Samara is a 70,000-acre private game reserve, a born-again wilderness hidden deep in the Great Karoo. From Samara’s luxury lodge I set out one morning while the dew still lay heavy on the grass, and drove up the deep kloof that runs into the hills where the elusive Cape leopard – smaller than its lowveld cousin – clings on like a legend.
I was heading for a mountain called Kondoa, zig-zagging in bottom gear through the spekboom thickets towards the summit 2,500 ft above. When at last we reached the summit I found myself on a high plateau of open savannah, a miniature Serengeti marooned in the sky along with its grassveld pipits and wild herbivores.
Wherever I looked there were animals: blesbok and black wildebeest, herds of eland with swinging dewlaps, and most exciting of all, two family groups of highly endangered Cape Mountain zebras trotting along the skyline.
The comparison with the East African plains was uncanny. Even the oat grass spilling around us in green waves is the species that grows in the Mara-Serengeti. No wonder Mark and Sarah Tompkins, the reserve’s owners, call it “our Samara Mara.”
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