Cape Town - famous for its beautiful scenery, top class restaurants and wineries as well as its cultural attractions. Sounds tempting, but you are missing an adventure? No problem, because the Western Cape is also here not lumpen. If you do not have the time to visit the famous game reserves such as Kruger or Mkhuze National Park further north, then these exciting game reserves, which are all located around Cape Town, also have a lot of adventure in their luggage. By the way, these parks are, unlike those in the north, a malaria free zone and children under the age of 14 may participate in these tours, which is not a matter of course in many larger parks.
The Aquila Private Game Reserve
Northeast of Cape Town and about two hours away, there is the 4 star park, which offers half day and full day tours as well as safaris with overnight accommodation. Luxurious lodges and exquisite chalets round off an exciting day. The 10,000 hectare nature reserve is home to the Big Five - rhinos, elephants, lions, leopards and buffalos. After these were driven to the brink of extinction by big game hunters, the populations were able to recover here again. Of course, the Aquila Private Game Reserve cannot be compared to the Kruger National Park. It can rather be seen as a large outdoor zoo, but it will certainly fascinate you and your children.
If a tour with the traditional safari vehicle is too tame for you, simply book a riding or quad safari. The price for the traditional half day safari is between 60-80 Euro per person and the full day safari around 120 Euro. For an unusual all-day riding or quad safari you should plan around 200 euros. The park also houses the Aquila Animal Rescue and Conservation Center, which accommodates animals that can no longer survive in the wild. Now a very personal tip: If you decide for a half-day safari, then the evening safari is to be recommended, since we got to see far more animals here!
The Buffelsfontein Game Reserve
The Buffelsfontein Game Reserve is the most convenient option for travelers who have limited time but do not want to miss out on a safari. The 1,600 hectare converted cattle farm is just an hour from the centre of Cape Town and the ideal place to see three of the Big Five, namely lions, rhinos and buffalos. You can also spot cheetahs, giraffes, zebras and other iconic antelope species during the half or full day game drive.
For a half-day tour you will need about 1.5 hours. If you choose the full day tour, it starts at 9 am or 2 pm and lasts around 3 hours. If you choose the afternoon safari, you can watch the park's predators being fed every day except Sundays. If you are searching for a completely different safari experience, you should book a mountain bike safari. The Bike & Saddle Game Drive starts at 8am and you should plan about 2-3 hours. As the difficulty level is 2/3, this tour is recommended for adults. After a strenuous day on the bike, you will find luxurious 4-person sleeping cabins where you can end the day comfortably. Here, too, the Game Reserve can be described as rather compact or as a larger zoo excursion, which radiates its very own charm. For a game drive of about three hours parents do not have to pay a fee for children under 3. Children between the age of 4-12 years cost about 20 Euro and adults about 40 Euro per person.
© Tanja Tenbensel
The Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
About 3 hours from Cape Town lies the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. Situated at the foot of the Warmwaterberg Mountains, the reserve boasts native wildlife and ancient rock art. With an area of 54,000 hectares and its extensive landscapes, it is one of the largest wildlife reserves around Cape Town. Not only the Big Five can be admired here, but also cheetahs, the river rabbit and the rare white lion. From bird watching and stargazing to rock art tours, the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is hard to beat in diversity. Throughout Sanbona there are seven sites of these rock art sites, rocks painted with animal blood or fat. These are more than 3500 years old and reflect the spiritual beliefs of the nomadic hunters "San" and the shepherds "Khoi-Khoi", who lived in this area until 100 years ago. Boat safaris on the Bellair Dam promise a lot of fun for the whole family. If you are travelling with children, the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve offers not only perfect accommodation, but also a children's programme. This is especially for children under the age of 4 as they are not allowed to participate in game drives. For children between 0-3 years there are no costs, children between 4-11 years pay half of the adult price. Find out more on the homepage of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve.
The Inverdoorn Game Reserve
Located half an hour behind the Aquila Private Game Reserve, the Inverdoorn Game Reserve is another 10,000 hectare nature reserve in the Klein Karoo. Seeing the cheetahs of the nature conservation organisation "Western Cape Cheetah Conservation" up close is an absolute highlight. Some of these great hunters have got used to the contact with humans and can even be stroked under strict supervision. If you decide for a day trip, it will be about 110 Euro per person. But if you want to extend your stay, you can choose between 4- or 5-star accommodations. Choose a tent camp, a guesthouse or a luxurious night in an exquisite Ambassador Suite. An overnight stay is well worth it as guests have the option of taking part in a walking safari at sunrise (the time of day when animals are most active). This impressive "outdoor zoo" is also the ideal choice for younger children from the age of 4 to get up close and personal with Africa's nature for the first time.
The Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
Now that you are spoilt for choice when it comes to the "Big Five of the mainland", how about discovering the "Big Five of the sea"? Just drive two hours to the south of Cape Town and visit the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. Where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, you will also have the chance to see a white shark, southern right whales, bottlenose dolphins, African penguins and Cape fur seals.
The lodge also offers cage diving with large white sharks, whale watching tours, horse riding, nature walks and botanical safaris where you can discover a variety of plants. The 2,500 hectare reserve is home to nearly 800 different plant species, 100 of which are endangered. Its protected and ancient "Milkwood forests" are over 1,000 years old. To explore all these wonders, you can either stay at Garden Lodge, Forest Lodge or in private luxury villas. A programme specially designed for children with guided tours, treasure hunts, boat trips, pony rides and much more also keeps the younger members of the family on the go. Children under the age of 3 can share a room with adults free of charge and children over 12 are welcome at Forest Lodge at any time.
No matter which of these first-class parks you choose, you can only win! Getting so close to animals in the great outdoors is a unique experience you will remember for a long time.
© Tanja Tenbensel / © Tanja Tenbensel / © Impala - de.fotolia.com
© Text Tanja Tenbensel