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Why did we hand pick Samara Private Game Reserve?

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  • Dedicated land restoration and conservation effort
  • Vast and utterly beautiful Karoo nature reserve
  • Award winning luxurious and family-friendly accommodation

Samara Private Game Reserve

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Price tier (pps): R200  R1500+

Child policy: All ages

55km from Graaff-Reinet


-32.4352, 24.7489


15 years ago, Mark and Sarah Tompkins first heard about the wonders of the Great Karoo. Totally and completely smitten, the couple became the proud owners of Monkey Valley, the first farm which would form the nucleus of Samara Private Game Reserve. Fifteen years and 28 000 hectares later, the reserve has recovered from the effects of agricultural exploitation and is now a self-sustaining ecosystem of outstanding natural beauty and diversity.

Surrounded by mountains, Karoo Lodge combines colonial comforts and modern styling with the essence of Mother Nature. Four light and airy Lodge Suites, situated in the main homestead, are luxurious, with en-suite bathrooms, air-conditioning and wide wrap-around verandas, while the Karoo Suites in the garden have the added bonuses of a fireplace and outdoor shower. The two Sibella Suites share a deck and overlook a waterhole with magnificent birdlife. 

For groups of more than four people, the exclusive use Manor provides the ultimate in luxury accommodation. From a 21 metre infinity pool which descends into a waterhole, to a large comfortable lounge, plush bedrooms and a personal ranger, chef and butler, every whim can be catered for in this exclusive homestead.

The self-catering exclusive use Mountain Retreat hosts up to ten guests and has been specifically designed to be a tranquil, comfortable eco-lodge overlooking the ancient Karoo landscape. Cuisine, which can be enjoyed in the boma, restaurant or out in the bush, is a delightful, classy showcase of local delicacies such as Karoo Lamb, Springbok Loin and wild rosemary, complemented by fine wines.

A comprehensive game reintroduction programme has seen a wide variety of wildlife, including cheetahs, released onto the reserve. Safari experiences cater for the whole family and range from walks in the Karoo scrubland and plateaus, to game drives and the chance to see an Aardvark, one of Africa’s most secretive mammals.

Rates & Summary

4 Lodge Suites in Homestead 

Each sleeps 2 adults & 1 child 
En-suite bath and shower
Wraparound veranda

3 Karoo Suites in Garden 

Each sleeps 2 adults & 2 children
En-suite bath and shower
Outdoor shower with views

2 Sibella Suites 

Each sleeps 4 adults
En-suite shower
Wooden deck overlooking waterhole

The Manor - Exclusive Use 

Sleeps min 4, max 8 adults
4 double full en-suite bedrooms 
Lounge with fireplace
Private patios with views
21m infinity pool at waterhole
Personal ranger, chef & butler

S/C Mountain Retreat - Excl Use

5 double en-suite bedrooms
Lounge with fireplace
Fully-equipped kitchen
Wrap-around veranda
No electricity - lighting by oil lamps
Housekeeper provided


  • For pricing detail, click on CHECK AVAILABILITY & BOOK ONLINE above


Karoo Lodge and Manor - Full Board
Mountain Retreat - Self-catering


Children of all ages welcome. Outdoor fenced play area, dedicated children's programme and babysitters available.
Only those 8yrs and over are allowed on scheduled game drives.


Why Stay Here?

Nestled between an amphitheatre of mountains within the sweeping vistas of the Karoo, the award-winning Samara Private Game Reserve provides elegant, family-friendly luxury accommodation and wonderful safari experiences on a 28 000ha expanse of land lovingly restored to its natural state.


  • Dedicated land restoration and conservation effort
  • Vast and utterly beautiful Karoo nature reserve
  • Award winning luxurious and family-friendly accommodation


The Karoo Suites are more private.
Both Manor and Mountain Retreat are exclusive use for total privacy.

Things to consider Bringing

Sunblock, hat, walking shoes, swimming costume, binoculars for bird watching and game spotting.

Road Conditions

The 23km gravel approach road is suitable for all types of vehicles, but it is advisable to drive carefully in wet conditions.

Activities & Attractions

  • Fenced swimming pool
  • Tennis court
  • Spa treatments
  • Game drives
  • Biome walks
  • Walking safaris
  • Aardvark safaris
  • Photographic safaris
  • Bird watching 


Accommodation & Hospitality

  • Communal lounge
  • Verandah / patio
  • Air conditioning
  • Fireplace
  • Bed linen supplied
  • Bathroom towels supplied
  • Hair dryer available
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Laundry service available
  • Ironing service available
  • Self-service tea and coffee available
  • No smoking indoors

Catering & Kitchen

  • Full board
  • Licensed


  • Water supply good for drinking
  • Electric geysers
  • Eskom electricity

Leisure Amenities

  • Swimming pool
  • Satellite television
  • Library
  • Garden

Business & Connectivity

  • Wi-Fi
  • No cell phone reception

Access & Convenience

  • Limited wheelchair friendliness
  • Babysitting available
  • Child friendly
  • No pets allowed
  • Covered parking
  • Nearest shops further than 50km
  • Nearest fuel further than 50km
  • Shuttle service can be arranged


  • Credit cards accepted
  • EFT accepted


  • Personal safe




Karoo Heartland

Eastern Cape


The Karoo Heartland area lies in the Eastern Cape province, inland from the busy coastal city of Port Elizabeth. It embraces the eastern landscapes of the Great Karoo and, like the rest of this vast and semi-arid region, it is sparsely populated and little developed.

