You know when you’re told to “expect the unexpected”? Well that’s exactly what I’d like to recommend to all intrepid travelers considering Roam Private Game Reserve in the Karoo for their next great adventure.

From our early (and by early, I mean well before that bird even thought about catching the worm) start, right through until the bitter-sweet end, this trip was totally unexpectedly magical.

By 6am on Friday we were well on our way out of Cape Town, with a group of individuals in the travel industry who soon became friends in the travel industry. Our mini-bus shuttle seemed to be on auto-pilot as we got out onto the open roads, heading toward the unknown. The constant chitter-chatter between the group seemed to keep us occupied most of the way, and before we knew it the scenery had completely changed, and we were beginning to get excited!

After about 5 hours, we turned off into the reserve entrance, and tested the vehicle suspensions as we bobbed along on the ol’ Karoo dirt road to the Manor House, where the most beautiful view and a delicious lunch awaited. Dotted along the road were some friendly Springbok grazing away, totally undisturbed by our arrival.

Manor House ROAM

Greeted by Don (the reserve manager and stand-in game guide) and his lovely wife Abigail (the incredible cook for the weekend, though usually Abbie heads up the admin department), we immediately felt welcome and right at home! We did a quick site inspection of the modern yet minimalistic Manor House; which is a free-standing self-catering house, with a large open-plan lounge/dining room/kitchen with all the necessary amenities, and the 3 large suites are beautifully decorated with simple, understated luxurious touches and linens. This would be the perfect spot for families and groups of friends alike, looking for complete tranquility and time to re-energize out in the vast-open Karoo. The Manor House is pet-friendly, because the main reserve which houses the Main Lodge is fenced off separately from the Manor House, to keep the 3 recently-introduced cheetah (and various other big game) from roaming outside of the 5000ha designated reserve. So those who aren’t ready to leave their fur-babies at home can rest assured and bring them along to join in the relaxing weekend away! The back garden is lush and spacious, and unless your fur-baby is an avid escapee, he/she will be perfectly safe and happy. Don recommends walking with dogs on a leash if you want to explore the reserve during your stay, to ensure the resident buck and other small animals don’t feel that they need to find a new home on the neighboring farms!

Manor House Kitchen LUNCH

The pool at Manor House was so inviting, sparkling in the sunshine even on a cool winter’s day, and if it wasn’t so chilly, I think we might have jumped in for a quick swim! We were told that the end of March is the perfect time of the year to visit the reserve, after the rains but before the winter sets in – so for those that try the pool out during their end-of-March-getaway please let us know how warm the water is!

After our site-inspection and delicious lunch prepared by Abbie, we took our seats on the open game-drive vehicle (a sturdy ol’ Land-rover) and off we set, once again, on the next unexpected adventure!

We entered the main gate which separates the smaller reserve from the larger reserve, where the Main Lodge is situated, and immediately were blown away by the rolling hills, stark yet beautiful landscape, the plains-game going about their daily lives, and most importantly Don’s excellent driving whilst we inched down the side of the hill into the river-bed, which at this time of the year was completely empty, but home to lots of game, and before we knew it we’d come across an inquisitive heard of Cape Buffalo and a shy family of Giraffe.

Game Drive ROAM

On we drove, for about 45 minutes, right into the heart of the conservation reserve, and then arrived at the Lodge. A very understated U-shaped set of buildings from the outside, but once you step into the courtyard (a door separating the parking area to the courtyard to keep those inquisitive Buffalo from munching on the gorgeous green lawn by the pool) you can feast your eyes on a view that would never get old! The deck at the edge of the garden is the perfect spot to sit quietly and watch the game come for a drink at the watering hole just down below (with a delicious glass of Amarula in hand, obviously!)

There are 5 suites at the Lodge, 4 of which can be either doubles or twins, depending on the capacity of your family/group of friends, and each suite has a lovely shower and toilet en-suite, a dresser with a mirror (to ensure your safari gear looks good to go for all the game-drives to come!) and again, decor is understated, with simple luxury. There is 1 “Honeymoon Suite” which is bigger and more private – with a big bath tub, shower and toilet en-suite.

