Grab a week to remember and revitalize all your senses with a sublime safari on the Camdeboo Plains in the Great Karoo. At Samara Private Game Reserve – where traditional Karoo hospitality, five-star comfort, extraordinary scenery and epic malaria-free family safaris combine – we fell totally in love with this beautiful part of Africa, its vast open spaces and being able to serenely contemplate these incredible expanses while game viewing.
The reserve – which encompasses 70 000 hectares of wilderness across a remarkable four biomes, making it the largest private game reserve in the Eastern Cape – is justifiably famous for its unrivalled cheetah tracking on foot. Award-winning Samara is just a 40-minute drive from the historic village of Graaff-Reinet. This reserve is a true escape: it encompasses tens of thousands acres of wilderness in the Great Karoo – South Africa’s magical heartland and a must-visit destination in the Eastern Cape. Endangered cheetah, black and white rhino, giraffe, elephant and springbok populate the extensive plains framed by majestic purple mountains, while herds of Cape mountain zebra, wildebeest and eland roam ‘Samara Mara’, as the reserve calls the thousands of acres of plateau grasslands that resemble East Africa’s Serengeti. A winter highlight is a sighting of aardvark – always a special experience.
We completely agree with Nigel Tisdall’s comment in the Sunday Times: ‘This is a reserve where guests get their own private piece of Africa to play in.’ With just two five-star luxe safari lodges – The Manor and Karoo Lodge – sleeping a maximum of 26 people altogether, you’ll feel like Samara’s tens of thousands of acres are your private playground.
We chose the seclusion of the exclusive-use Manor. This historic homestead sleeps eight and is totally private, with its own 21-metre infinity swimming pool, butler and chef, making it perfect for a family escape. The gorgeous, sumptuous and glamorous interiors – by John Zwiegelaar of John Jacob Interiors – are a contemporary take on traditional Karoo style with a colour palette inspired by the Karoo landscapes and its vast blue skies that take your breath away from sunrise to sunset. Think textured throws and feather cushions against utterly comfy oversized armchairs and sofas. The spacious bedroom suites have gorgeous soft white linens on the beds, inviting armchairs and a wood-burning fireplace with views of the Camdeboo Plains.
Authentic warmth and hospitality, delicious wilderness picnics in remarkable locations (the meal at the Eagle Rock viewpoint overlooking the breathtaking Camdeboo Plains is a highlight), superb safari guiding and viewing made our Samara escape utterly memorable, but two experiences that we will never forget were tracking cheetah on foot (wow!) and the glorious sleep-out at Samara’s four-poster star bed on the Milk River, under the most incredible canopy of Milky Way stars.
What we love…
- That Samara is so family friendly, and that you can see aardvark and get up close to cheetah.
- The fact that you can walk everywhere at Samara. The game rangers actively encourage you to get off the vehicle and track animals on foot – brilliant!
- The true Karoo friendliness. Absolutely everyone on the team is passionate about making your stay as magical as possible.
- The wilderness picnic at the look-out point over the iconic Plains of Camdeboo – it is such an evocative, beautiful spot overlooking the wild, wide-open spaces.
What you need to know…
- If you’d like to do a luxury sleep-out in a four-poster star bed, you can book this wildly romantic experience for one night of your stay.
- The Manor is an exclusive-use house, making it superbly family friendly. It sleeps 8 but additional family and friends can book into Samara’s Karoo Lodge nearby. The lodge sleeps 18 and can also be booked exclusively.
- Samara is an excellent stopover en route from the interior to Plettenberg Bay or an Eastern Cape beach getaway.
- Samara is available as a location for film or stills shoots.