Review | Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa

My friends came to visit while I was in Capetown and were interested in doing a Safari; due to a lack of time we decided upon Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa  and though Kruger would always be my number one Safari spot (read my review here), Aquila had a number of great things going for it!

Background — lowkey boring stuff

Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa is an award winning 4-star private game reserve and spa that has been acclaimed for its conservation programmes and social responsibility efforts in addition to its luxurious amenities. Though its number one purpose is the protection of threatened wildlife and job creation for the local community, the resort offers a day and overnight safari experience via quad bike, private/group safari tours or horseback alongside an amazing spa experience.

 

Experience

After a 2 hour ride from Capetown, we arrived at Aquila wide eyed and bushy tailed. Upon arrival, we were greeted by staff who took our luggage and offered a glass of champagne (Aquila… I love you already!). Two glasses in, we head in to check into our villa. You can choose from an array of accommodations from standard lodge rooms to Luxury Cottages all which are available for upgrades.  We opted for a luxury cottage and were pleasantly surprised by it’s space and particularly the gorgeous all rock ALFRESCO shower!!

The Aquila resort space itself is incredible and boasts a sizable infinity pool with a swim up bar and tons of sunbathing space. Not a fan of the pool? there is also a large fire pit for braais (Southern African BBQs) and nighttime gathering; Aquila also does a nighttime star gazing mini course  for those that are interested.

It is important to note that there are animals (baboons, peacocks, etc) on the grounds, so be careful not to leave things around such as your cellphone or food laying around.

Safari

The Good:

After a late lunch we headed out for a nighttime group safari. It was a fun outing and everyone seemed to really enjoy it; they even got to see the big 5 including a feeding of the lions. The guides were extremely lively and helpful; my favourite part of the excursion was having the opportunity to have a wine and charcuterie break with the zebras and giraffes out in the wild.

The Meh:

Disclaimer: My last safari experience was at Kruger National Park which was an incredible, life changing experience that I’m sure nothing else can come close to touching.

Now let’s get to it — it didn’t feel authentic. It was painfully obvious they positioned the animals to congregate at certain times for the tour in that you could literally see guides making “feed trails”. As a silver lining, due to the seemingly ‘domesticated’ behaviours of the animals, we were allowed to get a really close up view which would’ve been terrifying in a place like Kruger. If you have older people and/or kids in your group, I would suggest Aquila since it’s not as taxing and you get the “gist” and can say you went on a safari.

The Irritating:

We drove into a lion enclosure and since they had nowhere else to go, they were pretty easy to spot. We saw 4 pregnant lionesses and two lions; I asked if there were any cubs or younger lions and was told there wasn’t. I’m not a complete idiot and so I was a bit confused since these weren’t first pregnancies and there were no “teen cubs” to be found. I pondered outloud where the cubs were and the two guides, though very nice, ultimately told me that we can speak later (aka shut up) – fair enough, we were in a group and who wants to be the annoying person asking questions. During the break, I asked again, in my usual annoying manner and one of the guides filled me in that the cubs are usually taken to a bigger place like Kruger. Again, fair enough, they don’t have the space to raise cubs (they apparently don’t feed the lions live animals which I kinda found odd.. at least let them exercise a little and work for it, but hey! what do I know); so I asked how long the cubs were at Kruger and do they come back? ding ding ding you guessed it, they don’t come back because they can’t be reintroduced to the pack. I personally know zilch about conservation so I’m sure this is a perfectly good reason, but the dodginess just felt unnecessary and sketchy. Just say that you are basically using these old ass lions for breeding purposes and you don’t have the space to care for the cubs (Kanye shrug), I mean it is what it is no?

Spa — Godsend!

Aquila definitely made up for their sketchiness with their Tranquil Spa! It features two heated indoor and an outdoor pool, 10 treatment rooms, nail bar, steam room, sauna and even group treatment rooms for events! I opted for the 90 minute Body Scrub and African Wood Massage and it was GLORIOUS! No lie, I was so relaxed I fell asleep mid massage; my masseuse was so cute and was super informative. She started by scrubbing me down with their housemade sugar scrub and since there was a shower within the room, the clean up was super easy afterwards. After a complete (and I mean complete) rubdown with a Marula oil/shea butter heavenly concoction, I was fast asleep two minutes into the massage.

Almost done!

I would definitely recommend Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa to those who are interested in a safari while being short on time. It’s an easy destination from Capetown and you do get really close to the animals! If you have the opportunity to do a “real” safari.. then I wouldn’t waste my time with this. Honestly — I’d go back strictly for the Tranquil Spa and relaxation options. The Tranquil Spa facility is on POINT, the infinity pool/pool bar is amazing (the bartenders are quite heavy handed), the grounds itself is gorgeous.. what else does a girl need?

Got kids? This place is a goldmine — there is a child play area complete with mini golf and playgrounds, you can dump them in a day program and grab a glass of champagne and head to the spa (can you tell I love the spa).

The Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa is a definite plus if you’re looking for relaxation and wildlife with a sprinkle of adventure mixed in.

47 COMMENTS

  1. Tayo | 25th Jul 17

    Great pictures!

  2. Maliha | 25th Jul 17

    So honored to be featured. ‘The Irritating’ lol

    • Taiwo O | 26th Jul 17

      Aren’t those pics so cute!! I love the safari one !!

  3. Skye | 27th Jul 17

    What an incredible spot and experience. I could definitely see myself loving that pool and those sunset views. Such a shame you feel like a bit of your experience didn’t feel authentic. It must be hard for a big tourist destination like Kruger to keep it feeling fresh I guess. Looked like a lovely stay otherwise.

  4. Christie Brown | 27th Jul 17

    What an awesome experience – you’re so lucky (even if some parts weren’t exactly up to your expectations). Nonetheless, it looks still looks like a serene place to relax and unwind. Your photos are lovely, too. 🙂

    Christie’s Take on Life. xx

  5. Maria | 27th Jul 17

    Really cool review! I love that it’s not all good, you tackle the bad things too. Totally agree with you by the way – I’ve just come home from a trip which involved 2 days in Kruger, and that does seem so much better and more authentic than this.. But all the luxury here looks amazing!
    Just to let you know, many of the photos didn’t load for me. Don’t know if anyone else has had that issue 🙂

  6. Mary | 27th Jul 17

    WOW! I can’t even imagine how incrediable it is to be there, beautiful animals and a spa! Definitely a bucket list item. I think this is my type of Safari.

  7. Jennifer | 27th Jul 17

    This sounds like a great setting for a spa, even if it’s not great for a safari experience. I don’t know a lot about the intricacies of conservation, so I try to keep an open mind. Still, when guides don’t want to talk about something, it makes me wonder what’s up.

  8. Amber Myers | 27th Jul 17

    I would love to be resting by this pool. It looks amazing. I wouldn’t mind staying here, but I do feel for the lions!

  9. Victoria Alao | 27th Jul 17

    Now let’s get to it…. it didn’t feel authentic. It was quite obvious they positioned the animals to congregate at certain times for the tour as you could see guides making “feed trails”.

    this part KILLED me!! had me rolling!!

    Great review! I cannot wait to go on a safari myself

  10. Ola | 27th Jul 17

    It looks like these folks put a lot of work and money into creating this place. I’m sure that if the keepers didn’t lure the animals to the site, many would complain over never seeing them. Even as large as some of the other safaris are, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do something similar, albeit less often and on a more inconspicuous level, since both places are tourist attractions.

  11. jhilmil | 28th Jul 17

    This place looks like a heaven for relaxation and unwinding during weekends. It did make me sad that the cubs are taken away early from their mothers t raised somewhere else.

  12. David Elliott | 28th Jul 17

    It does look like it was an amazing trip. I did enjoy the vistas. I am sorry that you didn’t like the safari all that much. I guess I can see why you were annoyed by it all. I wouldn’t care all that much about moving the cubs. Although if you were promised to see cubs I guess I understand. I can The leaders of the pride would probably not let the cubs back in because of the challenge to their leadership. And they wouldn’t want to deal with the downfall. I don’t really understand everything. But I can understand not getting what you felt like you were promised.

  13. Blair villanueva | 28th Jul 17

    Thanks for sharing your review! It was an awesome review and the spa looks so lovely!

  14. Chelf | 28th Jul 17

    The views look amazing, the room looks amazing, the spa looks lovely! Im so jealous! So peaceful and relaxing, I wish I could join you and share a glass of champagne!

  15. Maria Angelova | 28th Jul 17

    This place looks like a nice mix of nature and resort. When animals are meant to be shown to tourist, you always have that feeling of ‘fake’, so I guess that’s what you’d expect. The place looks good though and yeah, the spa is awesome!

  16. joanna | 28th Jul 17

    The resort looks so amazing and the entire experience of having champagne in the wilderness seems fantastic. Shame about the animals though, it’s not ok to create “feed trails” just so that tourists see them… it’s their territory and people shouldn’t interfere.

  17. Mike | 28th Jul 17

    Thats amazing that you saw so many wild animals but I agree it might feel kind of meh if they are feeding the animals to bring them there. You have great photos and the resort looks wonderful too! Thanks for sharing.

  18. Priyanka | 28th Jul 17

    Great review and photos! I can see how it can pale in comparison to a safari, but this seems like an amazing experience. I would love to go here someday!

    xo, Pri
    http://www.paintthetownchic.com

  19. Vishal Vashisht | 29th Jul 17

    I must say, you are an excellent writer. I loved the Kruger NP safari photos.

    • Taiwo O | 3rd Aug 17

      Thank you!

  20. Stuart Brazell | 29th Jul 17

    This seriously looks like the trip of a lifetime!!

