Tswalu Kalahari

premier Camp | Southern Kalahari, South Africa

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As the largest private game reserve in South Africa, reaching 260,000 acres, Tswalu is characterized by vast landscapes and an unrivaled exclusivity. This luxurious nature retreat offers unmatched flexibility, catering the experience to each guest, and a unique diversity of wildlife not commonly seen elsewhere. Tswalu is easily accessible from major hubs of South Africa and offers myriad activities, from wildlife drives to horseback riding and nature walks.

Photo of Wendy Klausner

Our Expert Says

I have been traveling to Africa now for almost 30 years so it takes a lot to impress me, but Tswalu blew me away. The wildlife viewing was superb, many animals you don’t see in other places like black-maned lion, sable, black and white rhino and close-up meerkat encounters. The horseback riding here was the best I have ever done, bringing us miraculously close to animals that are normally skittish. The food and accommodations are superb, and their guides are outstanding. This is a great example of conservation.

– Wendy Klausner

Photo: The Camp

The Camp

Location: Southern Kalahari, South Africa
Number of Suites: 9

Tswalu’s main lodge, The Motse, is comprised of merely nine "legaes," or suites. Nestled at the foot of the Korannaberg Mountains and overlooking a vast grassland, the lodge is built of local stone, red clay and Kalahari thatch, evoking a distinct local feel and barefoot luxury. Every suite has a generously-sized bedroom and bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers, an open fireplace, a private sun deck overlooking a waterhole, and a separate dressing and study area. The main house has a lounge and dining area with a library, museum of local artifacts, outdoor swimming pools, wine cellar, spa, gym, mezzanine National Geographic library, the Tswalu Foundation gallery and a photographic studio. Modern comforts such as wireless Internet and satellite television are available. Tswalu also has a five-bedroom lodge called Tarkuni that sleeps up to 10 guests.

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Photo: Facilities & Amenities

Facilities & Amenities

  • En suite bathroom with tub and indoor/outdoor showers
  • Shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion
  • Room fan
  • Mini bar
  • Tea/coffee and snacks in room
  • 220v charging outlets in room
  • In-room safe
  • Central swimming pool
  • Malori and Naledi sleepouts (extra cost)
  • Spa (extra cost)
  • Fitness center
  • Wi-Fi available
  • Laundry included
  • All drinks included
  • Credit cards accepted

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Photo: Wildlife Viewing & Activities

Wildlife Viewing & Activities

Tswalu is a unique wildlife viewing area, with about 80 mammal species and over 240 species of birds. There are resident black-maned Kalahari lions, cheetah on the open savanna, a noteworthy population of desert black rhino, white rhino, and rare antelopes and plains wildlife such as roan, sable, tsessebe and Hartmann’s mountain zebra. Other Kalahari species include gemsbok, springbok, eland, and red hartebeest. Brown hyena can sometimes be seen. Aardvark and aardwolf are great sightings, and possibly one of the most enjoyable encounters is seeing the semi-habituated meerkats. In addition to day and night wildlife drives and nature walks, horseback riding is available to all levels on the reserve in both western and English saddle, and all equipment is provided for you. The stunning Malori sleepout deck comprises a king sized bed on a platform in the middle of the quiet desert, covered by a thatched canopy but open to the desert smells and sounds – it is the ultimate nature experience during your stay. The Malori sleepout is best booked in advance and does incur an additional cost.

The Southern Kalahari has varying concentrations and species of wildlife, and the below chart helps to illustrate major wildlife sightings often experienced in the area. Some unique sub-species you may encounter are Hartmann’s mountain zebra, brown hyena, roan antelope, red hartebeest, and a number of other mammals, like aardvark, aardwolf, pangolin and meerkats, a variety of birds and reptiles.

Country Park/Reserve
Black Rhino
Gemsbok / Oryx
Sable Antelope
White Rhino
Wild Dog
South Africa Southern Kalahari

Usually viewed
Frequently viewed
Occasionally viewed
Sporadically viewed
Rarely to never viewed

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Month Max Min Rainfall
January 94° F 65° F 1.06 in
34° C 18° C 27 mm
February 90° F 65° F 1.69 in
32° C 18° C 43 mm
March 86° F 59° F 1.5 in
30° C 15° C 38 mm
April 81° F 52° F 0.43 in
27° C 11° C 11 mm
May 75° F 41° F 0.04 in
23° C 5° C 1 mm
June 68° F 36° F 0.0 in
20° C 2° C 0 mm
July 68° F 35° F 0.0 in
20° C 1° C 0 mm
August 72° F 39° F 0.0 in
22° C 3° C 0 mm
September 79° F 46° F 0.0 in
26° C 7° C 0 mm
October 84° F 53° F 0.2 in
28° C 11° C 5 mm
November 88° F 60° F 0.39 in
31° C 15° C 10 mm
December 92° F 62° F 0.87 in
33° C 16° C 22 mm

