At just under a two-hour drive from the city, Aquila Game Reserve has certainly earned a name for itself as a top safari experience near Cape Town. The reserve helped reintroduce the Big Five to the Western Cape and is rooted in wildlife rehabilitation, land protection and community support. Whether you opt for a day trip or book a couple of nights, you can take a traditional safari in an off-road vehicle or choose to search for the Big Five from a quad bike. If you’re lucky, you may just spot the elusive Cape mountain leopard. After a day of wildlife thrills, soak in the infinity pool, refuel with some traditional South African cuisine or treat yourself to a spa afternoon. Accommodation ranges from rustic digs to plush cottages.
Can you go on a safari from Cape Town? It’s a question often asked by curious travellers thinking of planning a trip to the Mother City, unsure of whether they’ll be able to catch a glimpse of various fantastic creatures. Happily, the answer is a big ‘Yes indeed.’ Cape Town’s charm extends far beyond the urban centre, and one of its most alluring elements – beyond the mesmerising mountain views and glimmering Atlantic Seaboard – is its proximity to nature.
South Africa is renowned for its wildlife, and while the Western Cape may be a little more under-the-radar in this arena than other regions, it still has its fair share of nature reserves. Just a short drive from Cape Town you can spot the ‘Big Five’ (that’s: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and African buffaloes) roaming the veld, learn about conservation efforts and spot whales breaching from the Atlantic Coast. For those wanting to take a walk on the wild side, here are the best lodges and reserves for a safari day trip from Cape Town.
Alicia Erickson is a travel writer based in Cape Town. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines and check out our latest travel guides written by local experts.