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Best Cape Town Safari Adventures and Game Drives
Discover South Africa’s big five or explore its flora and fauna reserves through a selection of wildlife tours
Cape Town has been voted the tourist destination of the world a number of times. Among the array of excellent reasons for this is the variety of breath-taking, malaria-free safaris conveniently positioned within close reach of the Mother City. For a deeper understanding of this incredible city, tour South Africa’s big five or discover the raw history of Cape Town with an expedition through Bushman ‘caves’ and scenic rock art sites. There are also a number of fynbos tours on offer, the heathland vegetation of the Western Cape. So take a walk on the wild side with this assorted range of Cape Town safari hideouts. No matter who you are, there’s something for you!
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
If you’re looking for a luxury escape at a five-star game reserve, then Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is the place for you. Home to one of Cape Town’s most upmarket safari experiences, this private wilderness area is situated just three hours outside of the city centre in the Klein Karoo. It has three extravagant game lodges, including one to tempt the honeymooners and another that caters specifically to families. The game reserve also has a kiddie program, offering a choice of kids’ activities and entertainment. Sanbona gives visitors the chance to see South Africa’s big five as well as other wildlife, including giraffes, the highly endangered riverine rabbit and the rare white lion. Sanbona runs a rehabilitation program in order to reintroduce this beautiful endangered cat back into the wild.
R62 | Between Montagu & Barrydale | +27 (0) 41 509 3000
Botlierskop Private Game Reserve & Safari Park
Perfect for those on their way up or down the Garden Route, the 3000-hectare Botlierskop Private Game Reserve also offers visitors a luxury safari tour not too far from Cape Town (it’s a four-hour drive from the Mother City). Animal enthusiasts can revel in elegantly decorated tented accommodation or group-friendly (but no less opulent) manor house suites, dine in style at the Fireplace Restaurant or indulge in some pampering at the newly created bush spa. Botlierskop also has a choice of activities for the whole family to enjoy, including game viewings (it hosts four of the big five), horseback safaris and elephant back rides. Though, the catwalk, which treats guests to a supervised amble with African lions in their natural habitat, stands apart as the most thrilling feature of this game park.
Gonnakraal Road | Little Brak River | +27 (0) 44 696 6055
Aquila Game Reserve
This Big Five Cape Town safari experience is less than two hours away from the Mother City in the Klein Karoo, so no need to prepare for a long trek. Plus, as the 10 000-hectare game reserve offers both overnight and day tour options, it’s possible to participate in an intimate wildlife safari up close and personal with the king of the jungle, the lion, as well as the majestic full-grown elephant, the rhino, springboks and so much more, while being able to be back in Cape Town by nightfall. Aquila offers a range of safaris, from horseback rides and game drives to quad bike adventures and plane trips, and the four-star game park offers private luxury chalets for lone travellers, couples, families and groups at a reasonable price.
R46 | Ceres | +27 (0) 21 430 7260
Kagga Kamma Private Game Reserve
The scenic beauty and dramatic rock formations of the Southern Cederberg mountains gives this four-star private game reserve an indigenous feel. Though not ideal for those dead set on viewing the big five, this tranquil lodge is a prime place to take in astounding geology, abundant plant life, breath-taking starry skies and 6000-year-old San art. It also offers up some stunning views of the Ceres Karoo. Lounge in the air-conditioned Bushman Lodge or enjoy a slumber under the stars at an outcrop open-air room, both at great value. Take the family on a tour of ancient Bushman living sites and rock paintings or spy on the Burchell’s zebra and the countless antelope species. Be sure to check out the bird life too. The Kagga Kamma Private Game Reserve is only three hours outside of Cape Town.
Between R303 & R355 | Cederberg mountains | +21 (0) 21 872 4343
Inverdoorn Game Reserve
Home to one of the most celebrated cheetah rescue and rehabilitation sanctuaries globally as well as over 1200 wild animals including Africa’s big five, this 10,000-hectare game park is full of safari adventure. The most exciting offer is, obviously, the cheetah interaction, which gives visitors an up-close encounter with of one or two of Inverdoorn’s tame cats. Aside from this unique one-on-one experience though, the reserve also offers guided walks with giraffes and game drives. And because it’s located in the Klein Karoo just over two hours from Cape Town, wildlife-lovers can either take a day trip to Inverdoorn (transfers to or from Cape Town can be provided) or can opt to stay overnight in the Ibiza Safari Lodge, which has accommodation options to suit a range of budgets.
R356 | Sutherland Road | Ceres | +27 (0) 21 434 4639
Buffelsfontein Game and Nature Reserve
For those looking for a Cape Town safari that won’t break the bank, Buffelsfontein is a great fit. Less than an hour’s drive from the city centre, the transformed cattle farm is the ideal place for a day excursion to view three of Africa’s big five (the lion, the rhino and the buffalo) as well as cheetah, giraffe, zebra, and blue wildebeest. For those who’d rather stay the night, the charming cottages are perfectly placed right next to the watering holes, where the animals come to quench their thirst, giving visitors a lovely view from their clean, comfortable room.
R27 West Coast Road | Darling | +27 (0)22 451 2824
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
You’ve seen the rhinos, leopards, elephants, buffalo and the lions, now check out the marine big five (Cape fur seals, great white sharks, southern right whales, endangered African penguins, and bottlenose dolphins) at this award-winning five-star safari park. Located in the Hermanus area a mere two-hour drive from Cape Town, it is one of the only nature reserves in the world positioned on the seaside. Guided adventures, from whale watching and shark cage diving to horse riding and 4x4 flower safaris, make a stay at this uber luxurious lodge truly unique. And with its commitment to responsible tourism and its devotion to providing visitors with an exotic and one-of-a-kind experience amidst stunning scenery, a holiday at Grootbos is as perfect for honeymooners as it is for families.
R43 | Between Stanford & Gansbaai | +27 (0) 28 384 8008
Tip: If you are on vacation in South Africa, consider going for URCard, a safe prepaid debit card for travellers that can be used to book some of the above safari adventures and may even entitle you to big discounts on a few of them. Plus, the card will help you manage other day-to-day finances while on holiday here.
By Erin Hendricks
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