Want to go on safari while visiting Cape Town? There are several excellent "Big Five" wildlife parks and reserves within a few hours of Cape Town. Private game reserves in the Western Cape offer easy access from the Winelands region. The Eastern Cape reserves are excellent for those wishing to explore the Garden Route. Many of the reserves can visited for just a day, or quick overnight from Cape Town. Most of the private game reserves listed below offer luxury accommodation, good restaurants, swimming pools and twice daily game drives in a safari jeep. The wildlife you'll see has been trans-located from other areas further north. It's not Kruger, but if this is your first safari, you'll enjoy it. All the reserves are free of malaria.
Game Reserves in the Western Cape Area - (Close to the Winelands)
Aquila Private Game Reserve - offers a luxurious safari experience in the Klein Karoo, about an hour and a half drive from Cape Town. You can go on game drives in the morning and evening. You'll get a chance to see rhino, lion, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, ostrich, as well as troops of baboons. You can also visit bushman rock art sites dating back thousands of years. Horse-back safaris are also available for evening and early morning game viewing. There are a variety of chalets to choose from if you wish to spend a few nights here, along with a bar, restaurant and pool. Check out the Aquila web site for more information.
Fairy Glen - is the closest Big 5 safari park to Cape Town, just an hour drive away. It makes for a very easy day-trip from Cape Town. The African themed restaurant serves a good lunch and overnight stays are available in chalets. See the Fairy Glen web site for more information.
InverDoorn - a small private reserve in the Karoo, about 2.5 hour scenic drive from Cape Town, has a wide variety of wildlife. Accommodation is in a modern bungalow or thatched cottages, and game drives are on offer twice a day. You're likely to see giraffe, lion, cheetah, white rhino, wildebeest and kudu. Check out the Inverdoorn web site for day-trips and overnight options.
Kagga Kamma Private Game Reserve - a 3 hour drive from Cape Town, Kagga Kamma is situated just south of the Cederberg mountains famous for their beauty as well as bushman rock art. There are several lodges and camps to choose from as well as a pool, restaurant and spa. You can enjoy game drives, quad biking, nature hikes and more. Check out the Kagga Kamma web site for more details.
- Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - 3 hours from Cape Town, situated at the foot of the Warmwaterberg Mountains in the heart of the Little Karoo. Luxury lodging offers a great excuse to overnight and gives you more time to explore the San rock art as well as game drives on offer where you can spot white lions and lots of other big game. A pool and variety of children's programs are on offer making Sanbona a very family-friendly option. Check the Sanbona web site for more details.
Also recommended in the Western Cape area is Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, one of the world's finest eco-lodges, about a 2 hour drive from Cape Town. And Bushmans Kloof, a fantastic lodge situated in a wilderness reserve at the foot of the lovely Cederberg Mountains.
Game Reserves in the Eastern Cape - (Close to the Garden Route)
- Kwandwe Game Reserve -- Three lodges provide excellent accommodation in this large private game reserve near Grahamstown. Fly into Port Elizabeth or drive along the Garden Route to get here. Day and night drives are available to view the numerous lion, cheetah, rhino, elephant, hippo and leopard in the park. Bush walks, canoeing and fishing are also activities you can enjoy. Children are welcome but the recommended age to enjoy a safari here is 6 and over. This is one of the best safari experiences I've enjoyed with my two sons.
Addo Elephant National Park -- Soon to be one of the largest national parks in South Africa, Addo offers the visitor not only the Big Five, but sightings of whales and great white sharks as well. Situated just north of Port Elizabeth, Addo is home to several luxury lodges as well as the Addo Main Rest Camp which provides more budget style accommodation; chalets, tents and rondavels. Hiking, horse riding are also popular activities besides safari drives (which you can do in your own vehicle). Children under 6 are not allowed on drives organized by the park.
Shamwari Game Reserve -- Situated along the Bushman's River, Shamwari is a private, family-owned game reserve which offers visitors a chance to see the Big Five and much more. Lodges are luxurious and game drives and meals are included with the package. You can enjoy a spa, daily game drives, bush walks and if you fall in love, you can come back and volunteer to help protect the parks' animals.
Amakhala Game Reserve -- Formerly farm land, the family-owned Amakhala game Reserve is now home to Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Cheetah, Giraffe, Zebra and numerous other antelope. Situated just east of Port Elizabeth, Amakhala offers game drives and a variety of very comfortable lodges. Day visits are easily accommodated as are children over the age of 6.
Kariega Game Reserve -- Situated along the Kariega River the game reserve offers canoeing safaris, fishing, a river cruise and more besides the excellent game drives. The wildlife is abundant and the lodges are luxurious with outdoor pools and decks. A minimum of least 2 nights are recommended at the Kariega Game Reserve to enjoy the activities on offer.
Recommended Safari Packages for the Western and Eastern Cape
Many packages will combine a few days in a game park, with a visit to the beach, winelands and other highlights of the area.
- Safari Packages from locally based tour operators
- Capetown Safaris offer packages to all the game parks close to Cape Town from day trips to multi-night stays. They can arrange transport to and from Cape Town.
- Rhino Africa offers several safari packages on their own or in combination with the Garden Route.
- Travel Butlers offers specials on nearly every safari available in the Eastern Cape area.
If you have questions about planning your safari, you can see all my safari articles here. If you are interested in booking a bespoke luxury safari in Africa you can also contact me to discuss your options.