Main Lodge Pool ROAM
Sundowners ROAM KAROO

After catching our breath, we headed out on a sun-downer game drive, and within minutes of leaving the lodge we bumped into (not literally!) more game. En-route to our sunset spot, Don was incredibly knowledgeable about mostly everything game and conservation related! His wealth of knowledge was so gratefully received by our group, who hung on his every story, experience and various facts about our surrounds.

Dinner that evening was scrumptious, lamb shanks with the works, because who comes to the Karoo and doesn’t try such a phenomenon! We sat around the table, slowly becoming firm friends with our fellow travel colleagues, and telling stories to our hearts’ content. Outside, the bonfire was burning bright in the pit, and we warmed ourselves with an after dinner aperitif before heading to bed, anticipating the early morning game drive.

Breakfast was a delight, croissants with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, and once our bellies were full we piled into the Land-Rover for our next outing.

And boy were we humbled by what was to come. After driving to the northern part of the conservancy, we picked up a signal on the VHF (learn more about the VHF Tracking Collar) for the 2 male cheetah who had been rehabilitated into Roam Nature Reserve just a couple of years ago. Once the signal was strong enough to convince Don it was time to track them on foot, we hopped off the vehicle, heartbeat picking up, nerves setting in, and excitement buzzing through the group. Were they just behind that little hill over yonder? Were they napping under that tree to the left? None of us knew! Which added to the adrenaline rush coursing through our bodies. After about 20 minutes of careful single-file trekking, we saw a mother giraffe and her week-old calf just a few meters in front of us. And then something caught Don’s eye just to the right of the giraffes. We’d found the Cheetah!

They were clearly eyeing out the potential “afternoon snack”, but momma- giraffe was having none of it, and so they took shelter from the heat under a little tree. With us right on Don’s heels, we continued the trek until we were some 20 meters away from the 2 handsome fellas. Luckily they’d had their fill the evening before, as earlier on the game drive we’d spotted a Kudu carcass which could only be their leftovers. Slowly, quietly, carefully, and skeptically we inched closer to them, until we were only 5 meters from these incredibly beautiful animals. We basked in the experience, watching in awe as the boys rolled onto their backs and gave us a show which almost had us convinced they could have been domestic cats, wanting a tummy tickle! To learn more about these brothers, click here.

We made it back just in time for a quick lunch, before we were out on the next adventure; a late afternoon drive that turned into a night-drive. And you guessed it – we saw more animals still! A lone male giraffe in the river-valley, minding his own business whilst we posed for selfies with him (at a safe distance of course) and chatted quietly while he munched on the trees; we saw a beautiful Eagle Owl in search of his next meal on the rock-face; we saw buck of all kinds, birds and an elephant-shrew, bat-eared fox and black-backed jackal. The list goes on!

Giraffe Spotting ROAM

Our dinner tonight was utterly delicious; a wood-fire Masala chicken potjie – click here for description. Abbie outdid herself once again, and her “potjiekos” had us going back for seconds! After a busy day, we all fell into our beds after our meal together, and could only dream of what was yet to come…

Potjie Dinner ROAM

Sunday morning started off a bit slowly for some, bright and early for others. We had 2 activities to choose from this morning, totally spoiled! We could either do the Meerkat-conservation or the Bird- tagging. African Fusion Travel took part in both, though unfortunately no Merrkats were spotted, but we did get to experience the incredible bird-tagging. Don explained the process, teaching us about the process involved in this task, and we helped to tag a couple of birds.

What is bird-ringing/bird banding, you might wonder?

It’s the process where individual birds are captured, tagged and released for research purposes. Bird-ringing gives us vital information about a bird’s migratory patterns and their history. Armed with this insight aids us in understanding various species, and ultimately allows us to form an important foundation for successful conservation measures. The ringing process involves trapping birds in mist nets where they are carefully collected, fitted with an identification tag and released. During this ringing process the sex, age, weight and measurements of the bird are all recorded and sent to a central database (in South Africa SAFRing manages this database).

This is usually an early morning activity, and the nets are checked regularly for birds throughout the process, which will be process and then released back into the wild. We got to help with the release process, whilst the rest of the morning was spent soaking up the wild Karoo sunshine before our journey home begun;

Thank you to Roam Private Game Reserve for hosting us on this incredible educational, we truly loved every minute of it and can confidently recommend the “product” to our valued clients!

A short video of our time:


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