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“Total con!” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Aquila Private Game Reserve

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Aquila Private Game Reserve
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4.0 of 5 Lodge   |   P.O. Box 1861, Cape Town Central 8000, South Africa   |  
Hotel amenities
Dubai
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Total con!”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed February 5, 2014 via mobile

We decided to spoil ourselves while in Cape Town with a private safari. The welcome was unfriendly and totally disinterested. The food was awful. Boarding school type food that for the most part was unidentifiable. No labels. Tasted awful and the air conditioning was blowing very warm air on the food. A huge health hazard. Other guests were talking to is and expressing the same fad opinions.
Chalets and setting pretty but such a wasted opportunity. Other parts of resort need sprucing up.
The safari did not live up to their website. We were told up front we probably wouldn't see the leopard. It is very limited with 2 elephants, 2 buffalo, 4 rhino, one giraffe and few other assorted animals. The most disappointing was the lions in enclosures. We were told that they could roam in their own areas but both times we went they were in small enclosures eating food given by staff, I now find out they are rescue lions but this is not really what you expect when you advertise the big 5!
Over road, crocs, cheetahs and lions in smallish enclosures that are just not right. The lions were pacing .
Ethically if I had known I would never have gone and considering what we paid I felt cheated. This was not a real safari!

Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
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132 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (32)
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Gold Coast, Australia
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2014 via mobile

We visited Aquila with our two young children, and even though we knew we should not expect a similar experience to the bushveld, we understood from marketing as well as ratings that Aquila would be worth the visit. Unfortunately it is tough to find positives in this place and we believe it is falsely marketed, a tourist trap and overall an embarassment for South Africa, which the tourism board should investigate. Overall this is just a big Zoo with predators caged and not free roaming. Definitely no "safari"....

We left a day earlier than paid for and the reception didn't even question why we left! We are aware of numerous complaints by other guests the same time we were there as well as other guests who left earlier similar to us.

A list of negatives,
- unfriendly staff on arrival (had to carry our own luggage to rooms),
- the chalet (stated as luxury) was quite basic with no curtains of equal length, the one shower curtain was almost 30cm higher than the floor, rooms were dusty due to tatch roof....
- cost was more expensive than Fancourt yet rooms significantly smaller and more basic
- internet in rooms didn't work (gave up after requesting staff 5 times)
- game ranger was shocking (made various inappropriate comments, such as complaining about quality of vehicle to guests, saying the facility had 6 giraffes but 5 died as there was no food, told guests it was safe to get out with the lions as lions were fed with sheep earlier in the week, and the ranger was having glasses of shampagne when we stopped for a sundowner!
- lions and leopard were in electrified areas, same size almost as in a zoo
- no preference for staying guests compared to day visitors in game drives
- buffet food monotonous and it seemed some food not consumed at lunch was served again during dinner.

Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
White River, South Africa
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 12, 2014

We spent Christmas day and night there, and although we all paid the full rate we were packed seven adults into a two bedroomed place with a loft that had four single beds in it. There were two bathrooms (shower rooms). We should have been given two separate units. We found the food to be very average and mostly lunch was left over dinner. Staff seemed a bit clueless and nervous. There were buses coming in all the time, offloading people to do game drives. Our "ranger" was thrilled that he had graduated from a one month ranger's course and compared himself to Kruger and Sabi Sabi game rangers (who do extensive multi-layered courses and are extremely well trained). He claimed we would see more game than if we were in Kruger and as one who visits Kruger several times a year, Sbi Sabi fairly often, and also other SA reserves on a regular basis, I assure you his information was rubbish. This place is fine for people who want a more Disney experience to get up close and see a limited amount of game, take their photos and then push off for the beach or wine tour or whatever. It is not for serious lovers of wildlife, or anyone who is a bit more knowledgeable about game, flora or fauna or who loves the intense experience of the real wilderness or bush.

Room Tip: Insist on knowing how many bathrooms are available to larger parties.
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ipswich
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 13, 2013

The game drive was superb - we saw all the animals and got some great photos - I loved being up close to the lions. Our driver was incredibly knowledgeable and proud of the place. We had a little break with some snacks and bubbles before continuing around the reserve. The evening drive was around 3 hours. It was a very windy night but we slept well in our accomodation and got up for an early game drive and look at the conservation area where they had some animals that they had rescued. I liked that the place was putting something back into the community by using local workers and craftsmen for buidling and expansion and also the work they seemed to be doing in rescuing animals from hunters. It is not a huge game reserve so that limits the number of animals they can have. That said, I saw lions, elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffe, springbok, zebra, buffalo, snakes, birds and a leopard - I got some amazing photos. We had a lovely room - one of the cheaper ones without thatch but was still better than I had expected for the price with everything you could want for an overnight - clean comfy beds, safe, wood burner (they will come and light it for you if you would rather not try yourself!), fridge, bathroom, toiletries AND an outside shower looking up to the stars! There is also a little outside terrace to your accommodation but we didn't have time to use it. Food was good and plentiful - my only concern was sharing it with the birds who also seem to have residence in the dining room and bar! The staff were really helpful and we were greeted with a glass of bubbly and a cooling towel on arrival. We were staying overnight and were told to arrive at 12 but couldn't check in until a little later - had we known we would probably have arrived a little later but it did mean we could relax by the pool with a nice glass of (very reasonably priced) wine before the evening game drive! it appeared they were expanding the accommodation and adding some aminities as there appeared to be some work going on on the side we stayed. Well worth what we paid for it!

