Tarkuni – Sustainably reinvented
Tarkuni has recently been completely renovated with many of the changes and improvements inspired by a need to transform the homestead for a new generation of travellers, seeking absolute privacy while desiring time out in nature with family or friends. Many of these travellers are also requesting longer stays, allowing more time not only to explore Tswalu’s vast landscapes but more time to relax in camp.
Newly thatched, Tswalu’s beautiful exclusive-use retreat is located in a secluded valley below the Korannaberg mountains. Once hidden behind a wall, a precious, gnarled shepherd’s tree has become a focal point at the entrance, welcoming guests to their safari home. Days here are fluid and flexible, as active or relaxed as you want them to be. It’s a place to restore and replenish the mind and body, while spending time with the special people in your life.
As part of the redesign all the pleasurable daily rituals of safari living, from leisurely meals outdoors to afternoon siestas by the pool, were carefully considered. Adrian Davidson, project architect from Savile Row (who recently completed work on Klein JAN restaurant) explained that one of the key reasons for the renovation was to open up the homestead to invite more light in, while also adding an easy flow between the living spaces, both indoors and outdoors. Improving Tarkuni’s use of resources, like water, was also an important consideration that influenced the design brief given to the architectural studio.
Tarkuni’s new fire pit encourages gathering for an early cup of coffee before game drives, especially on chilly winter mornings. The brazier is just as conducive to sociable drinks before dinner while sharing stories of the day’s special sightings. Positioned in front of the house is an inviting boma with low stone walls to take full advantage of the magnificent views across the waterhole to the horizon. Here, under the stars, magical fireside dinners complete the quintessential safari experience.
The five guest bedrooms have new, natural light-flooded bathrooms with outdoor showers. All the glass sliding doors throughout the house have been fitted with screen doors. In the evening the glass doors can be flung wide to allow the scents and sounds of the bush to filter in, while the screen doors can be secured to keep bugs out and ensure a peaceful night’s sleep.
Lighter and airier, Tarkuni’s interiors reflect the natural surroundings in a palette of fresh botanically inspired greens and natural, earthy tones. The southern Kalahari’s complex textures and organic forms find expression in some beautiful bespoke pieces of furniture, designed exclusively for Tswalu. Refashioning some of the older pieces not only ensured continuity and authenticity, especially for returning guests, but was also about being more sustainable and less consumptive.
Outdoors, besides the large, shaded veranda, there is a tsala with teak day beds – a quiet spot away from the main house for a post-lunch siesta or an outdoor massage. Closer to the house there is a deep splash pool for refreshing dips on a warm day. The new pool is smaller and more water wise than the original pool, aligning with Tswalu’s sustainability journey.
Tarkuni offers the ultimate escape at any time of the year, providing opportunities to stop and appreciate the silence and the immense sense of space that defines Tswalu Kalahari.
White-backed vulture conservation
Several breeding nests of white-backed vultures were recently discovered on the reserve for the first time, during BirdLife SA's first audit of Tswalu since becoming South Africa's first Vulture Safe Zone.
When a pangolin sniffed my boot
One of the tagged pangolins became a central character in Leonie’s story. On her very first night, after several hours of following the pangolin’s tracks with the researchers through the dunes to its burrow, she had a once-in-a-lifetime experience.