Tswalu Kalahari is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful areas in the whole of South Africa. This stunning 250,000 acre private reserve sits in a pristine wilderness within the green Kalahari – and provides all the dramatic scenery that the name of the area suggests. In every direction there are mountains which change in colour from minute to minute as the sun highlights different faces of these rolling hills. The red sandy dunes are dotted with small shrubs and grass tussocks and roll for miles and miles around.
The Kalahari desert is famous for being home to some of the most endangered species in the world, and the conservation custodians of this reserve provide unrivalled amounts of funding for research and conservation initiatives in the area – this has resulted in Tswalu being a true success story when it comes to repopulation of endangered species in their rightful habitats. Here everything from cheetah, black maned Kalahari lion, brown hyena, mountain zebra, wild dog, pangolin, aardvark, to desert black rhino thrives. They have a mean anti-poaching team who patrol the ground and air by helicopter daily, and as a result keep poachers well and truly away. When staying at Tswalu you can spend as much time as you like with a researcher or the anti-poaching team, making it a truly immersive experience.
Every room has it’s own guide and vehicle, and due to the vast size of the reserve you rarely bump into others when out on a drive – this vastness also contributes to a unique style of guiding which all comes down to tracking. The expertise of your guide and tracker when it comes to looking at the ground and being able to tell you exactly what has gone on is astonishing and we had endless sightings due to the determination and expert knowledge of our guide. The excitement when you know a cat or other large animal is nearby is untenable and to then find it, having used old fashioned methods of tracking is incredibly exciting.
Tswalu is all about the experience, walking and tracking is of course phenomenal here and we spent many a quiet hour sitting with one of the packs of wild dog in the hot afternoons before they moved off to hunt. The wild dog action here is second to none and having sat amongst the pack we began to feel immensely connected to these sociable animals – watching them hunt on Tswalu with it’s wide open dunes and long grass plains is magical.
Meerkats – words cannot even describe how magical this experience was, they are hilarious adorable creatures who’s family ties were endearing to watch play out in front of you
The Malori Sleep out was a highlight – placed far away on the dunes this luxury sleep out offers guests the chance to be left alone in the wilderness – we watched a lightning storm on the horizon and settled back to see the stars in all their glory, including a spectacular view of the milky way from this remote corner of Africa.
Tswalu has horses for riding safaris, and you can join the anti-poaching team in the helicopter – something which is well worth it for seeing this beautiful landscape from the air. The spa is peaceful and luxurious, with treatments which tie in with the healing property of Kalahari sand. Food is gourmet and completely flexible, the kitchen will ensure you have everything you could possibly need and you can order off menu if there’s nothing that appeals (but there is usually too much that does!).
Tswalu Motse is the main lodge with luxury suites and two bedroom family suites – the lodge is rustic but exceptionally comfortable, with a total refurb due from January-June 2019 – currently the suites are cool and airy, with rustic chic furniture and huge comfy beds, as well as white linen sofas and shabby chic coffee tables on your own verandah outside. Tswalu Tarkuni is a five bedroom exclusive use house which is modern and quirky, with a huge pool and fire pit, as well as numerous places for bush meals and dinner under the stars – one of Africa’s top private houses.
The scenery alone would be enough to hold anyone visiting Tswalu spellbound – combine this with sunsets and sunrises like no other, and the ability of the staff to make you feel like part of the family – and finally the amazing game viewing and we really feel you have the perfect ingredients for the ultimate Southern Africa safari property.