“Big Five” African Game Safari’s of the Western Cape

As a young girl growing up in the concrete jungle of a somewhat hazardous city of Johannesburg, the options available to families wanting a quick weekend break away from the hustle and bustle of it all, were, to say the very least, rather limited. South Africa was after all at the very tip of Africa and travel into our bordering countries was rarely thought of. But that being said, as South Africans we were never the less blessed far and beyond any otherworldly travelers imagination….for right on our very doorstep, just a few hours drive away, another world was open to us. This world was then, and still remains to this day, to be one of my personal favorite Universities of Life – The African Bushveld !! In my late teens when I made the decision to move my entire life from Johannesburg to Cape Town, I experienced a great sense of sadness that whilst the move in itself ticked all the lifestyle change boxes that I wished to have ticked, it did not seem to tick the box that would give me the easy access to ‘my animals’ that I had grown accustomed to. If only I had known then what I know now…

South Africa Big 5 Game Safari: Chalets at Aquila Game Lodge
Chalets at Aquila Game Lodge

South Africa Big 5 Game Safari

Whilst in the near future I will most definitely be focusing on the luxury South Africa Big 5 Game Safari’s of the Transvaal’s Lowveld/Bushveld, the focus of this particular blog is to be on the Big Five Game and Safari the Lodges of the Western Cape. Many tourists that visit South Africa annually, visit often for the soul purpose of wishing to view the fantastic wildlife that we as a country have to offer. By the same token, many visiting tourists arrive on our shores with a travel budget that can be limiting in terms of what they are able to see within a particular city or area and also what it is that they are able to see within a certain time frame. With the most popular and more authentically known area of the South African Bushveld being quite a long journey inland ( be the journey by road or by air ), many travellers decide either to visit the Cape or to visit The Kruger Park in the Transvaal. In other words, the beaches and vineyards verse the African bushveld and wildlife.

What many visitors are unaware of, is that the Western Cape is a vastly open portal to the very best of all worlds as just a short drive of as little as an hour out of Cape Town, the Western Cape boasts a number of exceptional Game Lodges, many of which are the unfenced home to what is fondly known worldwide as ‘The Big 5’. Those of you unfamiliar with this name and what it means will be interested to learn that it refers to the big five game animals that are the African Lion, the African Elephant, the Cape Buffalo, the African Leopard and the White/Black Rhinoceros. The term was originally coined by big-game hunters as a reference to the five most difficult animals of Africa to hunt and has now ben adopted as a term used by Safari Tour Operators for marketing purposes. I, myself, can only stress that I use the term ‘hunt’ very, VERY loosely as I by no means advocate the hunting of any animal whatsoever – in fact, I am a member of many wildlife programmes that are strong activists against the hunting of our very precious wildlife.

Regardless of whether you rent a car or plan a tour operated visit, a trip to South Africa should never exclude the African adventure of a lifetime….it is truly and without a doubt the most essential of all the experiences that should be embarked upon at least once in your life. I can almost, however, guarantee that you will want nothing more than to return again and again. The memory is indelible !!

Conveniently located a maximum of 4 hours drive from the city of Cape Town, here are my most highly recommended South Africa Big 5 Game Safari establishments, all of which offer sightings of the Big Five and all of which are located in malaria-free regions of the Western Cape. All listed recommendations offer the convenience of self-drive day safaris (it’s a great idea to rent a campervan and make it a stop off en-route through the Karoo or up the Garden Route), as well as organized South Africa Big 5 Game Safari that offer a collection and return service from anywhere in the Cape :

Aquila Game Reserve

* a two to three-hour drive out of Cape Town

Offering the following Safari experiences:

* Day Safari

* Overnight Safari’s

* Safari on Horseback

* Quad Bike Safari’s

* Fly in Safari

South Africa Big 5 Game Safari: Pool at Aquila Game Reserve
Pool at Aquila Game Reserve

Inverdoorn Safari Lodge

* located in the Ceres Karoo a short two and a half hours drive from Cape Town

Offering the following experiences:

* a Cheetah Rescue and Rehabilitation Programme

* Walk with Giraffes

* Day Safari’s

* Overnight Safari’s

South Africa Big 5 Game Safari: Game drive at Inverdoorn Game Lodge
Game drive at Inverdoorn Game Lodge

Gondwana Game Lodge

* situated in the heart of the beautiful Garden Route just four hours drive from Cape Town

* Gondwana offers a romantic African experience and is fantastic as a couples retreat

