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South Africa's soul space

The Great Karoo

A timeless landscape of space, stars and silence, a magical region known as the heart and soul of South Africa.

A vast semi-desert stretching across four provinces, the Karoo is South Africa’s answer to the Australian Outback or North America’s Chihuahan Desert. Characterised by extensive open plains bordered by dolerite-capped mountains, the immense, heart-lifting spaces of the Karoo have a unique, humbling kind of magic.

The Karoo is split into roughly two sections: the expansive Great Karoo to the north-east and the smaller Little Karoo (Klein Karoo) in the south-west. Samara Karoo Reserve sits within the Great Karoo, which covers more than 400,000 km² – an area larger than Germany. The name Karoo comes from an ancient San word meaning Land of Great Thirst, a reference to the arid landscape and harsh climate.

Yet, for a semi-desert, the Karoo is extraordinarily diverse. In particular, the area within which Samara sits represents the meeting point of an astonishing variety of topographies, vegetation biomes and wildlife. It is known as the Camdeboo region, loosely translated from San language as Place of the Green Hills. This part of the Karoo has been designated as the western-most extent of one of just 36 Global Biodiversity Hotspots, the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot.

South Africa's Karoo is one of the most serene and beautiful places on the African continent.


Since time immemorial the Karoo has held a special place in the hearts of many South Africans, its stark and desolate beauty the stuff of legend. With a vastness stretching as far as the eye can see, the Great Karoo holds a mysterious energy that highlights humanity’s insignificance – the perfect antidote to the stresses of modern living.

There is no better place to clear your lungs, reconnect with your senses, and feel the stresses of daily life begin to slip away. Climb to the the top of a rocky outcrop on the edge of the Karoo basin, look out over an ancient and timeless landscape, and feel your heart soar. To immerse yourself in this landscape of infinite horizons is to place everything in your life in perspective once more.

Like pilgrims and prophets of yesteryear who ventured into deserts, travellers today escape into the enormity of the semi-arid Karoo to return to the essentials of existence. People come here to seek the innocence that was lost in the name of progress.


Karoo hospitality is equally renowned – warm and genuine with tasty farm cooking to boot. Dotted around the Karoo lie small towns – dorpies – where original settler architecture, eccentric characters and a distinctly “Karoo” way of life collide in charming fashion. The fascinating histories of the settlements and pioneering peoples of the Karoo add to its magic.

Samara is fortunate to be located just 45 minutes from Graaff-Reinet, South Africa’s 4th oldest town, a picturesque settlement rich in history and character, and well worth a visit before or after your Samara trip.

A Karoo safari

Unexpected diversity

Samara is uniquely situated at the meeting point of five of South Africa’s nine vegetation biomes: Grasslands, Nama Karoo, Savanna, Thicket and Forest. This diversity of vegetation creates a multitude of habitats for species that are specially adapted to the Karoo’s arid environment.


History of the Karoo

A rich cultural landscape

Samara’s corner of the Great Karoo is a land of historical significance, palaeontological discovery, age-old cultures, intrepid explorers, colourful pioneers and eccentric characters.


Samara's fight against fracking in the Karoo

Daring to rewild

Samara was the first property targeted for fracking in the Karoo, and the first to resist it, led by founder Sarah Tompkins and the lawyer she appointed, Derek Light.

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