Experiences | Jun 2024


Mild, clear-skied winter days are the perfect time to go on safari.
Tswalu landscape in winter

Winter is welcomed at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve. The winter months are typically dry and clear-skied from June to August, presenting infinite possibilities for a deeply immersive safari enjoyed at your own pace. At this time of the year, pleasantly warm daytime temperatures offer a change of pace for actively engaging with nature. Privately guided drives searching for Africa’s big game, including black-maned lions, buffalos, African wild dogs, and cheetahs, remain a highlight. There are many ways to appreciate the Kalahari ecosystem’s biodiversity, depending on your interests or energy levels. Your safari can be as slow and meditative or as active as you like at Tswalu. Habituated meerkat encounters, horse riding, nature and rock art walks, and an introduction to the Tswalu Foundation’s scientific research projects can all be woven into a day on safari.



Private vehicle safari

From exhilarating predator-prey encounters to up-close meetings with a mob of meerkats, every activity with us is privately guided. A 4×4 game-viewing vehicle, guide and tracker are guaranteed with every booking so that each safari feels exclusive and personal. With just three luxury safari camps dotted across 114,000 hectares (282,000 acres) of restored wilderness, you’re unlikely to come across other guests or another game-viewing vehicle. There are also no other safari camps on the reserve besides our own. The time you can spend at a special sighting is unlimited. Often, you will be the only vehicle in the sighting. Only when you’ve sat with a pride of lions, caught up with a pack of African wild dogs, or witnessed the communication between a rhino and her calf will you fully appreciate the luxury of experiencing these encounters with nobody else to detract from or dilute your private wilderness experience.



Enjoy later mornings in campGuests are not compelled to get up early in winter. There is no need to head out on a drive before the sun has crept over the Korannaberg, its warmth coaxing meerkats out of their burrows and animals into the open areas to browse, graze or forage. On crisp, cold winter mornings, easing slowly into the day is recommended, unless you’re a keen photographer intent on capturing dawn’s characteristic soft light when everything is washed in a magical palette of pink, mauve and gold. Chilly winter mornings are ideal for lingering in bed with a hot drink, working out in the gym or taking a bath, and then tucking into a hearty or healthy breakfast beside the fire before heading out to explore. Meerkats take a little longer to emerge from their burrows, too, and one of the first to appear is the designated sentinel, who has to remain alert to any predators while the rest of the group slowly warms up in the sun. While guests are still sleeping or sipping their first coffee of the day, our guides and trackers will have already loaded everything into their game-viewing vehicles, from generously filled picnic hampers and drinks to blankets, weather-proof ponchos, and binoculars. There will also be a ‘bush baby’ on your seat – safari slang for a hot water bottle. Every detail is carefully considered, giving guests the freedom and flexibility to take each day as it comes.



In winter, our guides often report sightings of nocturnal animals emerging from their burrows earlier during the day to forage or hunt. Kalahari winters are known for their plummeting nighttime temperatures. The moment the sun sets, you can feel the chill in the air. Especially for those animals that rely on foraging on termites and ants, consuming sufficient food before the sun dips behind the horizon is critical for survival.

Considering their usually nocturnal habits and low density across Tswalu’s vastness, sightings of elusive species are not guaranteed and rely on the guide and tracker’s knowledge and intuition. Sometimes it is just about being in the right place at the right time.

Africa's most elusive creatures - bat eared fox; pangolin; brown hyena; african wild cat



Exploring the reserve on foot

Walking is the original way to safari. On foot, you feel intimately connected to the sounds, smells, textures, and colours around you. Seasonal changes are also more obvious up close. Plus, the best birding happens on walks. The colourful Lilac-breasted roller tends to perch in a prominent spot, waiting to swoop down on its prey. At this time of the year, it brings a burst of vibrant colour to Tswalu’s golden winter landscape. The Crimson-breasted shrike is another easy bird to spot, its striking colouration giving its location away as it hops around in dense thickets or a tree.

Mild, sunny winter days are conducive to getting out of your game-viewing vehicle to follow animal tracks and enjoy a guided nature walk or a short hike up Bushman Hill to search for some of the rock art documented by archaeologists and palaeontologists. Klipbak is a prime petroglyph site on top of Bushman Hill with the highest cupule count of the three most well-documented sites on the reserve. Cupules are circular depressions in rock, usually found near a water source. After deciphering the clues left behind by the early inhabitants of this place, appreciating the bird’s eye view of the reserve makes you wonder what it must have been like hundreds or even thousands of years ago when San hunter-gatherers sought out this rocky vantage point.



No secret season for wildlife photography

The dramatic topography of the Korannaberg mountains, the arid savannah plains and characteristic red dunes make Tswalu a legendary destination for wildlife and landscape photography at any time of the year. Winter is the dry season, characterised by cold early mornings and evenings when temperatures may drop below zero. Photographers appreciate the colours, contrasts and brilliant light clarity. The reward for waking early on winter mornings is photographing animals in diffused golden light in golden landscapes. There is also the option to book the undivided attention of Trevor Kleyn, Tswalu’s dedicated photographic guide.



Dazzling stars from Malori

Nothing beats the magnificent blanket of stars above the reserve on a clear, cold night. There are many more stars visible in the southern hemisphere than in the northern hemisphere, thanks to the Milky Way galaxy being a focal point. Even with the naked eye or using low-magnification binoculars, there is much to appreciate. The southern Kalahari is situated on a large inland plateau more than 1000 metres above sea level. In winter, low humidity and cloudless nights make Tswalu a brilliant location to learn more about the night sky.



Dining outside

Winter days are also ideal for dining outdoors as much as possible, both in camp and in remote wilderness locations. Instead of driving back to camp for brunch or lunch, guests can tuck into a picnic hamper before continuing with an afternoon game drive or walk. Whether it’s a sit-down breakfast on the edge of a water hole or a picnic lunch overlooking the open plains from the top of a dune, dining outdoors is as much about the view as the delicious food.



The cooler months of the year are when young rhinos are darted for ear-notching and microchipping so that they can be identified and tracked. DNA samples are also collected and added to a global database that helps track and prevent illegally traded rhino horns worldwide. Opportunities for guests to get involved in this vital hands-on conservation work are limited and sought-after. During this intimate, hands-on experience, you can help monitor a rhino’s body temperature and breathing while the wildlife vet works. To find out more and secure a space in 2025 and beyond, contact Tswalu reservations.

Rhino notching


Whether on safari for the first time or a seasoned traveller to Africa, Tswalu offers a multi-layered wilderness experience at any time of the year, often with surprise or unusual sightings that reinforce the fascinating diversity of this vast reserve and the Kalahari ecosystem. Given the reserve’s size, a stay of at least four nights is always recommended whether you choose one camp or combine the Motse with an exclusive wilderness experience in one of Loapi’s private homes. This winter, our Stay 4 Pay 3 Exclusive Offer makes it possible to experience more time for less at any of our safari camps. Contact your preferred travel planner to book.


Images by Marcus Westberg; Barry Peiser; Zhenya Swan; Kosie Lategan; Kyle Ansell; Wendy Panaino; and Don Heyneke