Samara Private Game Reserve

Accommodation Suppliers

Petersburg Road, Off the R63 to Pearston, near Graaff-Reinet
Member Number: 201206 Tel: +27 (0)31 262 0324

Samara Private Game Reserve is a passionate conservation undertaking, the leader in its area and a catalyst for change in the Great Karoo region of South Africa. Described as ‘heart-stoppingly beautiful’, the award-winning malaria-free reserve encompasses 70,000 acres of wilderness in the Great Karoo – South Africa’s magical heartland.

A 2.5-hour drive from Port Elizabeth, Samara is ideally situated at the end of the Garden Route and just 40 minutes from the historical town of Graaff-Reinet, rich in culture and heritage. A maximum of 26 guests stay in two five star luxury lodges: Karoo Lodge, a renovated farmstead overlooking an amphitheatre of mountains; and The Manor, a villa which can be booked exclusively, with private pool, chef, butler and ranger.

Samara forms part of a greater vision to create South Africa’s third largest protected area in a global biodiversity hotspot.

Where we operate

  • South Africa

Activities offered

  • Accommodation
  • Bird Watching
  • Photography
  • Safaris - Fixed Camp
  • Self-Drive Holidays
  • Weddings
  • Walking Safaris
  • Eco tourism

Our Commitment to Responsible Tourism

Samara is actively involved in conservation projects that incorporate research, practical management, education and community participation. When guests stay with us and get involved in the Samara journey, they contribute to a 'bigger picture' - creating South Africa's 3rd largest protected area in the magical Great Karoo.


Vuyani Safe Haven

Conservation also means acknowledging the people that have lived in this area for generations. The volunteer programme has developed a good relationship with the Vuyani Safe Haven ( located in the nearby town of Graaff-Reinet. We occasionally arrange environmental education and fun days at Samara for the children of the Haven. We also sometimes spend a Saturday assisting with painting, maintenance and child entertainment at the Haven. In addition to the time we spend with the children, it is also possible to actually volunteer at Vuyani Safe Haven for a few days or a few weeks. You live with the wonderful manager, Riana, and assist at the day-to-day running of the home including school work, caring for the younger ones, weekend excursions and activity days. Click here to download the Vuyani Volunteer Information Pack. Interacting with these special children is a truly eye-opening and special experience, learning from people less fortunate than you.


16 April 2020

Samara Private Game Reserve takes the classroom into the bush

Samara Private Game Reserve, a family friendly Big 5 reserve located in the Great Karoo, has introduced a series of video bush lessons for children during the national lockdown. The series, Samara Bush Lessons, takes the classroom outdoors to teach children fun facts about the wild.

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12 December 2019

Samara Private Game Reserves welcomes first lion cubs

Just one year after welcoming its founder pride of lions, Samara Private Game Reserve is celebrating the birth of its first litter of cubs. Born to the first wild lion and lioness to roam the Plains of Camdeboo near Graaff-Reinet in over 180 years, these cubs represent a victory for wild lion conservation. “We are ecstatic about this birth,” says Sarah Tompkins, founder of Samara. “It’s a sign that our move to rewild the landscape to create the conditions for new lion populations has been successful.”

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27 November 2019

A decade of success for the S.A.C.T. Tracker Academy at Samara Private Game Reserve

Samara Private Game Reserve, home of the Tracker Academy, is proud to celebrate the Academy’s tenth anniversary this month. Alex van den Heever, General Manager of the Tracker Academy, says that the NGO – which falls under the banner of the South African College for Tourism and is funded by the Peace Parks Foundation – was established at Samara Private Game Reserve in 2010, with just eight students, thanks to the generosity of Mrs Gaynor Rupert.

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10 September 2019

Samara Private Game Reserve introduces authentic new safari experience

Samara Private Game Reserve is excited to announce the addition of fly camping to its array of safari activities. This adventurous experience has guests exploring the diverse 70,000-acre wilderness on foot before spending the night in an intimate mobile camp. The practice takes its name from the safari days of yore when explorers set up camp in big game country with little more than a fly sheet protecting them from the elements.

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26 July 2019

Samara's legendary cheetah - Sibella's genes spread beyond South Africa

Samara Private Game Reserve’s participation in a project to relocate cheetah to Malawi’s Majete Wildlife Reserve is the latest step in the reserve’s ongoing efforts to conserve and boost cheetah populations. Samara is one of four South African reserves taking part in the relocation programme, which is coordinated by EWT and African Parks, with the latter additionally acting as a safe space creator.

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06 June 2019

Samara Private Game Reserve appoints South Africa's first female tracker

Samara Private Game Reserve is forwarding the advancement of women with the appointment of the first formally accredited female tracker in South Africa. Justa Frans’ appointment comes after her graduation from the S.A.C.T Tracker Academy, which is located at Samara, in 2018. Her Level 3 tracking qualification (an achievement of over 90%) is a useful supplement to the training she completed in nature and culture site guiding after matriculating in 2015. These skills will serve Justa well as she prepares for her position as a tracker intern at Samara.

