Places We Love: Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa

Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is a vast, magical land of infinite possibility, with sweeping vistas and a liberating sense of space - it doesn't get more exclusive than this.

With a private vehicle, guide and tracker assigned to every group you'll have an unprecedented level of flexibility and exclusivity during your stay at Tswalu allowing you to unlock the hidden gems of the Kalahari during your stay. These gems include the usual suspects but will also see you standing a chance of seeing some of the rare and endangered species which occur at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve such as Ground Pangolin, Aardvark, Wild Dog and Desert Adapted Black Rhino.

No two Tswalu experiences are the same. That’s because the way you see and touch this magical place will be shaped by your particular interests and will happen at your own pace. This incredible level of flexiblity, exclusivity and service have seen Tswalu take centre stage in terms of the ultimate luxury safari destination for the discerning traveller.With your own dedicated guide and vehicle, you can experience Tswalu exactly the way you want to. There are no fixed schedules or time limits at special sightings – during your stay, the dunes and grasslands are yours to explore the way you want to, and each wildlife encounter can unfold at its own pace.

In the shelter of the mountains – which also provide a dramatic backdrop to wildlife sightings – you can encounter Tswalu’s 240 kinds of bird and 80 mammal species, including Hartmann’s mountain zebra, wild dog, black maned lion, pangolin and aardvark.

The Motse camp is a secluded ‘village’ of nine “legae” (the Tswana word for ‘dwellings’) including three family legae, accessed from the main building along wooden walkways which wind through the quiver trees and camel thorns. They are situated to ensure that each one is private and secluded and built using natural materials from the area.

Tswalu offers a fully inclusive guest experience:

  • Private game viewing vehicle with a dedicated guide and tracker for all bookings
  • Walking safaris and nature walks, including traditional plant use interpretation
  • Habituated meerkats
  • Horse riding
  • Bird watching
  • Some of the oldest bushman rock engravings in Africa
  • A visit to our community clinic and pre-school
  • The Tswalu Foundation research projects
  • Involvement in all wildlife project work currently on the property
  • Accommodation
  • All meals including a variety of dining experiences from boma dinners to dune picnics
  • Dinner at Restaurant Klein JAN
  • All beverages and full selection from our award-winning wine-list
  • In-suite tea and coffee making facilities
  • In-suite private bar and gourmet pantry
  • Laundry and valet services
  • Wireless internet access and national telephone calls
  • Children's Junior Ranger programme and baby-sitting

Luxury Suites at The Motse

The Motse camp is a secluded ‘village’ of nine “legae” (the Tswana word for ‘dwellings’) including three family legae, accessed from the main building along wooden walkways which wind through the quiver trees and camel thorns. They are situated to ensure that each one is private and secluded and built using natural materials from the area.

Each thatched legae has an open viewing deck and starbed which look across the savannah to a waterhole which attracts a variety of wildlife. The luxury accommodation meets the highest standards of aesthetics and design but is, at the same time, unpretentious with a focus on simplicity and comfort. This is in keeping with Tswalu’s focus on land restoration and conservation which is honest, authentic and inspirational.

The Motse evokes a mood of intimacy, quiet, and authenticity, a home from home atmosphere. Interiors are cool and spacious with king-size beds swathed in romantic mosquito nets and orientated to maximise the views through sliding glass doors. Each room has a fireplace and a separate dressing area with ample cupboard space. The bathrooms have been created with private gardens, luxurious bathtubs and both indoor and outdoor showers.

tswalu kalahari reserve the motse room

Wildlife at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

A diverse range of wildlife is protected in South Africa’s largest private game reserve, including many rare and critically endangered species and five of the most elusive species in Africa. There are 85 mammals and 264 bird species at Tswalu, and many reptiles, insects and butterflies, offering opportunities for extraordinary sightings and encounters while on safari. Many of the animals on the reserve are dry savanna specialists, well adapted to the harsh conditions of the savanna biome with its extreme temperatures and scarcity of water in the winter months.


