Rewinding in the Karoo

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 21 November 2018

The wilderness draws you in subtly, wins your affection and leaves you longing to return, says Elise Kirsten.

Roam Private Game Reserve near Beaufort West, Western Cape

The 5,000 hectares of land that Roam, a new reserve about 70 kilometres south of Beaufort West, encompasses was once a typical Karoo sheep farm, converted to a game-hunting facility for 13 years. Three years ago, it was bought by a South African family to be used for conservation and eco-tourism.

Despite frost on the deckchairs on this winter’s morning, the pool area later became an idyllic sunny spot to survey the surroundings. Image credit: Elise Kirsten

My family and I arrived at 8.30pm on an icy winter’s evening. Donavin Koen, trainee field manager, transferred us to Safari Lodge, 30 minutes drive deeper into the reserve, where a warm welcome awaited. The dining room was toasty, thanks to a large fireplace with dancing flames, and our dinner was ready to be served. Tucking into chef Francisco Chaula’s chicken breasts stuffed with spinach and ricotta made for a delicious start to our weekend. Roam offers three accommodation options: the modern, luxurious Manor House (exclusive use for self-caterers), the more farmhouse-like Safari Lodge (for full-board guests) and the tented Explorer Camp.

Our home for the weekend was the lodge. It has five attractive en-suite rooms, with coir carpeting, thatched ceilings, puffy duvets that wouldn’t be out of place in a luxurious hotel, and fleecy throws at the bottom of the beds. Large glass doors open from the rooms onto patios surrounding a spacious terrace, which makes the most of the never-ending views. The lodge also has a guest lounge with shelves full of books and board games, and a pool deck overlooking a small waterhole. The animals tend to be shy, but we were fortunate enough to spot a lone kudu bull drinking there.

The giraffe families were magical to watch. They stand out in this landscape, although sometimes they do manage to hide among the acacias. Image credit: Elise Kirsten

On a game drive, we came across skittish eland and giraffe stripping the acacia bushes of their leaves, unfazed by the 10-centimetre thorns nature’s way of discouraging such activity. We also visited the cheetah boma to view these lithe cats up close. The two brothers, acclimatising to their new home, were days away from being released into the reserve (part of an Endangered Wildlife Trust project). That afternoon we took a guided walk in the bush, learning about the hardy flora, such as the common spikethorn and kapokbos, that clings to life in these parts. (Roam also offers meerkat tracking.) At the end of the day, we sat around a large fire, talking and drinking glühwein under the Karoo night sky before heading indoors for another sumptuous dinner.

Safari Lodge is one of three accommodation options in the reserve. Image: supplied

Best feature

The lodge’s swimming pool, set against the magnificently vast Karoo landscape of muted greys and browns. Although it was too cold for a dip, it will be delightful in summer.


R1,950 per person full board, including one game drive and bush walk per day. R100 per person conservation levy. A tent at Explorer Camp costs R1,450 per person, with full board.



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