Stargaz­ing in the Ka­roo

SLOW Magazine - - Contents -

Award-win­ning Sa­mara Pri­vate Game Re­serve, which re­cently cel­e­brated 20 years of ex­is­tence, is lo­cated on 70,000 acres of wilder­ness in the Great Ka­roo, of­fer­ing breath­tak­ing views over the Plains of Camde­boo. It is sit­u­ated ap­prox­i­mately 270 km from Port El­iz­a­beth and 53 km from the near­est town of Graaff-reinet. Sa­mara of­fers easy ac­cess on ex­cel­lent roads, so you don’t need to have an off-road ve­hi­cle to get there.

The re­serve is a pas­sion­ate con­ser­va­tion un­der­tak­ing and Sa­mara has been a cat­a­lyst for change in the Great Ka­roo. The abun­dant land – which has been al­lowed to rest over a pe­riod of 20 years – pre­serves a com­plex and di­verse ecosys­tem. Four veg­e­ta­tion biomes pro­vide habi­tat for over 60 mam­mal species, in­clud­ing aard­vark, Cape moun­tain ze­bra, gi­raffe, black and white rhino, buf­falo, eland, gems­bok, and chee­tah, to name but a few. Sa­mara forms part of a greater vi­sion, namely to cre­ate South Africa’s third­largest pro­tected area in a global bio­di­ver­sity hotspot. The driv­ing force be­hind this vi­sion is the de­sire to pre­serve this ir­re­place­able part of South Africa’s nat­u­ral her­itage.

Sa­mara al­lows a max­i­mum of 30 guests to stay in one of its two fives­tar lodges: Ka­roo Lodge, a ren­o­vated farm­stead over­look­ing an am­phithe­atre of moun­tains, and The Manor House, an ex­clu­sive-use villa with pri­vate pool, chef, but­ler, and ranger. The ac­com­mo­da­tion is in tra­di­tional Ka­roo-farm­house style.

Ac­tiv­i­ties on of­fer at Sa­mara in­clude game drives, guided walks, wilder­ness pic­nics, bird­ing, moun­tain hikes, in­door and out­door din­ing, and con­ser­va­tion ac­tiv­i­ties. Chil­dren of all ages are wel­come, as there is a chil­dren’s pro­gramme ded­i­cated to mak­ing con­ser­va­tion­ists out of the young ones.

Ear­lier this year, the Milky Way Star Bed Ex­pe­ri­ence was launched, pro­vid­ing guests with a ro­man­tic wilder­ness ex­pe­ri­ence that will take their breath away. Set against a dra­matic moun­tain back­drop in a se­cluded lo­ca­tion, the plat­form houses a be­spoke four-poster bed with draped mos­quito net. A seat­ing area looks out over the river where wildlife gath­ers to drink. Crea­ture com­forts are taken care of with lux­u­ri­ous sheets, mo­hair blan­kets, dress­ing gowns, and bath­room fa­cil­i­ties. The whole set-up makes for a truly lux­u­ri­ous sleep-out ex­pe­ri­ence lit by the twin­kling stars over­head.

Sa­mara has also in­tro­duced guided and un­guided moun­tain bik­ing tracks for guest en­joy­ment on its 70,000 acres of wilder­ness. Guided routes – which in­clude the Sa­mara Mara Cy­cle Route of 33 km with a 656 m to­tal as­cent, and the 12 km Milk River Cy­cle Route – are in the game-fenced area where rid­ers are ac­com­pa­nied by a Sa­mara ranger. Non-guided routes – which in­clude the Vul­ture Moun­tain Cy­cle Route of 44 km with a 676 m to­tal as­cent, and the gen­tler Wild Olive Grove Cy­cle Route of 20 km lead­ing to the grove of 1,000 year old wild olive trees – are avail­able in the na­ture re­serve, re­moved from dan­ger­ous game. Rid­ers are given a ra­dio and a map to guide them along the route, and packed pic­nics can be ar­ranged on re­quest for the nonguided tracks.

To find out more about what Sa­mara has to of­fer, or to book your stay un­der the stars, visit www.sa­mara.co.za or con­tact reser­va­tions@sa­mara.co.za.

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