I have to admit that I have been influenced by the negative comments that came up on Trip Advisor about Aquila Private Game Reserve. Someone called it a ‘glorified zoo’. This erroneous comment leads you to believe that it’s not really all that wild at Aquila. Yesterday, I learnt otherwise! We had a scheduled horseback safari into the Aquila reserve. They have about 8 horses at Aquila and a very cute pony…
Mike has hardly ridden a horse before, so for him it was all very new and unfamiliar. We had 2 rangers riding with us and 2 other guests, so we were a party of 6. It was cool and breezy as we entered the reserve through the main gate. The second ranger had just closed it, when the first quickly turned his horse around and hustled us all back towards the gate. Two buffalo had been walking towards a water hole about 200m from the gate. As we appeared, they stopped, turned to look at us and menacingly stared. Buffalo will charge if they feel threatened. As the ranger said, it’s best to get out of their way and give them a wide berth, which we did. They soon continued on their way and we went in the opposite direction. We were glad to see the back of them…
…with nothing between us, was just awesome. We didn’t get too close to any of the animals, but could see them and they could see us. They would move away, checking us out as they went. We went to one of the main watering holes of the rhino. As we climbed up a bank to look over it, 5 rhino were cooling themselves in the mud and water. They saw us as we saw them. We immediately turned away and retreated. There was the entire watering hole between us, so we didn’t feel threatened, until we noticed that they had all got to their feet and were walking parallel to our path, albeit 300m away. The water soon ran out and now there was just scrub vegetation. The wind was blowing our scent towards them. Rhino have very poor eyesight, but an acute sense of smell. I was very nervous. You don’t want to get chased by a rhino. I was very happy when the ranger decided we had to turn back because it seemed these massive protected multi-tonne beasts were headed in the same direction we were. As we turned around, we saw them standing looking our way! My heart was pounding – vulnerability and an adrenaline rush met face to face. I asked the ranger if he had ever been chased by a rhino or buffalo. “No”, he said. “How long have you worked here?” I asked. “Two months!” he replied! Eek!
The animals at Aquila are wild. Don’t believe a thing you read about it being a “glorified zoo.” They may be used to tourists driving around in the safari vehicles; they may be used to the appearance of horses, but I am sure, if they feel threatened, they will charge. I came away from Aquila at the end of 2 memorable nights thinking it absolutely had lived up to its 4 stars.
I’ll be getting onto Trip Advisor soon to add my good opinion to the others. As far as costs go, we got a special on Groupon (it had to be used before end October). It was R5000 for the two of us for two nights and that included 2 driven safaris and 1 horseback safari. It also included three meals a day. It did not include drinks. Regular coffee was R14 per cup, so that’s not excessive. You got coffee at breakfast and there’s tea and coffee available in the room. We had the standard room which was small, but adequate with free wi-fi, fridge, air con, heating and the best was the AMAZZZING outdoor shower. I want one! For us Capetonians, the short drive up the N1 sure beats catching a flight to Johannesburg, organising a car and driving to the Kruger. Aquila is more than adequate for a Big 5 experience.
God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
He made them for our enjoyment. It is good!
Keep the smile going!
God bless you!
In His Grip,
Gratitude Pic…home with my pretty kitty…at least she lets me near her…