Where is Tswalu located?
Situated in the Savannah Biome, Tswalu lies in a transition zone between the true Kalahari ecotype and arid savannah. The undulating dunes are punctuated by the Korannaberg hills which contribute to greater habitat diversity than elsewhere in the Kalahari.
Helicopter Transfer - The Agusta Westland 119 is a versatile single-engine helicopter ideally suited to VIP transport. Based at Tswalu, the Augusta is available for private helicopter trips on Tswalu, excursions to nearby points of interest and historical landmarks and a shuttle service to Upington airport. The helicopter transfer provides seamless access to domestic flights via Upington, as well as being the closest international airport to Tswalu, for cross boarder safari itineraries.
What sort of accommodation is available at Tswalu?
At Tswalu, there are only two camps and you’ll be one of just 28 or fewer guests. Enjoy the privacy and exclusivity that define contemporary luxury - and experience the Kalahari at your own pace.
Once the Oppenheimer family home at Tswalu, Tarkuni Homestead offers a natural, home from home bush camp feel with understated elegance and a sense of luxury, relaxation and tranquillity. With your own private chef and guide, you experience comfort and an incredible sense of space in your own secluded piece of the Kalahari.
The private suites include a spacious bedroom with king-size or twin beds, a luxurious bathroom with a bath and outdoor shower and comfortable seating and study areas. The suites embrace the natural outdoor experience with organic-shaped flowing outdoor decks off the bedrooms and the addition of natural Kalahari stone walls to add privacy and seclusion to each deck space. The sunny decks lead onto private terraces with day-beds which can be made up as evening star-beds if you would like to experience the thrill of sleeping under the vast Kalahari skies.
When is the best time to visit Tswalu?
There is no ‘best time’ to visit Tswalu: Each of the four seasons offers unique viewing opportunities and changing landscapes as the Kalahari responds to the presence or absence of water.
The mercury begins to climb during September and October, although evenings can still be a little bracing, so come prepared.
Thorn bushes are softened by blossoms, and the night echoes to the calls of amorous barking geckos (the quintessential sound of the Kalahari). Meerkat pups venture outside their dens for the first time and there is a palpable sense of anticipation as you await the summer rains.
Summer is Tswalu’s longest and most important season. Between November and March, hotter days are punctuated by delightfully mild evenings and spectacular afternoon thunderstorms.
While rain may be a regular inconvenience elsewhere, at Tswalu it is both unpredictable and near miraculous. Consider yourself fortunate if it rains during your time there as you’ll witness the almost instantaneous eruption of colour as the Kalahari transforms into a carpet of golden flowers.
Many species coordinate their reproductive cycles with the reappearance of the rains. New life is evident everywhere, from wobbly young antelope to irrepressibly curious jackal pups. Flocks of migrating birds descend on Tswalu to enjoy summer’s bounty.
In the southern Kalahari, the autumn months of April and May are marked by milder days and cooler evenings, as the last of the summer rains peter out.
The savannah remains at its greenest and shimmers as the breeze carries seeds aloft. The sounds of clashing horns carry across the landscape as the impala rut reaches its peak, while tortoises and other reptiles prepare to hibernate through the winter.
Between June and August, temperatures can dip below freezing overnight (although the days remain pleasantly warm). The contrast between the red earth and white early morning frost is a visual treat.
Winter is the driest season at Tswalu, with dust devils dancing across the sand dunes and exceptional stargazing on cloudless nights. Nocturnal species change their daily routines, tempted above ground by afternoon sunshine. This makes winter a wonderful time and look for aardvark, aardwolf and pangolin.
What should I pack and bring with me?
Cotton clothing in neutral colours such as green, khaki and grey is recommended for game drives and bush walks. If it rains during a game drive, waterproof ponchos will be provided. No formal wear is required.
To ensure a comfortable safari experience, we recommend that you bring the following:
- Comfortable walking or trainers, or hiking boots for walks as well as sandals to wear around the lodge.
- A swimming costume or bathing suit, sun block, sun hat, sunglasses, lip balm, mosquito repellent. (Lip balm and insect repellent will be provided, but if you prefer a particular brand, you are welcome to bring it along.)
- Video camera, camera, binoculars (these are also provided) and extra memory cards.
What Activities are available at Tswalu?
