An Eastern Cape gem: Samara Karoo Lodge reopens

The revamped farmstead brings together luxury and heritage for a safari with soul

By Ingrid Wood

When I last visited Samara Karoo Reserve in the Camdeboo region of the Great Karoo, it was to experience the newly opened Samara Plains Camp, an explorer-style luxury tented camp, one of three accommodation options on the 67 000-acre reserve. On one of our game drives, we took a detour past The Manor, an exclusive-use eight-sleeper, but couldn’t get a glimpse of Karoo Lodge, which was closed for an extensive renovation at the time.

The flagship lodge has now reopened its doors and while it has been completely upgraded and expanded, it maintains its timeless charm.

A homage to home

“The redesign pays homage to this special region we call home. A great deal of love and hard work has gone into retaining the lodge’s quintessential Karoo character while embracing a modern approach to safari living,” said Sarah Tompkins, owner of Samara, whose brief was to redesign the lodge “as a love letter to the Karoo”. The vision was brought to life by Graaff-Reinet architect Peter Whitlock, James Bisdee of Randcivils, interior designer Amy Kidger of Hinterland Studio, creative director Paul Duncan and horticulturist and landscaper Arthur Mennigke of The Naked Gardener.

The word home sums up the experience here. When restoring the farmhouse, the aim was to preserve the history and soul of the space, while looking to the future, incorporating the best of luxury safari amenities, sustainable practices, and the personal touches that highlight Samara’s journey as a family-run conservation.

New spaces include a living area, farm-style kitchen and dining space, a library and a Story Room, where guests can enjoy an interactive educational about Samara. There’s also a wine cellar, bar, and gift shop.

The 24-sleeper lodge has 10 standalone suites, of which two are family suites that sleep four. All of the rooms have views of the surrounding mountains, which with the vastness of the reserve, give Samara soulfulness that can immediately be felt upon entering the reserve.

Bringing the Outdoors in

The Karoo vegetation is unlike anything else – especially when it comes to a ‘bush’ experience – and Samara has five vegetation biomes. Elements of the natural veld such as Spekboom, aloes, wild grasses and Jacketplum trees are part of the authentic Karoo farmstead garden, which begs to be explored. The flora extends inside where cushions hand-embroidered with indigenous plants are scattered on the metal four-poster beds, forged by local artisans as are the stone walls of the outside showers.

In keeping with Samara’s commitment to the sustainable use of environmental resources, the new Karoo Lodge is powered by 100 per cent renewable energy and makes use of wastewater recycling systems.

Wine in the wilderness

If you need another reason to visit Samara, widely regarded as one of the best places to view wild cheetahs, there are two ‘Cheetahs & Cultivars – Wine in the Wilderness’ weekends taking place in May. ‘Cheetahs & Shiraz Weekend’ takes place from 17-19 May and features Shiraz specialist Dewaldt Heyns, winemaker at Dewaldt Heyns Family Wines, who will be showcasing his Weathered Hands collection.

The ‘Cheetahs & Chardonnay Weekend’ runs from 24-26 May.

Guest Jean-Claude Martin, co-owner and winemaker at Creation Wines in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley will highlight Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Special rates apply and booking is essential. For more information or to make a reservation go to www.samara.co.za, call 031 262 0324, or email reservations@samara.co.za

Located 270km from Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) and 53km from Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, Samara is accessible by road or by air. Activities include game drives, bush walks, wilderness picnics, conservation activities, a star bed, fly fishing camping, mountain biking and photographic safaris. Children of all ages are welcome.



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