Aquila Private Game Reserve

3 nights from £ 493 per person
Example price for the next 21 days. Based on 2 adults including Full-board as part of a multi centre holiday (no flights or transfers included).

Cape Town Safaris, West Coast

 

The closest Big Five safari to Cape Town? Right here! Just a two-hour drive northwest of the city, malaria-free Aquila might offer more a resort-like vibe than bigger, peaceful reserves further afield, but it sure does deliver on animal sightings, affordability, family fun and convenience. You can either stay overnight, enjoying two game drives a day, or enjoy lunch and one drive on day-trips from Cape Town.

Accommodation
Guests can either stay inside the main, three-storey, 44-room Aquila Lodge or attain more quietude courtesy of an Aquila Cottage. Whichever you choose, you won’t find a TV – but there is free wi-fi should you want to watch a movie or catch some sport.

In the main lodge, Standard Lodge Rooms promise sharp, contemporary style – faux-brick bathrooms; pine-frame beds – and air-conditioning. Significantly bigger, Premier Lodge Rooms add in sofa areas, balconies and bathtubs.

Better for couples, thatched Luxury Cottages are positioned a distance away, and feature patios, baths, outdoor showers and stoves for chilly nights, plus attractive, earthy interiors. Higher up are still-more-spacious Premier Luxury Cottages, raised on stilts, and their decks and huge bathrooms. One of these also has an outdoor hot tub, and doubles as the lone Honeymoon Suite.

Highlights
Meals are banquet affairs in a big hall – you’ll get to eat lots of local-style fodder, but don’t expect gourmet cuisine. Traditional singers and dancers add some pizzazz to the dinner service. There are also two bars: one serving cocktails by the main outdoor pool, and the other accompanying a cigar room. Alcohol isn’t included in the board. Nor – unless you stay longer than two nights, spend R500 (about £30) on treatments or book a Premier Luxury Cottage – is free access to the Tranquila Spa and its myriad facilities. At night, powerful telescopes are laid out in a fire pit for stargazers, and complimentary marshmallows melted.

Safari
Aquila isn’t a huge reserve, so safaris – undertaken at 7am and 4pm amid a series of mini-trucks – won’t deliver seclusion. But there’s an upside to this relatively bijou size: it means that animals are more easily encountered. All the Big Five have been reintroduced, although with less than ten leopards, sightings of these cats remain rare. Those other Big Five members (lion, rhino, elephant, buffalo) are likely spots, however, as are unusual white rhino, giraffe, hippo, zebra and 170 bird species amid the river, gorges, peaks and – in spring – fynbos blooms. Horseback and thrilling quad-bike safaris are also offered.

Child Policy
Aquila is excellent for families. Its indoor and outdoor children’s play area includes a mini-golf course, sandpit and wooden playground, plus daily activities like face-painting and a Junior Ranger programme full of creepy-crawlies and messy fun. There are special Family Lodge Rooms and Luxury Cottages.

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