Lux­ury in the Ka­roo

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Contents - Text: Kayla Cloete Im­ages © Sa­mara Pri­vate Game Re­serve

Set in the Great Ka­roo, Eastern Cape, the award-win­ning, malaria-free 28,000 hectare Sa­mara Pri­vate Game Re­serve has been de­scribed as noth­ing short of heart-stop­pingly beau­ti­ful.

Just a two-and-a-half hour drive from Port El­iz­a­beth, and just a 40 minute drive from the his­tor­i­cal town of Graaff-reinet, Sa­mara Pri­vate Game Re­serve is rich in both cul­ture and his­tory. The re­serve can ac­com­mo­date a max­i­mum of 30 guests in the two five-star lux­ury lodges, en­sur­ing that your wilder­ness re­treat re­mains ex­actly that – an es­cape from the hus­tle and bus­tle of the me­trop­o­lis.

Sa­mara was a restora­tion project es­tab­lished in 1997. Eleven over­grazed live­stock farms were pur­chased in the hopes of restor­ing the land back to its nat­u­ral beauty. Indige­nous wildlife was slowly rein­tro­duced to the land after it was given time to rest. The re­serve now homes a wide range of game, from chee­tahs to the desert-adapted sub­species of the crit­i­cally en­dan­gered black rhino, and even the odd leopard.

The Ka­roo Lodge in the re­serve is an im­mac­u­lately ren­o­vated farm­stead over­look­ing an am­phithe­atre of moun­tains. Ac­com­mo­dat­ing up to 26 guests, three of the Ka­roo Suites are stand­alone cot­tages, a short dis­tance from the main home­stead, and four are found in­side the main home­stead itself. The fi­nal two rooms are lo­cated a lit­tle walk away, and are closer to the wa­ter­hole where birdlife, an­te­lope, rhino, and buf­falo like to gather in the early morn­ings and late af­ter­noons.

Of course, there is no bet­ter feel­ing than hav­ing the en­tire space re­served just for you – this can be done at Sa­mara Pri­vate Game Re­serve. Ideal for any­one who is in need of a bit of pri­vacy, in­dul­gence, and com­plete re­lax­ation, guests can book a stay at the ex­clu­sive-use Manor House.

Mark and Sarah Tompkins, the own­ers of Sa­mara Pri­vate Game Re­serve, built the Manor House on the site of an old home­stead. Its ti­tle deed dates back to Lord Charles Som­er­set, who founded the town of Som­er­set East.

Lying at the foot of a grassy moun­tain range, the Manor House is steeped in grandeur. Your own pri­vate piece of paradise, the Manor House is staffed with a pri­vate ranger, chef, and but­ler to cater to your every whim. A daily pro­gramme of activities is also tai­lor-made to your spe­cific wishes to en­sure that each day is spent ex­actly as you wish.

The warm de­sign of the Manor House re­flects the lo­cal land­scape and its tra­di­tions. Glass dou­ble doors meet you upon ar­rival, flanked by beaded African art­work and tra­di­tional Ka­roo an­tiques. Once through the doors, your at­ten­tion di­verts from the im­mac­u­lately dec­o­rated in­te­rior to the breath­tak­ing open ex­panses of the Ka­roo moun­tain land­scape that lies beyond. Out­side, the 21 m in­fin­ity pool over­looks a wa­ter­hole fre­quently vis­ited by buf­falo, warthogs, and mon­keys.

The Manor House in­cludes two mag­nif­i­cent liv­ing ar­eas, and two smaller break­away loung­ing al­coves for se­cluded spa­ces in which to un­wind. There are four spa­cious air-con­di­tioned bed­room suites, all with large en suite bath­rooms which in­clude free-stand­ing baths and sep­a­rate show­ers. Each room also has its own pri­vate pa­tio with out­door seat­ing area – the per­fect spot to en­joy a morn­ing cup of cof­fee.

Ad­ja­cent to the bar area is the lux­u­ri­ous din­ing room. How­ever, guests also have the op­tion to dine by can­dle­light on the ve­randa, on the lawn un­der the pur­ple­flow­ered Jacaranda tree, or out in the bush be­neath a star-stud­ded sky. Be­fore din­ner, guests can visit the Ka­roo-style boma for drinks around the fire.

For a ro­man­tic oc­ca­sion, guests can or­gan­ise the Milky Way Star Bed Ex­pe­ri­ence. Set in a se­cluded location, a be­spoke four­poster bed with draped mos­quito net­ting lies on a plat­form be­neath the stars. Crea­ture com­forts are taken care of with

lux­u­ri­ous sheets, mo­hair blan­kets, plush bathrobes, and bath­room fa­cil­i­ties.

Do not al­low a lack of a de­cent babysit­ter dis­suade you from book­ing a stay at this lux­ury lodge. Sa­mara is a fam­ily ori­en­tated re­sort ded­i­cated to make guests of all ages feel wel­comed and in­cluded. A pro­gramme for chil­dren will keep your lit­tle ones en­ter­tained: from bush­walks to vis­it­ing rock paint­ing sites and sleep outs. There are also pro­fes­sional child­min­ders for chil­dren un­der the age of eight, so you can leave your chil­dren in ca­pa­ble hands while you go out on a game drive or spoil your­self with a spa treat­ment.

Chil­dren will also learn about the “Funny Five” of Sa­mara. Sa­mara be­lieves that our so­ci­ety des­per­ately needs to raise a gen­er­a­tion of chil­dren who cares about and un­der­stands na­ture in all its shapes and forms. One of the best ways to en­gage chil­dren is through hu­mour. That is why Sa­mara has cho­sen five an­i­mals with quirky dis­po­si­tions (the gi­raffe, warthog, wilde­beest, mon­key, and aard­vark) to en­gage the in­ter­est of chil­dren when learn­ing about our en­vi­ron­ment.

For avid bird watch­ers, Sa­mara has a treat for you. Ten Cape vul­tures have been spot­ted feed­ing on a chee­tah kill in the Sa­mara Pri­vate Game Re­serve. With fewer than 10,000 re­main­ing world­wide, these mag­nif­i­cent birds of prey are clas­si­fied by the IUCN as En­dan­gered, and are an ex­tremely rare find. Make sure to pack in your binoc­u­lars and keep an eye out on the hori­zon for these ma­jes­tic crea­tures.

Another great way to take in the spec­tac­u­lar wildlife scenery is by cy­cling through the newly opened moun­tain bik­ing tracks. A Sa­mara ranger rides along­side guests who choose to go on the guided routes which take place in the game-fenced area. Un­guided routes are also avail­able. Here, guests are given a ra­dio and a map to nav­i­gate through the na­ture re­serve which is re­moved from the more dan­ger­ous game.

Whether you are look­ing for an in­ti­mate getaway or a fam­ily-fun hol­i­day, Sa­mara Pri­vate Game Re­serve is an ideal wilder­ness re­treat.

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