Shenton Safaris

A bird sanctuary within a shopping centre

I had heard of Cape Town’s Intaka Island – a wetland and bird sanctuary situated in the heart of Century City, but I had never got off my butt to pay it a visit. So when Orms sent me an invite to a bird watching workshop at Intaka, I took it as the kick I needed. And so I headed out for a different type of morning at what is more commonly known as a bustling shopping centre, residential area and office park.

intaka-island-centuary-city

Intaka, which comes from the isiXhosa word for bird, is home to over 120 species of birds, while over 170 indigenous species of plants can be found in the 16 hectare wetland. I found it amazing to be walking along paths that wound through the gorgeous wetlands, admiring purple herons and pied kingfishers, at complete peace with the sounds of nature, while others trod the hallways of a headache-inducing shopping centre closely.

intaka-island

The island aims to conserve these rare and threatened species of birds and vegetation, providing a protected habitat where birds can breed and live.

©Trevor Maré

©Trevor Maré

With Orms we enjoyed a guided walk around the 2km circular path on the island, as we were introduced to the various birds that breed within the wetland, while resident photographers took up their positions at the various hides.

©Trevor Maré

©Trevor Maré

Tranquil boat rides can also be enjoyed around the canal system, with a unique hop-on, hop-off feature for Canal Walk, and Intaka also features an indigenous garden where one can learn about different plants that are used for both medicinal and cooking purposes.

intaka-island-garden

At just R15 entrants (R9 for children and pensioners), the next time I need some retail therapy, I may just swap out that new top for a decidedly more pocket- and eco-friendly entrance ticket to Intaka Island. And when it comes to that time of year, a few hours spent picnicking at this haven of tranquility will no doubt help to calm the Christmas shopping rush.

intaka-island-photographer


Janine Avery

I am the first to confess that I have been bitten by the travel bug… badly. I am a lover of all things travel from basic tenting with creepy crawlies to lazing in luxury lodges; I will give it all a go. I am passionate about wildlife and conservation and come from a long line of biologists, researchers and botanists.

Africa Geographic