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