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If you're looking for an unspoilt landscape of mountains, semi-desert and plains where cheetahs roam, springbok bound, black and white rhino trundle about, lions hunt, plains game of all descriptions graze and wander, aardvarks forage and strange birds stalk and hover, then look no further than the breathtaking Samara Karoo Reserve in The Eastern Cape. My friend Coral and I drove north from Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) to Graaf-Rienet along a road lined by blazing aloes, yellow daisies and a flaming sky.

We stayed for the first night in the middle of winter at the exclusive and stylish Manor House that accommodates only eight guests. In fact, the entire  reserve that consists of tens of thousands acres of wilderness in the Great Karoo – South Africa’s wondrous heartland - accommodates only thirty guests in toto. You're assured of exclusivity and privacy at all times.

The next two nights we're off to Plains Camp - just four double tents and a mess tent facing seemingly endless plains and rings of mountains. At night jackals call and at dawn you'll be woken by birdsong as springbok wake up and bounce by.

The Great Karoo – South Africa’s wondrous heartland

The next day we toil up a precipitous mountain road for a picnic. The views were unforgettable.

On our last morning as we left to return home in the early morning mist, a cheetah sat by the road and called for his brother. But maybe he was asking us to come back one day...

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Kate Turkington is one of South Africa’s best-known broadcasters, travellers and travel writers. From Tibet to Thailand, Patagonia to Peru, Kashmir to Kathmandu, St Helena to St Albans, the Arctic Circle to Antarctica, like Shakespeare’s Puck she has girdled the world. She continues to travel when and where she can but Johannesburg is home where she writes and blogs in print and on social media.

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