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10 May 2019

More comfort, more luxury at Samara’s Karoo Lodge

Visitors to Samara Private Game Reserve’s Karoo Lodge near Graaff-Reinet can now look forward to an even more comfortable stay in this Big 5 reserve, thanks to recent refurbishments.  The lodge’s Sibella Suites, named for Samara’s famous cheetah, have been a focus of the renovations, with rooms made larger, furniture upgraded, a new roof installed and the deck revamped. Comprising two inter-leading suites sleeping four guests, the accommodation is ideal for families travelling with children or couples holidaying together, especially as the location (a five-minute walk from the main homestead) affords guests extra privacy. Newlyweds may even opt for it as their honeymoon suite – together with a Star Bed experience.

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13 March 2019

Samara Private Game Reserve offering 5-night Conservation Journey Experience

Samara Private Game Reserve is enabling guests to become part of the pioneering Conservation journey. The reserve is offering a 5-night Conservation Journey package: a thoughtfully crafted itinerary that allows participants to make a meaningful contribution to Samara's conservation efforts (without compromising on 5-star comforts).

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19 February 2019

Samara Private Game Reserve's cheetah swap boosts cheetah metapopulation

Samara Private Game Reserve is part of a cheetah swap that will have significant implications for South Africa’s cheetah metapopulation The swap, which recently took place, saw Samara’s Shadow (a male cheetah) transported to a new home in Rogge Cloof. In exchange, a male cheetah from the Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg was brought to live at Samara. The new male cheetah will be kept in an enclosure over the next six weeks before release in early March.

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29 November 2018

Lions return to the Great Karoo at Samara Private Game Reserve

More than 180 years ago, the Great Karoo was roamed by the majestic Cape lion – a particularly magnificent black-maned subspecies. Wiped out by hunters, their relatives are being welcomed back to Samara Private Game Reserve near Graaff-Reinet thanks to an ambitious re-introduction project. Samara is now home to a founder pride of lions as part of a project to return the Karoo to the state of astounding biodiversity it once enjoyed. Their presence on the reserve will help to restore a once thriving ecosystem.

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22 November 2018

Bull Elephants join the herd at Samara Private Game Reserve

Two bull elephants, originally from Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, have been released into Samara Private Game Reserve – the first bull elephants to return to the Plains of Camdeboo in 150 years. This follows the successful release of six female elephants into the reserve in October 2017 – a historic translocation.

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11 September 2018

Spring brings cheetah cubs to Samara Private Game Reserve

Spring, a season synonymous with new life, has seen Samara Private Game Reserve welcome a new litter of cheetah cubs into its family. The cubs’ mother, Chilli, is the daughter of the legendary Sibella, whose story has been told worldwide, most recently in a National Geographic documentary, ‘The Miracle Cheetah’.

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13 June 2018

Samara's Manor House now available to independent travellers

Previously reserved for exclusive use as a four-suite villa, Samara’s gracious Manor House may now be booked by independent travellers. The Manor House is ideal for those who desire a little privacy and seclusion while enjoying the profound peace that is the hallmark of Samara’s unique Karoo safaris. In the past, the Manor House offering was available only …

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20 May 2018

Samara Private Game Reserve salutes the Spekboom

 Samara Private Game Reserve is leveraging a Spekboom reforestation project to encourage collaborative conservation, providing a platform for guests to play a role in the reserve’s initiatives and creating lasting memories in the process.Samara’s Isabelle Tompkins explains that the reserve’s most recent endeavours focus on Spekboom, in an effort to rejuvenate the mountain slopes which were once covered with this species. “The area used to be covered in Spekboom so t…

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23 November 2017

Elephants return to the Plains of Camdeboo

The introduction of a herd of elephant to Samara Private Game Reserve has marked a conservation milestone as these animals return to their historic range, entrenching Samara’s status as one of the most significant conservation areas in the Karoo. The herd that has been introduced to Samara comprises a small family group of six elephant. Once they are settled, they will be joined by a mature bull. In time, another small family group may also be introduced.

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17 March 2017

Samara Private Game Reserve introduces the Funny Five

African safaris have become synonymous with the Big Five – Lion, Elephant, Black Rhino, Cape Buffalo and Leopard – the collection of animals deemed most desirable to spot on a game drive. The Funny Five have been chosen for their quirky disposition, unusual looks and sometimes hilarious behaviour. We have made sure to pick animals whose nature, diet and habits pose a minimal amount of danger in approaching and tracking them on foot (always with trained guides) so that kids can…

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07 March 2017

Endangered Bird of Prey Thriving in South Africa's Great Karoo

Endangered Bird of Prey Thriving in South Africa’s Great Karoo Region Ten Cape Vultures sighted at Samara Private Game Reserve near Graaff-Reinet In what has been hailed as a significant conservation success, ten Cape Vultures (also known as Cape Griffons) were spotted in the Samara Private Game Reserve. These magnificent birds of prey are classified by the IUCN as Endangered, with fewer than 10 000 remaining worldwide.  According to the late Dr André Boshoff, a renowned ex…

