The reserve is in the Great Karoo, near Graaf Reinet. Thr Lodge is stylishly furnished with elegance snd style. Our room was large, featured a huge 4-poster bed and private patio, with stunning mountain views. Coffee and tea station, and shrrry. The en suite bathroom had both bath and shower. Toweling gowns and slippers were provided. The staff were attentive and friendly. Meals were top-class, and beautifully presented. The twice daily game drives were fantastic, with knowledgeable guide Dumisani and tracker Jason. The reserve is well stocked with game, and is managed in a responsible manner. A definite 'must' for a return visit.
This was my fifth visit to Samara spanning a seventeen year period. My first visit in 2005 was a result of a friends strong recommendation to take a look at a property with an awesome vision. That vision, passion in action and resultant dedication to community, responsible tourism and sustainability remains true within my last visit this weekend. What I did experience, feel and absorb on this visit is nothing short of inspirational ! The world has gone through slightly more than two years of devastating challenges across the globe through the arrival of Covid - 19. When the Samara executive management Team sat down at the beginning of this pandemic back in 2020 their collective mindset determined that this is an opportunity to enhance their overall property experience for guests, they kept on every one of their fifty three staff members ( they now have seventy two full time staff members ) and continued on their vision to return their expansive property to the condition it was prior to the arrival of commercial farming and the subsequent denuding of the land, wildlife and welfare of the community. My review here is as a now retired inbound tour operator who spent my twenty two years in the inbound ( to southern Africa ) business seeking out authentic, well managed and high quality properties that reflect a deep respect for the land, her people and Mother Nature. So, back to my weekend under African skies..... My minds eye expected to find this property maybe a little ' off ' after suffering over two years of Covid related lock downs, very few overseas inbound visitors and the subsequent lack of revenue to maintain their overall quality ethos. I was therefore reassured to arrive at Karoo Lodge to see, absorb and witness beautiful indigenous gardens, magnificent trees and a very typical Samara welcome ( warm smiles, welcoming energies and attentive staff ). What hit me immediately was the calmness, the order, the level of attention to maintenance and smaller details. When planning an African safari one of the key aspects is your ranger/guide. You will spend in the order of eight hours a day in their company as they drive/walk you about their property. Best make sure they know their ' office ' well ! This has to be one of Samara's loudest calls. On each of my visits the extraordinary has been presented to me. Qualified and experienced rangers and now a tracker as well accompanies the guest in custom designed vehicles on an authentic learning, viewing and inspiring moment on the Reserve. They share their extensive knowledge of the particular biomes, topography and animals you will see. These ' translators ' from Mother Nature to human understanding are the vital link. We got to observe Chilli. Tracking cheetah at Samara is managed in a highly respectful and well managed manner and is an exceptional experience for guests to observe these unique creatures in an environment of respect all round. This most beautiful and expressive reflection of a mature female cheetah is the daughter of the original cheetah matriarch Sibella. Sibella was badly injured by a group of hunting dogs on a farm and was brought through to Samara with the hope she may survive and at best thrive. She did and this story of cheetah is for me a thread running through Samara, caring for today so the 'morrow thrives. My Karoo Retreat suite was so well prepared. Everything worked ! These spacious, free standing units have every amenity a guest may need for their visit. Their food & beverage offering is certainly a minor miracle when you consider that the closest supplier is fifty kilometres away. They have their own vegetable garden along with herbs. Their wine list reflects excellent selection that we would expect for their overall quality rating. Table presentation and dinning service levels at all meals was exemplary, attentive but not overly and always came with the words ' you are welcome ' voiced with a traditional Groot ( Big ) Karoo smile. Rates for the current year ( 2022 ) for the southern African market are an absolute gift ! When you inculcate the overall offering at Samara these rates are about half of the true rate needed to sustain Samara's quality ethos. For those returning ( Samara has a high guest return ratio ) and first time guests from overseas the rate charged is reflective of good value for money and as their intrinsic value added is so high brings personal growth and learning to each guest not often found at other wildlife properties. Samara was bought by a family deeply routed within South Africa with one foot in the UK in 1997. A combined 58,000 acres of eleven farms in size devoid of any semblance of order, respect of the natural flow of order where Mother Nature is allowed to simply do what she has to do. Their vision was to restore the land to its original, prefarmed out condition, to re wild with the animals that once roamed the property in their vast, vast numbers and to share all of this with guests who would want an authentic African wild life experience. So here they are today, twenty five years from their purchase driving the same stated vision & ethos. In my seventeen years of witnessing their passage they have remained utterly true to their core respect & resolve to and within Mother Nature, their community and ' family ' as they see their staff as. If you as a potential visitor to Samara are seeking a space for solitude, maybe a place for family to come together and reflect, should you wish to understand a little of what makes Africa tick, what it feels like to observe a wild animal habituated ( comfortable to allow human presence within their environment ) in their natural surrounds and then to be thoroughly looked after and attended to then the Samara family would be an excellent choice.....…
This was our first time at Samara. It is a massive reserve with an array of wildlife. The black wildebeest on the top of the mountain with their bushy white tails was a first. The lions, eland and spring hair were just some of the other amazing sightings. However the cherry on the top was the cheetah and getting out of the game vehicle to track the cheetah up close. We stood 10 meters away for this magnificent cat! What an experience! I wish I had more time to stay on. The staff and food were amazing! The dinner under the stars with the Karoo night sky was spectacular. The rooms are decorated in the original Karoo style and the pool was very welcome with the heat! The unspoiled open plains are amazing and I would highly recommend a visit! Loved the spekboom take away!!
