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hhe Green Kalahari is a surprisingly colour-drenched destination − there are blue skies, pink and crimson sunsets, green grass and red dunes. The interiors of both the luxury accommodation camps at the Tswalu Kalahari private game reserve take inspiration from the serene beauty of the surrounding landscape and its bright accents.
Tswalu Kalahari, owned by the Oppenheimer family, is home to a variety of wildlife, including cheetah, buffalo, meerkats, giraffe and black-maned lions, as well as many rarer species such as pangolin, aardvark, aardwolf and mountain zebra.
You can experience the pristine natural world that surrounds the unrestrained elegance of the 2 exceptional camps – The Motse and Tarkuni – on horseback, on foot, or in a 4x4 game-viewing vehicle, and your soul is sure to be be touched by its beauty.
The Oppenheimer family defines the feel as ‘barefoot luxury’, at once contemporary and timeless. The Motse (motse means ‘village’ in Setswana, the language of the local Tswana people) lies in the lap of the Korannaberg mountains, overlooking a sweep of grassy savannah.
There are nine 'legaes' ('little houses' in Setswana), 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 5 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, spa therapy suite, vast veranda and a 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 The Motse and Tarkuni only begin to convey the magic of Tswalu Kalahari private game reserve. The Oppenheimer family is passionate about conservation and wildlife, and they have 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 the 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 places in the world where you’ll see such a bright sky.
TTravel 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 and unbelievably starry night skies.
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.
Tours to do
Your field guide will offer you a fascinating visit to Tswalu’s local community health centre and pre-school.
What will it cost?
From R23 800 per night per person sharing in a Motse legae, or R52 600 for 2 adults and 2 children per night in a family suite. The private homestead experience at Tarkuni starts from R98 000 per night for 2 to 4 guests, topping out at R165 000 per night for 8 to 10 guests (rates valid until 31 December 2019).
Length of stay
Three nights or more are recommended to enjoy the full safari experience.
What to pack
Sturdy walking shoes or boots, hat, sunscreen, camera and binoculars.
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 (surcharge applies; currently R7 000 per night to sleep a maximum of 2 adults and 2 children).
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 inspired by the beauty of the Tswalu ecology, which is handmade in 18-carat gold and diamonds at Doyle’s United Kingdom studio. A percentage of all profits from the sale of the collection goes to the Tswalu Foundation.