Discover the vastness of the Karoo with the kids these holidays

Looking for an extraordinary, local destination where you can truly connect with nature? We’ve got just the place…

Think mountain-top grasslands, akin to a mini-Serengeti marooned in the sky, combined with dense Spekboom-covered valleys, winding river systems and flat plains with distant purple peaks. In honour of these soulful surroundings and to celebrate the infinite horizons of the Eastern Cape’s Great Karoo, Samara Private Game Reserve near Graaff-Reinet, is changing its name to Samara Karoo Reserve. And rightly so.

Space, stars and silence: The Karoo – a vast, semi-desert stretching across four provinces, spanning nearly 400,000 km² (an area larger than Germany) – is split into the Great Karoo in the north-east and the Little Karoo (Klein Karoo) in the south-west. Samara Karoo Reserve sits in the Groot Karoo, at the juncture of five of South Africa’s nine vegetation biomes in a Global Biodiversity Hotspot boasting an incredible mix of topographies, vegetation and arid-adapted wildlife.

Restoring its former glory:
Inspired by tales of a long-lost Karoo – a wilderness in which millions of springbok once grazed, the now-extinct quagga roamed and prides of black-maned Cape lion reigned supreme – Samara’s founders Mark and Sarah Tompkins began the rewilding project in 1997. The goal is to restore this biodiversity that was lost through hunting, livestock overgrazing and other human activities.

The return of wildlife: An ambitious programme of land restoration and wildlife reintroduction has seen the first lion, cheetah, black rhinoceros and elephant step foot back on the land in over 130 years. The Cape vulture and leopard have returned of their own accord – a testament to the reserve’s rewilding success which continues still by second generation, Isabelle Tompkins.

Responsible tourism feeds conservation: With one of the lowest guest-to-land rations in Africa, Samara is all about promoting slow tourism. Besides meaningful safari encounters with the Big Five and co, you can also explore the Karoo’s rich history on a fossil tour, sleep out in a star bed under the celebrated starry night skies and track the most famous predator – the cheetah – on foot.

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