Having returned to stay at Samara Private Game Reserve in April 2019, with an article due to be published that recounts my stay later this month, I was excited to learn about the addition of fly camping to its array of safari activities – providing even more reason to return.
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.
Samara’s fly camping activity remains true to these origins, providing an experience that is simple yet spectacular. The adventure begins with a guided bushwalk through Big Five territory with an armed ranger and tracker. At dusk, guests arrive at their private camp, where tents have been set up and the fire is ready to be lit. Here they are treated to sundowners and a traditional South Africa braai – think boerewors, roosterbrood and grilled pineapple – cooked by their ranger and tracker team. The evening is spent around the campfire, sharing safari stories and listening to the nightly chorus of jackals, nightingales and the occasional lion roar, before retreating to bed. The next morning, the group can opt to walk or drive back to their lodge.
“We wanted to offer guests an authentic and convivial wilderness adventure, where they have the opportunity to experience the beauty of Samara on foot and to sleep out in the wild”, says Samara’s co-founder Sarah Tompkins.
About Samara Private Game Reserve
Award-winning, Big 5 reserve – Samara Private Game Reserve is located on 70,000 acres of wilderness in the Great Karoo, offering breathtaking views over the Plains of Camdeboo. Situated approximately 270km from Port Elizabeth and 53km from the nearest town of Graaff Reinet, Samara offers easy access to visitors on excellent roads. 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.
The abundant land – which has been allowed to rest over a period of 20 years – preserves a complex and diverse ecosystem. Four vegetation biomes provide habitat for over 60 mammal species, including lion, elephant, cheetah, black and white rhino, buffalo, Cape mountain zebra, giraffe, eland, gemsbok and aardvark to name but a few. Samara forms part of a greater vision – to create South Africa’s third-largest protected area in a global biodiversity hotspot. The driving force behind this vision is the desire to preserve this irreplaceable part of South Africa’s natural 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 luxury villa with private pool, chef, butler and ranger that can be booked exclusively or by private individuals.
Activities on offer at Samara include game drives, guided walks, a luxury star bed experience, wilderness picnics, birding, mountain hikes, indoor and outdoor dining, mountain biking and conservation activities. Children of all ages are welcome and a dedicated children’s programme is available.
The Essential Details
The fly camp offering is available from October to May (excluding 15 December to 10 January) for guests who have booked a minimum three-night stay in one of Samara’s lodges. A R7000 per night camping surcharge applies, although this charge is included in the cost if guests book a five-night conservation package. Prices include the services of a fully armed ranger and tracker. Please note that a limit of six guests applies, and participants must be 16 or older. For more information, visit www.samara.co.za.
Look out for my article in SA& Beyond Travel Magazine – I’ll be posting it shortly, and can’t wait.
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