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alnwick, United Kingdom
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2013

We arrived at Aquila on the 15 October for a two night stay. The trip had been recommended by friends and colleague and we had also brushed up on trip advisor so that we knew what to expect. I would say that this is the most importand thing to do before you arrive. My boyfriend had previously been to the Kruger National Park and having read information about Aquila we knew it wasn't going to be that "wild" or to that scale. I think if we hadn't known that, we probably would have thought that it would have been like the Lion King which is wasn't. Whilst the animals are technically in the wild it is still a little bit staged. HOWEVER, we still thoroughly enjoyed the trip and regardless of the fact is wasn't a fully authentic experience, you still get to see the big 5 up close as well as so many other animals roaming around. The rangers were knowledgable, friendly and enthusiastic. We really couldn't have thanked them enough, but we tried by tipping them after each trip which they really appreciated.
The food was buffet style, which suited us, and the puddings were especially tasty. There were plenty of beers, wines and soft drinks to choose from and at a great price.
The accomodation was clean, spacious and nicely decorated and the grounds were fantastic (although the pool was really cold).
I did notice a comment about someone having money stollen from their suitcase, which really shocked me as I never felt unsafe or felt that anything like that would happen. It is such a shame this happened to those people. We had out iPhones, iPads, carkeys and money in our room BUT did lock them in the safe as a priority. I would do this in a hotel in the UK/US/EUROPE and did the same in South Africa!

TIP - TAKE A JACKET FOR THE DRIVES. Whilst it is warm and they provide blankets, it can get nippy so take a fleece.

Enjoy!

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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West Chester, Pennsylvania
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 1, 2013

On our trip to South Africa we were very excited for our stay on the game reserve. Upon arriving we were notified that our first safari would be happening soon so we quickly put our things in the room, locked them and got ready. This was around 3 in the afternoon when no one else should have been coming into our room, when we returned for dinner, one member of our party realized her suitcase had been gone through and all her money in her wallet taken. The manager on duty was somewhat helpful but when we met with the general manager of Aquila he pretty much told us that it happens and there's nothing that can be done. We then looked up other reviews for this place and found that we were not the only ones this happened to. PLEASE take all valuables with you. On the bright side, we did have a fantastic tour guide who took us on a long, beautiful safari and was very knowledgeable.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
india
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 1, 2013

i am writing this review quite late .....but lately i saw a travel show on Discovery about this reserve and it brought back all the wonderful memories we had in this place.

we have been to south africa many times and mostly to Cape town. its a beautiful place and after exploring the city, Green point flea market, waterfront the antique markets and driving around the beautiful bays all around....we wanted to end our holiday by going to a game reserve. we did not have time to go to Kruger or thereabouts. we just chanced on a brochure of the Aquila Reserve and we liked what we saw. they were certainly not cheap but the price also included a pick up from hotel and drop back. its quite near the city but still far enough for you to see the beautiful countryside and stop by at a farmers market on the roadside and buy some rooibos tea etc.
the room we stayed in at the Aquila were very classy all done in stone and also had these wonderful bunk beds for kids and my kiddo was super excited. after a wonderful bush dinner...simply delicious and homey....we retired to our room. we stood out on the balcony for a while and it was such a sight when we saw wildebeests, giraffes, zebras grazing all over around us.
we saw the famous white rihno..giraffes, wildebeest, zebras etc. we also enjoyed the tea breaks during the drive and the long friendly chats with the guide. everyone was so friendly warm, superb service. this is not a resort swarming with waiters etc. the service is quiet and warm, homey. they had this amazing pet Ostrich at the time and it was such a sweetheart who had a real fondness for all shiny stuff and would swallow all jewellery etc if any guest would leave a trinket lying around the pool etc.
i would highly recommend this place and would go back again.i believe they have made huge changes since we were here last and now they have lions, cheetahs too.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Aquila Private Game Reserve

Address: P.O. Box 1861, Cape Town Central 8000, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Western Cape > Cape Town > Cape Town Central
Hotel Style:
Ranked #49 of 102 Specialty Lodging in Cape Town Central
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Aquila Private Game Reserve 4*
Number of rooms: 33
Also Known As:
Aquila Private Game Reserve Cape Town, South Africa

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