According to people – and 100% of my friends – the one thing to do when in Africa is a safari. Well I did exactly that!
There were very few touristy things I wanted to do while in South Africa, but a safari was a must. I couldn’t leave without seeing a lion and a hippo. I had to! (Confession: I wanted to see a giraffe and wasn’t able to, it’s sad I know!)
But my trip wasn’t long enough or financed enough to go across the country to the Kruger National Park to go on a real wild life safari. Which is sad because it’s apparently amazing! Maybe on the next trip! But also, to be honest, I didn’t think it was worth taking malaria tablets that time (which you apparently have to take if you go to certain regions of the country).
Anyhow, T and her father found this private game reserve not too far off for us to go. It is about 200km (so about 2h drive) from Cape Town. So we booked for an afternoon safari and that morning woke up early to start the drive inland.
We drove through mountains and it was absolutely breathtaking! Then we finally made it to the Aquila Private Game Reserve.
We had a lovely lunch (included in the price) before being assigned to our 4X4. That’s when we realised that this private reserve seems to cater very much to foreigners. Everyone was clearly from another country or continent. Which makes sense – since tourists are usually the ones that are desperate to get those things crossed off their list, and while locals have more time to do a road trip to a real park. The price was a clear indicator as well since it ZAR it was quite a hefty sum. For tourist who already made it all the way down to SA, it is nice to have something this close to Cape Town – and the reserve even offers transport to and from Cape Town.
But I digress – out we went into the reserve! We drove around, sometimes on a dirt path and sometimes in the ‘wilderness’.
The downside to doing a safari like this is that it can feel a bit like a giant zoo. The animals are where the people of the park know they are, etc. But that is also the great thing about this safari – we were sure to see some animals! I was told that the Kruger is so large that you could be there for days and be unlucky enough to see no animals at all!
We soon arrived to the elephants. My gosh they were magnificent! Do you know the best way to recognise an elephant from Africa?
This was our guide – he seemed to absolutely love his job! He was great! And at this moment we were stopped near the elephants and he had spotted an ostrich’s egg. I can’t remember exactly why, but he said this egg had clearly been left behind so it was okay to touch it. He said it is so strong that you could stand on it with both feet and it wouldn’t break! Pretty impressive!
Then we kept going and we approached the lions. The lions were actually kept in a separate place (zoo much?) – and I think that was because of a predator thing, to make sure their other animals weren’t killed. Which makes sense, let’s be honest!
So we were with a pretty rowdy bunch so he made sure to tell us not to take our arms out of the jeep and to call them over like ‘kitty! kitty!’. I was a bit nervous but it was fantastic. They were gorgeous, my gosh! I mean they are basically big cats, so they looked lazy just laying there, but that was okay by me!
The next thing we saw were the rhinos. Then I had an epiphany! The rhinos were never really interesting to me, they kind of looked big and mean, but they were absolutely, amazingly beautiful! I think they became by far my favourite creatures of this safari!
We were also told a lot about the poaching that goes on in Africa and it’s sickening! Those two were actually female I think and their mates had both been killed in poachings. People came with helicopter and by the time the park rangers knew what was happening they had already killed one of the males. It’s just terrible!
The next thing we know we are having a flat. Yep, we had a flat in the middle of this park with all these deadly creatures. It was fine clearly, since we weren’t a threat or anything, but when they asked us to walk across to the new 4×4 when it arrived, it was nerve-wracking, thinking that the rhinos were just across from us.
Finally we made it to another area where we saw zebras (the cutest little things) and some boks, and some wildebeests. Wildebeests are indeed what killed mufasa, you are right! They are also hilarious – our guide said that in their stories they say that God created the wildebeests with the leftovers from the other animals. Poor wildebeests ….but it kind of looks like that a bit, eh?
And we finished by seeing some hippos! Well – we didn’t really see them. You don’t just see hippos! You kind of see their eyes and massive mouth in the water and that’s about as lucky as you’ll get. But we got really lucky! There were two babies playing around and making a commotion when we were by the side of the lake! We quickly saw a giant head come up near them and could see that the adult hippo was much more relaxed.
And then we drove to the end of the safari. This might sound quick, but it was very long. I think the safari is well into 2-3h. And we got a really windy day so it was absolutely freezing! T and I were wrapped in blankets at the back of the jeep the entire time.
When we got back to camp – we were able to go visit the Animal Rescue Centre where we saw some leopard, crocodiles, etc. Cute and behind high fences of course!
Overall though I was very happy! My gosh it was amazing to see those animals live, right there in my face! I mean it’s so easy to know what a lion or a rhino looks like nowadays with the beautiful photography, the magazines and the television shows, but until you see it in person you don’t realise just how effin’ magnificent they are!
You know mine, but which one of these animals would be your favourite?xx
Aquila Private Game Reserve
Day Trip Safari : 1295 ZAR pp