guests.

During our two night stay, we were mesmerized by the variety offered on the menu as well as the presentation and flavour of the food. There is a fireplace in the restaurant and during winter it makes for the most romantic setting. Next door to the restaurant you will find a bar for drinks during the day and at night. 

The pool at Kagga Kamma lodge

There is a swimming pool area built into the rocks as well as an outdoor Boma area with a fireplace in the middle and chairs around. Boma dinner is available any day of the week during warmer months (weather permitting). Boma dinner is the traditional African barbecue for all guests. 

They also have different nooks for lounging, reading or relaxing behind the main restaurant and bar area. 

The cave rooms at Kagga Kamma 

They have 10 cave rooms and 5 huts on the property. The rock formations in the Cederberg area are really interesting and incredibly varied, and Kagga Kamma has made use of these rocks to enclose its bedrooms.  

Cave rooms at Kagga Kamma lodge

Caves are made using a material that looks and feels like rock, but isn’t. In fact, if you are inside the room and knock softly on the wall, you’ll hear where rock and wall start, but you won’t be able to see it. It mimics the environment really well and that makes the experience truly one of a kind.  

Cave bedrooms have a double bed, an ensuite bathroom, bathrobes, air-con unit and coffee and tea making facilities. 

There’s a small terrace with two chairs with views of the mountains and a path that takes you to all the other rooms. Depending on your room you’ll be higher up from the path, giving you more privacy. 

Interior of cave rooms at Kagga Kamma lodge

Falling in love with the Cederberg and want to explore different areas? Check out this comprehensive guide on things to do

Star Suite 

During the months of summer (September – April) and as always, weather permitting. The Star Suite and the Sky Suite both offer a unique sleep out, sleeping under the stars without a roof.  

Star Bed room at Kagga Kamma

Although the rooms are slightly different, they both offer a comfortable bed and outdoor shower experience, and you’ll be treated to a three-course meal with cheeses, biscuits and fruit as snacks. Alternatively, they can opt to braai their meal themselves. picnic for dinner so that you can spend the late afternoon and evening enjoying the magical setting. 

Looking for more unique sleeps in Africa and beyond? Check out the curated list of Sweet Dreams  

Activities available at Kagga Kamma 

4×4 trail 

There’s a 4×4 trail around the property with more than 100km of total trail. You will be given a map and can drive at your own pace. You have to have your own vehicle and it is recommended that you are experienced, as there are some steep sections. 

Quad Bike Adventure

This one is an organized activity that you can book for an additional cost at reception and will take you on a quad adventure around the area so you can traverse the stunning landscape and learn more about the region where Kagga Kamma Lodge is.

Rock Art Tour 

An organised tour with an expert guide that will take you to the rock art found in the reserve. These paintings date back more than 6000 years and having a guide to understand what they each mean is a must. 

Hiking Trails and mountain biking trails 

There are marked self guided hiking routes in the reserve between 4km and 9km long. You will walk along the rock formations and see all the plant life around these. 

You can also bring your own mountain bike if you wish to try one of their two marked routes around to enjoy exercising in a different setting. 

Cave rooms at Kagga Kamma lodge

Nature Drives 

Although the reserve has some animals, the most often spotted are antelope. You can go on an organized game drive around the property early in the morning or during sun down to enjoy the reserve and hopefully spot some animals! There’s also the option of seeing jackals, although they are very rarely spotted. 

What you’ll love 

The rooms are stunning. They’re so different and are the main attraction for a stay in Kagga Kamma, and they are certainly worth it!  

The area surrounding the lodge is also incredibly pretty. You can go for a walk or a drive and explore the area. Taking some snacks for a picnic 

Check out Cederberg attractions to discover more of the beautiful area around Kagga Kamma cave hotel

Kagga Kamma Lodge: staying in a cave hotel in South Africa
Kagga Kamma Lodge: staying in a cave hotel in South Africa


How to ensure your wildlife encounter is ethical (with recommendations!)

How to ensure your wildlife encounter is ethical (with recommendations!)

