When I got the invite to check out Aquila Private Game Reserve & their newly launched spa my thoughts were:  awesome little African getaway just 2 hours drive from Cape Town, 4 star luxury, spa pampering and a chance to see the big 5 up close… what person in their right mind would say no to that!?  Of course this was an easy “yes please”!  The fact that bestie Leigh from Lipgloss Is My Life also got invited was an even plus and we decided to plan our visit together as a little girls gone into the wild (see what I did there) getaway.

For those unfamiliar with Aquila, they’re situated on the R46 on your way to Ceres, about 30km outside of De Doorns and approximately 10km from the Touws River.  They offer shuttles to and from Cape Town, half day / full day / overnight (or even fly in!) safaris which can be done in the comfort of one of their 4×4 game drive vehicles, on horseback or even quad bikes if you’re feeling a little adventurous.  On the accommodation side they have a beautiful lodge with standard / premier rooms & family suites as well as standard / premier / family luxury cottages, some of which are freestanding.

It’s basically the perfect city escape without having to travel too far…

Upon arrival we were greeted with a little welcome drink before Johan, their super lovely marketing manager, gave us a bit of a tour of their facilities which include a big infinity pool & pool bar, a double volume dining area & patio which overlooks the pool, a fire pit where they roast marshmallows at night (I mean how awesome is that?), large lawns where you at you can also do some stargazing at night (they bring out telescopes & everything), and for people with kids they also have a great kids play area with a sandpit, wooden playground & mini golf course as well as a Junior Ranger programme with daily activities.

Let me show you around:

Heaven on earth I tell you…

Another great feature is their brand new Tranquila Spa.  The spa has both an outdoor & 2 indoor heated pools, a steam room, a sauna, a nail bar, single and double rooms as well as a group treatment room which can accommodate up to 10 people (so great for girls pamper days or even a small birthday party or bachelorette).

I must say their indoor heated pool area is one of the sexiest I’ve seen in quite some time, and overall I really loved the African-inspired yet super slick & modern decor.  It was so great to just relax within that beautiful space, taking the time to forget about day-to-day stresses…

The spa’s outdoor pool…

The spa reception area…

Seriously, how gorgeous is that??

These were pretty cool too…

Clockwise from top left: a single room, double room & their big group room

We enjoyed their 90-minute Rose Quartz couples massage (R1 290 pp) and it was everything you’d want out of a relaxing massage.  For those who haven’t done one of these, it’s kinda like a hot stone massage, but instead of using volcanic rock they use smooth rose quartz crystals along with Theranaka’s marula oil-infused African Infusion body oils.  #bliss

The spa offers a whole host of treatments skin care, body, hair & nail treatments (and even some maintenance options too).  Have a look at their full spa menu over here.

As for our accommodation, we stayed in one of their premier lodge rooms which are really spacious and come with an en suite bath and shower, as well as a balcony with great views:

 

It really doesn’t get much better than that…

After we settled in and had a little “zoning out” time, we were ready to head out for our sunset game drive

The first stop was the ARC (Aquila Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Conservation) centre which is a non-profit initiative run by Aquila to house, rehabilitate & then release animals that may have been found injured or saved from caged hunting schemes (as examples).  They’re currently looking after a leopard, crocodile and two cheetahs which they hope to find permanent homes for soon.  At one stage they were also looking after a baby rhino who was rejected by its mother (shame man).  Loved the fact that they have this initiative and that they’re doing their bit to protect our incredible animals, but of course something like this does cost a lot of money and they’re always very thankful for any helping hand they can get.  For example, the cheetah’s that need to be released require tracking devices that cost R150k each! #ouch So if you’re an animal lover and you want to give them a helping hand, hop on over here to find out more & make a donation, even as little as R100 will be appreciated.

After our visit to ARC, we headed back to the main reserve where we saw more animals than I think I’ve ever been lucky enough to see on one game drive.  We had two elephants which walked straight past our vehicle (was so awesome!), a couple or rhinos who circled us for a bit (with babies!), zebras, eland, springbok, impala, AND lions.  I felt like a 5 year old on my very first school outing, smiling from ear to ear with excitement…

Hippo spotting…

Our ranger, Trevor, was fantastic. He knew so many interesting facts about the animals & the African bushveld, I feel I can now challenge anybody to a general knowledge match 😉 (as long as it’s nature focused of course)

Gorgeous…

Eland!

With poachers doing so much damage to our rhino population, this was super special to see…

Some more animals we saw en route…

We finished things off with some bubbles & snacks (which is something you can opt to include when you book a sunset drive):

Cheers!

And then got to enjoy this beautiful bushveld sunset…

I could get used to this life…

After our game drive, we settled in for an awesome dinner buffet.  In fact, all 3 meals at Aquila (breakfast, lunch & dinner) are all buffets, which is awesome because you can pick exactly what you want and then go in for 2nds (even 3rds if you so wish). #highfivetothat

A little sampling of their offering… The other awesome thing is that most of the fruit and veggies used at the restaurant are grown sustainably at the ARC centre too…  Oh and all left over food is donated as part of a feeding programme for kids in the area, so nothing goes to waste.

Other notable mentions?  Well they have peacocks just randomly walking around and the leave elephant-shaped towels on your bed…

Nuff said… It’s freakin’ fantastic here…

I wish that I could have stayed for a whole week, but sadly Monday (and reality) was calling.  If you’ve been looking for a great friends or family getaway, I’d say definitely consider Aquila as an option, even if you can only do a day visit.

Rates wise I do think it’s great value if you are able to stay over though.  As an example:

  • An overnight stay in a standard lodge room costs R1895 (winter rate) / R2 095 (summer rate) per person sharing
  • Or book a premier lodge room like the one we stayed in at R2495 (winter rate) / R3495 (summer rate) per person sharing
  • Both options include: transport from Cape Town, three buffet meals, two game drives and an optional visit to ARC.
    – Drinks & spa treatments would be for your own cost.  But if you do purchase a treatment, you also get access to all the other spa facilities, which is a definite win.  If you book a premier cottage or stay longer than two nights you’re free to enjoy the spa without purchasing a treatment.

To Johan and the rest of the Aquila team I have to say a HUGE thank you.  We’ll be bragging about this getaway for months and months to come, that’s guaranteed. 🙂

xxx