Hi Readers,
We thought you might like to hear about our wonderful trip to Aquila Private Game Reserve. About twenty of us gathered in the car park on Saturday morning. We had been asked to travel light and to be very sure to wear warm clothing as we were going to a cold part of the country, this meant beanies, scarves, and woolen socks.

Excitement was in the air. The George & Annie Starck combi stood there waiting with Tielman, our driver, together with Abri and his vehicle too. The luggage was all packed into the huge boot of Abri’s vehicle, plus some passengers and the rest of us went into the combi. We were off.
In no time at all we were travelling through the beautiful Breede River and the Hex River with the river meandering its way through the valley and the mountains towering above with lots of snow on the peaks. Our first stop was at a Spar garage complex just off the national road where we had a short break for coffee. Back on the road again it wasn’t long before we spotted the first huge roadside advert for Aquila. Cheers from everyone.
On arrival at Aquila we checked in at reception and had some free time to look around and find our bearings. It was exciting looking around this very up market complex which was the last word in luxury. In the garden we met Mr Peacock but despite much flattering persuasion from Mona and I he refused to spread out his beautiful tail, but he did oblige the next morning.
We were shown to our accommodation. Our cases had been brought up so we unpacked a few things then went down for lunch. The dining room was huge and packed with tourists. We had been given two long tables to accommodate our party.
All the meals were a buffet. I can’t start to tell you what was laid out except that we were spoilt for choice. It was first class with so much to choose from and, of course, we could go back for seconds. Mona and I treated ourselves to a glass of wine with our lunch but got a bit of a shock at R48 per glass, but what the heck we were here and it was something special.

At about 3 p.m. we gathered at the reception to board the vehicle for our game drive. We had an excellent guide/driver who was very knowledgeable. Our first sighting was Ostrich and Springboks, then we came across a herd of Zebra’s which included a six-week old baby keeping close to his mother. Into the far distance of the plains, we could see two large bull Elephants lumbering towards us. In no time at all, they were within shooting distance, cameras of course. Such beautiful gracious animals they are my favourites. The Zebras attempted to join forces with the Elephants but received a mock charge from one of the bulls. All in good fun, of course. Perhaps it was just a show put on for us.
On the move again. Next stop was the Giraffe’s, two adults and a youngster. They weren’t much interested in us as they were too busy feeding from a high, on stilts contraption holding a tray, in which there must have been given some fruit. We got some good pics though. …

Now we come to the King of the jungle and all his wives. They were all very sleepy. The lionesses sprawled out on top of a concrete slab enjoying the warmth from it and the late afternoon sun. The Lion was on the ground some distance away just watching everything. The Lions have a very, very large enclosure fenced in with a high electrified fence. We learned that they only get fed once a week, on a Friday, so since this was a Saturday they probably had very full tummies. I’m sorry I never heard him roar.
The sun was now going down and was throwing lots of shadows on the surrounding hills and mountains giving the countryside a very different look. We next stopped at the Rhino’s. I believe they were white rhinos – there were about 7 or 8 of them, also with a youngster. The mother rhino had the biggest horn I think I’ve ever seen. I asked the guide if they had had any trouble with poachers, unfortunately, they had and had lost a rhino a few years back. A fully grown rhino weighs about 8 tons.

The last stop was at a lake containing Hippo’s. Unfortunately, they were largely submerged and we could only see the tops of their backs and little ears sticking out. The guide told us that if we were lucky we may see them on the following morning’s game drive, and I believe that was so. The Sunday morning game drive left at 7 a.m. and Mona and I decided we would give it a miss. However, it was reported that the Hippo’s had been seen.
When we came back from the game drive the sun had long since dipped behind the mountains and we were beginning to feel chilled to the marrow. Imagine what joy for Mona and I when we entered our room to discover that some kind person had been and switched on the heat, lovely and warm. Furthermore, some very clever artistic person had taken one of the large white fluffy bath towels and twisted and turned it to form an elephant’s face, together with two blue eyes, and there he was placed to welcome us, we shrieked with laughter.
We spent a very comfortable night in hugely comfortable beds and after breakfast was taken by the game drive vehicle to visit their Eco Farm – just across the road. This was extremely interesting. We were told about how they minced up all the leftover food from the hotel and this was fed to a special kind of worm which they kept. Eventually, through a rather complicated system which I won’t even try to explain, what the worms produced what was used to fertilize the crops, seedlings, vegetables, and saplings which they were grew. That wasn’t all we were shown an area which they were developing into a park for children. At the moment it contained huge effigies of dinosaurs and other extinct monsters. The idea behind this children’s park was for them to be able to get up close to the extinct animals and be told that if they and their children’s children did not look after the ecosystem, then perhaps they may never be able to see the animals which they had just seen on a game drive, ever again as they also may be extinct. I was very impressed by this venture which Aquila was undertaking. …

We left about 11:30 a.m. and I no time at all we were safely back home thanks to good and safe driving from Tielman and Abri. A big, big thank you to Annemie who put all the dots together and made this wonderful experience possible.

Vera Bobrowski