At Tswalu, itineraries are planned around your individual needs and a personal consultation on arrival allows you to choose the daily activities, which include:
- Private Game Drives in open-sided, canopied vehicles
You receive your own private vehicle, guide and tracker for the duration of your stay. The game drives are never standard and are tailored to your interests. The expert rangers and trackers are specially trained in the unique Kalahari ecology
For adults, they can also arrange night walks which uncover the magic of the Kalahari after sunset
- Encounters with Meerkat colonies
Spend time viewing these enchanting animals at close range
- Horseback Safaris for all ages
They have a variety of horses ranging from 14.2HH to 17.1HH. The breeds include Boerperd cross, Quarter Horse cross, Thoroughbred, Shire, Appaloosa cross, Arab cross and Saddler cross breeds. An experienced horse guide and backup rider accompany all rides, equipped with radio and comprehensive first aid kit. They can accommodate from first time riders to experienced equestrians. They also accommodate children on the rides.
Younger and nervous children, depending on riding experience, may be put on lead ropes. The weight limit is 100kg. They use Trail saddles, but also have a few English saddles available for those that prefer them.
- Stargazing under the Kalahari’s “diamond skies”
Certainly one of the best places to stargaze in South Africa
- Exploring extraordinary archaeological sites
Pack a picnic and explore the Korannaberg hills where the San rock art dates back 380,000 years
The award-winning spa offers a welcome lounge, two beautiful therapy suites with adjacent sensation showers with a private garden. In keeping with Tswalu’s philosophy, the spa is crafted from natural materials with reed ceilings and dry-stone walls in the indoor and outdoor showers.
- Tswalu Helicopter Experiences
See Tswalu from above with the Agusta Westland 119, a versatile single-engine helicopter ideally suited to VIP transport. Based at Tswalu, the Augusta is available for private helicopter trips on Tswalu, excursions to nearby points of interest and historical landmarks, and a shuttle service to Upington airport.
Spend the night surrounded by the calls of nocturnal animals, with nothing between you and the brilliant stars of the Kalahari night sky…
- There is no compromise on luxury
- An adjacent outdoor toilet, basin and shower are just a short distance away along a lighted walkway
- On arrival, your guide sets up drinks and snacks while you enjoy the spectacular views
- Enjoy sundowners followed by a delicious meal
- Wake at sunrise to birdsong and the sounds of the early morning in the Kalahari
- Children's camping beds are available, so the whole family can enjoy a Kalahari sleep-out
Does Tswalu cater for families with young children?
Tswalu is malaria-free and welcomes children of all ages. With its limitless sights and experiences, the Kalahari can’t help but stimulate young minds, introducing children to the principles and practices of conservation as well as offering many kinds of fun. Part of the mission is to pass on their passions to the next generation in a way that is exciting and involving.
On arrival, every child is welcomed with a backpack full of guides and tools; they get their own opportunity to chat with the hospitality staff about what they would like to do. The Tswalu Junior Ranger programme has been carefully designed to meet the enthusiasms of a broad age range.
Activities include archery (beginning by making your own bow and arrow), spoor identification and casting as well as tracking on foot. Children’s bush walks are hugely educational and often end with a fantastic picnic – parents can come too. And at Tswalu, they are very happy to include younger children in private game drives.
Why is Conservation and Responsible Tourism so important at Tswalu?
From Tswalu’s earliest days, there has been a recognition that they can only care for and conserve what they can understand. Research has become a vital part of what they do at Tswalu and continues to reveal fascinating aspects of the ecology. Indigenous animal species have been successfully (re)introduced and are thriving.
Their conservation goals are linked to the past, present and future of the southern Kalahari:
- To restore the natural environment;
- To re-establish and protect biodiversity; and
- To maintain the Kalahari’s characteristic ecological processes.
They have adopted a holistic approach to correcting past mistakes, laying the groundwork for long-term ecological and economic viability and creating a model of conservation supported by ecotourism that can be sustained indefinitely.
The Tswalu ecotourism model recognises that the people of the greater Kalahari are an integral part of the ecosystem and crucial to solving the conservation challenges we all face. Running a viable ecotourism business lets them create upskilling and employment opportunities for people from their closest settlements and provide them with meaningful careers as well as enhanced health and education services.