Tswalu Kalahari review: a five-star desert safari
A luxury oasis in the desert, Tswalu Kalahari sits in the heart of South Africa’s largest wildlife reserve. The rare African wild dogs and black-maned Kalahari lions are among frequent sightings, and luckier visitors may also see the endangered pangolin. Meerkats are also plentiful.
There is no shortage of creature comforts either. The well-appointed stone and thatched cabins have private patios overlooking a waterhole, where animals congregate to drink and cool off, while human refreshments are offered by a swimming pool, expansive wine cellar and a creative chef.
Where is it?
Tswalu is located in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, approximately 400 miles west of Johannesburg. Regular flights arrive daily from Johannesburg and Cape Town. It is also possible to drive from Johannesburg, but the journey will take around seven hours.
Located at the southern end of the Kalahari Desert, Tswalu Kalahari consists of flat plains interrupted by hills and mountains. Thorny grasses and bushes grow after the summer rains, covering the red sand, and die off in the dry season.
Game drives and other activities
Tswalu’s desert location requires a different approach to safaris. In areas where animal populations are denser, guides leave without much plan and stop whenever they happen on something of interest, but in Tswalu the trips are more directed. In most cases, you will go in search of a specific species, then spend the entire trip stalking, following and observing the animal, discovering its behavior.
Despite the relative scarcity of game, you are likely to see animals here that you won’t find anywhere else. Black-maned Kalahari lions, for example, and a pack of African wild dogs, which you might be able to spot when they go hunting. You will have a private guide and a vehicle throughout your stay.
In addition to game drives, Tswalu also offers horseback safaris, ancient rock art tours, and spa treatments, as well as the chance to sleep under the stars.
Accommodation and catering
Le Motse (meaning “village”) provides Tswalu’s main accommodation in the form of nine spacious stone cabins. Dark wood furnishings, including four-poster beds and a luxuriously appointed bathroom, are complemented by decor and furnishings that echo the color of Kalahari sand.
The kitchen serves three sit-down meals a day, as well as an assortment of fruit and pastries in the morning and a hearty afternoon tea. The menus are wide and varied, offering a range of international and South African specialties, including game. The chef will fly in special requests from Johannesburg or Cape Town. Guests are invited to browse a cellar filled with dozens of wines from South Africa and beyond, and a wide range of whiskeys and other spirits are also available.
Extended families and other large groups can take ownership of Tarkuni, a villa with five bedrooms, two living rooms, each with an open fire, several patios, a swimming pool and an outdoor fireplace. A private chef takes care of the cooking.
When should we go
The southern Kalahari has four seasons: in summer (November-January), hot afternoons, reaching 40 ° C, are interrupted by occasional thunderstorms and nights remain warm (around 20 ° C). Frost is not uncommon in winter (May-July), but the temperature climbs to a pleasant 20C during the day.
Spring, at the end of the dry season, when vegetation dies and water points are the only source of sustenance, is the best time of year to observe game. Alternatively, late summer provides an unusual opportunity to see the desert in bloom.
Price and reservation
A night in Tswalu costs from £ 777 per person, full board, including all activities. The Luxury Safari Company can integrate Tswalu into a tailor-made itinerary. For more details call 01666 880 111, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit theluxurysafaricompany.com