Seeing wildlife in real life is one of the most treasured memories we can have and yet, it is critical that we make sure to pick an ethical wildlife encounter.  

Being a responsible traveller is important. Conservation of wildlife is a topic dear to my heart and I want to provide you with practical advice on how to make sure your next wildlife encounter is ethical.

In most countries we can find at least a couple of types of wildlife encounters, the most well known of them being a zoo or a safari game reserve. 

A once in a lifetime encounter with wild animals is on most of our bucket lists. Seeing a lion, elephant, gorilla or giraffe in Africa (to name just a few) in real life is an experience you will never forget. Seeing polar bears or whales is another popular one, though there are many examples from different parts of the world.

Ethical wildlife encounters: how to find them

In some places, the wildlife is left in its natural habitat and humans visit in the hopes of catching a sighting of the animals. These animals roam freely and are (if anything) only accustomed to car or boat sounds. 

In other places, the animals have been taken out of their natural habitat and now live in a different location. As a rule of thumb, if the animals are not in their natural habitat this is your first red flag.

Reasons for moving an animal out of their natural habitat can be many: to “educate” societies on animals from around the world (zoo’s), to show off (circus), to reproduce as the species is endangered, to rehabilitate (rehabilitation centres)… 

In a time where wild animal populations are decreasing globally, picking your wildlife providers and activities carefully is more important than ever.

How to ensure your wildlife encounter is ethical

So how do you know if your wildlife encounter is ethical?

There are a number of factors that can help you decide. Some of them are available publicly and pretty easily and some aren’t and you might need to dig a bit, send an email or phone someone.  

First hand reviews from other travellers with details regarding how the animals live and are treated are a good starting point. These are easily found on review websites.

Ethical wildlife encounters: how to find them

Now there can be many opinions on the topic, and mine leans towards: “If they are not in the wild you shouldn’t be visiting them.” But as there are exceptions for conservation/rehabilitation, it is important to digest all information prior to making the decision. 

Some facts for further context and to help you understand this article better: 

These pointers can be applied to game reserves, national parks, rehabilitation centres, sanctuaries or centres for endangered wildlife.

GFAS defines a sanctuary as “a facility that provides lifetime care for animals that have been abused, injured, abandoned, or otherwise in need”.

How to ensure your wildlife encounter is ethical

Unfortunately there are many animals who have lived all their lives in captivity and don’t know how to live or find food by themselves. These animals cannot be released back into the wild. They were part of a show, or were privately owned and are accustomed to humans and to being fed so they cannot be released.  

Giving these animals the closest possible experience to what they’d have in the wild (big enough natural habitat, resembling the wild, minimal to no interaction to humans) is critical. For example, imagine a leopard who has lived half-drugged and chained up all his life in a centre where tourists could pet him.

Ethical wildlife encounters: how to find them

He can never be released into the wild, but if he is moved to a facility that doesn’t chain him up or drug him, one that provides him with companions, in a wide enclosure, that resembles the bush – that is a positive outcome for him.

Each case has to be treated differently but by following these pointers you can have a pretty clear idea. 

How to ensure your wildlife encounter is ethical


Making sure the facility is not breeding their animals is one of the most important items on this list.
There are three options here:

How to ensure your wildlife encounter is ethical
  1. A breeding centre for critically endangered animals. As the name suggests these exist to create more members of the species and they will be breeding. In this case, making sure they are reintroduced into the wild and that their lives remain mostly unchanged is what concerns us.

    If males and females live together in an environment that looks like their natural habitat, and once they get pregnant, facilitators make sure that the baby makes it through the first crucial months, this is good.

