Experiences | Jan 2024


Kalahari black maned lion walking towards Korannaberg mountains

A summer safari at Tswalu Kalahari offers much more than a respite from the big chill of a northern hemisphere winter. With more daylight hours to traverse South Africa’s largest private reserve on privately guided drives, the summer months also increase your chance of experiencing exclusive wildlife encounters in one of Africa’s last remaining wild places.


Summer at Tswalu


The beauty of summer in the Kalahari

There is nothing quite as moody and dramatic as the sky on a hot summer’s afternoon or the unmistakable smell of petrichor rising from the damp red earth as clouds bank on the horizon to add drama to a spectacular sunset. To experience a summer safari at Tswalu is to feel a visceral connection to nature and, if you’re lucky, to witness the southern Kalahari’s remarkable regeneration after rain.

Located on the southernmost edge of the Kalahari, Tswalu is a semi-arid wonderland of undulating grassy dunes punctuated by the Korannaberg, a mountain range that contributes to greater habitat diversity than anywhere else in the Kalahari. Often referred to as the green Kalahari, Tswalu also receives more rain than the rest of the Kalahari.

At the height of summer, the rumble of thunder is often a precursor to cloudbursts that bring welcome relief from the heat, quenching parched earth, replenishing natural pans and transforming the landscape with a profusion of new grasses, bulbs, and wild herbs. Other transient delights include clouds of migrating butterflies, an abundance of meerkat pups and springbuck lambs, and, for keen birders, the addition of all the summer migrants. Although unpredictable, cloudbursts restore clarity to the air, adding a flash of brilliance to photos and enhancing the already magical colours of a Tswalu sunset.



Southern Kalahari safari experiences

Dining outdoors, early morning walks, a sunset horseback ride, and stargazing after a night drive in search of nocturnal creatures are just a few of the activities that draw travellers to Tswalu for an exclusive safari experience. An early morning with meerkats in their natural surroundings is an unforgettable encounter. True luxury is being privately guided across Tswalu’s 114,000 hectares, knowing that there are only a handful of other vehicles out there and that you’re unlikely to bump into anyone else. Rising early, you get to witness sunrise and the dawn chorus of birds, and precious, up-close moments with a pride of black-maned lions or a crash of rhinos before the sun climbs high into the sky.


Summer is for night drives

At the height of summer, the Green Kalahari’s balmy evenings are conducive to night drives and learning about the private lives of the many nocturnal creatures that lurk in the long grass or take shelter from the elements in burrows. The patient will be rewarded with glimpses of Africa’s most elusive species: brown hyena, aardvark, bat-eared fox, Temminck’s pangolin, African wild cat, and aardwolf. Often camouflaged or obscured by summer’s dense vegetation, a clear sighting of one of these shy creatures is always a heart-stopping moment. Not having to share your drive with other guests means that you can linger as long as you like at sightings or ask your guide to cut the engine and soak up the sounds of Tswalu after dark while counting shooting stars and satellites.


Outdoor dining


Dining in nature

Hyper-local ingredients from the Northern Cape are the shining stars on every menu at Tswalu, and food is rooted in the culinary traditions and cooking techniques of the Kalahari. Eating and drinking well is always a memorable experience, celebrating the superior provenance and unexpected bounty of the region. The warm climate and long days provide endless opportunities to eat outdoors, from a picnic breakfast in the foothills of the Korannaberg to a lantern-lit dune barbecue. In addition, one memorable meal at Restaurant Klein JAN is included in every stay. Carved out of the ochre earth, Klein JAN’s glass walls slide away so that the elegant dining room merges with the boscia tree-strewn savannah beyond.


Motse patio and pool


Siestas, swims, and spa on safari

At Tswalu, game drives are less about ticking boxes and more about succumbing to the rhythm of the season – early mornings and late afternoons and evenings in summer – and relishing the luxury of downtime during the hottest part of the day. The reward for rising early is returning to camp for a reviving breakfast with a view, knowing that the best part of the day still stretches ahead of you. There is time to linger over the little luxuries of safari life, whether that’s a freshly pressed green juice or artisanal cappuccino after a swim, a massage on your deck followed by an outdoor shower, or a workout before indulging in an extra-long siesta. Siesta time is taken seriously on hot afternoons in the Kalahari, either napping in the shade at the pool or indoors in temperature-controlled bliss. Head out in the late afternoon or early evening for a slow safari, perhaps with a picnic supper to enjoy with sundowners if planning to stay out late. A private vehicle is guaranteed with every booking at Tswalu, which means that all your activities can be enjoyed at your own pace for authentic unfiltered time in nature.


Loapi green kalahari


Tswalu’s remote location in the southern Kalahari delivers the ultimate off-the-beaten-track escape with only three small, luxury safari camps, each offering a unique perspective and experience of the reserve. Exclusive access to this untrammelled wilderness, together with the guarantee of a private vehicle, guide and tracker, sets the scene for a safari of unparalleled privacy and freedom.

Images by Trevor Kleyn, Dook, Don Heyneke, Andrew Morgan, Felix Studios. Video by Mark Winckler.