Best Game Reserves Cape Town Has to Offer

springboks locking horns

Embarking on a captivating adventure in the heart of South Africa, the mere mention of ‘Safari Cape Town‘ evokes a sense of wild exploration and natural marvels. Nestled amidst the stunning landscapes and diverse ecosystems surrounding this iconic city, lies a collection of extraordinary game reserves that promise an immersive encounter with Africa’s untamed beauty. 

From majestic wildlife to breathtaking scenery, these reserves near Cape Town offer an unforgettable safari experience that beckons both seasoned adventurers and curious travelers seeking an authentic glimpse into the untamed wilderness.

Game Reserves Cape Town

Cape Town is home to some of the best game reserves in South Africa. Here’s a list of some of the best Cape Town game reserves that are all well worth a visit: 

Aquila Private Game Reserve


Distance from Cape Town: 177 km 

Accommodation: 4-star lodge

If time is limited, consider exploring the Aquila Private Game Reserve, known for its array of visitor-friendly safari options. Situated closest to Cape Town, this reserve is nestled in the Southern Karoo, bordered by the Langeberg and Outeniqua mountain ranges. Spanning 10,000 hectares, Aquila serves as a haven for the renowned Big Five – rhinoceros, elephants, lions, leopards, and buffaloes. 

Additionally, it’s home to cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, hippos, various antelope species, and boasts over 170 species of birds. Notably, Aquila houses the Aquila Animal Rescue and Conservation Center, catering to safari animals that have been rescued but cannot return to the wild, along with conducting Cape leopard research. Spring, specifically between September and November, is touted as the ideal time to experience the richness of this game reserve.

Best Tour: Book a Wildlife Safari from Cape Town

Fairy Glen Game Reserve 

fairy glen

Distance from Cape Town: 113 km

Accommodation: Various lodges and chalets

Nestled beneath the majestic Brandwacht mountains lies the serene Fairy Glen Game Reserve, offering a tranquil escape amidst nature’s embrace. Located just an hour away, Fairy Glen stands as the closest game safari experience from Cape Town, presenting visitors with the opportunity to observe wildlife up close. 

The reserve boasts an impressive array of animals, including lions, Cape buffaloes, elephants, rhinoceroses, and leopards. Beyond its diverse animal population, Fairy Glen captivates visitors with its lush plantations and verdant landscapes. Within the reserve, a remarkable 6,000-year-old African Khoisan Bushmen Rock Art heritage site awaits discovery. Optimal for a visit during the summer season, from December to April, Fairy Glen promises an enriching adventure amidst its natural splendor.

Garden Route Game Lodge


Distance from Cape Town: 342 km

Accommodation: family accommodation, chalets, and 3-star luxury suites

The top-notch game lodge near Cape Town is the Garden Route lodge, renowned for its stunning location along the coastal route stretching from Cape Town towards the east. This reserve stands out as a habitat for the impressive Big 5 animals, along with zebras, cheetahs, giraffes, various smaller mammals, diverse bird species, and a range of antelopes. 

While exploring, visitors can enjoy periodic breaks for refreshments during the drive. For an optimal experience, the recommended period to visit this reserve is from February to April.

Best Tour: Book a 4-Day Garden Route Safari Adventure

Buffelsfontein Game & Nature Reserve


Distance from Cape Town: 95 km

Accommodation: cottages, lodges, chalets and luxury bush camps

Buffelsfontein stands as one of the notable game reserves in Cape Town, easily accessible within an hour’s journey towards the West Coast. Renowned for its exceptional safari experiences, it’s situated conveniently close to the unspoiled beaches of Yzerfontein, the West Coast Fossil Park, and the enriching Khwa ttu San cultural center. 

Ideal for those who relish exploration, this reserve boasts a fantastic array of wildlife, including four magnificent cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, Eland, Oryx, Blue Wildebeest, Mountain Reedbuck, Red Hartebeest, and wildebeest. The prime time to visit Buffelsfontein for an extraordinary wildlife encounter is from May to September.

Best Tour: Book a Safari, Beer, Oliver and Wine tasting tour through Viator or through GetYourGuide

Gondwana Game Reserve


Distance from Cape Town: 381 km

Accommodation: luxury safari lodge and private villas

Gondwana Game Reserve ranks among the most picturesque safari parks near Cape Town. Encompassing 11,000 hectares (27,001 acres) of varied terrain, including hills and valleys, this game lodge near Cape Town offers a diverse wilderness experience. Housing the iconic Big 5, giraffes, hippos, assorted antelopes, lions, endangered Cape mountain zebras, kudu, springbok, and a profusion of avian species like the vibrant orange-breasted sunbirds, it’s a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Optimal for visits during the dry winter months, the best time to explore the Gondwana Game Reserve is from May to August.

Thali Thali Game Lodge

game drive with giraffe

Distance from Cape Town: 130 km

Accommodation: safari lodge, self-catering chalets, and luxury tents

Close to Langebaan and situated along the R27, lies Thali Thali, a sprawling 1,460-hectare Cape West Coast wildlife and fynbos reserve. Renowned for its extensive array of game species including cape buffalo, red hartebeest, water buffalo, oryx, giraffe, blue wildebeest, eland, kudu, zebra, sable antelope, and springbok, the reserve offers a rich tapestry of wildlife. Thali Thali remains dedicated to preserving biodiversity, showcasing a diverse range of flora and fauna. The prime period to explore this reserve is between May and September.

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

horses by the sea

Distance from Cape Town: 156 km

Accommodation: garden lodge, forest lodge, and luxury private villas

Journeying towards the southeast of Cape Town brings you to the Grootbos private nature reserve. Situated at the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, it stands as an exceptional destination to witness the Marine Big Five, encompassing great white sharks, southern right whales, bottlenose dolphins, and African penguins. Within its 2,500-hectare expanse, the reserve boasts nearly 800 distinct plant species, among which six have been recently discovered, and it hosts around 100 threatened species. For an optimal experience, the recommended time to explore the Grootbos private nature reserve is from August to November.

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

Sanbona game drive

Distance from Cape Town: 230 km

Accommodation: Lodges and campsites

Sanbona emerges as the prime choice for the finest game reserve near Cape Town. Nestled beneath the Warmwaterberg Mountains, Sanbona offers a captivating visual spectacle for its visitors. Its standout feature, the unique boat safari at Bellair Dam, allows encounters with the Big Five and a diverse array of wildlife, including white lions, riverine rabbits, cheetahs, zebras, and an impressive roster of over 200 bird species. 

Adding to its allure are ancient cave paintings, predominantly showcasing the artistry of the San and Khoi-Khoi peoples. The most favorable times to experience Sanbona’s wonders are during January, February, March, and December. To make the most of the safari opportunities occurring at sunrise and sunset, it’s recommended to stay at least a day in Sanbona.

Best Tour: Book a 2-Day Wildlife Safari

Wrapping Up Game Reserves near Cape Town

The region surrounding Cape Town boasts an impressive array of captivating game reserves. Each reserve, whether nestled beneath majestic mountain ranges or along the stunning coastal routes, offers a unique and enriching experience for wildlife enthusiasts. From encounters with the iconic Big Five to the exploration of diverse flora and fauna, these reserves stand as havens for nature lovers seeking adventure and immersion in South Africa’s natural wonders. 

Whether opting for Sanbona’s visual treat beneath the Warmwaterberg Mountains or Grootbos’ marine marvels at the confluence of oceans, there’s an abundance of unforgettable moments awaiting visitors in these exceptional game reserves near Cape Town.

Share this post