Aquila Safari Lodge is a 4 star establishment in the Southern Karoo near Touws River. The reserve is a 10,000 hectare conservancy and home to the big 5 legends of the wilderness – elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino.
A leisurely 2 hour scenic drive from Cape Town through Worcester, De Doorns and Touws Rivier brings you to the entrance of Aquila Private Game Reserve.
We had arranged a 2 night stay in the new (October 2015) Aquila Lodge, boasting Standard, Mountain View and Luxury Family Suites. Separate cottages are also available on site. Prices, as with many game lodges, are structured to attract overseas visitors, which there were many on the 3 days we spent at Aquila.
Having said that we were able to take advantage of the reserve’s decision not to charge a single supplement for visitors over 60 years of age.
Our “safari” started on 22nd September once we alighted from our vehicle at 11h45 and were offered a welcome drink before checking in. Our baggage was placed in storage until 14h00 when the rooms were available.
After a walk around the property to “see where everything was” we entered the lodge for lunch. All meals are offered on a buffet basis and the choice and quality of the food is excellent.
At 2 pm we collected our room keys and luggage and were shown to our rooms which whilst facing the rear of the property were comfortable and well appointed.
Our first game drive started at 16h00 and we were transported into the reserve on a large game viewing vehicle which holds about 20 passengers. The reserve is relatively small so the possibility of viewing game is always good. We saw Hippo, Rhino, Elephant, lots of Springbok, Zebra, a few Ostrich, Giraffe and Eland.
About halfway through the viewing we stopped for refreshments and were able to stretch our legs before going into the lion enclosure. The enclosure is 750 Hectares.
There are 7 lions in the reserve and whilst they have access to a limited number of small buck, they are fed regularly and tend to stay in the area where they are fed. Today they were all lying in the grass with visibly fat stomachs. (Recently fed).
We returned to the Lodge just before sunset and were able to have dinner from 7pm.
A large spread of salads, meats (lamb chops, lamb stew, chicken) fish and vegetables were available. Desserts, cheese and biscuits with tea & coffee were also available.
The bed was comfortable and we awoke at 6 am to have coffee and a rusk in the vehicle park prior to our 7 am game drive. The area covered was much the same as the previous day but we did see other animals in the 1 hour drive.
The lions were a bit more frisky this morning and were found relatively near the position viewed yesterday.
Our return to the lodge took us via ARC (Aquila Rehabilitation & Conservation Centre) where lion, cheetah, leopard were housed. The leopard was not seen during our visit.
We returned to the lodge by 10 am for breakfast. The rest of the day is at leisure and follows the same pattern as the previous day, ie lunch at 12 noon, game drive at 4 pm, with dinner at 7 pm.
During the day a group, of 87, mainly men, arrived for a day visit and the lodge cleared them through reception smartly and directed them to an area above the lounge for lunch. It didn’t affect our stay in any way.
Optional horseback and quad bike safaris are also available, as is use of the SPA.
Our final game drive was at 7 am and the leopard was visible on the return visit to ARC.
Another group of day visitors arrived and were shuttled through the restaurant for breakfast and then on to a 10h15 game drive.
We checked out after breakfast and awaited our return transport to Cape Town.
A great 2 nights “short break” with pleasant company and good food.