Most visitors’ itineraries go something like this: upcountry for game, Cape Town for wine and the beach. Well, we hate to steal our neighbours’ thunder, but the Cape boasts some spectacular private reserves as well. And you’ll see more than another impala – each of these reserves is home to the big five.
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
With three accommodation options ranging from family-friendly to ultra-luxurious, Sanbona has something for most pockets. Three hours from Cape Town in the Little Karoo, this 54 000 ha reserve is home to the only self-sustaining white lions in the world, which are being carefully reintroduced to the region.
What else to look out for The shy riverine rabbit, the 13th most endangered mammal in the world
Contact +27 41 407 1000, www.sanbona.com
Set on 11 000 ha of pristine land four hours from Cape Town in the Garden Route, Gondwana offers accommodation in luxury huts and villas that blend seamlessly with the surrounding fynbos biome. With no internal fences (except for conservation purposes), there’s a good chance of spotting game on the stroll from your suite to the restaurant.
What else to look out for The shy African wild cat
Contact +27 44 697 7002, www.gondwanagr.co.za
Inverdoorn Game Reserve
Home to the Western Cape Cheetah Conservation programme, Inverdoorn is most famous for its efforts to protect and ensure the longevity of these swift, spotted cats. Cheetah encounters are therefore top of the agenda.
What else to look out for Save time to visit the rhino orphanage, home to calves that have been orphaned due to poaching.
Contact +27 21 434 4639, www.inverdoorn.com
Aquila Private Game Reserve
This conservancy in the southern Karoo has been described as ‘a blend of dirty-boot adventure, wildlife education and luxury accommodation’. The cherry on top is their horse-back safari, which can be combined with a normal game drive for a full day in the bush.
What else to look out for Aquila is home to 170 bird species, so bring your binoculars.
Contact +27 861 7373 783, www.aquilasafari.com
Garden Route Game Reserve
Located at the beginning of the Garden Route, just three-and-a-half hours from Cape Town, this lodge and reserve offers a large range of accommodation options. Children will love the Kids Bushwise activity programme, which includes guided walks.
What else to look out for The interactive Reptile Encounters centre is home to snakes, crocodiles and tortoises.
Contact +27 28 735 1200, www.grgamelodge.co.za