Yes, we do have accommodation. Boasting spectacular views, Tigress Julie Lodge is perched on the edge of a canyon, setting the scene for a restorative break from the world. The lodge immerses guests in the tranquillity and warm, down to earth hospitality of the Karoo and Free State. A reflection of our partnership with nature, our lodge is solar-powered and environmentally friendly.
Visit our accommodation page to book now.
Yes, Tiger Canyon can be booked for exclusive use and is ideal for a family or small group of friends who want to enjoy the ultimate private and exclusive safari experience.
No, unfortunately not. There are some aspects of the lodge (and vehicles) that are not safe for young children. We regretfully only allow children from the age of 10yrs old and up.
Tiger Canyon offers a good balance between fine dining and homestyle cooking, and we are able to cater to all our guests’ culinary needs. Apart from our meals we also offer the chance to eat out in the bush at our designated “bush picnic” spots either overlooking the impressive and beautiful Vanderkloof dam or the incredible landscape that Tiger Canyon has to offer.
Fortunately, Tiger Canyon falls well outside of South Africa’s malaria areas, therefore there is no need for concern.
Day visitors do get an opportunity to visit Tiger Canyon every now and again on special occasions and when the lodge is closed.
For further information, please contact our reservation team on [email protected]
By air- Fly commercially to Bloemfontein airport and get a 2.5hr road transfer to the reserve, OR fly a chartered flight to Gariep Dam tar airstrip and get a 1hr road transfer to the reserve.
By road- Hire a car to self-drive to the reserve (cheapest option) or ask us to organise a road transfer to the lodge from Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg or Cape Town.
Apart from our game drives we do have a whole host of optional activities to participate in: we have a guided hike through the canyon focusing on the natural beauty of the area as well as fantastic birdwatching, stargazing, bush picnics where you can reconnect with nature while you enjoy a meal, night drives to search for some of our rarely seen nocturnal animals, and sightseeing trips to the historic town of Philippolis.
Fortunately, we enjoy good weather all year around. Winter evenings and early mornings (June, July, August) can be a bit on the cold side but the days are pleasantly warm. To cater for weather extremes our game drive vehicles are enclosed and blankets are provided to enhance your comfort. We find the best time to visit Tiger Canyon is autumn and spring (March, April & May, and September, October & November) when temperatures are moderate.
Due to severe habitat loss, the Asian tiger is currently in a much more precarious position than any of our African Big Cats. Over the last 100 years, tigers have lost an estimated 95% of their historical range. Their wilderness has been destroyed, degraded, and fragmented by human activity. For this reason, the tiger is in dire need of help to survive the human overpopulation explosion. What the Tiger Canyon project has proven over the past 20 years is that captive-bred tigers can be rewilded. We have also seen that tigers adapt to foreign habitats with ease and are able to cope with African parasites, diseases, and prey species for food. In turn, tigers do not pose any threat to local biodiversity.
Tiger Canyon is a fully-fledged African game reserve located on the edge of South Africa’s Great Karoo. Therefore, we have a wide variety of wild animals that call the property home. Along with the tigers, our cheetah are certainly the jewel in the crown of Tiger Canyon. However, you might be surprised to find that seeing some of the smaller, rare species can be equally exciting! If you are lucky, you could spot the African wild cat, the black footed cat, leguaan, water mongoose, porcupine or snakes such as the Puff Adder and Cape cobra. Our night-prowlers include the aardvark, aardwolf, serval, bat-eared fox, cape fox, springhare and a variety of small rodent species. Tiger Canyon also offers a whole host of antelope species such as eland, kudu, waterbuck, blesbuck, blue wildebeest, plains zebra, impala, springbuck, mountain reedbuck, steenbuck and red hartebeest.
We have fantastic birding here! With no less than 19 endemic bird species Tiger Canyon should be on every birder bucket list. We are also fortunate to have a number of special birds that breed here on the reserve such as Secretary birds, Verreaux’s eagles, blue korhaans and South Africa’s national bird, the blue crane. Flamingos, osprey, booted eagles and rock kestrels also make up part of the list of must-see bird species found on the reserve.
No, we don’t keep any animals in cages. We are located on a 6,100-hectare property in the Free State province where our tigers, cheetahs and all other species roam, hunt and graze freely. In fact, we are home to the only wild population of tigers outside of Asia and the only wild free-roaming white tigers in the world.