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28 February 2017

Samara Private Game Reserve introduces the Milky Way Star Bed Experience

Experience the Milky Way star bed at Samara Private Game Reserve in the Great Karoo Samara Private Game Reserve near Graaff-Reinet will be launching the Milky Way Star Bed Experience at the end of February 2017, 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 comprises a bespoke four-poster bed with draped mosquito net. A seating area looks out over the river where wildlife …

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24 February 2017

Spirit of Sibella the cheetah lives on with the birth of grand-cubs

Spirit of Sibella the cheetah lives on with the birth of grand-cubs It has certainly been an auspicious start to 2017 for Samara Private Game Reserve, with the discovery of newborn cheetah cubs on a mountain slope within the Great Karoo reserve. The cubs’ mother, Chilli, is the last daughter of the legendary Sibella, who became a beacon of hope and inspiration for a species on the brink of extinction. The birth of Sibella’s grand-cubs marks an extremely special development not only…

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13 June 2014

Samara's bringing Spekboom to Local School

On Friday the 13th June 2014, Samara Wildlife Volunteer Camp will be planting over 150 Spekboom cuttings Portulcaria afra  at Narsings Straat Laerskool in Graaff Reinet. The Spekboom cuttings will be planted around the school’s vegetable garden to create a living hedge. The Spekboom will create a suitable refuge for beneficial insects especially bees and a source of mulch for use in the garden. Spekboom, a remarkable plant indigenous to the Eastern Cape, has been extensively used to…

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12 May 2014

Samara lends her voice to the Role of Private Protected Areas in Conservation.

A new PhD Study and research project is looking at the role of privately protected areas in the Cape Region, and Samara, a 27 000 hectare privately-owned reserve, nestled just outside Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, is actively participating in the study. “Despite private conservation areas contributing significantly to land under protection in South Africa, as well as contributing significantly to the economy, these contributions remain largely undocumented and p…

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20 February 2014

Samara’s Conservation Efforts Reap Rewards

It’s been over half a century since a leopard was last spotted at Samara. Persecuted by livestock farmers, and driven off the land, these majestic creatures sought refuge in the remote higher reaches of the Karoo mountain ranges. There they have existed in hiding for decades, leaving occasional ghostly reminders of their presence: a kill here, a track there. It is a testament to the ongoing conservation efforts at Samara Private Game Reserve that, in January of this year, a leopard was c…

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08 August 2013

Samara Introduces New Mandela Landscapes Tour

Samara Private Game Reserve in South Africa’s beautiful Eastern Cape, is delighted to announce a new seven day tour which will celebrate the life and origins of the great Nelson Mandela.  The Eastern Cape was the centre of the Apartheid struggle for many years and houses Mandela’s birthplace amid magnificent and varied scenery. This unique tour has been designed and managed by Edge World Tours, led by experienced guide Rob Prentis and involves staying at many fabulous lodges, …

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23 May 2013

Aardvark sighting at Samara Private Game Reserve

Please see link below to Samara’s GM's blog where he wrote about Aardvark of which Samara Private Game Reserve has a very high sighting rate.  As you will see, even after many years in the bush, even he was amazed.  

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17 July 2012

Volunteer at Samara – for an unforgettable African experience

  Samara Private Game Reserve is situated on the vast mystical plains of the Great Karoo in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The reserve boasts spectacular topography; from vast open plains, to densely vegetated valleys and rocky escarpments. Restoration of the natural wildlife that roamed the Great Karoo prior to European settlement, 200 years ago, is the mission that we at Samara Private Game Reserve strive towards. The volunteer program at Samara gives you the opportunity to experience …

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12 June 2012

2 More Cubs Added to the Highly Endangered Cheetah Population In South Africa.

  It was discovered, late on Thursday afternoon that Sibella the wild miracle cheetah had given birth to two healthy cubs during the past 5 days.  Hayley, the Volunteer Programme Manager and Test, the Head Ranger who were the first to see them said: “We cannot begin to describe the surprise, excitement, pride and privilege we felt at Samara.  It had been 5 days since we last found Sibella, Samara’s famous cheetah. We knew she had moved up into the mountains from the …

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08 June 2012

Unusual plant discovered in Karoo

A rare root plant discovered in the Eastern Cape’s Samara Game Reserve appears to be the first of its kind in the world to be identified. Respected botanist professor Jan Vlok came across the plant during a visit to the Graaff-Reinet park at the weekend. The plant resembles a root parasite found in the Eastern Cape but bears striking difference to it, leading scientists to believe he might have stumbled upon a hitherto undiscovered plant species. Vlok told of finding the plant – wh…

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18 April 2012

The Long Walk to Freedom for Bellini

  There is something truly spectacular about watching a cheetah being released into the wild. We were fortunate to witness such an event on Saturday 14 April, at Samara Private Game Reserve, in the Great Karoo, South Africa. Bellini is a six year old female cheetah that was brought to Samara from the Endangered Wildlife Trust, as part of their cheetah metapopulation programme. This programme intends to ensure optimal cheetah genetic diversity by moving cheetah between reserves. We therefo…

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