Samara is a passionate conservation undertaking, started in 1997 by Mark and Sarah Tompkins. 70,000 acres of land have been restored over 20 years, and Samara is working with South African National Parks to create South Africa’s 3rd largest protected area of 1.3 million acres in a Global Biodiversity Hotspot.
This was the area that previously witnessed one of the world’s largest migrations – when millions of springbok, wildebeest, eland and quagga, a now-extinct type of zebra, roamed these plains in search of new pastures. Herds of elephant moved through the verdant river systems, black rhino were so plentiful they were shot on sight, and the predators – Cape lion, leopard, cheetah, spotted hyena, even wild dog – accompanied the melee of prey species across this breathtaking landscape.
The thousands of highly destructive goats, sheep and cattle that inhabited the original 11 farms comprising Samara were removed, internal fencing taken down, and the land rested for almost a decade. Then came the task of eradicating a different kind of alien – the plants and trees imported by farmers from regions as far-flung as Mexico and Australia to feed their livestock and provide shade. In a semi-arid environment like the Karoo, there is no place for water-guzzling Eucalyptus and Pepper Trees.
Little by little indigenous animals have been reintroduced to the area, from herds of endangered Cape Mountain zebra to the first cheetah back in the Great Karoo in 125 years. We continue to actively restore and rehabilitate the most degraded landscapes through sound land management practice, including soil erosion control and the planting of indigenous vegetation.
With 70,000 acres of wilderness at your disposal, there are many ways to enjoy Samara, whatever the type of holiday you are planning. From romantic getaways to child-friendly safaris, intergenerational travel to milestone celebrations, Samara has something for everyone. Those with an interest in conservation can choose to combine their luxury getaway with conservation activities during their stay, or go behind-the-scenes on our Conservation Volunteer Programme for a few weeks.
Of course, if the pure Karoo air and serenity of our lodges compels you to simply relax and recharge by the pool, you’ll have no less of an enjoyable time. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, ‘adopt the pace of Nature: her secret is patience.’
We generally recommend a minimum stay of 3 nights to fully experience what Samara has to offer. For advice on planning your stay, get in touch with us.