    The idea is that these animals will be released back into the wild (especially the young). Some of these centres do have previously abused animals that cannot be released into the wild as they don’t know how to hunt (for example). If their lives remain untouched except for food being provided, that is a not terrible case of breeding.
  2. The facility is not actively trying to get animals pregnant but females and males live together in enclosures. That they are not doing it actively doesn’t mean they are trying to stop it. Animals do naturally mate so offspring from those species should be expected, hence lengthening the business operations, as the animals never die.
  3. They are trying to avoid kids: that could be putting the animals on contraceptive pills for example to avoid babies. In this case once the current animals die, the business will perish. They are giving the current animals a chance for a happy life (even if that means seeing humans without touches) but they don’t want to prolong the life of animals outside of their natural habitat.
Ethical wildlife encounters: how to find them

To breed, sell or trade animals is a no-no. Animals don’t leave the sanctuary except for emergencies or vet care. 

Touch or walk 

In the natural world you would not touch a wild animal. If you are going on safari you will watch the animals from a boat, a car or even walking – but you will never touch them. They are wild and you keep a respectful distance from them.

How to ensure your wildlife encounter is ethical

Going to a sanctuary that has lions or tigers (those are the most common animals, but it can be any animal) where you can touch them is a clear no. Those animals are either drugged so that you can touch them or are trained using pain in the case that they do not follow orders. This training generally happens with very young babies and are usually brutal, leaving animals scared and scarred for life.

You are not permitted to feed, cuddle, pet, or pose for photos with animals. 

Walking next to predators or elephants is also a sign of the sanctuary not being ethical. It is not a natural behaviour you would see in the wild.

Ethical wildlife encounters: how to find them


Animals that are chained do not have the mobility they need. Chained animals are kept at a certain distance mostly from approaching humans so that humans can’t be harmed. This practice harms the animal’s mobility as well as their physical body and can be very painful.

How to ensure your wildlife encounter is ethical


The sanctuary or reserve is accredited by a reputable organisation. Some of them are:

Ethical wildlife encounters: how to find them


Animals do not perform.  

This includes a circus performance but also zoos and museums that aim to teach young kids about different animals. The animals aren’t used for commercial purposes like adverts or movie recordings.

Animals aren’t ridden either, as for you to be able to ride an elephant they are trained using painful techniques from very young to accept human riders, and if they misbehave they get even more pain (as tourists are in the vicinity or on top of the animal).

How to ensure your wildlife encounter is ethical

Enclosures or lack of thereof 

The best indicator to know whether a wildlife encounter is ethical or not is that animals are not fenced off.  

For example Kruger National Park has thousands of sq meters and there are only fences on the outskirts to ensure that local communities and animals don’t have an issue over space. In Bwindi forest in Uganda, gorillas aren’t fenced at all and can get out of the forest if they want to.

Ethical wildlife encounters: how to find them

If the animals are enclosed, the enclosures are REALLY big and replicate (or are) a natural habitat. This is to ensure the environment is good for the animals and has enough space as well as entertainment (trees, rocks, rivers…). 

Type of registration 

The sanctuary is registered as a non profit and/or has worked with other wildlife or animal conservation non profits. 

Guests are educated on wildlife needs, behaviour and injustices. The message is educational on premises, in order to spread the word that protecting wild populations and stopping the wildlife trade and poaching are important.

How to ensure your wildlife encounter is ethical

Educating the general public on the realities of the animal trade and poaching is the best thing an organisation can do – together by showing the right way to visit animals. By doing this people who were not experts prior to their first visit leave the sanctuary/reserve with knowledge they can act on or tell their circle about etc and that creates more people that know about the topic. 

How to choose your ethical animal encounter? Here are some wildlife encounters you can do right now

Ok Anna, I’ve read it and I get it! Can you give me some options of ethical wildlife encounters right now? Can I do car game drives or walking safaris? Is that a good option? 


These are places I have personally visited or know about through 3+ years of event and trip organization in Africa and they are reputable, but there are also many others! 

  • Bwindi National Park, Uganda – Gorilla trekking
  • Volcanoes national park, Rwanda – gorilla trekking
  • Kruger national park, South Africa & Greater Kruger National park reserves including: Sabi Sands, Timbavati, Klaserie, Manyeleti, Thornybush
  • Masaai Mara Game reserve, Kenya
  • Serengeti Game Reserve, Tanzania
  • Hwange game reserve, Zimbabwe
  • Okavango Delta, Botswana
  • Samara Private Game Reserve, South Africa

There are many game reserves in Africa that offer safaris without changing the animal’s lifestyle. Those are just some of the most well-known or famous ones in southern and east Africa.  

