FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Our list of frequently asked questions will assist you in planning an unforgettable safari to Tswalu Kalahari, from which of our camps will suit you best to everything you can expect to see and do on the reserve. We want you to feel as informed as possible so that you can make the most of your time in the southern Kalahari, one of Africa’s last remaining wildernesses.
CHOOSING TSWALU AS A SAFARI DESTINATION
Where is Tswalu?
Tswalu is situated in South Africa, in the boundless Northern Cape province, on the southernmost edge of the Kalahari. The southern Kalahari’s semi-arid expanse is a hot spot of biodiversity where true Kalahari ecotype, associated with Botswana and eastern Namibia, transitions into an arid savannah wonderland of expansive grasslands, red dunes and ancient mountains, accounting for the surprising diversity of habitats, plants and animals in the green Kalahari.
How big is the Tswalu reserve?
At 114,000 hectares (282,000 acres), Tswalu is the largest privately protected conservation area in South Africa and is a formally designated nature reserve. The reserve is regarded as one of Africa’s largest remaining and intact arid savannahs.
Are there any other camps or lodges on Tswalu?
As our guest, you will have exclusive access to the whole reserve. Unlike most private reserves, there are no other camps or safari vehicles on the property besides those that belong to us. It is possible to head out in a different direction every day, without seeing another safari vehicle or having to share sightings with other guests. Mild winter days are conducive to staying out for as long as you want, stopping for a packed breakfast or picnic lunch.
How many camps are there on Tswalu?
There are only three, small, luxury safari camps in 114,000 hectares, accommodating a maximum of 40 adults. This means that Tswalu has the lowest ratio of beds to hectares in South Africa, or the lowest guest footprint. This luxury of space, together with all the advantages of having a private vehicle, guide and tracker, ensures that each safari is exclusive, personalised and private.
Which safari camp should I choose?
Tswalu’s luxury accommodation includes the Motse with nine legae (Setswana for ‘home’) for two or four guests (perfect for couples or small families); the Tarkuni homestead, an exclusive-use safari home with five bedrooms for up to 10 guests; and Loapi Tented Camp, comprising of six private villa-style safari homes with one or two bedrooms. For longer stays, the Motse followed by Loapi makes a great combination to experience two very different aspects of the reserve.
The Motse camp is located in the west of the reserve, where the Korannaberg mountains give way to grassy plains and the Kalahari’s characteristic red dunes. An active waterhole in front of the camp attracts a variety of animals, including oryx, springbok, giraffe, and buffalo. Game drives, walks to petroglyph sites, learning the art of tracking, horse riding, encountering habituated meerkats, dinner at Klein JAN, and an introduction to some of the research projects supported by the Tswalu Foundation are popular guest activities while staying here.
Tarkuni is a great choice for a celebratory reunion of friends or family, with everybody staying under one roof. This also makes this much-loved thatched homestead the natural choice for families with young children or multi-generation groups. There is plenty of space for socialising, relaxing and dining, especially outdoors. Covered verandahs, a fire pit, boma, and plunge pool all overlook an active waterhole for armchair game viewing. Backed by the Korannaberg mountains, the area around Tarkuni is characterised by deep valleys and ancient water courses with well-preserved petroglyph sites. Staying here puts you closer to the game-rich pans and open plains in the west of the reserve.
Loapi, our tented safari camp, is located on Lekgaba in Bruwer Valley with uninterrupted views south across open plains and distant hills. The camp stretches for a kilometre from one end to the other, ensuring a generosity of space and privacy between each of the six homes for a true wilderness experience and a welcome change of pace. Spending a full day in camp is encouraged to observe the patterns of shifting light and shadows dancing cross the landscape from sunrise to sunset – unscripted time in which to appreciate Tswalu’s vastness. Tracking rhino or one of the elusive species, like aardvark or brown hyena, and spending time at one of the nearby pans, which attract lion prides, jackals, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, and iconic Kalahari antelope species, make game drives on Lekgaba memorable.
Can I book a private safari vehicle?