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Photo: Conservation


Recipients of the World Wildlife Fund Lonmin Award for environmental conservation, Nicky and Strilli Oppenheimer, owners of Tswalu, are conservation champions in South Africa. The Oppenheimers' mission has always been “to restore the Kalahari to itself.” Upon taking over the property, hunting was stopped, man-made structures were removed, land was added to the reserve and regenerated, and indigenous wildlife was able to return. The Tswalu Foundation, since 2008, has supported research in species and ecology of the Kalahari system, as well as granting funds for social and community projects. There is a primary clinic and crèche at Tswalu to provide healthcare and educational services in this isolated area. Special programs at the clinic address HIV/AIDS and proper nutrition, and it’s open not only to staff but also to people from surrounding areas. There is both a school for children and an adult literacy program, and the literacy rate has increased under this program by over 58% in the last decade. Visits to see these efforts and facilities are available to guests of Tswalu.

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Reviews for Tswalu Kalahari


Review Tswalu Kalahari
Month of travel: September
"We thoroughly enjoyed our 4 night stay at Tswalu (excellent package deal that included private guide and tracker and the flights). It complemented our stay at another safari lodge in the Sabi Sands/Kruger area. This private reserve excels in its level of customer service. The staff is absolutely wonderful, friendly, and helpful. The food and beautiful accommodations were 5 star all the way. The wildlife viewing is very different from the Sabi Sands/Kruger area where you can get very close to the animals in the range rovers. Most of the animals with the exception of the lions and black rhino and her calf were quite skittish and ran away when we approached in the range rover. In fact, we had better close up viewing of the various antelope and wart hogs from our accommodations (I have a hard time calling it a room, it was more like a very luxurious villa) which had a great view of the watering hole. You will have the opportunity to see the more unusual antelope like Roan, Sable, Tsessebe, and Eland. They do have the very rare black rhino. One of the highlights of our trip was spending some time with their habituated meerkat colony. The reserve actually has 2 separate sections. One which contains the predators (i.e., lions) and the other section contains the more valuable animals such as the rarer antelope and TB free cape buffalo but no large predators. They actually have a person who has the title of "meerkat habituator" who spends time with the meerkats to get them use to people. You may also get to see aardvarks and pangolin depending on the time of year you come. I think Tswalu will complement the traditional safari experience in terms of wildlife viewing, don't come here expecting to see the "big five" and a high density of wildlife. Do come here if you want to see meerkats, unusual antelope, Kalahari lions, black rhino, desert animals like the aardvark, pangolin, and bat eared foxes, and experience an outstanding level of customer service, luxury, and hospitality in a beautiful, remote setting "
- V. Huang
Month of travel: May
"My family has been on several African Safari's so we've seen some pretty nice camps. But even a couple of years later, Tswalu is still talked about as a legendary place and experience. It starts with being met at the Joberg gate when you disembark from your 16-hour flight from the US and are whisked to the charter terminal for your private flight. The accommodations here are over-the-top outrageous ... a massive door opens up into a HUGE room that makes you feel like royalty. Common areas were similar and the wading pool providing a cool dip. There is an infinite pool that birds perch on which provides outstanding photographic opportunities. Food was absolutely incredible - my kids and wife still talk about it. They have a very large private reserve and we never saw another vehicle except coming to/from camp. Wildlife was strong and varied ... including some incredibly cute Meerkats. The guides and tracker did an exceptional job tracking a pair of lions that had bedded down in the brush. We went out on horseback one day and it was incredible to be trotting right up to the game. Watching the sun set over thousands of acres of land (with not another human in sight) while drinking a Gin & Tonic was surreal. Tswalu is not cheap ... but it delivers - highly recommended. "
- E. Weissnat
Month of travel: June
"This is my favorite place in all of Africa. I love it because of all of the activities, visiting the meerkats with researchers, horseback riding on unbelievable horses, tracking black and white rhino by foot and community visits. The design of the rooms are really unique, I can't stop thinking about how beautiful everything was. I had never seen a Nyala before and I went back to the room to have a lie in after lunch and watched a female graze just outside the window. We saw a huge black maned lion and Mountain Zebra, you don't see them in too many areas. Our guide Richard and spotter Sam tracked lion using the smallest clues, I can't believe how they did it. We ate our meals in a different location each time. They even had a great gluten free birthday cake for my son, he says it is the best he ever had."
- S. Hermann

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