The Samara Story

"Twenty years ago, we fell in love."

It was a very strange feeling because it was totally unprompted and quite unexpected. A battlefield is not normally the sort of place one associates with affairs of the heart. However, the battle sites of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift in KwaZulu-Natal must have inspired some primal emotions that led to conduct quite markedly in contrast to our normal, rational behaviour.

After a long dinner accompanied by several glasses of superb South African Cabernet up in Northern Natal, the site of British triumph and Zulu tragedy, we started chatting to a chap from quite a different part of South Africa – the Great Karoo. Magical tales were woven about the millions of springbok that once roamed this area, the Cape lion who majestically reigned over the Plains of Camdeboo, the rhino, the cheetah, the now-extinct quagga, the explorers, the characters of yesteryear and the haunting beauty of the semi-desert land.

Overwhelmed and humbled by the magnificence of it all, we went away totally and completely smitten by the Great Karoo.
The Samara Mara, Samara Private Game Reserve, Great Karoo, South Africa (copyright Scott Ramsay)
Monkey Valley became the first farm that formed the nucleus of Samara Private Game Reserve and twenty-two years ago we happily became its owner.

The dream continued – amass enough land to create a self-sustaining ecosystem that could carry game: the herds of antelope that used to inhabit this area, and the predators to keep the balance that helps maintain these fragile environments.

Tens of thousands of acres and two decades later, Samara’s dream continues to develop and evolve in the Eastern Cape’s Great Karoo. The land was allowed to rest for many years and is slowly beginning to recover from the effects of generations of agricultural exploitation. The haunting beauty of the landscape that first inspired Samara’s campaign of rejuvenation has been allowed to return.

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