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Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve, Northern Cape

The award-winning 100 000ha Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve in the Northern Cape is South Africa’s largest privately owned game reserve, but also one of the best, most active and most exclusive.

Tswalu is owned by the Oppenheimer family, and was created to “restore the Kalahari to itself”, but Tswalu is all about active conservation, and the Tswalu Foundation involves guests as well as Universities and other research foundations in various projects being conducted on the reserve – ranging from the nesting co-habitation of different bird species to the effects of climate change on various flora and fauna.

Accommodation on Tswalu is luxurious and is aimed at the ‘discerning traveller’. The Motse, at the foot of the Korannaberg range, offers a ‘village’ of clay ‘legae’ or ‘little houses’ with private viewing decks that look across Kalahari scrub and grassland, a heated swimming pool (heated for dips in the cold night air), a gym, spa library,  top class restaurant, shop and a walk-in wine cellar filled with South African wines. Tarkuni is the Oppenheimers own home and offers 5 ultra luxurious suites for a maximum of 10 guests.

Safaris on Tswalu are a special experience and offer far more than simple game viewing thanks to the involvement of the highly trained guides in the various conservation and research projects being conducted. In addition, the large size of the reserve means that a 2 or 3 hour game drive is insufficient – safari experiences are offered over several days. Although there is a ‘suggested itinerary’, guests are able to design their own safari experience according to what research areas they are interested in, but privacy is also valued and you are encouraged to complain if you see another of the 6 safari vehicles operated by Tswalu while out on a drive! A third component is…sheer luxury. Your safari itinerary will involve champagne breakfasts and picnics and you will be ‘treated like royalty’.

Walking and horseback safaris are also offered.

Situated in the southern grassier, somewhat less arid ‘Green Kalahari’ region, Tswalu offers a game viewing experience like no other – from the huge black-maned Kalahari lion to families of meerkats, great herds of antelope to the gleam of a bat-eared foxe’s eye in the night, there is plenty to see on Tswalu. Several movies and documentaries have been made on Tswalu, and these illustrate not only the range of fauna, the beauty of the ‘Green Kalahari’ landscape, but the breadth of the research being conducted there.

There are many other activities on offer – from spa treatments, visits to ancient rock art sites, lectures and talks by researchers, to game tracking, hot air balloon rides and visits to the staff ‘village’ which features an adult literacy centre and various other products of the community social responsibility that also defines Tswalu’s operations. Children are also welcomed and kept busy, entertained and educated on Tswalu.

Find out more about Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve

Getting there: Tswalu run its own scheduled flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town. If you are driving, the website offers particularly detailed directions from Johannesburg, Kimberley and Upington.

More info on the quaint town of Kuruman More info on the Kalahari area