There is no need to reserve or pay extra to secure a private safari vehicle. With every booking at all our camps, a private vehicle, guide and tracker are guaranteed. Your guide will ensure that every aspect of your safari is individualised, taking into consideration weather conditions and seasonality, special interests, and wish lists. With a deep connection to the environment and the land, your experienced tracker will reveal the secrets of the southern Kalahari to you through identifying tracks and signs left in the wild. Many of our trackers are graduates of the Tracker Academy, which has a campus on Tswalu.
Does my stay have a positive impact?
Tswalu is first and foremost a visionary, regenerative conservation project, protecting vital habitat and restoring biodiversity to the Kalahari ecosystem. Conservation is supported through our model of nature-based sustainable tourism. An annual Impact Statement, based on audited figures, provides evidence of the positive impact of nature-based tourism across a wide range of conservation and community initiatives. For example, Tswalu’s clinic provides free primary health care to anyone living within a 100-kilometre radius of the reserve. When you choose Tswalu, you automatically become part of our journey to restore and conserve the Kalahari ecosystem while preserving and promoting cultural and historical heritage in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner. As part of our sustainability journey, Tswalu is a fellow member of The Long Run, an internationally recognised conservation organisation that holds privately protected areas to account in the areas of conservation, community, commerce and culture when it comes to sustainable and regenerative practices.
When is the best time to visit Tswalu?
Tswalu is a year-round destination. Add to this its vastness and diversity of fauna and flora, and it becomes evident that no two safaris can ever be the same nor yield exactly the same sightings. Throughout the year, wildlife sightings are influenced by seasonal changes to the environment triggered by the presence or absence of water. The more rain, the denser the vegetation cover and longer the grass, which makes sightings of the smaller and more elusive species more challenging. During summer, dramatic cloud formations and thunderstorms are typical, sometimes threatening downpours without delivering a drop of rain or producing isolated, localised showers to parts of the reserve. A season of average, or above average, rainfall greens the landscape with tall grasses and flowering annuals. Winter is the dry season, characterised by cold early mornings and evenings, brilliant blue skies, and golden grasses drying out and dying back. At any time of the year, keen photographers will appreciate the colours, contrasts and brilliant light clarity of the Kalahari.
How many nights should I book?
Tswalu offers so much more than the twice-daily game drives associated with luxury safaris in South Africa. Given the reserve’s size, habitat diversity, and variety of experiences and activities on offer, we recommend spending no less than four nights at Tswalu. And that’s before you’ve factored in hands-on conservation work or spending time alongside scientists working on research projects supported by the Tswalu Foundation. Tswalu definitely lends itself to a longer, more immersive stay, whether you choose one camp or combine the Motse with the private wilderness experience that is Loapi.
PREPARING FOR YOUR SAFARI
What is the easiest way to get to Tswalu?
We provide a direct, scheduled, charter flight to Tswalu’s airstrip from Johannesburg or Cape Town in either a twin turbo-prop Beechcraft King Air or Pilatus PC12 single-engine turbo-prop aircraft. You can also book a private charter or land your own aircraft at our airstrip.
What is the flying time to Tswalu?
From Fireblade Aviation at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, the flying time to Tswalu is approximately 90 minutes. From Execujet’s terminal at Cape Town International Airport, the flying time is approximately two hours.
Do Tswalu flights connect to Fedair flights on the same day?
Yes, Fireblade Aviation flights to and from Tswalu connect with Fedair flights into the Sabi Sand and Madikwe private reserves, making it possible to transfer seamlessly between safari destinations on the same day. Note that this works whether you choose Tswalu as your first destination or end your trip with us.
Is Tswalu a family friendly destination?
Tswalu is malaria free and welcomes children of all ages. We have a wonderful choice of family accommodation, ranging from Tarkuni, our exclusive-use homestead, to the two-bedroomed family legae (suites) at the Motse. Two of Loapi’s private homes have two bedrooms. There are two common-use swimming pools at the Motse, while Tarkuni and the Loapi homes have private plunge pools.
Why is a safari a great family getaway?
