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“Out of Africa” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Samara Private Game Reserve

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Samara Private Game Reserve
5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Samara Private Game Reserve | Petersburg Road, Samara Private Game Reserve 6945, South Africa   |  
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Hollywood, CA
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
“Out of Africa”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 29, 2011

We all dream of the perfect trip to Africa: jeep safaris across the expansive plains with close encounters with the Big 5, thatched-roof lodges overlooking watering holes, majestic lions wrestling with their cubs in the glow of sunset. And while these romantic notions stir the soul, there are certain precautions one must take when traveling in South Africa, in particular regard to those annoying malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Personal safety becomes a priority and while anti-malarial drugs are available, their efficacy and nasty side effects (nightmares, vomiting and possible tooth enamel discoloration) make them less than comforting! While some of South Africa’s best game parks are unfortunately not in the malaria-free zone (like Kruger National Park and others in the Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal regions) the Eastern Cape area offers malaria-free, family owned and operated private game reserves. One of the finest is Samara.

This valuable heritage, one of the largest private reserves in the country, is a magical place in the Great Karoo where visitors can really get close to the land and spirit of Africa. Imagine over 70,000 acres of verdant plains, magnificent plateaus and dramatic mountains, replete with endangered species (from the cheetah to the giraffe)—and all of it transformed into the private reserve with an exotic edge. Owners Mark and Sarah Tompkins started Samara with a dream. A decade later, this exquisite, remote game reserve, which spans five different eco-systems (riverine forest, valley bushveld, savannah grasslands, fynbos and acacia woodlands), is an enduring testament to their vision.

A unique feature is the ability to walk freely and safely amongst the game. Unlike many game reserves, you can get close enough to smell the majestic giraffes and the mountain zebras. Nestled in the remote Great Karoo, this veld, a wide open rural space, provides a safe sanctuary for a healthy wildlife population of threatened species including Kudu, eland, black wildebeest, mountain zebra, once-endangered white rhino and elusive, aardvark.
With colonial comfort and first-class service, Samara is a retreat quite unlike any other in South Africa. (There are never more than 18 guests at the Samara.) The breathtaking Samara isn’t just a game reserve it’s an exhilarating experience. It is here that the Karoo nurtures the soul, leaving you relaxed, renewed and rejuvenated.

Room Tip: For those who want more luxe privacy, the new Camdeboo Manor offers four sleekly chic suites, with...
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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123 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (30)
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English first
Quenington
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2011

The staff couldn't have been more friendly, they were simply charming and really made our stay.
Samara is one of those places when you first arrive, you wonder where you have arrived, but as soon as you go exploring part of the vast 27,000 hectares you realise that it's a truly magical place.
We saw huge flocks of blue cranes, rhinos, giraffe, large herds of healthy kudu and eland to name just a few.To be able to walk on foot up to cheetah is an amazing experience.
The food was utterly delicious and our guide Test was not only very knolwedgable, he also had a great sense of humour.
I would highly recommend a stay at Samara, but if you are after the Big 5, maybe combine it with a stay at a safari lodge in the Addo area.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Scotland
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 12, 2011

We arrived at this wonderful oasis in the most beautiful landscape and found it almost impossible to leave. Everything from the accomodation to the service was superb and the kitchen coped very well with me as a vegetarian.
The staff are fantastic. Test and Marnas showed the beautiful landscape and were delightful and knowledgeable guides . Anneka Portia Geraldine... all fab We had some amazing walking . Encountering Sibella, the iconic cheetah on foot will remain with us for ever.
It may not be the big 5 experience but it is no less wonderful in an authentic lower key way. If you love nature whilst enjoying wonderful comfort Samara is the place to really get in touch with an African landscape

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lorida, Florida
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 4, 2011 via mobile

We stayed at the "Mountain Retreat", a deliciously remote mountaintop farmhouse with all the amenities (huge bathtubs, generator electricity, great food and wine), a 45 minute land cruiser drive from the base lodge. couldn't
t have been more idyllic, and a great place to launch walking safaris and a trip to see some cave paintings. Sadly, however, Samara is still a young reserve and has very little game--and we saw very little of that. don't expect any of the big 5, but if you want highly trained guides and plenty of birds and wildflowers, not to mention beautiful vistas of the Great Karoo, then this is your place. Amazingly, the retreat had excellent phone and internet connections as well

  • Stayed October 2011
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Durban, South Africa
Top Contributor
99 reviews 99 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 23, 2011

We have travelled the length and breadth of africa (and Beyond) over the last 25 yrs viewing game in luxury.Decided on Samara for a different experience away from repeated BIG 5 viewing.Samara delivered in terms of out of this world" Eagle views" of the the spectacular Camdeboo plains of the Karoo.We truly enjoyed the excellent service and accomodation.The Blue Crane sightings were extremely special.

Room Tip: you must stay in one of the Karoo Lodge stand alone apartments. Fantastic privacy.
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2011

Samara was simply a joy. Even for this family of 10 year boy with food allergies, 13 year old girl and faddy eater, vegetarian mother and father travelling long distance for the first time after serious health problems, we were all wonderfully catered for. Accommodation, information, catering and above all the personal service and the stunning surroundings could not be bettered. And our dream came true with the tracking and sighting of one of the reserve's cheetahs.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sammamish, Washington
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 27, 2011

Our family had the most wonderful stay at Samara's Karoo Lodge on 15 and 16 December 2010. It was absolutely a once in a lifetime experience and we want to congratulate you with SUPERIOR service, quality, food, just absolutely everything. Our guide Brendon was also fabulous and we learned so much from him. We were also so priviledged to see one of the beautiful cheetahs. The views are also breathtaking and we will definitely return to this beautiful place.

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Samara Private Game Reserve

Address: Samara Private Game Reserve | Petersburg Road, Samara Private Game Reserve 6945, South Africa
Phone Number:
Location: South Africa > Eastern Cape > Samara Private Game Reserve
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Samara Private Game Reserve
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Samara Private Game Reserve 5*
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A heart-stoppingly beautiful African setting awaits at the award-winning Samara Private Game Reserve. Two elegant lodges on open plains between an amphitheater of mountains. The 70,000 acres of private Karoo bushveld offer breathtaking and far-reaching views, 4 biomes, dramatic mountains, complex and diverse eco-systems, 60 mammal species. The Lodges offer exceptionally elegant accommodation with outstanding service and Karoo cuisine. Dine under the stars, picnic on a cliff top or simply enjoy private meals in a variety of secluded locations. Indulge in relaxing spa treatments in the Samara spa or on the waters edge, visit ancient fossil and rock art sites. ... more   less 
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