Marnus’s first 100 days report

By Samara on August 28, 2017

It’s been (just over) 100 days since Marnus Ochse re-joined the Samara Team as General Manager, and he has been hard at work ever since building and improving the Samara experience. So, what has changed with Marnus at the helm? Read on to find out in this presidential-style roundup.

Marnus Ochse on Eagle Rock, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa


I’m excited to share with you my 100-day report – read on for all our exciting changes! – Marnus


1. Room renovations

Karoo Suite soft refurb, Karoo Lodge, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa

We recently did a soft refurb on one of the Karoo Suite cottages at Karoo Lodge. The upholstery was updated with new, vibrant fabrics and classic Nguni skin rugs.

Karoo Suite soft refurb, Karoo Lodge, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa

The new look lends a cosy feel to the suite as the eye is drawn out to the verandah and the mountain views beyond.

Karoo Suite soft refurb, Karoo Lodge, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa

Imagine relaxing here with a nightcap in hand as you gaze at the famous Karoo stars. Bliss…

Renovations are planned for the other Karoo Suites over the next few months. Take a look at the accommodation options at Karoo Lodge here, or explore our private villa The Manor here.

2. New Karoo menus

Milk Tart for tea at Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa
Milk Tarts for tea (image credit: Kim Gray www.kimgray.co.za)

Working with Samara’s talented chefs, most of whom hail from the local area and have a knack for heartwarming Karoo cuisine, my wife Anneke and I have redesigned Samara’s menus to focus on our unique Karoo heritage using locally-sourced ingredients.

This new take on the Karoo Kitchen is full of old classics with a Karoo twist, South African delicacies and homemade favourites which are guaranteed to leave you wanting more!

Karoo-style Eggs Benedict, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa

Exhibit A – our Karoo-style Eggs Benedict on homemade roosterkoek bread. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and in my opinion it can also be the most delicious!

Karoo-style Eggs Benedict, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa

The perfect antidote to those post-game drive hunger pangs.

3. Improved access

Plane taking off from gravel airstrip, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa

In case you missed last week’s newsflash, Samara is now easier to get to than ever (though I perhaps can’t take all the credit on this one…). A daily 60-minute scheduled flight to Graaff-Reinet from Plettenberg Bay creates the ideal beach-to-bush link, and a helicopter service in Graaff-Reinet offers transfers to Samara from the town which last just 15 minutes. Read all about it here.

4. A new twist on the Samara Mara picnic

In association with FlyKaroo Air Services, Samara now offers a luxurious and adrenaline-filled twist on our classic Samara Mara picnic. Instead of driving up Wolwekloof to get to the otherwordly landscape that is the Samara Mara, you’ll hop into FlyKaroo’s modern helicopter.

Fly Karoo helicopter flight on the Samara Mara, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa

Once airborne, you’ll take a scenic flight over Samara’s tens of thousands of acres of wilderness…

Fly Karoo helicopter flight on the Samara Mara, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa

… before being deposited atop the mountain plateau where your ranger awaits you. A quick walk or drive will lead you towards a picnic site that looks like it has been plucked from a movie setting.

Picnic on the Samara Mara overlooking the Plains of Camdeboo, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa

Soak in the view, toast your loved ones and dig in to a delicious picnic. This experience is particularly well suited to a honeymoon or proposal. Find out more here.

Picnic on the Samara Mara, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa
Samara Mara picnic. Image credit: Louise Dreyer

5. Mountain biking trails

Mountain biking at Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa (copyright Hansa Winshaw)

For the adventurous amongst our guests, I have created 4 mountain biking trails that take you through the property’s 4 vegetation biomes. Two guided routes provide opportunities for game viewing from the saddle. The first includes the iconic Samara Mara and is for experienced riders, while the second meanders through the Milk River thicket and provides a gentler ride.

Red Hartebeest, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa

Two non-guided routes allow those who want to get out and about in the vast Karoo wilderness to do so in an area without dangerous game. The Vulture Mountain cycle route will give you a serious workout, whilst the Wild Olive Grove route is perfect for a leisurely ride.

At this stage Samara cannot provide bikes, so if you are interested in venturing out on these trails you will have to bring your own equipment. Make sure to flag your interest when you book!


So it has been a productive 100 days for Marnus and the team… We look forward to the next 100 days, and hope you’ll join us to experience Samara for yourself.



Samara Private Game Reserve is a luxury 5-star destination with a passionate conservation mission set within breathtaking wilderness. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or Instagram, or click here to start planning your stay with us today. A safari for the soul.

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