The Best Game Reserves near Cape Town

An African safari is on many people’s bucket list and so is a visit to Cape Town in South Africa. So why not combine the two? Although there are no game reserves in Cape Town, there are many possibilities for a safari near Cape Town

In this article we will give you an overview of the best game reserves near Cape Town so you can enjoy your Cape Town Safari

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Introduction to the Best Game Reserves near Cape Town

Cape Town is not really a safari destination, however it IS possible to experience an excellent Cape Town Safari in any of the game reserves near Cape Town. I am often asked what is the best safari from Cape Town. If time in South Africa is limited and you can’t travel to the Kruger National Park or any of the amazing other safari parks in South Africa, there are a few game reserves near Cape Town which we have visited and can recommend for an awesome Cape Town Safari experience.

The biggest advantage of enjoying a safari near Cape Town is that all these reserves offer the possibility for a malaria free safari which makes it a perfect family safari destination. So continue reading to find a Big 5 safari near Cape Town. Here is our recommended list of what is the best safari close to Cape Town.

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Map of Game Reserves near Cape Town

Aquila Safari Private Game Reserve
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve
Botlierskop Private Game Reserve
Gondwana Game Reserve
Addo Elephant National Park
Garden Route Game Lodge
Thali Thali Game Lodge
Buffelsfontein Game & Nature Reserve

Game Reserves Near Cape Town

The Cape Town game reserves range from 3 star to ultimate luxury safari places and I will try to make this list as extensive as possible so that you have a complete overview and can make your choice from there of which game reserve near Cape Town suits your needs and budgets best.

Aquila Safaris, 3 hours drive, one of the game farms near Cape Town

This is possibly one of the most well known game reserves around Cape Town. Aquila Safaris can handle a good amount of tourists. It is very easy to book with them and they come and pick you up from all the hotels in Cape Town. There are also overnight possibilities in family friendly chalets. For the more adventurous at heart, a quad bike safari is one of the options. Aquila offers several day tours from Cape Town. Some depart very early the morning and others more in the afternoon. All safaris are conducted in open safari vehicles with qualified guides.

Check the best rates and make your booking for Aquila HERE

Inverdoorn, 3 hours from Cape Town, 10.000 hectares

This game reserve near Cape Town offers a wide range of different accommodation in comfort and price range. In 2012 they’ve introduced elephant to the reserve which makes it now a Big 5 Safari experience and suitable for a nice Cape Town Safari. Day tours from Cape Town are on offer as well however we suggest you stay overnight so you might be able to experience the ‘walk with giraffes’ safari experience.

Check the best rates and make your booking for Inverdoorn HERE

Fairy Glen, 1.5 hours from Cape Town

This would be the closest game reserve to Cape Town in Worcester. Accommodation is in standard or luxury chalets and a day tour from Cape Town is possible as well. If you enjoy horseback safaris, these are on offer here as well. Please note that although Fairy Glen is a Big 5 Reserve it is very rare to see the Cape Mountain Leopard because they roam free and can only be seen at night occasionally.

Make your booking for Fairy Glen HERE

bestgamereservesnearcapetownbestgamereservesnearcapetown Buffelsfontein, 1 hour from Cape Town, farm style, 1.600 hectares

Rosie and I have fond memories of spending a weekend at this game farm. It is ideal with kids because the farm is quite small and you can be assured to see some animals. It says 4 out of 5 of the Big 5 (Lion, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard) HOWEVER, be aware that the Lions are in a cage and the Leopard is the Cape Mountain Leopard which lives in the mountains and doesn’t stick to one particular reserve and will be very rare to. This was definitely one of the best game parks near Cape Town to take the kids. It was such an easygoing place and Trevor on his Tractor was great with the kids.

Sanbona, 3.5 hours from Cape Town,

Ultimate luxury African safari, no day tours from Cape Town, however, definitely one of the best game reserves close to Cape Town, with or without kids.
With 3 different lodges and the explorer’s camp, Sanbona offers luxury safaris. Gondwana family lodge caters for families traveling with children and offers and extensive ‘kids on safari’ program. Sanbona takes great pride in offering these activities which hopefully create future conservationists. No day tours from Cape Town and we would suggest a minimum of a 2 night stay to experience this incredible place of conservation, style, hospitality and tranquility. Besides wilderness walks, Sanbona offers relaxation retreats, boat safaris and stargazing on top of the ‘usual’ open safari vehicle game drives. If you enjoy a more traditional safari lodge, I would recommend Tilney Manor however Dwyka Tented Lodge to me is the ultimate luxury safari.

Check the best rates and make your booking for SANBONA HERE

Thali Thali Game Lodge, 1 hour from Cape Town

Farm style, 1.460 hectares
This is a perfect 3 star safari near Cape Town for families with children. It mainly focuses on local travelers. We stayed here with another family and had a very nice time (but we’ve been living in Cape Town for 14 years so more or less we are locals). I wouldn’t recommend it so quickly for my international clientele mainly because it is really a farm experience and not much of a wildlife experience but yes families with small kids, perfect. It is close to the West Coast National Park so if you’re exploring this area, it is a perfect base in a lovely setting.

