Spanning 70,000 acres of breathtaking malaria-free wilderness, award-winning Samara Private Game Reserve offers a Big Five safari with a difference. Consisting of 11 former livestock farms assembled since 1997, Samara’s vision is nothing less than the rehabilitation of an entire landscape in the Great Karoo, South Africa’s magical heartland. Key to the Samara experience is the concept of co-creation, where every guest plays a role in safeguarding the landscape in perpetuity.
The landscape itself is unique – an unexpected and diverse semi-arid paradise of mountains and grasslands, where thousands of wild animals, from cheetah to elephant to springbok, roam once more. A total of 26 guests at any one time are invited to join this conservation journey, a guest-to-land ratio almost unparalleled in Africa.
Located in the Eastern Cape, 2.5 hours from Port Elizabeth by car, Samara is easily accessible from the Garden Route. It is also just 40 minutes from the historical town of Graaff-Reinet, rich in culture and heritage. The Samara Story
“Twenty years ago, we fell in love.”
It was a very strange feeling because it was totally unprompted and quite unexpected. A battlefield is not normally the sort of place one associate with affairs of the heart. However, the battle sites of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift in KwaZulu-Natal must have inspired some primal emotions that led to conduct quite markedly in contrast to our normal, rational behavior.
After a long dinner accompanied by several glasses of superb South African Cabernet up in Northern Natal, the site of British triumph and Zulu tragedy, we started chatting to a chap from quite a different part of South Africa – the Great Karoo. Magical tales were woven about the millions of springbok that once roamed this area, the Cape lion who majestically reigned over the Plains of Camdeboo, the rhino, the cheetah, the now-extinct quagga, the explorers, the characters of yesteryear and the haunting beauty of the semi-desert land.
Overwhelmed and humbled by the magnificence of it all, we went away totally and completely smitten by the Great Karoo.
The Samara Mara, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa (copyright Scott Ramsay)
Monkey Valley became the first farm that formed the nucleus of Samara Private Game Reserve and twenty years ago we happily became its owner.
The dream continued – amass enough land to create a self-sustaining ecosystem that could carry game: the herds of antelope that used to inhabit this area, and the predators to keep the balance that helps maintain these fragile environments.
Tens of thousands of acres and twenty years later, Samara’s dream continues to develop and evolve in the Eastern Cape’s Great Karoo. The land was allowed to rest for many years and is slowly beginning to recover from the effects of generations of agricultural exploitation. The haunting beauty of the landscape that first inspired Samara’s campaign of rejuvenation has been allowed to return.