Another prestigious award for South Africa. Image via Adobe Stock

Cape Town private game reserve wins global sustainability award

The privately-owned Aquila Game Reserve and Spa has been honoured with the world’s most prestigious International Sustainable Tourism Award for a Major Tourist Attraction.


Another prestigious award for South Africa. Image via Adobe Stock

The award-winning Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa scooped up an international award for its contributions in sustainable tourism.

Aquila was the only South African recipient at the awards ceremony, which makes the achievement even more coveted.

This is not the first time Aquila Game Reserve and Spa has won awards. The property has previously won local awards.

In 2014 Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa walked off with the National Lilizela Imvelo Award for best economic impact by a large tourism establishment in South Africa. 

In 2015, Aquila picked up the National Lilizela Imvelo Award for sustainable development.


Located within a two-hour drive of Cape Town, Aquila Private Game Reserve offers a superb safari experience amidst glorious mountain landscape views.

The reserve is home to the big five wildlife game species.

Scheduled morning and afternoon game drives are offered, in open safari vehicles.

Guests who stay two nights or more receive complimentary access to Aquila’s spa, which boasts an indoor heated pool, a sauna, steam room and 12 treatment rooms.


The Skål International Sustainable Tourism Awards were launched in 2002 to showcase global best practices in sustainability. 

Searl Derman, the owner of Aquila Private Game Reserve was proud to be honoured with the world’s most prestigious international sustainable tourism award: The 2020 Skål International Sustainable Tourism Award for a Major Tourist Attraction.

“The awards are geared towards enhancing the visibility and grant recognition to entities within the Travel and Tourism Industry,” said Peter Morrison, World President of Skål International.

“It is an honour to receive global recognition for the sustainable tourism efforts we make in Cape Town – South Africa, and being the only South African recipient at the 2020 awards ceremony, we are proud to once again be able to shine the light on our ongoing projects and initiatives to enhance sustainable tourism, job creation, social upliftment, conservation and natural resource management efforts,” Owner of Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa, Searl Derman said.


Sustainability is a key consideration for many businesses today.

It can distinguish a business and set the business apart from its competitors. Businesses in the tourism sector can make small yet significant modifications to the way they operate, and thereby support the local community, protect the environment and preserve natural resources. 

Sustainability is at the core of Aquila’s operations.

The local community of Touws River is important to Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa. This former railway town is situated 12km from Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa, and was left in poverty when the railway services ceased operations, leaving approximately 97% of its 15,000 residents unemployed.

Aquila Game Reserve and Spa empowers residents in the local community, by providing employment and the upskilling of workers. The reserve also stimulates job creation by supporting small businesses that operate in the surrounding area.

Conservation projects are close to Aquila’s heart. A project which Aquila prides itself in, is the Saving Private Rhino initiative. This is a conservation programme that aims to protect the rhino species from poaching and extinction.    

“We continue to lift the spirits of our teams as we work hard and put in every effort to uplift them socially and economically. Our social involvement programmes together with our conservation efforts, like Saving Private Rhino, are proud of the work we achieve.

“We do this work selflessly and we most certainly do not do them for the awards, but we appreciate the honour we have to stand on the world stage as we try every day, to make the world a better place through tourism,” Searl Derman concluded.


Cape Town is the proud host of several award-winning tourism and hospitality providers.

Recently, La Colombe restaurant in Constantia was ranked one of the top fine dining restaurants in the world. Cape Town Tourism CEO acknowledged and thanked businesses and locals for their hard work and dedication.   

“We are thrilled that Searl Derman, the owner of Aquila Private Game Reserve, has won this prestigious award. Aquila truly is a gem within the region and Searl and his team have gone to great lengths to ensure that the reserve not only meets the minimum requirements for responsible tourism, but exceeds them in every way. This award also further solidifies the Cape Town region as a sustainable and responsible destination,” Enver Duminy of Cape Town Tourism said.


  • Community and government projects: The UN International Trade Center (ITC). Myanmar.
  • Countryside and biodiversity: Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda IAP. México.
  • Educational programmes and media: Western University. Canada.
  • Major tourist attractions: Aquila Private Game Reserve. South Africa.
  • Marine and coastal: Misool. Indonesia.
  • Rural and accommodation: Tamara Leisure Experiences. India.
  • Tour operators and travel agents: Global Himalayan Expeditions. India.
  • Urban accommodation: The Rees Hotel, Luxury Apartments and Lakeside Residences. New Zealand.
  • Winners of the 2020 Skål Biosphere Award: Global Himalayan Expeditions. India.