Aquila private game reserve safari, Western Cape Point

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One of the few things we booked before our trip to Cape Town was an overnight stay at Aquila private game reserve. Whilst a trip to Kruger was our preferred option we decided the travel time was a bit too much on top of our time in Dubai. So we figured Aquila, which is two hours from Cape Town would be a good compromise and act as an introduction to the idea of a safari holiday.

Lunch and chill at the stunning Aquila grounds

We were picked up at 8.45am and arrived at 11.30am for welcome drinks. A silver goblet of Prosecco.

Welcome drinks on arrival at Aquila

Welcome drinks on arrival at Aquila

The grounds are idyllic. We went for lunch at 12. Sat on a terrace beside a large and inviting swimming pool and overlooking the game reserve. As we were eating we spotted two elephants plodding along which was a magical start. What a way to chill and enjoy our buffet food and Coronas! Spectacular.

Lunch alongside the swimming pool with two elephants plodding along in the background

Lunch alongside the swimming pool with two elephants plodding along in the background

We had a a few hours till our first safari so chilled out sunbathing by the pool, getting excited every time an elephant of giraffe walked past in the distance. It was a scorching day so a few dips in the freezing pool were welcome respite from the baking sun. Sitting at the pool bar with a glass of wine for Laura and beer for me was heaven.

We checked into our room at 2ish. There were some amazing looking wooden lodges and chalets but we had booked into the cheapest and most basic room in a three storey building. The room was modern, clean and simple. We had no view, but knew that when booking. We don’t go on holiday to sit in our room!

Our standard lodge room at Aquila

Our standard lodge room at Aquila

The bathroom in our standard lodge room at Aquila

The bathroom in our standard lodge room at Aquila

We basked in the sun for a couple more hours before going for our first game drive at 4pm.

Afternoon safari

We loaded onto the lorry, got a safety briefing and made our way along the bumpy and rugged roads of the 10,000 hectares bush landscape.

Our first stop didn’t take long as we came across two big African elephants called Manu and Mafu. They are 24 and 26 years old and weigh over 6 tonnes. It is pretty spectacular being so close to these impressive animals. They were soon joined by a load of ostriches looking for attention and some beautiful Eland antelope. We took it all in for a while as the young ranger gave us facts about elephants, eland and ostriches.

The elephants went in two by two

The elephants went in two by two

Next we saw some Hamsbok and blue wilderbeast chillaxing in the sun. The wilderbeast can smell water from 200km away!!

Springbok were next which are tiny little antelope that look a bit like deer. From the sounds of the ranger the Springbok is a farting machine and lets rip every time it gets up. No wonder the tiny little blighters can jump 2m high!

They were joined by about sixty donkeys in pyjamas, or as they are more commonly known Zebras. These were beautiful and striking animals. They also all seemed coy. Although one was definitely not coy as he was showing off his big Z for all to see.

Zebra spotted enjoying their lunch during our safari at Aquila. And one ostrich that thinks it’s a zebra.

Zebra spotted enjoying their lunch during our safari at Aquila. And one ostrich that thinks it’s a zebra.

Two large White Rhino’s along with a three year old and a new born baby rhino. We were privileged as the baby suckling on big mamma rhino was only 5 days old! There were a few more rhino in the distance and a small herd of Black antelope close by. The rhinoceros look like something from Jurassic Park close up and you wouldn’t want to upset one of these beasts!

The rhino’s have a bit of a prehistoric look to them. I wouldn’t want to meet one of these guys down a dark alley!!

The rhino’s have a bit of a prehistoric look to them. I wouldn’t want to meet one of these guys down a dark alley!!

The ranger didn’t want to get too close to the baby rhino so as not to upset the big mamma. Seems a sensible decision to me.

The ranger didn’t want to get too close to the baby rhino so as not to upset the big mamma. Seems a sensible decision to me.

A couple more rhinos and zebras and a ‘loser’ black antelope. The poor bugger had been kicked out of the herd for challenging the dominant male.

'Wonely, I'm so Wonely...'