Rising in the north-west of the region are the Sneeuberg mountains. As their name suggests, the higher reaches are often draped in a blanket of snow during winter. Further east they link up with the Bankberg range. From here the landscape drops in altitude in a series of gentle slopes and rolling foothills.

For the motorist, the steep gradients are traversed via the winding roads of the Lootsberg, Naudesberg, Ouberg and Wapadsberg passes. In the south the landscape flattens out in a sweeping flat expanse, referred to as the plains of Camdeboo. In the eastern extremes the traditional Karoo scrub gives way to waving grasslands, tall slender aloes and tree-choked gorges.

Amongst the koppies and expansive plains are small rural towns like Graaff Reinet, Cradock and Nieu Bethesda. All of these are popular with visitors and well-known for their fine architecture and enduring charm. Graaff Reinet is best known for its magnificent stone church, the historic Drostdy with its colourful Stretch’s Court. It also has tranquil tree-lined streets sporting grand old houses and quaint cottages.

On its outskirts, the 19 000ha Camdeboo National Park almost encircles the town and protects the habitats and wildlife of the area. Within its boundaries stand the pillars of balancing rock that make the Valley of Desolation so intriguing. Nearby, the Sundays River flows into the Nqweba Dam.

A short drive north, at the base of the towering Kompasberg Peak, is Nieu Bethesda. Its main attractions are the Owl House with its artwork, and the mythical figures in the Camel Yard. The town is loved by seekers of tranquillity who come to escape in its rural charm and laid-back ambience.

In the east the busy, upbeat town of Cradock on the banks of the Fish River boasts a wealth of interesting architecture. The best preserved of examples form part of the well-known Tuishuise.

Each year canoeists converge on the area for the annual Fish River canoe marathon.

Cradock’s natural icon comes in the form of the Mountain Zebra National Park. This expanse was proclaimed in order to protect the endangered mountain zebra, which now number around 300 in the park. The variety of game includes cheetah, Cape buffalo and black rhinoceros. The landscape varies from rugged mountains to plateau grasslands.

Throughout the region there is a cultural richness, and strong traditions still survive in the towns and on the farms. With an extensive network of gravel back roads that lead to hidden farms and stunning views, the Karoo Heartlands is ideally suited to the explorer. It’s also home to large game lodges, 4x4 trails, hiking and mountain bike routes, fishing, and birdwatching.

Look out for

Camdeboo National Park – on the outskirts of Graaff Reinet, this 19 000ha park protects some of the low-lying plains as well as the mountainous terrain in the area. It contains the Valley of Desolation. Within its boundaries are 12 species of large game and 225 bird species. There are several hikes, varying from a 1.5 km stroll to a day walk and an overnight trail. 4x4 enthusiasts have a choice of either the Koedoeskloof or Driekoppe trails. There is a tented camp and some campsites are being developed in the park. 

The Valley of Desolation - is formed by the extraordinary geology of the mountains that create impressive dolerite rock pillars, which are easily seen from various viewpoints along the walking trails. En route to the main viewpoint a toposcope stands on a small koppie, from where there is a magnificent view of Graaff Reinet.

Mountain Zebra National Park – situated 12km from Cradock, the park nestles amongst the craggy heights of the Bankberg mountains in the far eastern area of the region. Proclaimed in 1937, the park embraces undulating plains and plunging valleys where the Cape mountain zebra was saved from extinction. Accommodation is in the restored Victorian homestead at Doornhoek (that sleeps 6), or in cottages and campsites at the main rest camp. There is an à la carte restaurant, a shop selling basic commodities, a fuel station and a swimming pool. Day visitors are welcome.

The Owl House – this iconic house was created by eccentric artist Helen Martins. It became famous by being featured in world-renowned playwright Athol Fugard’s film, ‘The Road to Mecca’. Obsessed with the interplay of light, colour and reflection, martins covered walls, ceilings, windows and other surfaces with bright paint and glass. The effect is amplified by the many candles, lamps and mirrors she collected. The Owl House is rated a premier ‘outsider art’ destination and attracts 15 000 visitors annually, from all over the world. It’s open to the public daily (except Christmas day). Opening times: 09h00-17h00 in April to September / 08h00-18h00 in October to May.

Blouwater Railway - for a rail journey with a difference give Charles Kingwill a call to book a seat on his rail van, which trundles up the 11km-long Lootsberg Railway Pass and back. He can take a maximum of 9 passengers per trip. Trips run from Monday to Saturday between 09h00 and 15h00. It takes 2 hours, and you can take your own picnic and refreshments.

Tuishuise –mention Cradock and the first places that come to mind are the historic Tuishuise. Even if you’re not planning to stay overnight (although you should), make a point of exploring Market Street where they are situated. 

When to go

To Do

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