There’s something about heading off into the unknown and taking the road less travelled that has an irresistible allure, that makes you feel like an intrepid explorer of old venturing into undocumented and sometimes impassable territories. To a large extent, the Great Karoo remains one such place – remote, wild and undiscovered. The good news is that it is no longer inaccessible.
1. Scheduled flights
A scheduled flight from Plettenberg Bay to Graaff-Reinet, provides the ideal beach-to-bush transfer from the popular coastal Garden Route, at affordable rates. The flight, operated by PlettAirSafaris, takes place daily. Since there is already a scheduled flight into Plettenberg Bay from Cape Town and Johannesburg on CemAir, the new PlettAirSafaris venture is effectively broadening access to the Karoo from South Africa’s two main cities. The Plettenberg Bay – Graaff-Reinet hop lasts 60 minutes, and the flight from Cape Town to Plett and Johannesburg to Plett on CemAir takes 1 hour 15 minutes and 2 hours 30 minutes respectively.
Tertius Myburgh, owner of PlettAirSafaris, has also established a bushlink-style shuttle to hop between the Eastern Cape game reserves, thus allowing guests a variety of bush experiences from the coast to the Karoo. Guests can fly directly into Samara’s private airstrip or choose to land in Graaff-Reinet to explore some of what South Africa’s 4th historical town has to offer.
2. Helicopter flips
The second new venture in the region to take to the skies is FlyKaroo Air Services, a helicopter transfer service based in Graaff-Reinet. FlyKaroo offers 15 minute charter flights to Samara’s lodges from Graaff-Reinet Airport or the Graaff-Reinet Golf Club, and transfers can also be arranged from further afield, such as Port Elizabeth airport (lasting 45 minutes).
Guests staying at Samara’s lodges can also choose to hop into the helicopter for an unforgettable spin on our famous mountain picnic, or for a scenic flight of the region including the famous Valley of Desolation just outside of Graaff-Reinet in the Camdeboo National Park (at extra cost). Read more about the helicopter options here.
3. Easy roads
For those who prefer to travel the old-fashioned way, access to Samara and Graaff-Reinet could not be simpler. Located in the westernmost corner of the Eastern Cape, the region is accessed via excellent roads that are easy to navigate, safe and well-maintained. The total journey time from Port Elizabeth airport to Samara is 2.5 hours, with Graaff-Reinet a further 30 minutes north.
What’s more, the road runs through some of South Africa’s most iconic Karoo landscapes – flat, open plains stretching as far as the eye can see until they meet the flat-topped mountains so typical of this part of the world. Charming hamlets dotted here and there offer an insight into local Karoo hospitality and are well worth a quick pitstop to stock up on coffee, baked goodies and biltong.