‘Wonely, I’m so Wonely…’

Next we entered the lions den. An area separated off to keep the kings of the jungle away from the other animals. We got up close and personal with a couple of sleepy lions. In total we came across two lions and five lionesses. They are majestic and magnificent creatures and it is awe inspiring being so close to them. They also remind us a lot of our little cat Hacksaw in their mannerisms.

Pride of lions lazing around during our safari

Pride of lions lazing around during our safari

This big fella was not overly impressed with our motor disrupting his nap

This big fella was not overly impressed with our motor disrupting his nap

We then came across two giraffes, the ‘models of the bush.’ They were strutting around like they were on a catwalk in Milan. We were excited to see the 3m tall giraffes as Laura has called me giraffe pretty much since we got together.

One of the three giraffes spotted strutting around during our first safari

One of the three giraffes spotted strutting around during our first safari

We went on and saw a number of the animals again including zebras, wilderbeast, the third giraffe and a super-cute baby springbok bouncing around.

After a couple of hours we stopped at a little shack for nibbles, bubbles and to take in the mountainous views

After a couple of hours we stopped at a little shack for nibbles, bubbles and to take in the mountainous views

On the way back to the lodge we spotted four hippos cooling off in the lake. The lake desperately needed some rain to fill it. The sun was setting in background and the hippos were trying to stay submerged beneath the water surface. So we only got a limited sighting of them really.

You can only really see one of he hippos yawning here, but there are a few more hiding under the water. Their camouflage outfits are top notch!

You can only really see one of he hippos yawning here, but there are a few more hiding under the water. Their camouflage outfits are top notch!

That was the end of our first safari. The young ranger was very knowledgable about the animals and answered all the questions thrown at him. The time flew and it it was a brilliant experience.

To be honest we were a little nervous about choosing a game reserve rather than visiting Kruger National Park. But this was a great first experience of a safari.

An evening in Aquila

For the evening we were back at the buffet restaurant. We sat outside and were joined by the peacocks and unfortunately the less attractive mosquitoes. If you are coming bring some repellent.

Our bottle of Viljoensdrift Sauvignon Blanc took a bit too long to arrive, but that at least slowed our usually lightening fast dining experience.

Although it was a buffet we broke the meal up a bit with a starter, main and dessert. The choices were okay with salad, cheeses, a few different meats, a fish dish and selection of accompaniments. Plus a small selection of deserts. The food was okay but a little hit and miss. The strawberry ice cream was awful!

The post dinner scene is quiet as you would expect. There is a nice lounge bar to get yourself a drink or two, but don’t expect wild party night. Relaxation and tranquility is the key here.

Early morning safari

Our second safari/game drive was an early one starting at 6.15am. The route was much the same as we went hunting (probably the wrong word to use) for the animals we hadn’t seen in the evening.

The bush seemed extra peaceful and serene in the cool morning breeze. Well with the exception of our engine roaring! One thing to note about the morning drive is bring your jumper. It is surprisingly chilly.

We ended up seeing many of the same animals and unfortunately didn’t get to see the illusive leopards.

The safari was a nice hour and half start to the day followed by breakfast. Some of the choices for breakfast seemed pretty random such as chicken strips and beef mince, but here was plenty of the usual too.

For the rest of the morning we chilled out by the pool till getting picked up at midday and brought back to the the hostel.

The lesser spotted GoGoGaz captured relaxing in the sun before the big journey to Cape Town

The lesser spotted GoGoGaz captured relaxing in the sun before the big trek to Cape Town

GoGoGaz’s view of Aquila

All in all our trip to Aquila Private Game Reserve was great. The 35 meter, ice cold swimming pool with its pool bar is ideal for relaxing in the sun. The room was nice and the safari experience lived up to expectations. The food was okay but not quite up to the standard of everything else.

There are also lots of different spa treatments available including an African wood massage, Swedish massage, African hot stone massage and any number of skin care treatments. We were a little time restricted so chose not to have one. Also they are pretty much on a par with UK prices at about £55+ a massage.

I could easily imagine staying here for a few extra days and coming home feeling super relaxed. Although if we were staying longer and the price was right it would be tempting to stay in one of the chalets or at least a room with a view.

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