As always, do your own research before travelling to make sure your wildlife encounter is ethical!

Use this article as a guide and PIN IT FOR LATER!

How to ensure your wildlife encounter is ethical
How to make sure it is an ethical wildlife encounter & recommendations to find them
The Best and Coolest Airbnbs Near Cape Town, South Africa

The Best and Coolest Airbnbs Near Cape Town, South Africa

We are all dying to escape and explore more locally after a difficult year. There has never been a better time to start planning than with summer upon us! Escape from the hustle of Cape Town to some of the beautiful mountains, vineyards and beaches that surround the city.  

If you’re looking for a unique getaway from the city, from tiny houses to lost cabins in the mountains, these are the coolest airbnbs near Cape Town, in the Western Cape, South Africa. 

FIRST TIME BOOKING ON AIRBNB? Get 40€/725ZAR discount by creating an account through this link

The epic list: Coolest airbnbs near Cape Town in the Western Cape

Escape Into The Wild 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - The Log cabin

The name of the closest village to this accommodation, Wilderness, already tells us everything we need to know about it. Get lost in this wooden cabin in a forest. Reconnect with nature in this idyllic setting. You get this log cabin, made entirely by the owner, and the lush garden surrounding it, including the braai (barbeque) facilities! 


Italian Farmhouse 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - Bruno room

This beautiful Tuscan farmhouse in the winelands region has some stunning views. Very close to Stellenbosch they operate organically. Complimenting your stay, not only will you get a delicious continental breakfast but also full use of the pool. The rooms are very spacious and will transport you back in time to when everything was simpler.


Stone Cottage 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - stone cottage

Escape to the crazy rock formations of the Cederberg mountains and in what better way than to a picturesque stone cottage! The cottage was built using one of the rock formations as a wall. The fireplace is placed right in front for the perfect cosy night in. Head out for some hikes around the area and explore more of the beautiful landscape. 


Looking for more amazing accommodations in the Western Cape, South Africa? Check out the list of the most unique of them! 

The Greenhouse

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - greenhouse

Talking about the coolest airbnbs near Cape Town, have you ever wanted to stay in a greenhouse? This stunning new addition to the Fazenda property ticks all our Sweet Dreams boxes. Stunning set up, quiet, in the middle of the forest, beautiful décor, and an outdoor plunge pool!


Berseba Hut

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town -  Berseba hut

This perfect looking cabin on the Bot River has a minimal yet rural décor that you’re going to fall in love with! The cabin offers privacy (far away and hidden from the other cabin in the property) with a fireplace and outdoor hot tub.


The Silo

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town -  the silo

Sleep in this converted silo on a working farm with elevated views of the surrounds. With plenty of four and two legged animals to keep you company (if you pet the dogs they might not want to leave!) In the Silo, you will find the perfect getaway from the city. You can also make use of the dam that’s shared with other cabins.


Forest view yurt

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - southern yurts

Stay in this yurt for a completely different type of accommodation. Not only will you have a comfortable yurt as your bedroom but the kitchen and bathroom units are next door too. You will also have a hot tub to enjoy watching sunsets or sunrises from. Alternatively, you can go walk the trail of the Secret Forest on the property.


Cottage in the Kloof 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - cottage in the kloof

This cottage is located in Robertson Nuy Valley far away from the closest restaurant, farm or pub. Come here to get away from it all and enjoy the pristine serenity of the mountains around you. The cottage has an outdoor area with braai facilities and a wood fired hot tub. Make sure to pack everything you need for your stay before the drive! 


Off the Grid House 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - off the grid house

This spacious house is completely off grid. There’s an eco pool for summer and a fireplace for winter, complete with hikes and rivers around the corner. This beautiful house is perfect for a friend or family getaway. There’s also a bath overlooking the mountain for that extra magical setting. 


