A little while ago we were invited to visit Aquila Game Reserve between De Doorns and Touws Rivier, where they have recently opened a beautiful new spa to complete their relaxing safari experience.
Aquila is situated about two hours from Cape Town, making it ideal for tourists who want the Big 5 experience while visiting the Mother City. It is also a convenient breakaway for families, with fairly affordable rooms that can accommodate you and your children, and a big play area where you can leave the kids with a babysitter while you have a grownup drink by the pool.
The new spa is definitely worth visiting if you’re in the area. At the heart of the stone building you’ll find two large heated swimming pools, surrounded by large windows, with birds fluttering in and out. Take a dip in the water, relax in the sauna or steam room, or unwind on one of the lounge chairs. It is a perfect place to spend the day after you’ve had a treatment.
We had the Rose Quartz Couples Massage, a 90 minute deep tissue massage incorporating rose quartz crystals, which is said to have healing properties, and natural oils made from indigenous plants and herbs. It was a lovely way to unwind after a tense few weeks at work.
As you might expect from a game lodge, the spa is pretty pricey, with massages starting at R590. However, if you’re staying in the Premiere Cottages, or for longer than two nights, you get free access to the spa. Alternatively you can also pay R250 pp to relax there for the day if you don’t want to book a treatment.
Head over here for more details
We stayed over in one of their Premier Lodge Rooms, which is in the main building, with beautiful views of the reserve from the balcony. These rooms are more affordable than the Cottages but still offers all the comforts you need, and they have been decorated in a chic, modern way. You also have the option to combine a premier and standard lodge room to create a larger family unit.
A big plus is that the accommodation includes two game drives, lunch, dinner and breakfast, and you have the option to visit the Aquila Rescue and Conservation Centre. That means you’re getting a really good deal for the price you’re paying.
That evening we joined a group of mostly American and British tourists for a sunset safari. It was lovely to drive through the Karoo fields, spotting Zebra, Eland and Wildebeest. Personally I enjoy driving out with tourists who are completely new to the safari experience, and who have a fresh appreciation for these animals.
My only downside on the trip was the lions, which are kept in a separate area and fed by the reserve. Since they don’t hunt, the lionesses have become pretty fat and lazy when compared to those you’d see in the Kruger or Addo and while they’re still magnificent, I prefer seeing these creatures in a more natural habitat.
The reserve also offers game viewings on horseback and on quad bikes. These were unfortunately fully booked but I think it would be an incredible way to see the animals. If you are planning a trip make sure you reserve a spot early on.
Aquila offers a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is typical of a game lodge, with pots of stews and curries, baked potatoes, a variety of cold dishes and cheese platters. We had a good time trying all the different options, plating up small dishes at a time to try as much as possible. The Kudu loin they served at dinner was outstanding, and they had a sumptuous oxtail stew that I’d go back for.
It is a quick and scenic drive up to Aquila, making it a great option for a weekend getaway. If you are staying over, or if you are in the area, set a day aside to visit their spa. Simply spending an afternoon in that pool will melt away your worries.
For more information and rates, visit aquilasafari.com