  21. Christie Brown | 2nd Aug 17

    Lovely photos! I’m sorry that you were left a little underwhelmed by the Safari. I can understand your annoyance. The spa, on the plus side, looks amazing! I could definitely spend some time there. 😛

    Christie’s Take on Life. xx

  22. Marianne | 2nd Aug 17

    Omg those shots are so beautiful! Cape Town is such a lovely place. This must have been such an amazing trip

  23. Akhilesh Maurya | 2nd Aug 17

    This environment is superb !!! Worth visiting in lifetime !!

  24. chandre | 2nd Aug 17

    Spa is what we need right now to sail through this week 🙂

  25. Rose | 2nd Aug 17

    Its nice I could dump the kids but I think mommas going without them, lol. A safari is on my list. Not sure when or which one but it’s very interesting that you say it was obvious they were getting fed and the lions were in enclosures. I guess that would definitely make it safer, right?

    • Taiwo O | 3rd Aug 17

      It definitely makes it seem safer but I guess for me to kinda takes away the thrill of seeing animals.. it felt a bit “zoo-esque”. For a first timer or one with children, it’ll definitely put you more at ease than an experience like Kruger

  26. Ania Travels | 2nd Aug 17

    This looks like such a stunning spa, I love all of the animals that are roaming around nearby. The actual spa looks stunning and relaxing too.

  27. Milosz Zak | 2nd Aug 17

    That is an incredible compound, the developers really put a lot of thought into the interior design. It all presents very well. The animals are just incredible, though. It’s one of my dreams to be able to see something like this in person.

  28. Alethea | 2nd Aug 17

    This looks amazing! Last year I visited South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. It was awesome. We went to Kruger also. While in Botswana, there were monkey’s on the rooftops of our cabin also. I loved seeing all the animals running around. I didn’t do a spa on that trip, but for my next African visit, I will definitely have to try out this spa experience.

    • Taiwo O | 3rd Aug 17

      ahh! I am so scared of monkeys lol that would’ve driven me mad! But i’d LOVE to go Botswana one day.. ugh I’ve heard such amazing things

  29. Lana | 3rd Aug 17

    You made jealous right now!. What a stunning place to visit. It’s so peaceful and relaxing, exactly what I need now.
    http://www.marieavenue.com

  30. Tara Siudy | 3rd Aug 17

    This looks like such an amazing place to go. I love that you can see wild animals and go to the spa in the same place

  31. kristal | 3rd Aug 17

    OMG! What a dream for me. This place look so amazing and peaceful I would love to visit and check this place out one day.

  32. Crissy | 3rd Aug 17

    What a beautiful resort area! I have been wanting to experience a safari so I am so jealous of your trip! Looks amazing! Also, what a beautiful pool area! Thanks for sharing and I am so glad you had a good trip!

  33. Natalie Da Silva | 5th Aug 17

    wow!! Such an amazing place to be! I love travelling too 🙂

  34. Thirty30Courtney | 6th Aug 17

    Thank you for your honesty. I don’t want to be underwhelmed regardless of it will be my first safari experience or not. I want the real thing! lol However, that pool and spa definitely have my name all over it.

  35. Ankita | 10th Aug 17

    This is WOW..!! Combination of nature with spa is amazing,love such resort which help you to revive..!! Pictures are amazing..!! Cheers..!!

  36. Stephanie | 11th Aug 17

    This place looks surreal!! I so want to take the next flight to Aquila! Love that it has a conservation area apart from the luxuries of a spa and lodging.

  37. Deimarys | 11th Aug 17

    This place it’s so beautiful and open, relaxing… I am in awe! That pool is calling my name!

  38. maria | 11th Aug 17

    Wow your photos look awesome, the resort looks truly beautiful! I’m sorry the Safari is not what you thought that it was going to be, however I hope you had a chance to relax and it looks like you did enjoy the Spas. Over all that must have been a great trip I hope to go to a Safari myself one day but if I want a really great international spa I know what to try.

    • Taiwo O | 13th Aug 17

      The resort was gorgeous and though the safari was a bit disappointing, the spa and the rest of the staff MORE than madde up for it!! Also the previous Safari I did was truly a one in a lifetime experience so I think my expectations were set quite high already. Please let me know if you do — you really should give it a try, seeing the animals in the wild is… well wild !lol

  39. Saidah Washington | 11th Aug 17

    Thanks for your honest review. This is definitely some place I’d considers when visiting. Have you ever been to the Ashnil properties Game reserves in Kenya? Just got back from a stay at two different locations and both were nice

  40. Adarsh M | 12th Aug 17

    Wow! I love reading this kind of posts. Those images speak a lot about the place. Thank you

  41. Ana Ojha | 13th Aug 17

    Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa looks like a perfect getaway in itself! Looks like you had such a great time! Your pictures speak for itself how amazing your stay was!

  42. Amila @ Leisure and Me | 14th Aug 17

    wow!What a great experience you had.This spa/resort looks really spacious and beautiful.I love such relaxing places.

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