Rasre & Endangered Species at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

Tswalu is undoubtedly one of the best places to see the rare and endangered ground pangolin, a charismatic, prehistoric-looking scaly mammal that uses its long, sticky tongue to catch ants and termites.

The reserve also provides a haven for desert black rhino, an important sub-species of the critically endangered black rhino. Maximising population growth rates of the desert black rhino, in order to aid species recovery, remains at the core of our conservation mission.

African wild dogs are formidable hunters, working strategically as a team to chase down prey, a common spectacle for guests. These endangered mammals are also known as Cape hunting dogs or painted dogs because of their colourful, mottled coats.

Tswalu Kalahari Reserve Wild Eye Private Guided Safari Square

Restaurant Klein Jan

Restaurant Klein Jan is situated on one of south africa’s leading private game reserves, Tswalu Kalahari, a refuge – untamed, untouched, unspoiled – that celebrates the simple, authentic splendours of this magical region. Klein jan tells the story of south African culture through food, from the ways of old to the new.

Creating Restaurant Klein JAN has been Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s great homecoming project. Growing up on a farm in South Africa’s rural Mpumalanga province, he felt an instant connection to the vastness of the Kalahari and knew that the time had come to return the spirit of JAN – his Michelin-star restaurant in Nice – to home soil.

The Kalahari felt like a blank canvas with unlimited possibilities. The region’s underexplored ingredients were the perfect inspiration to open a new restaurant and bring fine dining home – giving the food from the Kalahari the global stage it deserves.

klein jan
klein jan tswalu kalahari reserve
klein jan tswalu kalahari reserve

Insider Tip From Johan van Zyl

"Tswalu Kalahari Reserve really does offer guests a unique opportunity not only to see some of the more illusive creatures that call this place home, but to experience them in a manner in which you're simply not able to do anywhere else that I have travelled. Be open to spending extending periods of time in a sighting without any pressure to make space for other vehicles. More often than not, you wont see another vehicle during a drive!

There are very few places if any, that hosts the amount of rare and endangered species that Tswalu does.  During the winter months in South Africa you have the best possible chance to view rare species such as Pangolin and Aardvark which are almost impossible to see anywhere else."

Getting To Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

The most common way to get to Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is through their daily scheduled flight service departing form the Fireblade Aviation terminal at Johannesburgs OR Tambo International Airport direct to the reserve's own airstrip. Departures are from BOTH Cape Town International Airport and Johannesburg's OR Tambo International:

Cape Town:
Departures from Execujet Aviation (2 hour flight) departing at 07h50
Flights depart from Tswalu at 14h50

Departures from Fireblade Aviation (1.5 hour flight) departing at 13h00
Flight departs from Tswalu at 10h20

Flight are in a Pilates PC12, an exclusive pressurised private aircraft. (Based on the number of passengers travelling, the charter company reserves the right to select the aircraft type used for our scheduled flights.) Luggage allowance is 20kg / 44 pounds per person (including hand and cargo luggage) in soft-sided bags on Tswalu scheduled flights. Extra seats may be purchased, at standard rates, should guests wish to travel with excess luggage (will allow for 50kg / 110 pounds in soft sided bag per seat).

Alternatively, guests can store luggage at the respective hangar until their return from Tswalu at no charge. Guest can also opt to drive to Tswalu (7 hours from JHB).

Visit Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

With a private vehicle automatically included in your stay at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve you really do have complete and utter control over your experience. Spend time with Meerkats in the morning and follow up on any tracks for Pangolin and Aardvark in the afternoon. It is all up to you! We would suggest a minimum stay of 4 nights at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve and are ready to assist you in planning your visit.

The Royal South African safari

The 16 day Royal South African Safari is the perfect combination of luxury hotels and Lodges in iconic South African destinations. From the vast open plains of the Kalahari to the Mother city, Cape Town and ending in the Greater Kruger National Park. Key properties featured in this suggested itinerary include Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, The Silo Hotel, La Residence, Birkenhead House and Royal Malewane.

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