The Milky Way

The Milky Way

A wilderness experience to take your breath away …

There are bedrooms. And there are really special, luxurious bedrooms. And then … there’s the Milky Way Star Bedroom. And trust us … it’s out of this world!

Imagine a four-poster bed, with warm duvet and ultrasoft mohair blankets, set on a platform in the middle of nowhere, on a private game lodge in the Karoo.

This is the ultimate getaway, it’s glamping at it’s very, very best.

The Milky Way Star Bed is one of the special treats at the Samara Private Game Reserve. Guests who book for this experience are dropped off at the platform bedroom just before sunset. There’s an intimate table where a picnic dinner is served, bubbly can (and obviously should!) be arranged, the wine is chilled and if you’re in luck, the animals will stroll past to give you your own private viewing … this is an unfenced area, which adds an element of excitement to the whole affair.

The scene is spectacular … when the sun goes down the distant mountains turn purple and the stars come out … with no light pollution the constellations are dazzlingly bright and too, too beautiful.
Lovely thoughtful touches … think Lindt chocolate bars and miniature bottles of Amarula as well as star guide books next to the bed – a mosquito net-draped four-poster – and hot water bottles if it’s a little chilly.

It’s completely, gorgeously quiet, there are no phones, Wi-Fi, electricity and you’re all alone … no staff stays with you, but you’re given a two-way radio in case you’re nervous. There’s no bubble bath … just a canvas wash basin, a jug of water and a chemical loo … all you need, really.

Come morning, there are flasks of tea and coffee and rusks … then you’re collected and it’s off to the main lodge for a hot breakfast and shower.

Aren’t you just bursting to book? The Milky Way Star Bed is only available in the summer months – October to April, and obviously if the weather’s bad, you’ll stay in camp where it’s warm, dry and far more comfy on wet, rainy nights.

The experience is really extraordinarily special … we can’t rave enough. There’s no charge for the star bed experience; however you obviously have to have booked and paid for the night at the lodge and you need to advise at the time of your booking that you’d like a sleep over in the Milky Way bed for one of the evenings of your stay. Details:

Another wilderness experience … a little more energetic this one!
Another first for Samara is the introduction of mountain biking, with some really spectacular riding to be experienced. There are guided and unguided routes in the area … the former in the game-fenced part of the reserve, the latter in the nature reserve, safely away from wild animals.

We sent off an experienced rider who’s cycled down a mountain track in the French Alps, through the forest areas near Plett, around the Karkloof forest in the Natal Midlands, and he rates it as one of his best rides ever.

Experienced riders will enjoy the Samara Mara Cycle route, 33km with a 656m total ascent, which meanders to the top of the Kondoa Mountain, where you are likely to encounter eland, Cape mountain zebra and gemsbok grazing in the plateau grasslands, before heading back to the lodge via the Wolwekloof descent.

For a more laid-back ride, the Milk River Cycle Route is 12km … a quiet ride through the riverine forest along the meandering Milk River … lots of dry river-beds and open plains where you might spot monkeys, antelope and aardvark. Not as technical, this one’s the route to take if you have beginners in your party.

If you prefer exploring without a guide, there’s a Vulture Mountain Cycle Route – 44km with a 676m total ascent, it’s a technical ride for experienced riders. You’ll take in the magnificent views of the Plains of Camdeboo from the top of Vulture Mountain before heading back to the lodge.

Less strenuous, and perfect for those with not much experience, is the Wild Olive Grove Cycle Route, a 20km ride that winds through valleys and riverine forest to the grove with 1000-year-old wild olive trees.

Packed picnics can be arranged, but you need to take all your own cycling equipment and must book rides in advance for the lodge to make the necessary arrangements, but there’s no charge for guests to go on these rides.

Text: Kym Argo


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