Reviews of Samara Karoo Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Samara - A Second Look
We last visited Samara in September 2008 when we remarked on a spectacular setting, excellent food and wonderfully comfortable rooms. We were less happy with the amount and general nervousness of the game and birds but were told this was because the reserve had only recently been converted from shooting to photographic safari.
Fast forward 9 years and if anything the game and birds are even more nervous with almost everything taking to the hills at the slightest sound of the vehicle. Moreover the lodge, rooms and food were very tired with urgently needed management attention.
Housekeeping was especially weak needing daily comment to the manager about quite basic failings. Room maintenance seemed to be left to the guests to note work required rather than being checked and rectified before we arrived. Samara is still a spectacular place to holiday but now needs urgent management attention to the lodge and food.
Whether anything can be done about the nerves of the birds and animals remains to be seen.
Expert Africa comments
We shared these comments with Samara and this was their response.
Thank you for taking the time to leave feedback about your trip to Samara. We are sorry that your second stay with us did not live up to the high standard set by your first visit. Over the past few weeks we have been going through a handover period from our previous general manager to a new one, which it seems has unfortunately had the knock-on effect of impacting on standards at Karoo Lodge, particularly levels of cleanliness and repairs. These issues have been taken up with housekeeping and maintenance in the strongest terms. Our new general manager will be taking up his position full time at the end of the month and it will be his priority to ensure that attention is given to ensuring the lodge, an old original farmhouse, is properly maintained and cleaned. Concerning the food, we are sorry that this was not to your taste as we have had rave reviews from other guests around the time you visited us. However we will also make revisiting the menus a priority with the new management.
Regarding the general nervousness of the animals and birds, this is rather unavoidable in a reserve spanning 27,000 hectares with only a maximum of 3 or 4 vehicles going out every day. The fact is that they do not see enough vehicles to become as habituated or 'tame' as they are in other reserves and parks with many more tourists. This notwithstanding, our guests do get incredible sightings of wild cheetah and rhino on foot and up close, and it would seem that you had a particularly bad few days of game viewing because it is very unusual for all the animals to run on sight. Moreover, the remoteness of the property and the fact that there are so few other tourists is seen by many of our guests as one of Samara's drawcards. We are glad that you still believe Samara to be a spectacular place to holiday and are positive that with new management in place Samara will return to its previous high standards.
Samara Karoo Lodge review
We were surprised to find that there was a locked gate with electronic code on the public road to Samara. You are instructed to call ahead to your accommodation to get the code; this assumes all guests have mobile phones which work in South Africa. Ours didn’t (and we subsequently found out that the signal is generally poor in the area) so we were stuck until another vehicle whose driver knew the code came along. It would be helpful for future visitors if Expert Africa could inform them of the code in advance.
Our room was comfortable, staff friendly and the food we had was good. However in spite of confirming they knew of Jane’s cheese allergy there was no attempt to provide any alternatives to dishes containing cheese which we thought disappointing. Grounds were well maintained and the pool looked inviting.
Jan was a good guide who we concluded must be part gazelle the way he scrambled up and down kopjes trying to track cheetah! We didn’t get to see any cheetah but we did have an excellent sighting of black rhino, though why a male rhino is named Beatrice is a mystery! A trip up the mountain provided some lovely views and new species of antelope but the drive up is very steep and close to the edge at some points. We had planned to go out late one evening in search of aardvark but in the end we had heavy rain that day and agreed to cancel it.
Great Safari at Samara Karoo Lodge
This was our second safari experience and we enjoyed the variations from our first. The game and landscape are very different in the Karoo. When the ranger was happy we could get out of the vehicle and go on foot. Seeing cheetah close up on foot was an unforgettable experience. Wildlife very diverse and interesting. Our ranger Tendi was another very knowledgeable guide.
We also enjoyed the fact that it is a small game lodge and the location with spectacular views from our "lodge" difficult to beat.
We realised after moving in, that due to a lapse our room had not been cleaned but this was quickly sorted out by the manager.
We would have appreciated advance warning we were expected to pay a conservation/volunteer fee, albeit a modest amount.
The food was excellent. Overall a wonderful experience.
Samara Private Game Reserve review
Very friendly, we liked the fact it was small so few other people there. Beautiful setting, well away from the rest of the world. Room was great, food excellent and plenty of local wildlife to interest us.
The weather was poor and we were telephoned by the lodge when we arrived in PE to advise not to travel up that day. We appreciated their thought and it was the right call.
Having arrived in the reserve we had a burst tyre. The Lodge managers organised a replacement and took all the hassle out of the problem.
Samara Sensational Scenery
After the long drive from Cape Town Semara came as a revelation. Set in an amphitheatre of mountains, the old farmhouse and surrounding cottages provide breathtaking scenery every time one steps out of the door. We had sun and clear visibility which allowed us to see the mountains in great detail.
The staff, rooms and facilities in the main lodge are simply wonderful. As a place to spend time in the high veldt it must be approaching the unbeatable. It is however a huge reserve and the animals seem both elusive and nervous. The same is true of the birds which while numerous rarely seem willing to be approached even by vehicle. This is not so in any camp we have visited in Botswana or indeed in Kwandwe which was our next stop.
It almost seems as if hunting is still going on in the reserve and making all the wildlife very nervous of any approaching vehicle. Taken to the top of one of the local mountains we were faced with yet another fantastic film set where the clear visibility allowed us to see mountains reportedly over 100 miles away. We walked to see cheetah but the penalty was the nerve jangling cold - it had been -2C at the lodge that morning!
A wonderful place to visit but not yet a top reserve for game or bird viewing.