All Day Safari Fun and Dinner on the Ocean Front

By Dane Glenn

Early Rise

Buses for the game reserve left at 6 AM, Cape Town time. And I mean left, meaning we had to be up and ready by 5:45 and the bus headed for the reserve 15 minutes after. We all made it, barely. Fortunately, the trip took two hours. A nice cozy nap. Well, maybe not cozy, but sleep regardless.

Aquila Game Reserve

A number of Zzzzzzs later, we pulled up to Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa, curved stone walls beckoning us to join the food buffet and safari, or in worst case scenario, become the buffet at the safari. But first, champagne! Well, sparkling wine, actually. And carbonated fruit juice for those abstaining or under legal drinking age. We sipped on our welcome drinks, filing into the entrance, brushing shoulders with other tourists of different ethnicity. Breakfast was simple, endless, with a touch of African season and class. We filled our bellies then took our seats aboard the safari truck; inch thick plywood topped with padding, open-air bed with seats for 20 and a canopy, extreme off-road tires, and a nice coat of game reservation dust. 

The safari was scheduled for two hours. Add a half hour to that and that was our run time. Thanks to a flat tire, in the middle of the game reserve near two 4 year old rhinos, who were about 150 yards out. And if we didn’t act like raging idiots, they would remain their passive, flesh-n-blood tanks selves. But it was interesting, disembarking from the safari truck, to shoot photos and videos, an opportunity usual safari-goers don’t have a chance to enjoy. At least from a ground perspective.

Our replacement truck pulled up shortly. Arranged in our seats, we continued the tour, cameras and eyeballs at the ready, hunting down the wildlife with shutter speed and zoom lens. Rhinos and lions and hippos, oh my! Also elephants, zebras, springbok, giraffes, African buffalo. Some animals, like the elephants and zebras, provided us with a nice profile of their posterior. Lions hunkered down in the shade upon a mountain slope, one of the males playing peek-a-boo over a boulder while the lioness scaled atop some rocks before making use of her tan-orange coat among the tan-orange environment. Hippos bobbed up and down in the water, a reverse lure designed to hook our intrigue and camera clicks. 


Giraffes dined as gawking tourists decreased our digital storage space. And all the rhinos (two groups), were all chill, allowing us to get physically close (we were up in the truck of course) and get some really nice shots as well as soak it in au naturel. One rhino, a rescued bull, had been separated by the reserve staff due to the fact that he was an outsider to the rest of the herd or crash of rhinos, not to mention the other bull didn’t like competition. This bull had been placed in an enclosure, alongside African buffalo, and like Mowgli, this young bull had adopted his host animal’s lifestyle; the newbie thought himself an African buffalo, according to our guide.

We left the game reserve and made our way back to the main area (lodging, gift shop, spa) in order to eat more food from another buffet. Aquila goes hard. Anyway, some students took a dip in the pool, sun warming the water, burning all who didn’t slather on sunscreen. Others took a poolside nap in the loungers, letting the humidity and heat lull them to sleep like a warm blanket. A couple of us went to work, developing and revising the Langa and Bellville strategies, our own way of chilling out. All-in-all, we were calm and collective, no go-go-go or grinding. We were there to relax, and that’s what we did.


Moyo

For dinner, we went beach side Moyo, heading to the high-society, Miami-vibe part of Cape Town. Relating one place to another is a terrible thing, but for the sake of imagery in this case, go with the flow. Given this was our Welcome Dinner and the fact it was a higher-end, more African authentic restaurant, we couldn’t show up in shorts and T-shirts. Why would we?

We looked gorgeous. Someone should have taken a slow-mo video of us walking alongside the beach, sunset highlighting our good sides.swagger and style catching eyes and envy. We were hot, like cologne/perfume commercial type of heat. Regardless, we walked in to Moyo, first noticing the tables on the patio. Built from surfboards, picnic-table style, customers could kick off their shoes and sandals and dunk their feet in an extremely shallow pool beneath (maybe 6” deep). We sat down inside and did the normal restaurant/server ordering routine.


While waiting for our meal, some of us went to the single restroom, or loo as they call it. Yes, single. Yes, unisex. Four stalls (with locks). Four sinks. One purpose. A gender friendly bathroom is a definite culture shock, or shock in general. 


Back to the food. Waitstaff came to deliver the goods, setting random plates in front of random people. One guy actually got the right plate and cut into his steak, cooked two temps too low so he sent it back. Another student opened one of her dumplings, and like an Easter Egg, she found a bug inside. Of course she sent that back. Somebody started eating somebody else’s food before realizing it wasn’t theirs. 

The under-cooked steak never made it back, instead our student-in-waiting received a random plate of ostrich fillets. Bug plate was replaced with another plate, this time not the right food. And then more confusion. And more. And this person wanted that, not that, but that is that person’s food but the wrong side. Imagine Alice at the tea party, but with steak. While chaos ensued, those who received the right plate munched away, happy smear of a grin, teeth and taste buds relishing the great food. If anything, the experience was polarizing. 

Due to the mishaps and uh-ohs, were were awarded free shots (for those of legal US alcoholic consumption age, of course), some sour apple concoction worthy of the Jolly Rancher name. We left not too long after, tired and ready for bed. And that’s exactly what the majority of us did. Kicked off our shoes and the lights, find our comfy beds, and and said adios to another day in Cape Town.

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