“ Address: Cape Town / South Africa / Tel: +27 0 21 431 8400 „
During our recent holiday to South Africa, we spent a very enjoyable day at the Aquila Private Game Reserve. This is not the same experience that you would get by going on a big game safari but it is the next best thing especially if you have young children who might be restricted by their age on others. Also, if you are basing yourself in the Cape Town area, it is the nearest place to visit particularly if you don't want to travel huge distances. Also if you are staying in Cape Town you can be picked up directly from your accommodation and be driven to Aquila. Unfortunately, as we were staying in a different area, we could not take advantage of this.
Aquila offers a variety of safaris, including horseback and quad bike safaris, and also a variety of accommodation. However, we went on a day trip safari which lasts about two to three hours and includes lunch, so that is what I am going to be basing this review on. This can either take place in a morning or an afternoon, although I believe that the morning safari is better for seeing the animals at their best. However, we went for an afternoon trip (due to the distance we had to travel to get there) and we still saw all the animals we expected although the lions were very sleepy!
Everyone is taken out in 4 x 4 safari vehicles with a ranger guide. Our ranger was very friendly and always very knowledgeable. Halfway through the trip, he stopped under some shady trees and provided some very welcome refreshments that we were not expecting. What a lovely surprise! The reserve covers quite a large area and as you are driven around you can expect to be driven quite close to elephants, rhinoceroses, hippos, giraffes, springbok, lions, ostriches, water buffalo, and a host of bird life. As the large area is enclosed there is a certain predictability about what you will see so you do not experience the thrill of the chase, but it is fabulous for children to experience these wild animals close up! It is also great if you want to take some good photographs of all these animals.
The morning trip starts with a breakfast at sunrise, but the afternoon trip starts with a buffet lunch which is included in the price. This was self service but included a whole host of hot and cold items, as well as desserts, and you could pretty much eat as much as you wanted. The only thing that you had to pay for was the drinks. There is also a swimming pool that guests can use when they are not on their safaris and also a small gift shop. All the staff that we met were very helpful and friendly even though the place was pretty busy.
The cost of the different safaris vary greatly but the day trip that I have described, and that includes lunch, costs 1220 SA rand which is roughly about £100 (May 2010)if you drive yourself. I think that there were reductions for children that were about 50%. This does seem quite expensive for a few hours but it does mean that you do get to see the Big Five game animals that South Africa is known for. We took the attitude that as we were on a special trip, it would be mad to come home without having seen the wildlife, so we happily paid the money and had a great day.
Aquila is also very aware of its social responsibility and provides much employment for many locals. It is also working very hard on conservation.
Overall, I think that Aquila is a good place to visit if you are staying in South Africa, especially if you have small children who are desperate to see the animals but are not old enough to go on a bigger safari. IT's fun and informative and there is guaranteed wildlife!