Lost in the mountains 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town -
Cederberg lost in the mountains

This stone cottage overlooking the Cederberg is as rustic as they come. If being in a privileged spot with views for days is your goal – this place is for you. You can explore the mountains around you and even hike downhill from the cottage to a lovely little spring with a picnic spot. 


Farm sanctuary 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town -  farm sanctuary

Ever thought of staying in a fancy loft on top of a barn? Here you will be able to sleep in a completely private loft on top of rescued pigs and donkeys. You can join the farm tours with the animals living below you or just enjoy the dramatic landscapes surrounding the barn. There’s even a famous painting pig and you can see him in action! 


The Cellar 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - the cellar

Is this not the most beautiful cellar you’ve ever seen?  This standalone cabin in Robertson offers incredible architecture and a great friends or family getaway. The farm offers flower tours as well as wine and food tastings. Make activities in the farm itself and you don’t have to go anywhere! 


The Nest 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - the nest exterior
Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - The nest interior

Scandinavian décor meets boho in this tiny house. Spend all your time with a book or relaxing in this beautiful cabin designed and built by the owner’s family. There are walking trails in their private forest and an indigenous garden. The cabin is next to a small dam.


Couplespod at Riverstone 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - couplespod at Riverstone

Modern and slick décor with warmer tones sets the scene in this cabin. The riverstone sits by the shores of a dam offering unbeatable views from your very own veranda. Relax in these couples cabins and spoil yourself and your loved one at this incredible property. 


Opstal Stay 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - Opstal stay

Stay at a working wine farm in the Slanghoek valley. From the windows you will have breath-taking views of the vineyards and the Boland mountains. With luxurious interiors and a fireplace, you will want to relax and never go anywhere else ever again. 


The Forest Heart 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - Forest heart

Have you been dreaming about an outdoor bath? Forest Heart is the perfect cabin to fulfil your dreams during sunset. With rustic and cosy interiors, this cabin with views of the Knysna forest is quiet and far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. 


Mirage Beachfront apartment 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - Mirage beach

This incredible cabin has a boardwalk direct to the beach. It also boasts amazing ocean views from the property itself. The cabin is in a gated complex and close to Saint Helena for all the amenities. Enjoy incredible ocean views not only from the living area but from the master bedroom too!


The Red House 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - the red house

This spacious family house with space for up to 6 guests will grab your attention quickly. Split in two, with the main living area and kitchen on one side, the pool in the middle and bedrooms on the other side. Perfect for groups of friends or families that want to have long chats through the night without disturbing the ones who prefer to sleep early. 


The Tin Shack 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - tin shack

Explore the West Coast from this container-built cottage. You will have to drive a short distance to the nearest beach but will enjoy the peace and quiet of staying inland. The property puts great emphasis on sustainability and that’s why you’ll have a compost toilet (serviced every 2 days) and recycled rain water for the garden. The cabin also has a wood fired hot tub for relaxing in with a glass of your drink of choice. 


The Eco Tree house 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - eco tree house

Stay in an eco tree house perched among the trees with a wood fired hot tub and a sauna! This amazing property is relatively new in the Western Cape and makes for one of the best unique places to stay! You will be able to swim in the property’s dam as well. 


Suites with plunge pool 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - suites with plunge pool

Stay in one of these three suites minutes away from Franschhoek. They are exquisitely decorated with very modern décor and views overlooking the fields and mountains nearby. They have a plunge pool on the private veranda, perfect for enjoying some sun downers after a full day of exploring. 


Pod by the Dam 

Coolest Airbnbs near Cape Town - pod by the dam

Stay in this eco pod by the dam with a wood fired hot tub. This industrial modern décor has a private bath and outdoor shower and overlooks the Outniqua Mountains.


Start planning your Cape Town visit here (or get me to plan it for you!).

The Coolest airbnbs near Cape Town, South Africa
The Coolest airbnbs near Cape Town, South Africa


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