Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

What makes Tswalu unique ?

  • Tswalu Kalahari, owned by the Oppenheimer family, is South Africa’s largest private game reserve, covering an area of over 100,000 hectares (1,000sqkm or almost a quarter of a million acres). For comparison, this is twice the size of Pilanesberg National Park and bigger than the entire Madikwe reserve
  • This vast and magical landscape takes conservation as its first priority; Nicky Oppenheimer’s vision is to “restore the Kalahari to itself”
  • Tswalu has superlative game and offers sightings of some of South Africa’s rarest and most extraordinary wildlife, including:
    • Desert black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis) – Tswalu’s population represents one third of South Africa’s entire remaining desert black rhino
    • Black-maned Kalahari lions
    • Meerkats
    • Cheetah Easily viewed in the open savannah
    • Rare antelope such as roan, sable and tsessebe;
    • Tswalu has significant populations of all three Diversity Over 70 species of mammal and 230 species of birds (including endangered raptors).
    • Other sightings may include the elusive aardvark, aardwolf, pangolin and porcupine
  • The Kalahari is the ancestral home of the San people (Bushman). Some of their ancient engravings can be seen at Tswalu; current research suggests these may be amongst the oldest art on Earth
  • At maximum capacity Tswalu will take only 30 guests in total. This represents the lowest imaginable density of visitors. The emphasis here is on privacy and exclusivity – your own private Kalahari
  • Tswalu is located in a malaria-free area, welcomes families and actively encourages children to participate fully in the safari experience

Because of its unique landscape, wildlife and experience, Tswalu combines perfectly into any itinerary and
provides the ideal partnership with both the intensity of the Lowveld or the glamour of Cape Town

Tswalu offers unrivalled privacy in a vast, pristine wilderness. We have a maximum of six vehicles in over 100,000 hectares. As Nicky Oppenheimer says, “If you see another Land Rover, complain!”

Our expert Field Guides have been specially trained in Kalahari Wildlife and each contributes personally to the constant programme of research and conservation on our reserve. Game drives will be completely tailored to your own interests. As well as discovering many rare and endangered species for the first time, every guest leaves with a deep appreciation of the beauty of this entire eco-system.

As one guest told us recently,
“Last week I saw the Big 5 in the Kruger. Here I saw Africa.”

Bush walks are encouraged at Tswalu. We want people to get even closer to the land. To touch the unique vegetation (and learn about some plants’ extraordinary properties). To inspect nests and burrows. To examine the smallest insect. A morning can begin by walking to a meerkat colony and watching these engaging mammals warm themselves in the sunshine before they scamper off to forage. Night walks are now also possible, offering the chance of exceptional sightings such as aardvark, aardwolf, porcupine or brown hyena at even closer range.

And for an experience unlike any other, our guests can explore the dunes and savannahs on Horseback Safari . Few moments can rival gently walking through a herd of sable antelope on horseback, sharing the magical stillness that defines the Kalahari.

Activities at Tswalu

We believe that the day’s activities should be created around your individual desires. A personal consultation on arrival ensures that we understand exactly what you want to do.

Game drives are never standard; if, at a moment’s notice, you want to spend an entire day in the bush, we will pack a delicious picnic and take off. Bush walks offer the chance to get closer to the land, even to track desert black rhino on foot. Top quality horses can accommodate all levels of riding ability.

You can explore the Kalahari from every possible angle. Our two donkeys, Pedro and Don Juan, pull a traditional Kalahari cart, still a main form of transport for many here today.

Hot-air balloon trips over this vast wilderness can be booked in advance. Or you can simply sleep out under the thousands of stars in the Kalahari’s “diamond skies”.

For anyone with a particular passion, special talks can be arranged with the reserve’s ecologists. Photographers will find unending possibilities here at Tswalu, combining shots of unique wildlife with dazzling panoramas. Walks to ancient archaeological sites will reveal rock carvings created by the Bushmen up to 380,000 years ago, some of the oldest art on Earth.

At other times, the pools or shaded salas beckon. Our exclusive Sanctuary spa completes your relaxation; its range of soothing and revitalising treatments celebrates the natural heritage of Africa.
Sometimes the most exhilarating activity is no activity at all. Watch in silence as the sun slips below an endless horizon. Your own private Kalahari

Accommodation – THE MOTSE – An Island of Calm

Tswalu’s main property, the Motse, nestles at the foot of the Korannaberg mountains, facing westwards across the grasslands of the Kalahari. Motse means “village” in Tswana and our village consists of just eight spacious and secluded “legae” (another Tswana word, for “little house”) or suites.

These legaes are built of local stone, rich red clay and traditional Kalahari thatch. Recently redesigned by world-renowned Boyd Ferguson, our suites define an elegant, barefoot luxury

Each suite comprises a spacious bedroom with an open fire, a sumptuous en-suite bathroom with both indoor and outdoor shower, and a large dressing and study area. Your private sun deck overlooks a waterhole and the changing game it attracts.
Two legae have been designed especially for families. Each offers two separate bedroom suites with their own en-suite bathrooms, separated by an expansive living room again leading on to a shady, private terrace. These legae are each over 170 square metres in size and create the perfect environment for any family group.

The Motse accommodates no more than 20 guests at any one time. The main house is a spectacular space in which to meet, with its elevated decks and elegant lounges. An infinity pool offers an endless view over the savannahs and a secluded spa is designed to complete your total relaxation.