The main highlight was seeing 3 three-month-old lion cubs playing with their older brothers from very close at a beautiful time of the day in an incredible spot on the river. Unbelievable sighting! Other highlights were walking on foot to white Rhino and Cheetah (we were within 15 meters from the Cheetah). This was very unique in comparison to other game drives I've been on. The rangers and spotters are world-class, friendly and go the extra mile. We spent two glorious nights in the luxurious Manor House. Overall, it was an experience to remember. We went on a game drive to the top of a mountain and the views were endless. A great mix of wildlife, peaceful accommodation and breathtaking views. Highly recommend and can't wait to visit again!
This was an absolutely amazing experience. We stayed in the Manor House. The rooms are decorated very stylish (so was the rest of the house), spacious and have beautiful views. The game viewing was exceptional and we had two brilliant guides accompanying us. The bush coffee on the morning ride was a hit.!
Samara provides such a unique game viewing and I would gladly go back! Highlights included on foot walking to see cheetah and rhino, watching lion cubs in a river bed, viewing mountain zebra on a plateau on top of a mountain! The reserve has mountains, grass plains, thick bush making it an incredibly varied reserve. We stayed at the Manor House - great rooms and the best pool ever. Guides are seriously on the ball and highly engaging. Overall, I loved it
We stayed in the Farm house and it tired and needs some care in order to receive a 5 star rating. The drawers in the dresser were not working properly. The room was dark . Towels were not up to par for 5 stars. There was a bad smell coming from a vent at the back of the beds. I think this was due to a lot of rain but it was unpleasant. Staff were lovely and game guides were great. Food was just fine but nothing special. Not a 5 star property. Saying that there are individual accommodations that might be a better option but unavailable at our booking.
Samara is an amazing lodge. The reserve is absolutely stunning with rhinos, lions, cheetahs and the black wildebeest which are only found in the Karoo area. It is a nature lovers dream whether its your first time on safari or you are a 'season safari' expert! The food is fantastic, the staff are extremely caring and respectful. The Homestead Suites are a little tired but the Karoo Suites are absolutely lovely. Thank you to the entire staff for making my stay extremely memorable.
Fabulous! We visited as a family of 4 for a short 4-day holiday. The staff were exceptionally friendly and attentive without leaving you feeling “crowded”. The accommodations and lodge were beautifully decorated in an old world Karoo farm chic, and one felt spoiled being able to sit on the large open stoep, having a chilled glass of wine and enjoying the sights and sounds of a traditional Karoo Farmstead, whilst being entertained by warthogs and baboons grazing on the lawn. The food served by the restaurant was scrumptious and delicious and invoked memories of large family gatherings and Sunday roasts. The game viewing and Karoo veld is unmatched in its beauty, and the dichotomy of abundance and barrenness never ceased to amaze. Samara has managed what few can achieve, making it child and family friendly without losing its charm to a theme-park feel. The guides and trackers are very well trained and very attuned to each visitor’s wishlist of game they would like to see, and are able to engage with the children in an educating and informative way, keeping their attention effortlessly. A true gem!…
What an amazing experience walking with cheetah, would loved to have done more than one walk, but we are doing 10 properties in the Eastern Cape in 30 days. so time is limited .Facilities were first class and staff attentive.