Samara is listed in the ‘Sustainable Intentions’ category which recognises organisations working hard to ensure that family holidays can be maintained long term without bringing harm to natural and cultural environments.
Unlike most safari destinations, which restrict the bush to an adults-only affair, Samara Private Game Reserve in South Africa welcomes families and kids of all ages. Indeed, the Samara story itself is one of family. Founded in 1997 by a British-South African couple, Sarah & Mark Tompkins, today this pioneering rewilding project is run in conjunction with their twenty-something eldest daughter Isabelle, always with an eye to the next generation. They take their inspiration from a favourite Native American proverb: ‘We did not inherit the land from our forefathers; We have simply borrowed it from our children.’ So it is at Samara.
- NATIVE AMERICAN PROVERB
The reserve covers 70,000 acres of malaria-free landscape in the Great Karoo which has been transformed from degraded goat and sheep farms to a spectacular born-again wilderness. After purchasing 11 farms, the owners restored the land and reintroduced wildlife, including the first lion, cheetah and elephant to return in over a century. Today the Samara vision extends beyond its boundaries to the creation of South Africa’s 3rd largest protected area, conserving the landscape for generations to come.
Every Samara guest contributes to the achievement of this vision. Families are invited ‘behind the scenes’ to witness this conservation in action through bespoke itineraries. These ‘conservation journeys’ are designed to ensure that every member of the family gets to experience conservation and ecology, whatever their age. After all – it’s never too early to start mentoring future eco-warriors.
The family activities on offer range from the fun and the physical to the more theoretical, depending on the family’s interests. Samara hosts the South African College for Tourism Tracker Academy on the reserve – an NGO that trains young South Africans from impoverished rural areas in the ancient skill of tracking. Children and their parents can partake in tracking lessons with the students – a thoughtful exercise not only in learning to track but also in engaging with young people of different cultures. Families can also get stuck into land rehabilitation sessions – helping the reserve team to plant trees, maintain roads and combat soil erosion. The lucky (and older!) ones are also invited to join in any wildlife management activities taking place, from translocating rhinos to darting cheetahs.
Samara Private Game Reserve is a luxury Big Five safari destination with a difference. Guests are invited behind the scenes of a passionate conservation journey to restore a unique South African wilderness. This genuine conservation participation combines with heartfelt Karoo hospitality and breathtaking landscapes to offer a safari that feeds the soul.