Many British mums are lured to visit Cape Town for it’s spectacular scenery and beaches, formidable cuisine and wine tasting, warm hospitality and the ever-favourable exchange rate of the South African Rand to the British Pound.
Cape Town offers holiday makers a huge range of sights to see and activities to explore that can be surprisingly cost effective for families visiting. Much of it centres around the region’s abundance of flora, marine and wild life that makes it a top choice for those wanting to reconnect with nature.
Visitors will delight at seeing penguins in their natural habitat at Boulders Beach as well as whales breaching along the coastline of Hermanus in season and there are many wildlife centres and sanctuaries that offer the opportunity for little ones to get up close with everything from crocodiles to ostriches, monkeys to cheetahs and many more animals in between.
High on the agenda of many-a-holiday maker to South Africa is the desire to go on safari – and in particular a chance to spot Africa’s elusive ‘Big 5’. Whilst most tourists head to popular areas such as Kruger National Park, there aren’t too many options in close proximity to Cape Town that offer Big 5 game viewing. However, Aquila Private Game Reserve offers exactly that – and unusually you don’t even have to stay overnight to experience The Big 5.
Just 1 hour 45 minutes drive away from Cape Town, Aquila offers overnight and day trip experiences for those keen to spot Leopard, Lion, Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino – and they’ve got them all (and a host of other wildlife) all there on their very own 10,000 hectare reserve.
Nestled in the mountains, Aquila Private Game Reserve offers 88 4-Star rooms that can accommodate 186 guests at any one time – plus those wanting to visit for the day too. Whilst this is not an exclusive safari experience and has a very busy feel, it ticks the box for those wanting to spot Leopard, Lion, Rhino, Buffalo and Aquila’s two Bull Elephants who are often playfully lingering close to the lodge.
Aquila’s accommodation is offered across 88 rooms that include the main lodge (that has some rooms with views over the Reserve and some without), family cottages with private outdoor showers and luxury cottages that are individual rondavels within the Reserve.
Family accommodation within the main lodge is spacious and sleeps 2 adults and 2 children in clean, comfortable room equipped with a bath, shower and tea and coffee facilities with up to 2 children under 12 sharing a sleeper couch in the same room. Service is pretty good with over 400 staff at Aquila spanning the Game Lodge as well as an eco centre that offers guests the opportunity to learn more about sustainable farming methods that help support the local communities.
One of the 16 rangers there will be specially appointed to your family to take guests out for their choice of horse back, quad or traditional game viewing that are usually taken in 30-seater open safari style trucks with a canopied roof.
The game drives timings vary depending on whether you’re staying at the Reserve or you’re day tripping. Game drives are typically two to two and a half hours long (depending on what game you sight) and each time you’ll have a short break in the Reserve go have a typical South African snack and refreshment.
Rangers are knowledgeable and will tell you all sorts of fascinating facts along the way whilst you take in the plentiful sightings of wildebeest, zebra, giraffes and hippos in the watering holes. Children are invited to attend the game drive as long as they are age 6 and above.
Day trippers can select mid-morning or mid-afternoon game drives and although you may not spot the nocturnal leopard, the chances are extremely high to spot their elephants and big cats.
The overnight packages start at around R2,390 per adult per night with children under 12 at around half price. Don’t expect fancy kids menus or a la cart dining here as the buffet features typical Karoo specialities such as Hake in lemon butter sauce, sweet potatoes, curried beans, aubergine vegetables and roast potatoes. Breakfast and lunch are buffet too and all prices exclude drinks.
If you’ve got spare time after all the animal action, Aquila has its own spa as well as a 35 meter salt water swimming pool, that’s let’s just say “refreshing!” Aquila Private Game Reserve takes just 1 hour 45 minutes drive from Cape Town International Airport and for more info you can check out www.aquilasafaris.com
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