The Aquila Private Game Reserve, located in the Southern Karoo Highlands outside Cape Town, offers a Big Five African safari experience in a malaria-free region. Tours and game drives of the private reserve allow visitors to see wildlife in their natural environment from the vantage point of a 4WD off-road vehicle, horseback, or quad bike.
A visit to the Aquila Private Game Reserve yields views and photo ops of elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, and buffalo, as well as the chance to spot some of South Africa's unique birds such as the sacred ibis, black eagle, and buzzard. The reserve also runs an Animal Rescue Center (ARC) that helps rehabilitate animals or give them a permanent home if they are too injured or sick to be released into the wild.
Half-day tours, full-day tours, and overnight packages are available. Most packages include a safari tour (or multiple, if you are staying longer), buffet lunch, buffet breakfast, welcome drinks, and transfers from central Cape Town. Private tours of Aquila are also available; some include private transfers to the nature reserve from Cape Town city.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The reserve has a children's entertainment area, suitable for toddlers to preteens, with indoor and outdoor activities; it is open daily.
- Those staying overnight must bring proof of identification.
- Children of all ages may participate in game drives; quad bike and horseback safaris have a minimum age of 16.
- All game drives are guided by rangers; there is no self-drive option within the reserve.
How to Get There
There are a variety of ways to get to Aquila, which is about a 2-hour drive from Cape Town. If you are driving, take the N1 highway out of Cape Town towards Worcester and through the Cape Winelands, then take the R46 turnoff to Ceres; the Aquila entrance is about 1 mile (3 kilometers) farther on the left. You can also add transportation to any game drive package, or arrive via scenic plane or helicopter.
When to Get There
Cape Town and the surrounds have a warm, dry climate from October to April. The weather is a bit cooler in the Southern Karoo Highlands than in the city itself, so pack accordingly. The animals are most active in the early morning and after dusk; booking a morning or evening safari offers the best chance of seeing maximum wildlife.
Aquila’s conservation efforts are focused within the Aquila Rescue Center (ARC), a piece of land located across from the reserve that provides a home to rescued, abused, and/or captivity-bred animals that can never be released into the wild. The population includes lions, leopards, and crocodiles, among others.