5.0
Excellent 228 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

WOW!
Travel-planner-mum

We are a family of 3 staying in 2 rooms at the main lodge. The setting of the lodge is simply amazing. You need to see it. Great landscapes at every turn and fabulous sunsets. We were very lucky throughout our stay to be the only guests at the main lodge and were completely spoiled by the staff. We had private game drives daily with Sean (who is such a great person and enthusiastic guide) and had great safaris every time, thank you Sean! Yolinda and the ladies made us super delicious meals daily. Steve always came by to check we were happy, which we were. We had a fantastic time. Wish we were stying longer. Thank you all for making our stay so memorable.

Heaven on earth
Roymedia

We had a wonderful time in Mount Camdeboo. We stayed here for 6 nights and had the loveliest staff we could wish for.
Geraldine, Yvette, Bridget and Sakhe did everything to make us feel at home.
Liza spoiled us with her delicious food. From breakfast and high tea up to diner: We ate like kings and queens. And our drives with Hewart -who is really enthousiatisc- were the best we have ever had. Lots of game and nature to spot and lots of things we have learned thanks to Hewart.
“Well spotteeeeed”
And than there was Dave the manager who took us on a game drive which we will never forget. Remember Dave ;-)
We made friends and memories!
We stayed at the manor. And had a beautiful room. Spacious and very clean.
What more is there to say? We will defenitely go back here.

Enjoyable but.......
Norway1944

We travelled with friends for 3 nights. The wildlife tracker, field guide and sightings were all fantastic! The best we have encounter in our more than dozen safaries in souther africa. The accommodation was good although some serious maintenance should be donne soon. However, what we did not enjoy was the meals and scarcity of same. Fruit and vegetables were almost non existence. The dinners in the boma was short of food, never offered second helpings. After the ladies had helped themselves there were not much food and vegetables left for us men. The latter made our stay less enjoyable.