Samara Karoo Lodge

distinctive Camp | The Great Karoo, South Africa

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Samara Private Game Reserve is one of the most unique wilderness areas of South Africa. Located in the Eastern Cape's Karoo, which features four of South Africa's seven biomes, the reserve is a survey of vast landscapes and dramatic escarpments. Seeing cheetah is a highlight of Samara, being frequently seen on both wildlife drives and walks. The reserve prides itself on cheetah conservation. Rhino, two kinds of zebra, giraffe and elusive aardvark are also common sightings.

Photo of Christy Lavoie

Our Expert Says

Samara is one of the greatest cheetah conservation projects in all of Africa. You aren't likely to see lion and leopard here, but that's why the cheetah can thrive. Combine this with the Sabi Sand or Botswana's Okavango Delta and you have yourself a well-rounded big cat safari.

– Christy Lavoie

Photo: The Camp

The Camp

Location: Samara Private Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Number of Suites: 9

Samara Karoo Lodge features 9 individually decorated suites, each with its own bathroom with indoor shower and bathtub. The lodge mixes a 19th century colonial style with natural elements. This homestead was lovingly restored with many modern conveniences and comforts. The central living area and dining room both feature a fireplace, and there is a cozy bar area for gathering before dinner with other guests. There is a fenced swimming pool, a traditional boma for al fresco dinners, and tennis court. Dining is done in a variety of places, from the formal dining room to the lawn, on a veranda, in the traditional boma, by the poolside or out in the bush. The lodge is small and intimate with a home-away-from-home atmosphere, warm and friendly staff and expert safari rangers.

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Photo: Facilities & Amenities

Facilities & Amenities

  • En suite bathroom with tub and shower
  • Shampoo, soap and lotion
  • Hair dryer
  • Air conditioning
  • Fireplace in Karoo Suites and main area
  • 220v charging outlets in room
  • In-room safe
  • Central pool
  • Spa (extra cost)
  • Wi-Fi in room
  • Select drinks while on safari activities
  • Drinks at the lodge (extra cost)
  • Laundry (extra cost)
  • Credit cards accepted (Visa, MasterCard, Diner's, American Express)

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Photo: Wildlife Viewing & Activities

Wildlife Viewing & Activities

Samara is defined by 70,000 acres of pristine, private land occupied by four of South Africa's seven biomes: plateau grassland, Nama Karoo, savanna, and valley bushveld. Situated within the Camdeboo region of the Eastern Cape, an area once home to migrating herds comprising millions of springbok and black wildebeest, Samara features surrounding mountains of over 4,700 feet as well as flat Karoo plains. Today the reserve features cheetah prominently, after 125 years of extinction from the area. They can be seen by vehicle and even on foot within the reserve. Other animals include rhino, both Burchell's and Cape mountain zebra, giraffe, springbok, kudu, eland, red hartebeest, black wildebeest, small carnivores such as jackals, and good sightings of aardvark, an otherwise very elusive creature. Morning and afternoon wildlife drives, walking safaris, bush picnics, aardvark safaris, bird watching, visits to local Khoisan paintings and a number of conservation focused activities are on offer daily.

The Great Karoo's most common large mammal and predator sightings are illustrated in the chart below. The region features cheetah prominently while lion and leopard are not typically observed. This is deliberate, as the focus is on increasing the cheetah presence in this area where they once thrived, and the other big cats can threaten the cheetah population. Elephant are also not seen, as this is not a typical habitat for them, so it's ideal to pair the Great Karoo with the Eastern Cape or Greater Kruger Park area. Other typical sightings may include springbok, brown hyena, baboon, a variety of birds, and small carnivores such as black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox and caracal.

Country Park/Reserve
Gemsbok / Oryx
Greater Kudu
White Rhino
South Africa The Great Karoo

Usually viewed
Frequently viewed
Occasionally viewed
Sporadically viewed
Rarely to never viewed

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Month Max Min Rainfall
January 91° F 57° F 0.16 in
32° C 13° C 4 mm
February 92° F 60° F 0.08 in
33° C 15° C 2 mm
March 85° F 54° F 1.06 in
29° C 12° C 27 mm
April 72° F 46° F 0.51 in
22° C 7° C 13 mm
May 73° F 43° F 0.16 in
22° C 6° C 4 mm
June 64° F 38° F 0.28 in
17° C 3° C 7 mm
July 62° F 36° F 0.51 in
16° C 2° C 13 mm
August 70° F 43° F 0.12 in
21° C 6° C 3 mm
September 72° F 46° F 1.14 in
22° C 7° C 29 mm
October 85° F 51° F 0.63 in
29° C 10° C 16 mm
November 82° F 50° F 0.51 in
27° C 10° C 13 mm
December 93° F 58° F 0.2 in
33° C 14° C 5 mm

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Photo: Conservation


The Samara story began in 2003 with Sibella, a female cheetah that had been injured by hunters and was near death. Samara's owners, Mark and Sarah Tompkins, released Sibella on Samara after she was successfully rehabilitated at the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust. She was released with two males and has successfully raised 18 cubs to date, contributing to 2% of South Africa's wild cheetah population. Hunting eliminated cheetah from this area over 125 years ago, so Samara's success in bringing them back has been ground-breaking. The Tompkinses maintain their goal to link this 70,000-acre private game reserve to nearby Mountain Zebra National Park and Cambedoo National Park, thus creating South Africa's largest private game reserve and further restoring the biodiversity of the Karoo and its human and wildlife populations.

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