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Tiger Canyons, Philippolis, Free State

Set up in 2000, and now home to around 17 tigers, Tiger Canyons near Philippolis in the Free State is a dedicated Sanctuary for tigers as well as a natural habitat Reserve. It is the only free-roaming Tiger Sanctuary in South Africa.

Tiger Canyons was set up by the world-renowned wildlife film-maker John Varty for the purpose of breeding – as opposed to being created for tourists, but you can visit and take a drive in a ‘caged’ vehicle to meet the majestic big cats.

Personalised vehicle safaris with John Varty are also offered. These can be one, two or three days in duration, and overnight accommodation can be arranged for you at a nearby establishment.

The tigers roam free and hunt for themselves, but the special relationship that they have with John Varty – Africa’s ‘Big Cat’ man, famous for his documentary film-making and work with Lions means that ‘close-encounters’ are a sure thing. An article in Country Life Magazine (September 2010) states that ‘All the vehicles at Tiger Canyons have caved-in bonnets’ from the tigers jumping up on them to say hello…and maybe have a quick ‘snooze’ as all cats do…

For more information on Tiger Canyons and John Varty’s aim to create a free, self-sustaining and protected tiger population outside of Asia (where they sadly now face almost certain extinction), and to book a unique Tiger Safari.

Getting there: Take the N1 south from Bloemfontein toward Colesburg, turning off on at Exit 75 for Tromsburg/Philippolis/Smithfield. This will take you on to the R704. At Trompsburg turn on to the R717 for Philippolis. Follow the R717 to Philippolis, then turn offto the right on to Rowelfonstein St. Turn left after 1km, then take the 2nd turn off.Travel for just under 20km along this road, then turn left and a slight turn left again after 0.5 km. The entrance to Tiger Canyons is 3.5 kms down this road on the left.

More info on the quaint town of Philippolis More info on the Xhariep Region area



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