Free: See fashion prodigy Rich Mnisi’s bewitching furniture exhibition
A Safari Day Trip at Aquila Game Reserve
Aquila Game Reserve in the Southern Karoo offers a prime Big 5 safari experience only two hours from Cape Town
Only two hours away from Cape Town lies the Touws River area where the 10 000 hectare safari experience at Aquila Game Reserve awaits. The Big Five, a bush lodge, and buffet meal offerings are only but a few things on the itinerary of an encounter you will never forget. This four-star private game lodge is the only authentic Big Five game reserve in the Cape.
The Vibe: Among the sweet sounds of accents from foreigners from far and wide, gently whispering into your ears, as you check in with the friendly staff of Aquila Game Reserve. It’s a surreal experience, really, considering that what feels like just moments ago, we were caught up in the frenzied urban chaos of Cape Town’s CBD. The reserve is close enough to make it a convenient day trip destination for busy travellers, but far enough for you to lose yourself in an authentic African wildlife experience, as the anticipation of being up close and personal with some of the most majestic animals found in Africa tickles your fancy. Amongst the angst of a mass of emotions caused by what’s to come, a whirlwind of sensations overwhelm me as I enter the third storey Premier room I’ve been booked into at the Aquila Boutique Hotel. This recent addition has added forty-four rooms to the game reserve, giving extraordinary views to an added accommodation, which now also caters to families with a separate two-sleeper for kids or guests booking in larger groups. The Premier Lodge rooms overlook the entire reserve with views of the dams where the hippos are known to escape to at sunset and at the dusk of dawn. This room contains a balcony, an en-suite with a bath, shower and toilet, a fridge and kettle for the mid-night convenience of guests and a complimentary bottle of wine to enjoy when the sun has set, completely indulging in the calming tunes of crickets, splashing hippos or springboks having a refreshing sip from the dam.
The Offerings: With meal offerings from the locals of the area, Aquila Restaurant offers food that locals can expect at the Sunday lunch table. Each meal is a full buffet with offerings catering to all dietary requirements; from halaal to vegetarian, carnivores and everything in-between. In terms of entertainment, the experience of being up close and personal with the Big Five is definitely worth every bump in the gravel road. Witnessing the majesty of the King of the jungle and his lioness’ parading around the park, this definitely one for the bucket list! Well-informed, charismatic game rangers will educate you on the lives of these animals, their survival tactics, eating habits and so much more. This experience will leave you appreciating the Motherland that much more!
Aquila also offers the quad bike safari, and the horseback safari, as an alternative for those wanting more of a thrill, and after the bumpy safari ride, you may want to unwind and just take a minute (or sixty) to relax the muscles in your body. The Tranquila Spa is a private luxury experience, offering various treatments and facilities to truly let go of unwanted stress or jet lag.
Also, when booking treatments of R500 or more, guests get free access to the private heated pools, private pools outside, as well as complimentary refreshments upon entering. The spa offers individual treatments, couples treatments, saunas and steam rooms. If your plans are to book the Premier cottages, guests can enjoy free access to the spa, pools, shower, change rooms and relaxation space. During summer, Aquila’s pool bar with its stools in the pool is by far the most popular hotspot as guests can enjoy the summer sun, the cold water and some refreshing cocktails all at the same time.
What you wouldn’t expect: Aquila Game Reserve Spa also offers a group pamper room which can be booked for the private use of ladies parties, bachelorette parties, and team buildings. Here, guests can enjoy the private space of up to six groups at a time where champagne and down right pamper time will add to the luxurious experience of Aquila Game Reserve. Aquila doesn’t offer any televisions as the ambiance of the fresh Karoo is more than one bargains for. If guests would like down time to catch up on some ‘all style, no substance’ television, be sure to bring along your laptop, pop in that Wi-fi password and you’re good to stream for the evening.
Tip: If you will be visiting Aquila during the colder months, don’t expect the African sun to keep you warm and tan intact. Even though the game drives at 4pm and 7am caters to the weather by providing complimentary use of blankets, it will be best to dress accordingly, by taking a warm, thick jacket, along, as well as a scarf, and some nice and warm boots.
Note: Aquila Game Reserve has plans to extend the pool, as well as the seating within the pool, in the near future. Although much of the building has already been done, there are plans to build a bridge and ramp which connects the second and third floors of the Aquila Boutique Hotel to the restaurant, making it easier for guests to get from their rooms to the restaurant in the colder months, and catering to the physically challenged, making Aquila an all-inclusive space for all bodies.
Where to find Aquila Game Reserve: Take the N1 from Cape Town. You will pass Worcester and about 10km before Touws River turn left onto the R46 to Ceres. The entrance is 2km on the left. Aquila Private Game Reserve is situated along the Karoo Mountains in a unique Renosterveld and Mountain Fynbos landscape with the countryside a kaleidoscope of breathtaking colours in different ranges of orange, green, brown and gold. En route, there is also a high chance of spotting some of the Big Five - lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino.
The Bill: 11 January 2017 - 31 October 2017: Half-day Safari: R995 - R1 540 | Full day Safari: R1 830 - R3 320 | Aquila cottages (ranging from 2 sleepers to 8 sleepers): 1 May 2017 - 31 October 2017: R2 195 - R3 795 | Aquila Lodge 1 May 2017 - 31 October 2017: Standard lodge rooms: R1 895 | Premier lodge rooms R2 495 | Children aged between 0 - 3 years old stay at Aquila for free, ages 4 - 11 pays 50% of full rate and children of the age of 12 and older pay full price. Check out the Aquila website for more info.
By Marian Volkwyn
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Interesting in learning more about other safari adventures close to the Mother City? Have a glance through our breakdown of game reserves in the Western Cape. Watch a video of the newly born white rhino in South Africa.
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