Big Five Safaris near Cape Town - Budget Travel Options

Big Five safaris near Cape Town are a popular request from visitors to the mother city. Who wouldn't want to hop off a beautiful sun-kissed beach straight onto a Big Five game-viewing adventure?

Well, the truth is that budget safari options near Cape Town are unfortunately limited. The good news is that the existing options are all malaria free safari destinations.

Cape Town is situated in South Africa's Western Cape, which has a distinctly Mediterranean climate and is home to the unique Fynbos biome. Whilst spectacular in it's own right, the Cape Peninsula is quite different to your typical African Safari savannah setting, or anywhere else that your average 21st century lion would happily call home.

In this post we break down some of the realistic options for travellers searching for an African Safari close to South Africa’s mother city.

Inverdoorn Game Reserve

  • Two and a half hours drive from Cape Town
  • Home to over 1200 wild animals, including the Big 5 of Africa - lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant
  • Covers 10000 hectares of semi-arid wilderness in the Klein (Small) Karoo near Ceres
  • Hosts one of the world's most successful cheetah rehabilitation sanctuaries
  • Stay at Iziba Safari Lodge catering for a range of budgets and accommodation styles
  • Return transfers between Inverdoorn and Cape Town can be arranged

Safari Activities: Cheetah interactions (one-on-one encounters with cheetahs); Morning and afternoon game drives; Guided bush walks with giraffes (depending on conditions); Star gazing in the Little Karoo

Rates: The cheapest safari day trips available start in the region of R860 to about R1000 per person.

Safari Accommodation:

  • Guests stay at the luxury Iziba Safari Lodge on Inverdoorn Game Reserve
  • Two 3 star guesthouses, seven 4 star chalets, four 5 star luxury chalets and one 5 star suite
  • Air-conditioned accommodation with scenic views
  • Swimming pool, restaurant, lounge, boma and gift shop

Visit Inverdoorn on Facebook or Inverdoorn on Twitter.

Garden Route Game Lodge

  • Three and a half hours drive from Cape Town
  • Home to the Big Five - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo
  • Transfers from and to Cape Town and George airport can be arranged 
  • Offers family safaris and facilities for families with children

Garden Route Game Reserve

Safari Activities: Game viewing; guided tour of Cheetah Conservation Centre; elephant interactions; walk with cheetahs; reptile encounters; bird watching and spa treatments.

Garden Route Game Park

Rates: Starting from R385 per person for day trips!

Safari Accommodation:

  • Scenic setting along the Langeberg Mountain Range
  • Choose from a variety of lodge rooms (including family rooms) and chalets
  • Swimming pool, restaurant, lounge, spa and feature garden

Visit the Garden Route Game Lodge on Facebook or on Twitter.

Aquila Private Game Reserve

  • Close to Cape Town - under two hours drive from the city
  • Home to the Big Five - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo
  • Four star lodge with private and luxurious chalet accommodation
  • Open to day visitors, offering daily transfers between Aquila and Cape Town
  • Game viewing in open 4x4 safari vehicles
  • Fly-in options only half an hours flight from Cape Town

Activities include: game drives, sunset champagne drives, horseback safaris, quad bike drives, rock art site visits, golfing nearby and cherry picking in the area.

Rates: the down side for budget travellers is it's a relatively expensive safari destination, costing at least R1400 per person for a day trip, and that excludes transport. 

Visit Aquila on Facebook and Aquila on Twitter.

Other Safari Options from Cape Town

Best Option: Fly to Johannesburg and explore Kruger Park!

For the best Game Viewing Safari experience, combine Cape Town with Kruger Park and the private game parks in the Greater Kruger Park area. Either fly straight to Johannesburg and visit Kruger Park, before continuing your trip to Cape Town or vice versa.

Flying to Johannesburg will of course take more time and cost you an air ticket, but there are plenty of affordable Kruger Park Safaris to choose from once you're in Johannesburg. Alternatively, if you have more time to work with you can take a self-drive inland or along the coast and on to Kruger Park.

The famous Garden Route area offers a few malaria free game viewing options, but these aren't Big Five safari destinations, so it's more about being in nature. Exceptions include the Garden Route Game Reserve, Sanbona and Gondwana Private Game Reserves, which host the Big Five.

Other options include Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, Botlierskop Private Game Reserve, Keurbooms River Nature Reserve, Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve, Bontebok National Park, Outeniqua Nature Reserve, Agulhas National Park, and the Garden Route National Park. Or you can visit one of the Cape Nature Reserves, Table Mountain National Park or the West Coast National Park - but again these are not typical safari destinations and visiting these wilderness areas is more about enjoying nature than spotting iconic wild animals.

Family friendly Addo Elephant National Park, located at the eastern end of the Garden Route, is well worth visiting. Home to the Big Seven - elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, the southern right whale and the great white shark, it's the third largest national park in South Africa and hosts one of the densest elephant populations on the planet. Here are some Addo Park Tour options.

Other safari options include the Eastern Cape Game Reserves, such as the Big Five Lalibela Game Reserve, Shamwari, Kwandwe Reserve and Kariega Game Reserve. The private game reserves and lodges tend to be more expensive and luxurious. Sticking to national parks and cape nature reserves is generally a cheaper option, but may not include big game viewing.

Take a look at our Cape Town Tours for more options or browse our Safaris in South Africa.

If you liked this post, these trips cover similar ground…

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