When people think of a safari, most think hundreds of kilometres of travel to get to the game viewing areas of the country. From the winelands, mountain to the beaches, visitors to Cape Town are of course spoilt for choice, but many may not be aware that seeing the Big Five can easily be part of a trip to their Mother City.
According to Briony Brookes, Cape Town Tourism’s Communications Manager, a safari trip if you’re visiting the city is as simple and easy to organise as a day’s wine-tasting in the Winelands. “Travel time from the city to the various game parks can vary and may be up to four hours, but a chance to see the Big Five can easily be done in a single day.”
Here’s a list of five game reserves visitors to Cape Town and Capetonians looking for something “wilder” can consider:
Aquila Game Reserve
Situated in the historic town of Touws River, just under three hours from Cape Town, Aquila Game Reserve is a 10 000 hectare conservancy which first started out being residence to various antelope species, but now boasts being a home to the Big Five which roam freely on the reserve.
In addition to guided early-morning, afternoon, or sunset safari options for the day visitor to the reserve, there is also the option of a horseback safari for the more adventurous. The reserve also offers the option of shuttles between the city and the reserve.
Fairy Glen Game Reserve
Only an hour’s drive from Cape Town, Fairy Glen Game Reserve is in Worcester at the foot of the Brandwacht Mountains. Home to the Big Five which it describes as being “mostly free-roaming,” Fairy Glen offers a variety of guided safari options suitable for a day visitor. At a size of about 10 000 hectares, Fairy Glen is in the Breede Valley, which is known for being one of the best fynbos valleys near Cape Town, and so the reserve also offers a chance for tourists to see the Cape Floral Kingdom at its best.
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
A three-hours drive from the city into the heart of the Klein Karoo, the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve describes itself as being more than a Big Five wilderness reserve. In addition to the traditional guided safaris, visitors to this reserve have the opportunity to experience a huge diversity of indigenous flora and fauna and rare examples of San rock art, some dating back more than 3 500 years, to say nothing of the boat safari it offers across its 58 000 hectares grounds.
Inverdoorn Game Reserve
A short two hour drive from Cape Town, Inverdoorn Game Reserve is well known world-wide for its cheetah rescue and rehabilitation program. This 10 000-hectare Klein Karoo park also boasts the Big Five, and offers both game drives, as well as unique guided walks with giraffes. Inverdoorn accommodates both day visitors and those who’d like an overnight stay in the Ibiza Safari Lodge. Transfers to and from Cape Town are also available.
Garden Route Game Lodge
A bit farther afield, the popular Garden Route Game Lodge is situated along South Africa’s magnificent Garden Route, a four hour drive from the Mother City. The reserve features the Big Five, a cheetah conservation centre, as well as a reptile centre. The Garden Route Game Lodge’s three star accommodation includes a range of options like chalets, lodge rooms, suites and family rooms and is great for families and those on a budget. Transfers to and from Cape Town can be arranged.