Silence, Space and a Safari with Purpose at Tswalu Kalahari.

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In an increasingly busy world, retreating to a remote private wilderness is the ultimate luxury. Especially where exclusive lodges offer fine dining and discerning service and the surrounds play home to an array of protected wildlife.

As written for

Conservation and Research in an Incomparable Safari Experience

The Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is South Africa’s largest private wildlife reserve. Here in the southern region known as the Green Kalahari, Tswalu delivers sweeping vistas, crystal clear night skies and a liberating sense of space, while allowing you to be truly touched by nature.

This article for AMADI travel first appeared in this quarter’s Hamaji Magazine.

Meaning new beginning in Tswana, Tswalu is a labour of love for the Oppenheimer family, who took responsibility for this remarkable reserve in 1998 – continuing the vision of the late Stephen Boler, from Manchester in the United Kingdom, whose dream it was to return this land which had been farmed, to its former state. Since then, their commitment to conservation has seen indigenous species re-introduced, and real strides made towards the restoration of the Kalahari, and the undoing of years of neglect.

Tswalu offers a vision of hope that brings together conservation and research in an incomparable safari experience. Instantly dispelling the perception that the area is sparse and desolate, the semi-arid grasslands with their wide-open savannahs have been proven to hold a diversity of habitats for the endemic wildlife. An eco-tourism success story, Tswalu has recorded 240 bird and over 80 mammal species, including the Hartmann’s mountain zebra and wild dog.

Also thriving here are zebras, buffaloes, giraffes, rhinos and multiple species of antelope. Cheetahs, hyenas, and black-maned Kalahari lions can also be spotted. Tswalu is also known for its sighting of the rare and unusual nocturnal species indigenous to the southern Kalahari – the aardvark, bat-eared fox, aardwolf, and pangolin. Guests are invited to enjoy their safaris from 4×4 vehicles, on bush walks or by horseback.

Special Interest, Protecting the Pangolin

Beyond the excellent game viewing, it’s a sighting of the elusive and endangered pangolin that is likely to steal your heart. Tswalu is one of the best places in the world to spot this rare and unique creature that is covered in an armour of overlapping keratin plates, making it the only known mammal whose body is protected by scales, rather than fur. When threatened, the pangolin rolls up into a hard, protective ball that is highly effective in staving off predators, but sadly not poachers, leaving the pangolin the most trafficked mammal in the world.

Here in these protected surrounds populations thrive, and the Tswalu Kalahari Foundation actively works with scientists in ensuring their conservation.

Exclusively Intimate Accommodations

To ensure the very best experience, Tswalu hosts no more than 30 people at a time across two beautiful locations, namely Motse and Tarkuni Private Homestead.

Built from organic materials and outfitted to the highest standards, they are sited to make the most of Tswalu’s dramatic and expansive views, while manifesting the warmth and hospitality of the Kalahari people. With a focus on exclusivity and privacy, at each, you’ll find a balance of nature-inspired designs with the most luxurious of creature comforts and amenities, cosy fireplaces, ample living space and private decks from where to soak up the bleached blonde savannah setting.

Motse is a secluded village of nine legae, or dwellings, that accommodates up to 18 adults, while the Motse Family Suites, set between the Korannaberg Mountains and the Kalahari grasslands, are able to accommodate up to four people each. Crafted from locally sourced desert sand, rock and thatch, the Motse is casually elegant with a focus on simplicity and comfort while evoking a mood of peace and authenticity. These include indoor and outdoor showers, a heated infinity pool and secluded spa offering rejuvenating treatments. Rare artefacts displayed in the mezzanine library stylishly reflect the history of the area.

The Tarkuni Private Homestead was once the Oppenheimer’s personal family retreat and accommodates up to 10 guests. The space provides the height of luxury with 360-degree views, a spacious lounge and dining areas, and a private swimming pool.

Cuisine that tells a story

Every meal at Tswalu is carefully designed to reflect the culinary heritage of South Africa and capture the essence of the Kalaha- ri. Sustainability is key with the chefs foraging for ingredients and working with local suppliers to support their low-impact ethos. A partnership with Michelin-starred South African chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, has further enabled the team to create exceptionally fresh and delectable food that tells the Tswalu story.

What we love about Tswalu Kalahari

The vast land, big skies and soulful sense of space that this arid savannah wilderness offers. Bushwalks which uncover the magic of the Kalahari, as well as the captivating meerkat colonies. The way the Kalahari comes to life after sunset. Learning constellations in the star-studded skies. Exploring the archaeological sites where San rock art dates back 380,000 years and serves as testimony to the importance with which earlier inhabitants regarded this area Tswalu welcomes families and offers numerous child-focused safari activities.

Each booking receives its own private vehicle with expert ranger and tracker. Tswalu vehicles are the only ones in the entire reserve, which means no time restrictions at sightings and unrivalled flexibility. Each day can be planned to suit the guest’s interests, be it tracking pangolin spoor on foot, joining resident ecologists for interesting talks or visiting the San rock art.


Getting There

Tswalu is accessible by road, although its remote wilderness location makes arrival by air more convenient. Tswalu operates its own direct scheduled flights to the reserve’s private airstrip from Cape Town International Airport and O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg daily. Private helicopter transfers are available and ideally suited to the more discerning guests. Based at Tswalu, the helicopter is on hand for excursions to nearby points of interest and historical landmarks.

More about

As recommended by AMADI, a conscious luxury impact travel brand that creates journeys and safaris for like-minded travellers across Africa. Tswalu can be seamlessly incorporated into an itinerary that links Cape Town to other Southern Africa game reserves such as the greater Kruger National Park. To find out how contact: |

Feast on this collection of pics supplied by Tswalu Kalahari as you dream of visiting.

Tswalu pics supplied. This has to be one of the best places for stargazing in the country, with no light pollution for miles.

Activities on offer at Tswalu are varied, unique and significant.

** Read my other articles from AMADI travel as featured in Hamaji Magazine.

** Pics supplied.

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