Domestic and international tourists flock to the Cape Peninsula for vibrant culture, pristine beaches, and stunning natural scenery.
But for many, a trip to South Africa is not complete without a bush adventure and safari experience.
While the north of South Africa is home to the famous Kruger National Park and many smaller reserves, Cape Town visitors don’t have to give up their safari dreams. And for those who have a limited amount of time in South Africa, a Cape Town safari day trip is the perfect option.
Game Reserves Near Cape Town
There are a couple of excellent game reserves near Cape Town that offer day trips and the opportunity to see the Big 5. These reserves are privately owned and don’t compare to the size and wildlife density of bigger national parks in South Africa.
These Cape Town day trips are perfect for a quick getaway from the Cape Town area for wildlife tours. Here’s our guide to the best reserves for a safari day trip.
Aquila Private Game Reserve
A popular private nature reserve committed to conservation, Aquila Private Game Reserve has a number of safari options for day trips from Cape Town. It covers 10,000 hectares and is home to the Big 5, grazing wild animals, and almost 200 bird species.
Unfortunately, there are no self-drive safaris permitted. But expert guides with a wealth of wildlife knowledge and an all-inclusive experience make it a worthwhile safari near Cape Town.
If you’re keen on a day safari in the bush, you can do full-day safari tours. You can also tailor your day to include a couple of hours on horseback or quad bike in addition to the game drive.
Getting there: Aquila Private Game Reserve is 176km from the city. The drive takes around 2 hours from Cape Town. Alternatively, book a round-trip safari tour from Cape Town with pick-up included.
Extra Activities: On-site spa, outdoor activities such as quad bike safari and horseback safari.
Aquila Animal Rescue and Conservation Center: Working towards the rehabilitation of rescued, abused, or captivity-bred animals.
Inverdoorn Game Reserve
Located in the Klein Karoo, Inverdoorn Game Reserve prides itself on being a luxury game reserve. And the price tag of their safaris lives up to that reputation.
Albeit not the cheapest Cape Town day safari option, the attentive staff and extensive facilities make it a popular choice for one of the best day trips in Cape Town. The Big 5 and the South African national animal, the springbok, can be spotted on a day safari tour.
A day trip safari with Inverdoorn Game Reserve ensures a five-star experience. It also affords you the luxury of a Malaria-free African glamping experience. And, of course, guided game drives with knowledgeable guides in an open-air 4×4 are par for the course.
Getting There: 200km from the city center, the drive takes around 2.5 hours from Cape Town.
Cheetah Conservation Program: Completely overhauled in 2018, the Cheetah Conservation Program has the interests of the animals at heart.
Fairy Glen Game Reserve
This is the best day safari near Cape Town for those looking for a safari close to Cape Town, South Africa. But the wild and untamed bush feels much more remote and secluded than it actually is.
Look out for the Big 5 on half-day or full-day game drives. But don’t get too excited about seeing a leopard. The park has a small population, and the big cats are elusive. The sightings are very rare, so keep your eyes peeled.
The reserve is a beautiful mix of free-roaming bush animals and typical fynbos flora. Animal sightings are often intimate and within close proximity.
Getting there: Only 113km from Cape Town, a 1h 20min drive.
Added activities: Horseback safari tour and hiking trails.
Practicing Responsible Tourism on Cape Town Safari Tours
Game reserves and national parks play a huge role in conserving South Africa’s incredible wildlife. Visiting these parks greatly contributes to conservation efforts.
However, there are many rehabilitation centers and wildlife sanctuaries that conduct unethical practices for profit. These organizations mislead visitors by glamorizing captivity and breeding programs. They do little to actually rehabilitate or release wildlife.
Practice Responsible Ecotourism by Following These Tips
1. Say no to animal interactions of any kind. It may be tempting to interact with big cats. But this encourages captivity and disrupts natural structures that prohibit a release back into the wild.
2. Avoid organizations that allow for breeding in captivity. These wild animals’ offspring will not be able to be released back into their natural habitat at any point.
3. Ask a lot of questions. Find out where the animals at the sanctuary came from and why they have not yet been returned to the wild.
4. Does the sanctuary support local education? Conservation needs to focus on the education of local communities to avoid harm to animals at the hands of humans. A focus on educating communities demonstrates long-term conservation goals.
5. Who is the sanctuary working with? Do they work with other wildlife conservation programs and non-profits? These credentials help with credibility.
As a visitor to a game reserve and to wildlife centers, you play an instrumental part in protecting and conserving wildlife. Your role is important.
Enjoy the Best Safaris Near Cape Town
It seems you really can have the best of both worlds. Choosing a holiday in Cape Town doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice a safari expedition, especially when choosing the best time to go on safari.
With three amazing game reserves on the city’s doorstep, including Inverdoorn Game Reserve, even those who are crunched for time can spot the Big 5 on safaris near Cape Town.