Baby Elephant walking at Aquila Safari with a giant stick in his trunk
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Visiting Aquila Safari was at the top of my bucket list when visiting Cape Town, and I know I’m not the only one. East Africa is well known for its requisite safaris allowing you to see lions, elephants, hynenas, and more. There are many safaris, but finding the one that fits your needs can be a bit more complicated. You want to ensure that the safari you’ve chosen engages in sustainable practices, provides a good experience, and has great customer service. In my opinion, Aquila Safari does not hit all of those marks.

How Far is Aquila Safari from Cape Town?

Aquila Private Game Reserve is about 180 km/ 112 miles from Cape Town. With regular traffic, it will take about 2.5 hours to drive there. It’s definitely something you want to drive to earlier in the day.

How to Get to Aquila Safari from Cape Town?

There are a few different ways to get to Aquila Safari Lodge. You can drive there, hire a private car, or take the shuttle bus or helicopter. The road there seemed pretty easy to maneuver if traveling by private car. You can contact Aquila for shuttle bus rates and times. They also offer a helicopter ride, but you have to inquire about pricing.

My Review

zebras at Aquila Safari

After arriving at Aquila Safari, the check-in process was very simple. I was sent to the buffet area to wait for my tour. There were a few vegetarian side dishes. The layout was very clean and orderly, but the food was a bit bland, and there weren’t many options, especially if you follow any vegan, gluten, or halal dietary plans. Drinks, not even a bottle of water, are not included in your ticket. And there aren’t any places to fill up your water bottle, which is a bad look for a place that markets itself as sustainable.

How are the animals treated at Aquila Safari?

The safari grounds felt more like a large enclosed zoo, than an actual safari. The animals had the freedom to move around, and it was very spacious, but it wasn’t the wild experience I thought a safari would be.

Our tour guide did an excellent job rounding us up to leave on time. He explained things about the animals in detail and seemed very knowledgeable.

We were able to see elephants, hippos, zebras, and antelopes. He told us that we might be able to see the lions, but he couldn’t find them. Giraffes need tall trees in their habitats, but Aquila Safari has few tall trees. Most of the time, I saw giraffes straining their neck to eat from short trees. I’m no zoologist, but that is bad for their bone structure. And I’m unsure why South Africa allows them to live like this.

giraffe eating grass and straining his neck at Aquila Safari

We made a few stops that didn’t really add much to the trip. They weren’t good photo opportunities or places to see animals. They were just random stops. And the guide didn’t offer to take photos of guests (it’s not his job but it would be nice for them to offer photo opportunities for families and solo travelers).

The trip’s highlight was an elephant deciding to play with a guest in front of the safari vehicle. But overall it was a bit boring. The tour was advertised as 2-3 hours, but ours was much shorter. I spent more time traveling to Aquila Safari than actually being on the safari. There were also at least 15 people on each safari vehicle.

Is Aquila Safari Ethical?

I believe that South Africa has much better safaris elsewhere. I wouldn’t recommend it in good faith. Between lackluster customer service, bland food, and small amounts of animals, I would not recommend this as a bucket list item in Cape Town. And I do not believe Aquila Safari is an ethical, sustainable safari and lodge.

Game Reserves Near Cape Town

Here are 5 gorgeous game reserves near Cape Town:

Antelopes laying down at Aquila Safari

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