5.0
Excellent 232 Reviews
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What We Love

  • All meals, daily tea and coffee, two game drives per day (including beverages) and the Aardvark children's program are included in the Jetsetter rate
  • Holiday with a purpose and opportunities to volunteer
  • Tracking cheetah across the savanna
  • Horticulturists will be interested in the variety of aloe species found here; some individual plants are 500 years old
  • Sipping South African wine and dining on country cooking in the boma under the stars
  • Free WiFi

What To Know

  • Getting to the reserve involves an international flight to Cape Town or Johannesburg, a two-hour flight to Port Elizabeth and a 50-minute flight or three-hour drive to Samara Private Game Reserve
  • Guestrooms are relatively small
  • Karoo weather can be extreme — prepare for very hot summers and cold winters
  • Spring (August to November) and fall (March to May) are the best times to visit
  • The reserve does not have any predatory cats other than cheetah
  • You will not see all of the Big Five here

Amenities

  •  Kids Club
  •  Restaurant
Disclaimer: This content was accurate at the time the hotel was reviewed. Please check our partner sites when booking to verify that details are still correct.
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Overview

The Review

The Samara Private Game Reserve offers an exclusive safari experience in the Eastern Cape. With just three lodges in its 70,000-acre expanse, it’s one of the largest and most secluded private game parks in the country. The vibe here is different from that of a traditional South African safari lodge, in part due to its unusual location in the Great Karoo.

This is a place of huge blue skies and a grass-meets-desert landscape where aloe blooms in July and old farmhouses still dot the blue-tinged landscape. Even the animals are different. There are no lions or hyenas, but plenty of cheetahs, bat-eared foxes, meerkats, aardvarks, white rhinos and two species of zebra. You will not see Africa’s Big Five — which might be a drawback for some, but it allows a more hands-on safari experience, especially for families. {“type”:”img-inline”,”src”:”/static/images/product/properties/editorialreviews/11137/pgal-96364-1311354800-full.jpg”,”width”:”275″,”caption”:”See the rare and elusive cheetah on bush walks with an experienced local tracker.”}

There are fewer than 900 wild cheetah left in South Africa, for instance, so seeing one of these elusive cats in its native environment is a special experience. At Samara you not only have the opportunity to watch this endangered predator, you can stalk and walk behind one with an experienced local tracker. There is also a chance of spotting more than 180 species of bird from the comfort of a luxurious open-air jeep — and of doing some of South Africa’s top stargazing above the wide open plains.

Just three lodges dot Samara’s vast acreage, including the Karoo Lodge, housed in an old colonial homestead. It takes design inspiration from a bygone era, with large stone fireplaces, dark wood antique furniture and savanna colors. Both the Sibella and Lodge Suites echo this traditional look, but they have modern extras like en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning.

For me, what sets Samara apart is its dedication to conservation and the local community. Since opening in 1997, the reserve’s mission has been to realize the area’s outstanding natural diversity, reintroduce endangered species and provide jobs for locals. Visitors also have the opportunity to volunteer for a few days; they can help implant aardvarks with tracking devices or assist the cheetah research project.

How to Get There

Samara Private Game Reserve
P O Box 649
Graaff-Reinet, 00000 South Africa

Reviews

Perfect
khatibtrvlstheworld

25 of us from all over the world gathered at Mount Camdeboo to celebrate a very special birthday. The logistics were quite a challenge - but the stunning venue and accommodating staff made it all worthwhile. The property's houses and cottages are beautifully furnished, and lovingly maintained. The surrounding reserve is spectacular. Crucially the staff went above and beyond to accommodate and look after our rather diverse party. Managers Steve and Yolani were fantastic - as was everyone else. Cannot recommend this property highly enough.

Mount Camdeboo
jillyhayden

Amazing! What a wonderful experience we had. The staff at the Manor House made our stay very comfortable, served us delicious meals and very
tasty high teas. We were thoroughly spoilt! The garden with a pool is beautiful and a lovely place to relax in between our game drives.
Our game drives with Solomon were a highlight. He is so knowledgeable about the animals , trees , and everything about nature, as well as the history of Mt
Camdeboo which was fascinating! He kept us amused as well with his quirky humour!
The landscape is absolutely breathtaking- you are surrounded by incredible mountains that seem to just go on forever!
Don’t miss this very special reserve! We certainly will be going back !

Fabulous!
Wishbone66

Fabulous venue for a family reunion and birthday celebration! We were a large party (15) ranging in age from 2 to 80. Mount Camdeboo - you did fantastically! Food, accommodation and game drives all superb. Thank you.