Getting wild in Cape Town

2014-03-24 09:47
Cape Town has just been named one of the most stunning places to take a selfie (yes, this is now an accolade) and TripAdvisor readers have once again given Cape Town's beaches the thumbs up.

And then of course the accolade to beat all accolades, when the New York Times and the UK’s Guardian put the city top of the list of must-visit places in 2014.

While South Africa’s amazing wildlife is mostly associated with the Kruger National Park – this city at the tip of the African continent is remarkably versatile.

Here’s our round-up of Wildlife Experiences perfect for either a day visit or extended road trip when in Cape Town...

For the day trippers- Safari trip an hour to two-hours away

Fairy Glen - super close Big 5 experience

Head to the peaceful and rustic environment of Fairy Glen, found beneath the Brandwacht Mountains surrounded by proteas and fynbos vegetation. Here your game drives will be peppered with visits to African Khoisan Bushmen Rock Art heritage sites dating back some 6 000 years.

While the Big 5 is the ultimate safari experience, Fairy Glen also offers up other species like blue wildebeest, giraffes, eland, the endangered bontebok, zebras, lynx, oryx and other smaller buck species including klipspringer, nyala, rhebok, steenbok and a big variety of African bird species like the endangered Black Eagle better known as the Aquila.

Aquila - Top pick for Big 5 day trip

This 7 500 hectare conservancy will delight with intimate wildlife safaris, just a two-hour drive from Cape Town in the Southern Karoo – as Elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino roam its outskirts.

You can expect the traditional game drives as well as safaris on horseback, quad biking, 4 x 4 mountain trails, golf and cherry picking in the valley - guests can also cool-off in natural rock pools.

Batholomeus Klip - great combination for relaxation and innovative food

Bartholomeus Klip welcomes you with its wonderfully restored Victorian homestead. While not a Big 5 experience, guests get to switch off and unwind in the sheer beauty of nature. It is also the opportunity to experience imaginative food with a focus on local produce paired with award-winning wines from the region, prepared by resident chef Louise Gillett.

Rangers take guests on the morning or evening nature drives through the reserve or you could opt for a mountain bike along the farm roads through the wheatfields. There is also a selection of walking routes. The property also has a dam for canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, freshwater fishing and bird watching.

For the overnight stay - Wildlife two- to three-hours drive from Cape Town

Sanbona Private Game Reserve - Top pick for its rare white lions

Sanbona is made up of no less than 19 rehabilitated Karoo farms, covering a whopping 54 000 hectares, making it roughly the size of Singapore and the fourth largest private game reserve in South Africa. Here qualified rangers will introduce you to various species of plants, animals, big game and birds across the Little Karoo.

The reserve has also initiated an ambitious rehabilitation programme that aims to introduce White Lions into the wild.
This rare animal has been virtually wiped out in the Timbavati region, where they are endemic. Records indicate that the White Lion was spotted in the wild as far back as 1925.

Inverdoorn - spectacular interaction with Cape Cheetahs

Inverdoorn Game Reserve and Iziba Safari Lodge are located in the Ceres Karoo, just two-and-a-half hours from Cape Town. Stretching across 10 000 hectares, Inverdoorn provides sanctuary to an abundance of wildlife where rangers add a rich element of humour and storytelling to the safari experience.

Expect to see  cheetahs going on daily walks with their handlers as this beautiful, big cat is the heart and soul of Inverdoorn. In 2001 Cape Cheetah was established on the reserve, which seeks to rescue and rehabilitate cheetahs, for eventual release into the wild.

Bushmans Kloof - awe-inspiring rock art conservation programme

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat is a place of ancient and untamed beauty.

This Cederberg Mountains haven provides an ideal wilderness getaway to escape, restore and relax, with its natural playground featuring mystical rock formations, crystal clear water falls and an abundance of flora and fauna. Hailed the Global Winner of Wildlife Conservations Programs in the Condé Nast Traveler World Savers Awards in 2009, and  the coveted Virtuoso Sustainable Tourism Leadership Award in 2012, Bushmans Kloof’s exceptional environmental and conservation projects will inspire all wildlife lovers.  

These include its Rock Art conservation programme; providing a sanctuary for the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra and Clanwilliam Yellow Fish as well as its support of the Cape Mountain Leopard project.

For the extended road trip – wildlife experiences along the Garden Route

Shamwari Private Game Reserve - Big 5 from the ground up

Shamwari from the Shona term for ‘friend’ is the name of the award-winning Eastern Cape Reserve. When visiting Shamwari Game Reserve, you will be assigned a personal game ranger who together with your lodge manager will design a daily program with you.   

Shamwari also offers a unique ‘Explorer Camp' with a two day walking safari and accommodation in ‘mobile tents.  It allows you to get back to nature from an ‘on the ground' perspective as you are immersed in nature amongst the Big 5, while camping in the bush. Over 5 000 head of game range freely, having been bred and/or re-introduced into Shamwari, now a Game Reserve stretching over 25 000 ha and consisting of 6 separate lodges.

Gondwana – for a colourful bushveld experience

Gondwana holds the distinction of being the only fynbos reserve in the world that’s home to free roaming Big Five game as well as endangered species like the Cape mountain zebra. The private reserve is accessibly situated just outside the charming coastal town of Mossel Bay and a mere four hours drive from Cape Town.

It is very different to the traditional bush, or even Karoo type of reserve and will be a new experience to most people.
Gondwana is simply perfect for the parents who want to enjoy peace and tranquility and at the same time allow their children to learn about nature, the fynbos eco system and conservation.

Addo Elephant Park - top pick for spotting Africa's Big 7

The Addo Elephant National Park not only offers up the famous elephants of Addo, but also lion, black rhino, buffalo, hyena, jackal and a variety of antelope - but as the third largest park in South Africa at 180 000ha in size, stretching from Darlington dam in the Karoo section in the north, across the Zuurberg mountains south to the coast,  sightings of the great white sharks and southern right whales are also possible. 

As one of the few reserves in the world that allow you to experience the Big 7, its incredible diversity encompasses five of South Africa's nine biomes, including the unique biome of the Eastern Cape river valleys.
Read more on:    cape town  |  garden route  |  game reserves  |  wildlife  |  travel south africa  |  lifestyle  |  bush  |  safari

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