Our goal is to support the global effort to save the endangered Asian tiger alongside the endangered African cheetah. Just as, in the 1960s, renowned conservationist Dr. Ian Player had the foresight to move rhino around the world to ensure their survival, so we believe that an ex-situ population of rewilded tigers in Africa can play an important role in saving this iconic animal from extinction. We are home to third and fourth generation wild-born, wild-raised tigers who are self-sustaining and completely capable of being returned to the wild.
The main differences lie in the fact that our tiger conservation is ex-situ (outside of Asia) and that we specialise in the rewilding of big cats. This means we believe it is prudent to help save the Asian tiger in Africa because our knowledge, passion and confidence in managing wild big cats is unsurpassed anywhere else in the world. The number of wild tigers in the world is extremely low, much lower than wild cheetah, pumas, jaguars, lions and leopards. Because of this dire situation, we feel there’s a need to add to the in-situ conservation efforts that are taking place with ex-situ options. Tiger Canyon is an example of a next generation private game reserve, one where endangered wild animals are protected wherever possible and regardless of where their normal home range is located.
The only hope for certain subspecies of tiger to ever live wild and free again, as they should, is to rewild them from captive-born stock.
Rewilding of big cats is a relatively new concept. Tiger Canyon leads the way in rewilding tigers and cheetah. Currently, there are more tigers in captivity (an estimated 5000) than there are in the wild (fewer than 4000). Once a species reaches a critically endangered level (as defined by the IUCN), the only hope for it to ever live wild (free roaming) and free again in a genetically viable fashion is via a rewilding process where captive animals go through a rewilding program.
All Tiger Canyon big cats are descendants of rewilded animals, who are now living normal free roaming lives, unrestricted by the confines of captivity.
Over the past 20 years, Tiger Canyon has gained experience and confidence in, while building empirical knowledge of, the process of rewilding populations of critically-endangered subspecies of tiger.
Literally meaning “off-site conservation”, it is the process of protecting an endangered species outside its natural habitat. The plight of the Asian tiger has reached a point where, in order to save this apex predator from extinction, ex-situ conservation is crucial. Other examples of this type of conservation include Dr Ian Player’s remarkable project to bring white rhinos back from the brink of extinction in the 1960s by creating ex-situ populations of this species across the continent and the globe; and the Chimfunshi Chimp Orphanage in Zambia, which provides a safe home for over 145 Chimpanzee even though they don’t occur here naturally.
The founder cheetahs at Tiger Canyon were captive-born, and the founder males were hand raised, then rewilded. They have never forgotten the bond created when they were young and dependent on us, and as a result, have never shown concern or aggression towards humans. In turn, we respect their boundaries by not moving into their personal comfort zones. If they choose to move closer to us, it is their own free will. Touching of the cheetahs is not permitted.
No. Despite being habituated to humans, our cheetahs are wild animals and our goal is to keep them that way. In terms of our tigers, we do not allow any guest interaction beyond admiring them from within the safety of our enclosed safari vehicles.
No, we strongly condemn and distance ourselves entirely from hunting of any kind. All the animals at Tiger Canyon live full wild and free lives where natural occurrences are the determining factors of their lives.
Good question! Tiger Canyon forms part of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s (EWT) cheetah metapopulation project, which aims to ensure much-needed genetic diversification of cheetah populations across Africa. By relocating cheetahs between respected reserves and sanctuaries, the goal of the project is to mitigate inbreeding and strengthen the gene pool of the African cheetah.
Read more about our cheetah.
As far as Tiger Canyon is aware there is no tiger metapopulation breeding programme.
Tiger Canyon is working on introducing the cheetah metapopulation concept to international tiger conservation, as the diversification of wild tiger genetics is crucial to the survival of this iconic species. Every year while we manage our tiger and cheetah genetics and population sizes, our knowledge of big cat behaviour, care, management and relocation techniques grows; a valuable source of information for future conservation projects. We see ourselves as a very important part of conservation for any big cat endangered species.
In 2013 the Drew family bought three domestic stock farms to increase the size of Tiger Canyon reserve four-fold. The land was specifically rewilded to restore the original natural ecosystems and create a unique wildlife reserve, dedicated to providing suitable habitat for endangered big cats.
We have seen a return of many endemic plant, bird and animal species.
Biodiversity is, of course, something that Sir David Attenborough has been advocating for years. Rewilding agricultural farming land restores its biodiversity which underpins the processes that support all life on Earth, including humans. Without a wide range of animals, plants and microorganisms, we cannot have the healthy ecosystems that we rely on to provide us with the air we breathe and the food we eat.