Samara Karoo Reserve

Karoo Lodge at Samara


Rewilding in action

In South Africa’s Great Karoo, Samara is a pioneering reserve that has rehabilitated and rewilded in one of the country’s most inspiring contemporary conservation stories where you can play a part.

Karoo Lodge is one of just two properties on the reserve’s 27,000 hectares, found encircled by a natural amphitheatre of mountains. The main building is the original farmhouse, the first property purchased by the Tompkins family back in 1997, which has been lovingly restored while retaining its rustic charm. Here find the communal candlelit dining room, welcoming bar and living areas, as well as four suites with outdoor seating areas and views out up to the mountains.

Three standalone cottages a short distance from the main homestead offer a little more space and privacy as well as outdoor showers. There's also a separate family suite with two interleading bedrooms.


At a glance

  • Nine suites

  • Dining room and boma

  • Bar and lounge

  • Swimming pool

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    Game drives

    Traverse 27,000 diverse and epic hectares where the landscape rivals the wildlife. Head out in search of the ‘Big Five’ (lion, elephant, black rhino, buffalo and leopard), cheetah, giraffe and white rhino, as well as lesser-known desert-adapted species such as aardvark, bat-eared fox, meerkat, red hartebeest and springbok. Herds of black wildebeest, Cape mountain zebra and eland can be spotted on the spectacular ‘Samara Mara’ grasslands.

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    Walking safari

    Samara is one of few game reserves where walking forms an integral part of the safari experience. With fragile ecosystems and a ‘tread lightly’ policy, the preferred form of off-roading is on our own two feet, providing the ideal place for an unforgettable walking safari.

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    Cheetah tracking

    One of the highlights of a stay at Samara is the opportunity to track wild cheetah on foot.

Community & Culture

The land-use change from conventional farming to conservation pioneered by Samara in the region has tripled the number of available jobs. Tourism jobs tend to be better paid and with more extensive benefits than those of farmworkers. Staff training is ongoing and certain aspects of the business operate on a profit-share basis, such as the spa and gift shop. All food and services are procured locally, with an emphasis on supporting small, family-run and cooperative businesses.

Samara hosts a Tracker Academy, the first of its kind in South Africa, whose mission is to revive the ancient indigenous knowledge of tracking. 16 young people from sub-Saharan Africa are hand-chosen every year to participate in the programme. More than 94% of graduates are permanently employed in the nature-based tourism sector.

Samara also has links to a number of NGOs in the local town of Graaff-Reinet through its registered non-profit, the Samara Foundation such Vuyani Safe Haven, which provides safety and care for children whose families cannot or do not care adequately for them.


Samara’s vision is to recreate the Karoo of old – restoring the degraded habitats that had been turned over to agriculture for the best part of three centuries and reintroducing the full complement of wildlife to a diverse landscape that was once a haven for wildlife.

Since their journey began in 1997, Samara has engaged in an ambitious project of indigenous species reintroduction, with the first wild cheetah back in the region in 125 years, the first desert-adapted black rhino on private land, the first elephants in over a century and the first lions back in the region in 180 years, along with herds of herds of eland, hartebeest and springbok. Vulture and leopard have returned on their own accord.

Samara is working with local stakeholders to extend the conservation ethic to over 1 million hectares and link protected areas with wildlife corridors so that the region can sustain a great abundance and diversity of wildlife once more.

What makes us different

Why Niarra

Niarra Travel is a forward-thinking travel company headquartered in London born out of a passion to do things differently.

In Swahili, a Bantu language spoken by millions in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, the name Niara means "with utmost purpose" and our team are united by a passion for exploration and a belief that the right kind of travel can make the world a better place.

Our Travel Researchers are here to create incredible trips with a positive impact for you.

  • Unforgettable experiences

    Creating your trip is entirely collaborative and our Travel Researchers are here for every step.

  • Positive impact

    Curated sustainable experiences and accommodation that maximize the benefits to local people and place.

  • Fairness and transparency

    An open, competitive pricing structure that ensures more money goes to where it's needed in the destination.

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