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AQUILA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE

This awesome BIG FIVE safari experience is only a short hop, skip and Springbok jump away from the Mother City. Less than a two hour drive to be exact. This makes it a perfect spot for travellers wanting to get up close (but not TOO close) to South Africa’s breathtaking wildlife.

We were kindly invited by Aquila to stay at the game reserve last month and we are extremely excited to share our safari experience with you.

First impressions
On arrival we were warmly welcomed with a glass of bubbly and after a speedy check in we were directed to the restaurant for lunch. Once we had filled our tummies (more on this to come) we had some free time which allowed us to explore the grounds.

It didn’t take long before we bumped into a few peacocks who seemed to be happily roaming, showing off their striking gold and blue feathers.

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It seems they favour the pool area and we don’t blame them! The pool strategically overlooks the reserve and is GIGANTIC! As it can get quite chilly in June we didn’t actually go in but we’re sure it would be th​o​roughly enjoyed by those travelling in the warmer months.

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The accommodation
With luxury family and private chalet options, there’s an ideal accommodation for just about any party. We stayed in one of Aquila’s premier cottages and it certainly exceeded our expectations. Each of the cottages have their own private balcony with a glorious view overlooking the reserve. Built around rocks, the room itself has been designed to suit its natural environment perfectly – from the animal print bed throws to the outdoor shower. The room has all the necessities you would expect including full air-conditioning and a homely fireplace complete with wood, fire lighters and matches. They even go the extra mile by providing bug repellent sprays and creams in the bedside cupboard as well as a hair dryer.

And look what else we found waiting for us….

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The restaurant and food
The restaurant boasts a lovely safari vibe appropriate for its setting. All meals are buffet and include a wide variety of African and international foods. The lunch spread consisted of everything from oxtails and chicken to a full table of mouth watering sides and desserts. The dinner was equally appetising, including tender lamb chops and beef steak served alongside traditional accompaniments, such as steamed vegetables, potatoes and pap (a South African favourite)

The highlight for us was the breakfast which consisted of just about everything you can think of!

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Safari Vehicle
The safari vehicle is just as you would expect it to be (very Ace Venturer) and you can feel every bump along the way – which is all part of the safari experience. The vehicle can seat around 12 people, perfect for you sociable types. Blankets are available for those cooler winter months and we recommend you are prepared and take the followings your drive all year round;

– sunscreen
– sunglasses
– hat
– an extra layer (it can get very chilly)
– drinks for the drive

Afternoon Safari
Once we were all on the vehicle and comfortable it was time for the safari to begin! Within minutes we had our first sighting of two elephants and an ostrich. As we quietly watched these magnificent animals, the two elephants romantically entwined their trunks…..

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Our next stop was the dam. Here we saw the hippos who put on quite the show for us, with their constant humongous yawns. Whenever we came to a stop the guide would provide information about the animals. We then went on to see zebra, springbok, black wildebeest and rhinos!

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After 2 hours we took a break on a peak which overlooked the reserve and our ranger set up a little table with light refreshments and snacks. Afterwards we continued on our safari and ended with the lion enclosure. The lions are housed in a big enclosure where they can roam freely and safely. They can hunt some smaller animals like dassies but they are mostly fed and probably often as they are massive! It is an impressive sight to see the king of the jungle and to be so close. Despite the lions looking all fuzzy and cuddly, their predator instincts are sharp – so keep all body parts inside the vehicle!

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Morning safari
Across the road Aquila have a small rehabilitation centre with cheetahs, more lion and even a leopard. The ranger gives you some background to the animals and where they have been rescued from. Aquila gives these rescued animals a secure home and they even have a cheetah breeding program.

Overall experience
While Aquila Game Reserve is more tourist-orientated than other safaris in South Africa, you can easily make a day trip there from Cape Town. This is a massive benefit as travelling to other reserves can take quite some time. In our opinion it would be criminal to travel all the way to South Africa and not experience a safari and Aquila delivers!

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