Sustainable eco-tourism has become an important aspect in luxury travel around the world, and it is no more vibrant today than in South Africa. But among all those who are just now pushing philanthropy, there is one who has been doing it all along…

You hear a lot today about the new “trend” in philanthropic travel or the “trend” in sustainable travel, but isn’t this kind of thinking missing the whole point? Philanthropy isn’t just another great travel “trend” to bring in money when the economy is bad. Philanthropy is a moral standard; it’s a love, a passion, and a care for the well-being of the world and its inhabitants, a love you’ll see when you travel with Ker & Downey to Samara.


Owner Sarah Tompkins describes her Samara as a “heart-stoppingly beautiful” place. Set amid open plains between an amphitheatre of mountains, the 70,000 acres of private Karoo bushveld offers breathtaking and far-reaching views over four biospheres and sixty mammal species including Cape Mountain Zebra, Rhino, Buffalo, and Cheetah. But the views at Samara are just the beginning of its captivating character. Samara’s mission statement shows a beautiful passion for true conservation, a mission to restore the biodiversity in the Great Karoo.

One of the most encouraging progams at Samara is its cheetah conservation, an ongoing effort to protect a population dwindled to under nine hundred in South Africa. It began with the story of Sibella, a cheetah rescued from savage captivity and brutal mistreatment and released in Samara in 2003. It was there that she found comfort in her new home along with two other males released into Samara. Despite suffering the occasional twinge from her previous injuries, Sibella has proved herself to be a capable hunter and mother, now contributing to two percent of the wild cheetah population in South Africa.


Samara is also very involved with its local community, specifically with Graaff-Reinet, home to over ninety percent of the lodge staff. As part of their vision to make a positive impact in and around the reserve, Samara invites children from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to come out and explore the grounds on a regular basis. Also, in association with the mayor of Graaff-Reinet, Daantjies Jafta, Samara organizes educational visits for the local schools, where the children are able to experience the magic of the Samara wilderness and learn about the country’s growing eco-tourism industry. The children are also able to take part in Samara’s effort to reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere. By helping Sarah plant Spekboom, a carbon reducing plant that grows predominantly in the Eastern Cape, the children are excited by their hands-on participation in such an important cause.

Aside from the important projects at Samara, this beautiful land is also an escape where you can come to relax. Sarah calls it a place that “captures the very imaginations and the souls of people.” There is a very authentic Karoo experience at Samara, which includes two different luxury accomodations to choose from, incredible Karoo cuisine, and a wonderful experience on game drive or by foot in the bush. It is a place not easily forgotten and the impact you can make by supporting Samara through Ker & Downey is a lasting one.


To learn more about the impact you can have on conserving the cheetahs or on the Graaff-Reinet community at Samara, or about includin a visit to Samara on your next journey to South Africa, email or call us at 800.423.4236.