Visitors to South Africa arrive en masse to the Kruger during peak safari season, and the summer season sees them flocking to the shores of Cape Town for a bit of coastal splendour in Cape Town. Peak safari season and the coastal summer are poles apart in terms of time frames, which makes it hard to combine a Kruger bush and Cape Town beach combo. Visitors generally have to prioritise one of these types of holidays and settle for their second choice being outside of peak season when it’s not the most idyllic time to visit. Do you want peak safari or peak beach? The choice is entirely yours, but even out of season, both destinations are still exquisite and have a lot to offer!
For travellers who have decided that the Cape Town coast is their number 1 choice, but still want to enjoy some kind of wilderness/safari experience, we recommend these game reserves in the Western Cape :
Sanbona is famous for its White Lion Project that aims to return white lions into the wild. There’s already been a high success rate with the reintroduction of the Sanbona white lions into the wild. Sprawling across 54 000 hectares of pristine fynbos smothered Cape fold mountains, malaria-free Sanbona provides the perfect habitat for big game, general game and even the rare riverine rabbit.
Located a mere 3-hour drive from the centre of Cape Town, Sanbona is close enough for a quick weekend escape from the Mother City. There are 4 accommodation options available, each catering for a different type of safari-goer. There’s the elite and exclusive Tilney Manor, ideal for a luxury wilderness retreat. There are six spacious open-plan suites complete with private verandas giving rise to sweeping views of the raw wilderness. Tilney Manor has a luxurious lounge, a tranquil rim flow pool and a spa room. Dwyka Tented Lodge is hugged by rocky outcrops and is home to 9 luxury tents, with private decks and heated jacuzzis. Snaking around a bend of a dry Karoo ravine, Dwyka is the perfect option for a remote wilderness experience. Gondwana Family Lodge is the perfect option for families and small groups travelling together and overlooks the mountains and Bellair Dam. Explorer Camp is a seasonal camp that offers adventurous guests a guided walking experience in the Karoo. Located along a shaded riverbed, this wilderness trail takes two days to complete.
Activities at Sanbona include guided nature walks, photography, bird-watching, rock formations and features, trout fishing, a Wellness Centre, and spectacular star gazing.
De Hoop Nature Reserve not only offers a wilderness experience, but it also offers a coastal experience with views of the sea, sand dunes, vleis and fynbos. The nature reserve is the perfect combination of beach and bush and is home to a wealth of plains game. It’s a reserve ideal for sporting activities such as hiking, mountain biking, nature drives and day trails. Endless miles of marine protected area, home to 86 mammals, 260 migrant and resident bird species. The De Hoop Collection Hotel stretches across 11 km of incredible landscape and is ideal for a relaxed, farm stay in a completely natural environment.
Bushmans Kloof sits at the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains in a natural heritage site and is home to over 130 ancient rock paintings. Looming mountains, snaking and rocky outcrops laden with fynbos form part of the topography of the land. The reserve is a protected area, and one that is a great attraction for geologists. Dwelling among the undulating landscape you’ll discover plenty of plains game including aardwolf, African wild cat, bat-eared fox, Cape fox and porcupine.
There’s plenty of general game in the region, and the wildlife reintroduction programme has seen the return of bontebok, red hartebeest, grey rhebok, and ostrich. Bushmanskloof reserve has a range of accommodation options from rooms to suites and private villas.
There’s even a wellness retreat, and activities such as hiking, biking, and canoeing. There’s plenty to do in this remote and pristine wilderness.