Bringing your children on safari is a golden opportunity for family bonding, learning, and having fun together in a safe, relaxed environment – you will be making memories to last a lifetime. Game drives and other safari activities will be planned in consultation with your guide to keep everybody interested and engaged. Nature becomes the classroom, and your guide and tracker become the teachers. In disconnecting from the known and familiar, and unplugging from technology, young and old can reconnect with nature’s beauty, wisdom, and resilience, and gain an appreciation and awareness of their place in the world.
Is Tswalu malaria free?
Yes, Tswalu is indeed malaria free and it is not necessary to take any prophylactic medication. Being in a malaria-free region of South Africa makes Tswalu particularly suitable for the elderly and families travelling with babies and young children.
Do I need to make a separate reservation to dine at Klein JAN?
No, all our guests are invited to experience a dinner at Klein JAN during their stay. Once your accommodation reservation has been confirmed, one complimentary dinner at Klein JAN is arranged on your behalf, based on a minimum of a two-night stay.
What is included in the rates?
Your complete Tswalu experience includes much more than just luxury full-board accommodation, game drives and walks, and a private vehicle, guide and tracker. Head to our Rates & Exclusive Offers page to find a comprehensive list of inclusions and to take advantage of current promotions.
Do I need to bring my own binoculars?
Your guide will have a pair of binoculars on the vehicle, and you can also request to borrow binoculars from the Tswalu Gallery (one pair per booking).
Can I hire photographic equipment on site?
Yes, we have a variety of photographic zoom lenses available to hire from our photographic studio, ranging from 150mm to 6oomm lenses. Our in-house photographic guide can also assist with advice on the best camera or lens to buy before you leave home.
ON SAFARI AT TSWALU
Which animals am I likely to see on a Tswalu game drive?
Tswalu is well known for black-maned Kalahari lion, desert black rhino, oryx, kudu, red hartebeest, springbok, giraffe, and cheetah. There are over 80 mammals on the reserve. A commitment to research and conservation saw the reintroduction of species like the black-maned lion, desert black rhino, and Hartmann’s mountain zebra. Tswalu is also one of the best places in Africa to see nocturnal species that prove highly elusive elsewhere, such as brown hyena, aardwolf, aardvark, bat-eared fox, African wild cat, Cape fox and Temminck’s pangolin. Spending a morning in the company of habituated meerkats, observing a cheetah mother and her cubs, following lion pride dynamics, searching for nocturnal animals after dark, or getting up close to giraffe, kudu or Burchell’s zebra on horseback all add up to a multifaceted safari.
What other safari activities can I do besides game drives?
Does Tswalu have the big five?
Tswalu has four of the big five, being rhino, buffalo, lion, and leopard. The emphasis here is less about ticking off iconic species and more about appreciating the restoration and protection of habitat and discovering the astounding biodiversity of plants and animals within the varied habitats of the Kalahari ecosystem.
How can I improve my wildlife photography skills?
We offer private tuition for all levels, from novice to experienced photographers. All you need to do is make an upfront booking to spend a day with our in-house photographic guide, Trevor Kleyn, who combines his extensive knowledge of guiding at Tswalu with photography skills gained in some of the world’s top wildlife destinations. Use of Tswalu’s fully equipped photographic safari vehicle is included in the daily rate.
DINING AT TSWALU
Do I need to make a reservation at Klein JAN?
For all stays of two or more nights at the Motse camp, Loapi tented camp or Tarkuni homestead, one memorable meal at Restaurant Klein JAN is included. It is not necessary to book this – once your accommodation reservation has been confirmed, your dinner at Klein JAN will be arranged on your behalf.
Do you serve seafood?
We focus on ingredients that are locally and ethically sourced – within a maximum 300-kilometre radius of Tswalu – out of respect for our light carbon footprint approach to operating as sustainably as possible within a nature reserve. While this, unfortunately, excludes seafood, it does include the very best seasonal ingredients supplied by carefully selected small-scale farmers and producers within the region with whom our chefs have built up strong relationships. Our supply includes excellent free-range meats and farm eggs, artisanal cheeses, honey, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and locally made beverages.FIND OUT MORE