Setting off for Dullstroom at 10:30am, I navigated for 233km enjoying beautiful landscapes and roadside farm animals along the way. We arrived just after 12:30pm and immediately headed into town to find some lunch! We eventually settled at The Rose Cottage only to be informed that the power had just gone out. Luckily there were only three meals on the menu they wouldn’t be able to cook thankfully my choice of the chicken burger with onion marmalade and aioli was not one of them. Delicious food accommodated by a beautiful surrounding of blooming roses and people enjoying their days out.
After lunch we wandered into Polly Potters Toy Store in search of their lovely selection of chocolates, truffles and nougats. Stocking up on far too many and predicting a sugar infused pig out on the journey home we headed back up the road in search of our car, stopping in on a few shops and having a quick browse whilst keeping an eye on the clock along the way. We were planning to be at the Dullstroom Bird of Prey Centre at 2:30pm for their flying display. Heading back out of town and about a kilometre down the road, we turned left and then took a right, arriving in the centre’s car park a little before 2:30pm. We paid our entrance and followed the signs towards the show area, we were greeted along the way by the amazing cry from their rather famous Fish Eagle, Bono, who you may recognise from the “Flight of the Fish Eagle Brandy” adverts on television. We passed two very friendly goats and a worker who was clearing reeds out of the water with what looked like the end of a flat rake attached to a piece of rope. We finally found the display area and took our seats realising that we were the only people there. Contemplating whether to leave or not we were suddenly greeted from behind by a very happy, friendly lady named Magdali and a young man with fantastic tattoos called Adian. These two put on a wonderful and informative display with an African Hawk Eagle, Barn Owl and a Tawny Eagle. It’s absolutely amazing to see them up close and to see their different personalities. The bonds they form with their handlers is unbelievably incredible! Magdali told us that Mark Holder, the handler who flew the Bono the Fish Eagle had passed away a year before and nobody else could fly him because of the bond that had been formed between them.
We loved chatting to the handlers and learning about the birds and the way of life at the centre. Being the only people there was really great too, it felt more personal and one on one. At first we were a bit worried about putting them out as they’d be doing a display for only two people but as they state on their website “Here at the centre, when we fly birds, it is done for fitness and rehabilitation purposes. This is necessary work to get birds ready for release back into the wild. Some birds cannot be released but still need to be flown to keep in shape and optimal health. The flight displays are therefore not viewed as “entertainment” but rather as necessary for the welfare of the birds. At the same time it is a great opportunity to educate the public as to the plight of raptors.” so thankfully we didn’t feel unwanted!
The centre is a definite must if you’re venturing through Dullstroom! Take a a few hours out of your trip and stop in at this wonderful haven where you’ll find the Peregrine Falcon, the fasted bird on earth as well as an array of gorgeous eagles, falcons and owls! You can also enjoy a spot of fishing if that’s what takes your fancy!
Opening Times: 9am – 4pm everyday except Tuesdays
Entrance Fee: Adults (R50), Children Under 16 (R15) and under 3’s (Free)
Flying Display Times: 10am and 2:30pm (weather dependant)
Where to Find the Dullstroom Bird of Prey