Let your soul ROAM free!

Before we start on why you absolutely should plan a visit to ROAM Private Game Reserve in the Great Karoo near Prince Albert, Western Cape, we need to be clear about a few things.

Principally, what we are not about.

There are many things that we cannot offer you at ROAM. We cannot promise elephants, lions or dinosaurs – but we do have plenty of game including buffalo, giraffe, cheetah, meerkats, aardvark and quite possibly Cape leopard as well. As for dinosaurs – this Karoo plateau is world-famous for prehistoric fossils just begging to be discovered!

We do not have typical savannah bushveld – but don’t make the mistake of expecting only shortly cropped Karoo bossies and succulents (although there are plenty, including some really rare and unique ones). Down in the riverbeds and perennial springs are trees that dwarf our tallest giraffe, all gnarled, fantastical and providing sanctuary for a range of fauna.

We do not have malaria or mosquitoes. Instead, we have a surprisingly extensive list of avifauna that presents itself willingly and easily, to the delight of our many birding guests. With over 200 species and counting, we have some unusual ‘specials’ and records to add to even the most avid twitchers’ lists.

We do have heat – in glorious abundant sunshine – but without the crippling humidity of our country’s north-eastern reserves. And we certainly have cold – our winters can be icy and wild. But with a swimming pool, sunbeds and air conditioning to counter the former, and bonfires, indoor lodge fireplaces and a wood-fired outdoor hot tub to keep one toasty against the frost, we’re sorted for anything the seasons throw at us.

We do not have nice, smooth roads to enable self-driving in your own sedan. Contrary to so many Karoo stereotypes, we are not flat. Far from it. The terrain here is pretty rugged, hardcore and dramatically scenic. Stony, criss-crossed by ephemeral and annual rivers, bounded at the furthest edges of one’s vast and sweeping view by the mighty Swartberg Mountains in the south, and the brooding Nuweveldberge in the north, where winter mornings offer snow-capped peaks.

We do not have noise pollution – the Karoo DEFINES the word silence and peace. This rarest of treasures is one of our solemn promises.

We do not have light pollution – these are some of the darkest night skies to be found on the planet, and with that clarity, the most incredible star gazing opportunities. On a clear winter’s night, there is nowhere on Earth to beat it.

Nor do we have people, encroachment, development or any other types of urbanised ‘pollution’… in fact, there is absolutely nothing here whatsoever to distract you from just BEING.

To put it plainly – at ROAM, you will touch the original, primeval essence of Africa, her roots, her soul, and her healing embrace

At the first light of day, the grasses glow gold and the flinty soils wink a welcoming invitation to be explored (on foot! Our rangers are itching to take you out walking).

Soon, the meerkats stir from their underground burrows. Perhaps we will visit them, standing quietly close by with a steaming cup of coffee as they chirp and groom and play. The birds begin to call, court, flit and flirt. Maybe today we will participate in a fascinating display of bird ringing by the qualified conservation staff. If so, we are bound to learn an enormous amount about our feathered friends, up close and personal, before they fly away unharmed to further our growing scientific knowledge about avian species, for both their benefit and that of humankind.

The heat begins to seep into the landscape and larger animals begin to appear. We may find giraffe, buffalo, zebra, antelope, ostriches and more, going about their daily business. It’s a good time to look for cheetah. With the adult female collared, monitored and used to people approaching at a safe distance, opportunities for tracking on foot with a guide are excellent, before heading back to eat one of Chef Joe’s insanely delicious meals.

Late afternoon and the sky’s hues are richer, more honeyed. Shadows stretch across the plains and creep into the ravines. Up, up to the very heights of the reserve we drive, to gaze in wonder at the sheer, poetic immensity of the view. Finally, we acknowledge that we are standing in the very centre of everything.

Lodge-bound we drive by spotlight, under a trillion blinking stars. A jackal, a hare, a steenbok… and maybe, if we’re truly fortunate, a highly elusive aardvark may appear.

Or maybe that treat is reserved for another night.

The Karoo reveals her secrets gently, subtly and with great tenderness. She is not obvious in her beauty, but Mona Lisa-like, she haunts your thoughts and dreams with her mystery. There is no rush here, and it would be great mistake to try and take it all in at once.

Give us three days and we promise to show you a world of diversity, discovery and beauty unlike any other on Earth.