The sight of wild cheetahs on the run is one of our favourite safari moments. Thanks to an impressive rehabilitation project, Samara Private Game Reserve brings these beautiful encounters to life. And that’s just the start. With majestically rugged mountains as a backdrop, this intimate reserve provides an effortless safari experience close to the Garden Route.
Wild cheetahs on the open Karoo plains
Dusty plains, a kaleidoscope of scorched grass, rumbling peaks, the glorious sense of space...the Karoo is one the landscapes that makes South Africa such an evocative destination. Once abundant cheetah were hunted almost to extinction here. Now Samara has helped them return.
The reserve doesn’t have other natural predators, so you won’t be encountering lions or hyenas. However, this lack of competition enables the cheetah population to thrive. They’re truly wild, not rehabilitated hand-fed cats spotted at some reserves that we don’t recommend. Whether hiding amongst the grass or accelerating across the desert, these cheetahs create a magical experience.
Luxury and intimacy
Nestled in a natural amphitheatre, we love how the reserve’s Karoo Lodge blends the atmosphere of a colonial homestead with a safari outpost. It’s all decadent wooden fittings and stupendous views, without ever feeling pretentious or over the top. We like how you get to sleep in a piece of cultural history, while you’re spending two or three days immersed in the wild history of nature. Zebra and wildebeest are just two of the many animals you’ll see scattered across the plains when relaxing on the veranda.
Completing the safari experience
Samara is great for seeing the plains’ animals, and you’ll soon learn to identify the more unusual of the antelopes, such as nyala, eland, steenbuck and the nimble klipspringer. We really value how this reserve celebrates the diversity of Africa, rather than a preoccupation with the big five.
You’re still going to encounter giants like white rhino and giraffe, but you’ll get to spend more time focusing on the unique, like aardwolf and blesbuck. And that first glimpse of a cheetah with her cubs is going to live with you for eternity.