* Gondwana is the only Fynbos reserve (natural shrubland vegetation) that is home to free roaming Big Five

South Africa Big 5 Game Safari: Luxury Suites at Gondwana Game Lodge
Luxury Suites at Gondwana Game Lodge

Sanbona Reserve

* located an easy three hours drive from Cape Town

Sanbona offers the following fantastic one of a kind experiences:

* Game Drives

* Nature Walks

* Star Gazing

* Rock Art

* A Health and Wellness Spa

South Africa Big 5 Game Safari: The camp at Sanbona Dwyka
The camp at Sanbona Dwyka

Fairy Glen Safari Lodge

* The name of this lodge originates from a very large dragonfly that was found in the areas mountain valley  streams

* this Lodge is the closest and most convenient lodge to Cape Town at a mere one hours drive out of Cape    Town

* although extremely close to the city, the lodge nevertheless offers sightings of free roaming Big Five

* Fairy Glen cater to both Vegan and Vegetarian guests

* aside from the Big Five, the area is also home to the endangered Bontebok, the endangered Black Eagle as well as the Lynx and the Oryx (a species of Antelope)

South Africa Big 5 Game Safari: Elephant sightings at Fairy Glen Lodge
Elephant sightings at Fairy Glen Lodge

If this blog helps you in your planning of a South Africa Big 5 Game Safari  trip to Cape Town or any region of the Western Cape, then I am thrilled, as the experience for anyone would be beyond your wildest imagination. Furthermore, I could only implore the suggestion to any would-be travellers that they research a “Save the Rhino” foundation programme that best meets their intrinsic feeling for these endangered animals and to do whatever you’re able to do to play your part in assisting with bringing an end to the senseless poaching of the most incredibly beautiful creatures known to man !!

About tracitalbot

I am a proud South African!! Due to the intense love that I have for my country, but even more specifically my love for the town in which I live, Cape Town, I have over the last 10 odd years become somewhat of a quintessential Cape Town travel Guru.I am very fortunate to have traveled rather extensively around the world and as such I am well acquainted with the concept of luxury and lifestyle travel. I have lived in Germany, Switzerland and New York City and whilst these experiences have been wonderful I am nevertheless a true South African who considers myself extremely blessed to be able to call Cape Town my home. For the greater part of the last ten years I have worked within the South African travel industry and due to my love and passion for various vacation places across the Western Cape, I now run a small boutique travel company that specializes in the creation and building of personalized holiday travel itineraries.The aspect of my career choice that I love the most is my immense hunger to discover new, interesting and non-commercial 'gems' - those intimate and unusual South African destinations that once visited, it would seem after leaving, a special part of your soul forever remains there. Magical places, romantic places and places that inspire.I gain such an enormous amount of pleasure when I have the privilege of knowing that I have introduced people to a location and/or destination that will leave a memory that lasts a lifetime. It is these secret spaces in special places that I love to write about to inspire the vacationer that is searching for that little bit of something different, something extra, something unusual and more importantly, something special. The destinations and locations that I have found over the years are not limited to only accommodations - I have also discovered incredible restaurants, tours and other travel related wonders. Every discovery is a discovery of pure love!! 

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4 Responses

  1. Napa Valleys Hidden Gems and Best Kept Secrets – Best News Webs

    […] Peter and Nancy Lang were just as ambitious as Dario Sattui; when they decided to take up a colossal project and create Safari West. The end result is an animal preserve that covers a dizzying 400 acres and serves as a home to African fauna. […]

  2. Napa Valleys Hidden Gems and Best Kept Secrets | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] West. The end result is an animal preserve that covers a dizzying 400 acres and serves as a home to African fauna. If you ever wanted to feed a giraffe or see an antelope or a rhinoceros up close; this hidden gem […]

  3. Pilanesberg Game Reserve, South Africa | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] Game Reserve; on this last occasion we went on two evening guided game drives and both times we say 4 of the Big 5 on one drive; only the elusive leopard managed to evade us.  At the moment is it quite dry in the […]

  4. Avatar for tracitalbot


    African safari holiday aim is to see big 5 wildlife species, named Buffalo, Elephant, Lions, Black Rhinocerous and Leopard. More wildlife species which are amazing are wildebeest migration, Zebra, Giraffes and Crocodiles.

    Southern circuit safari Tanzania include Selous Game reserve, Udzungwa, Ruaha and Mikumi National park, provides wildlife safari experience to see all big 5 and price cost is affordable.


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