• Escape to Aquila! [photo heavy]

    A few weeks ago I shared a post of my spa treatments at Aquila Safari Private Game Reserve (read it here). As promised, here is the follow up post of JP and my overnight stay there. This post is quite photo heavy so it you are on your phones just be careful with data usage. At the end of the post I have a 4 minute video that highlights some of the things we got up to on your stay at Aquila (It is on YouTube).
    Upon arriving at Aquila, you are greeted with a welcome drink and then check-in at reception. We arrived at lunch time so immediately went to try out their buffet lunch. Aquila does three 3 course buffet meals a day - and they are all packed full of delicious options. Roasts, steaks, veggies, breads, cheeses - the options seem almost endless.
    With full bellies, we went straight to the spa for our 90 minute massage. I did a full post of the spa that you can check out here - but boy oh boy - that place is something else. The design of the building, treatments and spa facilities are incredible.

    We emerged from our massage with sleepy eyes and headed to our rooms to get ready for our sunset safari. We stayed in a Premier Lodge Room that had a massive King sized bed, little lounge area, massive full bathroom and a view I wish I could wake up to every day.



    The room is equipped with a mini bar however, Aquila does prefer guests to spend their time in the communal areas, where there are drinks available, television, wifi and board games. When you are in such a beautiful reserve, you do want to make the most of it and not spend all your time in your room (despite how beautiful and comfortable it is). So after we got ready we headed to our game drive vehicle.
    Our first stop was the ARC, it is Aquila's Animal Rescue and Conservation Centre that is a non-profit organisation established as a sanctuary for animals that cannot be released again into the wild and is also a temporary home for injured animals who need attention before being released into the wild again. Aquila does some truly remarkable work and it is very difficult to sum it all up here, so if you would like to read more or help with their initiative, please visit their website.
    After exploring the ARC where we got to see lions, a leopard and a crocodile, we jumped back into our land cruiser and headed out on our safari. We were hardly into our trip when we came across hippos and then the resident two male elephants.





    There is something so incredible about seeing these animals in the wild and realising how small we really are. I was in complete awe of them. We then headed off again where we found ourselves in the middle of eland, springbucks, zebras and then some Rhinos. This safari just didn't stop with all the moments that take your breath away. As the sun started to set, we stopped off in a clearing where we were treated to a platter of biltong, nuts and dried fruits and toasted the sunset with a glass of champagne. And what a beautiful sunset it was! The Karoo is really a beautiful place.
    To end off our safari, we took a drive through the lion enclosure, being in an open vehicle with lions a mere few meters from you, does make you feel rather insignificant....but also very much like you are "meals on wheels". The lions however, were very relaxed and not at all bothered by our presence. Aquila does not feed the lions as one would in a Zoo. A small portion of their food is provided however, live animals are placed within the enclosure to allow the lions to hunt and capture their own food.  We headed back to the main camp in the dark and in silence. I think the reality of all that we had seen had sunk in and we were all just so blown away.

    Arriving back at the main camp we all headed to the supper buffet - again, the food was delicious with many options available. While JP and I were at the reserve, two other bloggers were visiting as well and the marketing manager for Aquila was there too, so we shared supper with them and spent a few hours chatting before JP and I headed off to do some star gazing. In the evenings, Aquila has a telescope out to allow guest to view the night sky and also have a firepit going where guests can roast marshmallows over the fire. The communal lounge was packed full of people having nightcaps, watching TV and chatting on the couches. This place feels like a home away from home.
    I took this photo using the telescope. Can't believe how it came out!
    In the morning, JP and I woke up very early because we were heading out on a Quadbike safari! Yes, a safari ride on quadbikes.
    It was so exciting, we drove along some of the roads we were on the previous day - saw buffalo, elephants, Rhinos, Zebras. It was glorious! Our guide also took us to an area where we could play around on our bikes - riding up and down some dunes. We had so much fun in those 60 minutes.

    A warm breakfast buffet welcomed us back - again, the choices were wonderful and I overate...ha ha. After breakfast, we packed our bags, checked out of our rooms but went straight to the spa to enjoy the indoor heated pool. I had a facial booked for the morning, so JP relaxed in the spa while I was being pampered one last time.
    Our one night stay at Aquila was wonderful, it was a much needed escape from daily life and just helped to reset me. I felt quite heart sore leaving the place. This place is special to JP and I, we first officially met each other at Aquila, back in 2008. It is where we became friends and the rest is history.
    While I was at Aquila, I tried my hand at filming what we got up to. I am by no means a vlogger so this was way out of my comfort zone. I however wanted to give it a try. I really have a new found respect for vlogger who get this right and are able to edit their videos so beautifully. Anyway, my little video is up YouTube if you would like to give it a watch.
    For more information, visit the Aquila website. In winter there are generally great deals which work out perfect for us locals who can't always afford the peak season rates. Although a standard room is still an incredible deal, where you get 2 game drives, and all your meals for just over R2000 a person per night in peak season. You also get access to the main pool area, cigar lounge, public lounge, wet bar,  and if you book a spa treatment (some treatments start at only R250) you get full access to the spa facilities too. It's incredible value for money.

    Standard Lodge Room rates:
    2 x Big 5 game drives, a visit to ARC (Aquila Rescue and Conservation Centre - Optional), lunch, dinner & breakfast.
    Summer 11 Jan 2017 to 30 April 2017 - R2095.00 per person sharing
    Winter 1 May 2017 to 31 Oct 2017 - R1895.00 per person sharing
    Transfers Nov 2016 to 31 Oct 2017 R1285 per person extra, return Cape Town only

    Premier Lodge Room rates:
    2 x Big 5 game drives, a visit to ARC (Aquila Rescue and Conservation Centre - Optional), lunch, dinner & breakfast.
    Summer 11 Jan 2017 to 30 April 2017 - R3495.00 per person sharing
    Winter 1 May 2017 to 31 Oct 2017 - R2495.00 per person sharing
    Transfers Nov 2016 to 31 Oct 2017 R1285 per person extra, return Cape Town only


    Thank you to Aquila for such a wonderful stay!

    Big Hugs,
    Charlene XXX
    Disclaimer: I was invited to visit Aquila Safari Private Game Reserve and did not have to pay for my stay nor for my treatments at the Spa. Although the trip was paid for, the views and opinions shared in this post are my honest thoughts.

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