Samara Game Reserve, South Africa

samara

Samara, a luxury private game reserve with 27,000 protected hectares now claims two percent of South Africa's current wild cheetah population. In the heart of the Great Karoo wilderness, one of South Africa's most fascinating regions which long has been inaccessible for holidaymakers, tourists can now experience an authentic, exclusive safari.

No minibuses. No 20 jeeps around a lion. No caged animals.

samara1Unlike the overhyped safaris provided by many of top lodges in the too-busy reserves farther north, Samara offers guests the rare chance of experiencing the Great Karoo's vastness and wild beauty in an exclusive setting, shared with just a handful of other people.

Endangered species roam Samara, and a highlight is the rare chance to track cheetahs - one of the most endangered cats on the continent - on foot. Miracle cheetah Sibella - a superstar among local cats - almost died at the hands of hunters and shouldn't be alive today, but under the protection of Samara, she has had 18 cubs, including two recently.

The five-star Karoo Lodge is the heart and soul of Samara, where twinkling paraffin lamps welcome guests home after an evening game drive out on the plains. A stylish interpretation of the original Karoo farmhouse, the old homestead features three beautifully appointed luxury suites. Or there are Karoo Suites - recreations of typical small Karoo houses -  or The Manor House.

Samara prides itself on being a family-friendly game reserve. Children of all ages are welcome at the Karoo Lodge, with special activities such as fossil-finding and bug-hunts to keep them entertained between game drives. A special play area is thoughtfully set up a away from the lodge, where children can pitch tents, play games and go wild. Samara also offers a gap year programme that allows volunteers to work on ongoing wildlife research and management projects as well as assist with community development and environmental education programmes.

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