Roam Private Game Reserve is a gem hidden in the Leeu-Ghamka area of the Great Karoo. This 5 300 hectare wildlife reserve is nestled midway between the towns of Laingsburg and Beaufort West.
Many pass through the Karoo and the last thing you would expect to find among the scrub, flat, dry landscape is the beauty of Roam. Not sure what to expect when we enter the reserve’s security gates, I am pleasantly surprised as we make our way up to the modern Manor House.
Stepping inside, the Manor House feels homely but luxurious at the same time. The kitchen is large and spacious, sporting all one could need to cook up a storm. Not that it is necessary to do your own cooking; the Manor House comes with the option of having the reserve’s resident chef, the talented Fransisco, prepare meals for you.
Making our way to Roam Lodge, expansive vistas dominate the eye as the sun sets, and the dry, slightly biting air opens your eyes to the untamed beauty of the Karoo. The dried river beds snake along the semi-desert land; the sun-bleached bones of small animals such as mongoose litter the loose soil. You can hear the dull-coloured birds whistle in the branches of the thorny acaccia trees that cover the reserve. It’s a perfect place to switch off, with no cellphone reception, you’re left without an alternative.
Roam Lodge is an intimate space – it’s perfect for a family holiday. The rooms are comfortable, styled in earthy tones and well equipped, but it is recommended that guests bring their own soaps, shampoos, conditioners and lotions. There are four rooms, and a fifth honeymoon suite within the lodge.
Meals are served in the communal dining room/lounge space, and are freshly prepared daily. Chef Fransisco and wife Sophia make a charming pair, one cooks while the other serves. Sophia delivers Fransisco’s deliciously prepared meals with warmth and utmost attentiveness to guests, elevating the dining experience. One of his outstanding dishes include a red-wine soaked beef fillet served drenched in a creamy white wine and mushroom sauce.
The lounge area opens up to the pool and in the distance a watering hole sits less than 100 meters away from the outdoor lounge. All sorts of animals saunter within viewing distance of the Roam Lodge. Recline on one of the lounge chairs as you watch ridiculously tall giraffes or tiny duikers sip water to cool off after one of the Karoo’s famously hot days.
Game drive experiences at Roam are essential. Game ranger Don and botanist wife Abigail are knowledgeable on everything bush related. They impart their information as we make our way through the reserve on a game viewing vehicle. Traveling up the hills of the surrounding cliff faces gives you an eagles eye view of the entire Roam valley.
At this very moment, you understand why the Karoo has captured the hearts of so many travelers. It is much more than barren earth and thorny trees; it a magnificent place which has seen the passage of time leave its mark in the most magical way. Plains of quartz fields surround the hills and stretch off towards the dark and mysterious Swartberg Mountains.
Roam sunsets are arguably the best part of the game drives, nothing beats an African sunset – free of pollution and over powering buildings, the view keeps you trapped for hours.
The game reserve will be setting a coalition of cheetahs free onto the grounds in a month’s time. The cheetahs, who are yet to be named, are kept isolated from the other wildlife in order to become acclimated to Roam’s environment. Cheetahs can consume up to 15 kilograms of food in one sitting, and watching these majestic cats’ bellies slump to the floor is a hilarious sight.
Although Roam is still in its infancy, the reserve boasts an innumerable number of animals. Big game include giraffe, buffalo, cheetah, gemsbok, springbok, zebra and blesbok. Night game drives are made even more exciting by the prospect of finding strange nocturnal game such as the aardwolf or a bat-eared fox.