Arriving in Cape Town
After an 11 hour flight, we were very excited to touch down in South Africa. We took an Uber to our accommodation which was located near the Victoria and Alfred waterfront. We stayed in an air bnb which had floor to ceiling windows over looking the harbour. There was also 24 hour sercurity at the accommodation which was a great comfort. As it was about 10pm when we arrived we decided to have an early night ready for our adventures over the next 10 days.
I would say that car hire is a must whilst in Cape Town. There are so many things to see and do and it just makes it a lot easier if you have your own car. There was a car rental company just around the corner from where we were staying so we popped in to get some prices. The quote they provided us with was much cheaper than anything we had found online so we decided to book the car for the duration of our stay. They also said we could return the car to the airport on our journey home which was really useful.
Places to see and things to do
The Victoria and Alfred waterfront is a complex that mixes the old heritage of Cape Town with modern day shopping. There are a great choice of restaurants looking out to to the harbour. One of my favourites was the Belthazar restaurant. The steak was delicious and they had an extensive wine list. One evening we went to the comedy club on the waterfront. The tickets for the night were about £5 each which is ridiculously cheap. We then got to watch 3 acts and as British tourists the joke was on us a couple of times. During the day, the V & A waterfront has a farmers market. Here they produce good quality local food and drinks and have lots of stalls which are really interesting to look around. They also have lots of seating areas if you fancy grabbing some lunch. South African coffee is definitely worth a try. Outside the farmers markets is Nobel Square where Mandela and the 3 other South African Nobel Peace Prize Laureates statues stand.
Food and alcohol is a lot cheaper in South Africa compared with the UK. On average we would pay around £25 for a two course meal with an alcoholic drink for 2 people. We also went to Hudsons burger joint a couple of times which was located just around the corner from our accommodation. This was right up my street as both their burgers and strawberry daiquiris were huge! What more could you want? A couple of doors down from Hudsons was Gelato Mania which was an ice cream shop which was recommended in one of the tourist guides. There were so many flavours to choose from it was delicious!
We also visited Bo Kaap cultural and heritage centre. With its vibrant coloured homes and cobbled streets, it is one of the most photographed areas in the city. All of the colours give you a real sense of the African culture and create such a joyful atmosphere.
The beaches in Cape Town are the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. Camps Bay has beautiful white sand, palm trees along the front and a backdrop of the Twelve Apostles mountains. The scenery is just breathtaking. There are lots of bars and restaurants along the front which offer great views of the bay. The drive to the beach takes about 15 minutes form the city centre. We also ventured out to Llandudno beach which is probably an extra 10 minutes from Camps bay. Llandudno is a small but very popular Cove. There was a nice friendly local feel to the beach where everyone seemed to know one another. Do not let the ‘be shark safe’ signs put you off visiting! There are so many beaches to see in Cape Town, I definitely plan on returning to see more.
The drive from Cape Town to the Aquila Reserve takes just over 2 hours. Aquila can provide transfers for you, however as I mentioned earlier car hire is very cheap in South Africa and it worked out cheaper for us to rent a car for 10 days rather than book the transfer. The drive to the reserve was absolutely beautiful, it takes you through the Hawequas mountains where the views are panoramic. We also passed many vineyards as South Africa is famous for it’s wine. When we reached the Safari we had to sign a form at the entrance where we agreed to abide by the reserve rules. Then we drove through and parked up. There were horses at the entrance which can be booked for riding sessions out in the reserve. We were then greeted by Aquila staff who provided us with a welcome drink. We were slightly early for check in so we took our drinks in to the resorts garden area that looked out on to the reserve. In the distance I could already see two elephants! At 12pm the restaurant opened for dinner. They had a large buffet selection which was all very delicious. The chicken drumsticks were definitely my favourite. At 2pm we checked in to our beautiful thatched lodge. The lodge had double bed downstairs and a ladder in the bedroom which takes you up to a single bed in the roof. The bathroom had a huge corner bath and then a door to an outside shower. The bedroom had double doors which opened up on to a patio that looked straight out to the reserve. I think we must of had one of the best views in the resort. At 4pm we headed to the resort reception where we met with everyone before we headed out on the safari. We were split in to two trucks and were introduced to our tour guides. As we headed out on to the reserve the first animals we saw were the hippos. A little fact for you- Hippo’s kill more than 500 people in South Africa each year when people are collecting water from the resovoirs. But they don’t kill humans to eat them its just for territorial purposes. Next we saw two elephants. It was amazing how close we were to them. Then we saw zebras, rhinos and some antelopes. I honestly can’t tell you which my favourite were as it was all just surreal.
The evening was closing in but before we headed back there was one place left to go… the lion’s den. Maxwell our tour guide, explained that the lions were kept in their own enclosure as quite simply if they were let free they would kill everything in the reserve. To get to the lions reserve we had to drive up the mountain where we spotted the buffalo. Another fun fact- A buffalo can hold a very strong grudge, if you annoy one they will remember it forever! So look out. I must say entering the lions den was actually very scary. The lion’s were intrigued by our truck and started to follow us. Our tour guide was very good and never let them get too close. It was then that someone said ‘hold on, I thought you said there were 7 lions, I can only see 6’. After a short panic we noticed a lioness up the mountain sitting on what looked like pride rock. It’s such a strange sensation how you suddenly feel so safe once you leave the lion’s enclosure but you have actually just entered the rhino, buffalo and hippo enclosure. We then headed back to the reserve where we went straight to dinner. After dinner we bought a bottle of wine and sat in the lounge in front of a log fire. When we later arrived back to the lodge we noticed the staff had been in to our room whilst we were out to turn on our lights and leave us a couple of hot water bottles in our bed. Such a nice touch. The next day we met back at the reception area at 6am for tea and coffee before heading out on the morning safari. This time we were heading to a different part of the 10,000 hectare reserve to see the giraffes and if we were lucky a leopard. Maxwell parked up a truck and led us through the bushes where we found our first giraffe. We got as close as we could without scaring him off and then jumped back in the truck to find the others. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the leopard but Maxwell took us back through the lions den and down to the waterhole where the rhinos and antelopes were grazing. At 8am we arrived back at the reserve just in time for breakfast. After breakfast we checked out and headed back to the city. All in all, the safari was definitely the best thing I have ever done.