Drostdy Valley of Desolation
Drostdy Valley of Desolation
Image: Supplied

The Karoo, which means “place of thirst”, is not often thought of as a destination for luxurious holidaying. However, with its contrasting landscapes and significant historical and cultural background, the Great Karoo has a lot to offer.

For a spot of true and unbridled luxury, head over to Mount Camdeboo private game reserve. The reserve lies in the Sneeuberg Valley (the second-highest range in South Africa), and is just 45 minutes from Graaff-Reinet. The sprawling 14,000 hectares of land started off as a family vacation spot, but has since become a true home away from home luxury escape.

“Mount Camdeboo is the story of family,” says Iain Buchanan, the owner of the reserve. “For a number of years, it was the family holiday spot. From there we arrived at a vision of developing the property for conservation and eco-tourism that evolved after each trip.”

The heart of this game farm lies in its passion for conservation: it is home to a number of endangered species that have been successfully rehabilitated. Guests can look forward to spotting wildlife including white rhino, cheetahs and other wild cats, Cape buffalo, giraffe, mountain zebra, and antelope. The farm is set to introduce elephants and, later, lions, which means the property is now home to the Big Five, and the Great Karoo area will be repopulated with the animals that historically roamed there. As part of a return to the more natural habitat, 350km of internal fences have also been removed to allow for the free migration of the several species of game.

In another nod to the charm of old, Mount Camdeboo offers three beautifully restored, gabled manors, each with spacious gardens and swimming pools. Guests can either book the whole house or individual rooms. One of the reserve’s highlights is the two luxurious en-suite safari tents that are privately located away from the rest of the rooms.

The spa is run by friendly staff in a tranquil setting for true R&R. The food, prepared by a dedicated, award-winning team is wholesome, and locally sourced ingredients mean the menu is constantly evolving.

With its sweeping panorama, Mount Camdeboo offers some fantastic lookout spots, including a perfect 360° lookout that is ideal for sundowners. For a truly magical brunch experience, guests can take a scenic helicopter ride with Fly Karoo to one of the highest points on the property, where they can enjoy specially made treats that include freshly baked goods and preserves.

“I consider ourselves incredibly lucky to be custodians of this environment for a slither of its existence,” Buchanan says. “Hopefully the decisions we make in our lifetime can affect its future positively.”

Mount Camdeboo has spearheaded the launch of a six-day weekly scheduled flight from Plett to the Graaff-Reinet airstrip in partnership with PlettAirSafaris.


One of the biggest charges in Graaff-Reinet’s arsenal is the Drostdy Hotel, which was designed by Louis Michel Thibault in the Cape Dutch Style. The recently renovated hotel, which offers the only five-star accommodation in the town, has 48 beautifully styled rooms, including executive rooms and suites. The property is also home to a fine-dining restaurant, luxurious spa, and a wine shop, as well as an art gallery. There is no shortage of experiences to keep you occupied in the surrounds, including the highly recommended Valley of Desolation in the Camdeboo National Park.

- From the August edition of Wanted magazine.

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