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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


  •  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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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



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.

Wonderful experience

What a wonderful place. The staff are absolutely mindblowingly friendly and helpful. The food is superb, the accomodation is super comfortable and the game drives are different and exciting each time. Solomon is a great ranger with a deep love for nature and a quirky sense of humour. Thanks to everyone at this lodge for making it an absolutely wonderful experience.

Amazing Holiday

My group of four just returned home from a 3 night stay at Mount Camdeboo. We were the only guests in the Courtyard Manor during our stay. Where should I even begin? We had a hearty welcome from the manager on duty, Randee and our ranger, Solomon along with some of the support staff. This private game reserve is winning for multiple reasons:
-they have the big 5
-such expansive and beautiful landscapes
-simple small touches to provide great service (turning on the heated blanket for you at night, coming back from a game drive to a fire, staff getting to know your preferences, etc.)
-delicious meals provided by Liza and Geraldine
-if Solomon doesn’t remain a ranger he might make it as a comic. We enjoyed his comedic stories relevant to the drives. He’s got amazing driving skills (we ran into the lions on a hill and he had to back down the entire mountain until he had room to turn around)
-Randee checking in on us and stopping by to enjoy Birthday cake
-Housekeeping folded clothes outside of your suitcase, placed water on the side of the bed with a nighttime treat, & were so sweet to interact with

The courtyard manor isn’t the most updated but it really added to the wonderful charm of the Karoo. Again, the small touches of heated flooring and towel racks makes it more comfortable. Although the WiFi isn’t strong who really needs it when you have the company of nature and endless stars to gaze at.

Honestly we don’t have a single criticism from our stay. We cannot wait to return.