Top 10 Games Reserves Near Cape Town (2024)

Games reserves near Cape Town help retain the natural state of the city, and serve as important tourist attractions. Cape Town is one of the world’s most visited cities, and safaris play a big part in that feat.

People love to see wild animals. Cape Town’s games reserves have an abundance of wild animals living in the natural environment- or as close to nature as possible.

Famous among the wild animals of Cape Town are the Big Five; this is a particularly big attraction as it pulls in visitors from all across the globe. When those visitors come into the city, these are the game reserves they go to.

Top 10 Games Reserves Near Cape Town

1. Sanbona

Sanbona is located under the Warmwaterberg Mountains. Its location provides one of the most complete ecosystems in the country; it encompasses water, land and mountain ranges. This naturally makes Sanbona one of the top places to visit for those who want to see animals.

Some of the animals to see in Sanbona include the famous Big Five; Elephants, Rhinoceroses, Lions, Buffalo, and Leopards. Other animals include cheetahs, zebras, riverine rabbits, and over 200 different bird species.

Another attraction to Sanbona is the ancient cave paintings- relics of past times, showing that the peoples of the region have lived here for thousands of years. Fully appreciating the experience of Sanbona requires one to stay at least one day; this is because Safaris mostly occur at sunrise or sunset.

2. Gondwana Game Reserve

Gondwana is one of the most popular game reserves in Cape Town; it is famous for its natural beauty, the richness of the diversity of animal life on display, and the natural habitat in which the animals live.

This natural wilderness covers 11,000 hectares (27,001 acres), and some of that land includes hills and valleys. Of course it is home to the Big Five, and also to several antelope species, as well as giraffes, hippos, endangered Cape mountain zebras, kudu, and many different bird species.

Many people agree that the dry period is the best time to visit this natural wonderland; the animals gather around the waterholes to satisfy their thirst. Even the songbirds can be seen with relative ease during this period, although safaris are better towards the evenings.

Gondawan also offers activities like mountain biking, guided bush walks, private guided walking safaris, golf, and fishing.

3. Inverdoorn Game Reserve

Inverdoorn Game Reserve is one that is noted for luxury. It offers everything that animal lovers want to see, but with the addition of very luxurious accommodation for guests. This appeals to those who more than anything else, want to relax, and have some time to themselves and their loved ones.

The spend most of their times in the luxurious cabins in the woods, and come out in the early evenings to sample nature by going on safari drives to see the Big five, as well as like hippos, zebras, eland, gemsbok, and cheetah. In fact, the games reserve also plays host to a cheetah conservation program.

This luxurious getaway is best for those who wish to stay for some time; maybe a week or more.

4. Shamwari Games Reserve

Shamwari Games Reserve is actually a lengthy drive from Cape Town, but it is well worth it. This has been voted the World’s Leading Safari and Game Reserve and Conservation Company for many years in a row.

The interesting thing is that this used to be farmland; but its potential was seen, and so work was done to transform it back into its natural state, and to populate it with native animals.

Some of those native animals include the Big Five, as well as hippos, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, hyenas, and wildebeests.

5. Aquila Private Game Reserve

Aquila Private Game Reserve is a well-known game reserve in the Cape Town area; it is just 2 hours away from the city proper. The two hour drive is well worth it; the game reserve is an impressive 10,000 hectare enclave- like a small city, and animals are the citizens.

The top citizens of this bush city are called the Big Five; Elephant, Leopard, Rhino, Lion, and Buffalo. Other citizens include cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, and over 170 bird species.

This is also one of the more responsible game reserves because it hosts the Aquila Animal Rescue and Conservation Center, which specializes in rescuing and conserving safari animals that can no longer survive in the wild. Here they are given sanctuary, and allowed to roam free without any danger.

There are also fabulous cottages in the games reserve; which ensure that visitors can enjoy their stay to the full extent.

6. Garden Route Game Lodge

Garden Route Game Lodge is one of the foremost safari centers in the Cape Town area. It is located in the beautiful Garden Route area; about 4 hours away from Cape Town. It is important to emphasize the beauty of the place; the whole area is a seaward wonderland with a wide variety of plants, trees, and flowers. It is one of the greenest parts of the country.

Garden Route game lodge adds animal life to this green wonderland; it has the Big Five, as well as zebras, cheetahs, and giraffes. There are also many small mammals like rabbits and squirrels, and also a wide variety of birds.

Safaris take place in the mornings and evenings, and there are also refreshments offered in between drives. There are beautiful cottages to stay while on a visit to this lodge.

7. Fairy Glen Game Reserve

Fairy Glen Game Reserve is located under the Brandwacht Mountains which is just less than 1 hour away from Cape Town proper. This family owned game reserve is not as big as some of the others on this list, but it just as rich.

It gets its name from the giant dragonflies that dominate the waters in the area. The game reserve is very calm, and the weather is almost always cool. However, sometimes that calm is shattered by the roar of a lion. Lions are not the only wildlife to be found in this natural wonderland; other members of the Big Five family are also in abundance.

There are also very many small animals; including rabbits and squirrels, and small birds, and plenty of antelopes.

There are also interesting African Khoisan Bushmen Rock Art which are dated at 6000 years old, thus making Fairy Glen a complete game reserve for safaris.

8. Buffelsfontein Game & Nature Reserve

Buffelsfontein is another game reserve in the Cape Town area, one that is just within an hour of the city proper. This is a beautiful place to spend the holidays; it is close to the lovely beaches of Yzerfontein, and other attractions like that.

Buffelsfontein Game & Nature Reserve has the Big Five among the animals on its list of attractions. It also has a list of fairly large animals such as Blue Wildebeest, Cheetahs, Zebras, Giraffes, Eland, Oryx, Mountain Reedbuck, Red Hartebeest, and so on.

There are also many different types of small mammals such as rabbits and rats, as well as squirrels and so on.

The game reserve also has plenty of lodges which is another reason why it is a top pick for comfort. Visitors can go on horse safaris, catch and release fishing, quad bike game drives, and clay pigeon shooting.

9. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is about 2 hours away from Cape Town proper. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is a family owned enterprise which is small by comparison; it only measures 2,500-hectare, but it may be the most endowed game reserve in the area.

It is located in a unique position; at the confluence of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. This is an especially good place for nature; about 800 different plant species have been identified, and they grow to different heights and widths.

Plants are not the only attractions to this game reserve; the most popular ones are the so called Marine Big Five, which include Great White Sharks, Bottlenose Dolphins, Whales, and African Penguins.

Due to its location, this game reserve has an abundance of marine life, and there are many positions from which visitors can see them. Those who wish to see them a little bit closer can engage in shark cage diving, although that is not for everyone.

10. Thali Thali Game Lodge

Thali Thali Game Lodge is located about one and half hour away from Cape Town proper. It is a small games reserve measuring only 1,460-hectares. The good thing about small games reserves is that there is no place for the wildlife to hide, and as a result visitors can get more animal sightings and more photos.

The fynbos grow especially well in Thali Thali; and such thick vegetation supports a vast collection of animals such as kudu, zebra, Cape buffalo, water buffalo, red hartebeest, oryx, giraffe, eland, sable antelope, blue wildebeest, and springbok.

Thali Thali has very good accommodation, including self-catering chalets, roomy farmhouse, and luxury tents with en-suite toilets and kitchens. Bird watching is a favorite activity in this game reserve.



The top games reserves near Cape Town have an abundance of wildlife on display. However, a great wildlife reserve must also have a way to help visitors see the animals because wildlife can be quite elusive. Seeing the animals must be done in a way that will have minimal impact in their natural behavior, thus ensuring that the wildlife thrive.

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