Sa­mara Pri­vate Game Re­serve, Great Ka­roo, South Africa | DES­TI­NA­TION

Upscale Living Magazine - - Content - | BY HELÉNE RA­MACK­ERS

Sur­rounded by the most breath­tak­ing moun­tains and steeped in his­tory, you will find Sa­mara Pri­vate Game Re­serve in the malaria-free Great Ka­roo. Look­ing out from a hill­top over the vast Camde­boo Plains, the peace and tran­quil­lity you so richly de­serve is all yours.

Have you ever imag­ined what it must feel like to stand a few yards away from the fastest land mam­mal on earth? It is both life-chang­ing and sur­real. We have just em­barked on our first game drive un­der the guid­ance of ranger Gib­son Mu­foya, when he spots four sub-adult chee­tahs hav­ing a lie-down in the late af­ter­noon sun­shine.

“Please dis­em­bark the ve­hi­cle and join me in tak­ing a closer look”, he sug­gests. We all clam­ber off ex­cit­edly, but walk qui­etly and cau­tiously in sin­gle file be­hind Gib­son not to scare th­ese beau­ti­ful cats away.

Sa­mara has been in­stru­men­tal in se­cur­ing the longevity of the chee­tah species and the story of Si­bella will cer­tainly tug at the heart­strings.

Have you ever imag­ined what it must feel like to stand a few yards away from the fastest land mam­mal on earth? It is both life-chang­ing and sur­real. We have just em­barked on our first game drive un­der the guid­ance of ranger Gib­son Mu­foya, when he spots four sub-adult chee­tahs hav­ing a lie-down in the late af­ter­noon sun­shine.

“Please dis­em­bark the ve­hi­cle and join me in tak­ing a closer look”, he sug­gests. We all clam­ber off ex­cit­edly, but walk qui­etly and cau­tiously in sin­gle file be­hind Gib­son not to scare th­ese beau­ti­ful cats away.

Sa­mara has been in­stru­men­tal in se­cur­ing the longevity of the chee­tah species and the story of Si­bella will cer­tainly tug at the heart­strings. Si­bella was the first chee­tah to be re­leased in the Ka­roo in over 140 years, and along with two male chee­tahs, she pro­duced 19 off­spring over four lit­ters. When she died at the age of 14 in 2015, she left a lin­eage that will hope­fully con­tinue to in­crease the num­bers of the highly en­dan­gered chee­tah species. Stand­ing along­side Si­bella’s daugh­ter, Chilli’s four cubs, the over­whelm­ing feeling is that of hope for the fu­ture of th­ese stun­ning spot­ted apex predators.

Back at the lodge af­ter our sun­downer stop, we take a leisurely stroll to our lux­ury 5-star ac­com­mo­da­tion for the next two nights at Ka­roo Lodge, Ka­roo Suite no. 3. Our stand­alone cot­tage is the per­fect fit for our fam­ily of three and the beau­ti­ful free­stand­ing Vic­to­rian bath with a view over the land­scape is a must-do.

The very hos­pitable as­sis­tant man­ager, Veron­ica le Grange is at hand to en­sure that our stay is com­fort­able. The crisp evening jus­ti­fies a visit to the lounge, seated close to the fire­place.

We are in­vited to the din­ing room to en­joy our din­ner. The food is top qual­ity and tonight, we dine on beet­root salad, broc­coli soup, stuffed pork fil­let, chicken breast fil­lets, both with cau­li­flower cous cous & car­rots and poached pears for dessert. Time to call it a night and be­fore re­tir­ing to our Suite, we pause on the ve­randa to admire the star-span­gled Ka­roo night sky. Af­ter a good night’s sleep, fol­lowed by a hearty break­fast, we set off on our morn­ing game drive up the moun­tain.

At the top, we are greeted by the most ex­quis­ite vis­tas over the Camde­boo Plains with a wel­come hot choco­late and cof­fee stop. We spot the usual sus­pects at the top of the moun­tain – Cape moun­tain ze­bra, wilde­beest and oryx; only a small hand­ful of an­i­mals that in­habit the 70,000 acres of pris­tine wilder­ness.

The in­tro­duc­tion of a herd of ele­phants took place in late 2017 and the di­verse veg­e­ta­tion is the ideal stomp­ing ground for th­ese gen­tle giants. Ac­cord­ing to Gib­son, the ele­phants love the moun­tain­ous ter­rain and spend their time feed­ing on a va­ri­ety of plant species.

It is time for brunch and we feast on salad, fish cakes and milk tart for high tea. The late af­ter­noon game drive yields lots of ex­cit­ing

sight­ings and when Gib­son stops the ve­hi­cle and ges­tures for us to qui­etly fol­low him, we trail him on blind faith. As we ap­proach them, he asks us to stay per­fectly still as their sense of smell is far su­pe­rior to their sight. We are a stone’s throw away from a white rhino and its calf. Another once-in-a life­time ex­pe­ri­ence.

Be­ing in the Ka­roo, one of the most soughtafter and tasty meals is Ka­roo lamb. At Sa­mara, it can be pre­sented in a va­ri­ety of dishes, and I have found out from Veron­ica that there is a sur­prise for us at din­ner tonight. In the din­ing room, we are served the most de­li­cious rack of lamb, grilled to absolute per­fec­tion.

It is our last day at Sa­mara and our game drive prom­ises to be an ex­cit­ing one when we see Gib­son tak­ing out the track­ing de­vice. He is driv­ing with pur­pose and stops ev­ery now and then to check if there is any au­di­ble beep­ing from the de­vice. At the edge of the plateau, we sud­denly hear ‘beep’, fol­lowed by another one. Then it gets louder. How loud must the beep be, I won­der.

Then we see her, Si­bella’s daugh­ter Chilli, hav­ing a si­esta un­der a tree. She rises from her slum­ber, stretches, yawns and con­tin­ues her mid-morn­ing sleep in the dry riverbed. Hav­ing just kicked her sub-adult cubs out of the ‘nest’, she is spend­ing her days soli­tar­ily, hop­ing to at­tract a suit­able male to fur­ther in­crease the chee­tah pop­u­la­tion.

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