Make a booking for Thali Thali HERE

Safaris on  the Garden Route

The Garden Route, which is often combined with a holiday in Cape Town, offers a few very good safaris. The drive to these safaris will be between 3 – 5 hours from Cape Town.

Botlierskop, 4.200 hectares, about 4 hours drive from Cape Town

This game reserve offers luxury safari accommodation in 24 tented suites. There are separate programs for kids on safari, you can enjoy a safari on horseback and we recommend you stay at least 2 nights. Recently 3 lions have been released into 1.000 hectare separate piece of land. If you prefer to stay outside of the reserve that is also possible and day tours are offered into the reserve. All safaris are conducted in open safari vehicles. We sent many happy visitors to Botlierskop

Check out the availability and best rates for Botlierskop HERE

Garden Route Game Lodge

This safari on the Garden Route offers a different types luxury safari accommodation. Just like ALL the game reserves around Cape Town and on the Garden Route, The Garden Route Game Lodge is a malaria free safari experience which makes it an excellent choice to take the entire family and no malaria precaution is needed. The reserve is home to the lion, white rhino, giraffe, elephant, buffalo, cheetah and an abundance of antelope and smaller species. Enjoy safaris in open Landrovers and an African Dining experience. For the golf lovers, there are quite a few outstanding golf courses nearby so you can combine your South African Safari with a round of golf. Check golf club travel cases here!

Make your booking for Garden Route Game Lodge HERE


Gondwana Game Reserve, 11.000 hectares

This would be your most exclusive luxury safari on the Garden Route, about 4  hours drive from Cape Town International Airport. A very special offering at Gondwana is the Eco Camp Program where you can take an active role in in wildlife conservation. You can choose from either a  3 night or 5 night program where you will engage in activities to ensure the wellbeing of all the flora and fauna in the reserve. You will overnight in the Tented Eco Camp. Children from the age of 6 are allowed onto this program during designated family weeks which makes it a wonderful family safari holiday experience for the entire family.

Check NOW for available dates and best rates at Gondwana Game Reserve because they always seem to be fully booked

Safaris near Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

Port Elizabeth is situated at the end of the Garden Route. A local flight from Cape will take you there in about 1.5 hours (or 8 hour drive). A lot of travelers to South Africa start or finish their South African road trip in Port Elizabeth which is close to the Addo Elephant National Park. It is still malaria free and the Addo Elephant National Park is surrounded by excellent private safari reserves that are vastly bigger than the once on the Garden Route to ensure that proper safari experience.

Schotia Safaris

From the private game reserves near Port Elizabeth this would be the most budget friendly one. They offer day packages, 1 overnight and 2 overnight packages. The 2 night package includes a visit to Addo Elephant park as well so you don’t need to drive in there yourself.

Contact us HERE if you would like to find out about their very affordable rates

Amakhala Private Game Reserve, 18.000 acres

With 11 establishments ranging from 3 to 5 star surely there will be a lodge in this malaria free private game reserve that suites your needs. Lodges range from luxury safari tents to country houses and private lodges for families traveling together. In case you would like to take your safari to the next level, you could partake in a Field Guide training course.

Book HERE for the Safari Lodge at Amakhala Game Reserve

Shamwari Private Game Reserve, 25.000 hectares

Shamwari tells the story of many years of wildlife conservation and turning Eastern Cape farmland back to its natural habitat. It was interesting to read that this part of Africa used to be one of the richest wildlife areas in Africa in terms of biodiversity. Shamwari is all about offering a Big 5 luxury safari experience for the entire family. The reserve offers 6 5 star lodges, an Explorer Camp, 3 different education and rehabilitation facilities.
Shamwari offers a majestic Big 5 luxury safari experience. A very special photo safari is on offer where you will experience your safari from an especially equipped vehicle to take the most amazing pictures and learn all about wildlife photography by experts.

Book your luxury safari at Shamwari HERE

What to bring on a safari close to Cape Town?

Safaris close to Cape Town are in general a little bit less adventurous than for example a safari in Botswana. You will mostly have electricity throughout your stay and you don’t need to cook your own meal around a camp fire. Besides long sleeve beige tops and pants and a sun hat, you should bring the following items: camera, extra battery or power bank.  You will also need a South African Adapter which is NOT a world adapter.South African Adapter is a plug with 3 round pins, 1 is bigger than the other 2. Make sure to double check that you have the correct one. Most accommodations will have international plugs but it is always good to have your own and not be dependent on that.

Bring binoculars so that you can see and study the animals from up close. There’s nothing like zooming in on the beautiful creatures and really study them for a bit. Check HERE our comparison guide for the best kids binoculars for an African safari.

Are you ready to meet the Big 5 on your South African Safari?