Did you know?
At over 100 000ha, Tswalu Kalahari is the largest private game reserve in South Africa.
The Green Kalahari is a surprisingly colour-drenched destination − there are blue skies, pink and crimson sunsets, green grass and red dunes, and the interiors of both The Motse and Tarkuni take inspiration from the serene beauty of the surroundings and their bright accents.
The Oppenheimer family, which owns Tswalu, defines the feel as 'barefoot luxury', at once contemporary and timeless.
The Motse (motse means 'village' in the local language, Tswana) shelters in the lap of the Korannaberg mountains, overlooking a sweep of grassy savannahs.
There are nine 'legaes' ('little house' in Tswana), built from local stone and red earth. Each has an open fireplace, a luxurious en-suite bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers, a large dressing area, study and broadband Wi-Fi access. They are private and gorgeous.
Up at the main house, you’ll find an infinity pool with views to a distant horizon. Mercifully cool in summer, it is heated in winter. There is a museum of intriguing artefacts, elevated decks, a library with satellite TV, and an award-winning spa and gym.
Tarkuni, which was once the Oppenheimers' private residence at Tswalu, has recently been refurbished and now offers five luxurious suites, each with its own bathroom and a deck that opens onto a private terrace with a star bed. A lounge, games room, boma (covered outdoor/eating area) spa therapy suite, and vast verandah and pool complete the luxury at Tarkuni, where guests will be looked after by a dedicated host and private chef. You’ll also have your own game-drive vehicle, field guide and tracker for an exclusive wildlife experience.
But this only begins to convey the magic of Tswalu Kalahari’s Motse and Tarkuni. The Oppenheimer family is passionate about conservation and wildlife, and has devised dozens of ways for you to enjoy it too.
These include horseback safaris; black rhino tracking; a meerkat bonding experience; gourmet picnics in the bush; a special trip to look for the elusive rare pangolin and aardvark; a private five-course meal on your own deck; and an excursion to see ancient rock art of the San. Or spend a night at the Malori sleep-out deck with its panoramic views and nothing between you and the Kalahari night sky.
That’s apart from the normal game drives where you could see black-maned lions, wild dogs, cheetah, and other rare animals like tsessebe, sable and roan antelope, and Hartmann’s mountain zebra.
Whatever else you do, take time to lie on your back and gaze at the stars. There are very few other places in the world where you’ll see such a bright sky.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)53 781 9331
How to get here
Tswalu offers daily scheduled flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town. In Johannesburg, you will depart from Fireblade Aviation (at OR Tambo International Airport), and in Cape Town from the Signature Hangar (Cape Town International Airport).
The Tswalu website has detailed directions for those travelling from either Johannesburg, Upington or Kimberley.
Best time to visit
Each season has its magic. Spring (September and October) sees the first rains, flowers and wildlife babies. Summer (November to March) greens the landscape with occasional afternoon storms, which are often dramatic. Autumn (April and May) is one of the most beautiful seasons, still very green but with cooling temperatures. In winter, you stand the best chance of seeing unusual nocturnal animals like pangolin and aardvark.
Tours to do
Your field guide will offer you a fascinating visit to Tswalu’s local community health centre and pre-school.
Guests are not permitted to drive their own vehicles around the reserve, and game viewing is done in a 4x4 game-viewing vehicle. You will have your own vehicle, private guide and tracker.
What will it cost
Rates are approximately R10 600 per person per night sharing and are inclusive of luxury full-board accommodation including all beverages, a private guide, vehicle, and tracker per booking (minimum three-night stay), walking safaris led by experienced field guides and trackers, horseback safaris, a children’s Junior Ranger Programme, babysitting, Wi-Fi access, laundry and valet services, and en-suite tea and coffee facilities, honour bar and gourmet pantry.
Length of stay
Three nights or more are recommended in order to enjoy the full safari experience.
Where to stay
The Motse is perfect for couples (and there are three legae for families). Tarkuni is ideal for large families or groups of friends.
What to eat
Guests at Tswalu can enjoy a variety of superb dining experiences, including boma feasts, dune picnics and dinners, sundowners and a la carte menus. You may even be lucky enough to sample the rare Kalahari truffle! The wine cellar is world-class.
Ask about the Malori luxury sleep-out experience under the stars.
The Tswalu Boutique has a beautiful range of goods crafted in South Africa, as well as the exquisite Tswalu Collection by London jeweller Roger Doyle, a series of jewellery inspired by the beauty of the Tswalu ecology, which is handmade in 18-carat gold and diamonds at Roger’s United Kingdom studio. A percentage of all profits from the sale of the collection goes to the Tswalu Foundation.