Tarkuni at Tswalu. Kalahari. South Africa
Why we love it
Tarkuni Lodge is a luxurious private hideaway within Tswalu Private Game Reserve, owned by the Oppenheimer Family. Tswalu's 10 000 square kilometers of Kalahari desertscape is a remarkable desert wilderness that conserves 230 species of birds (including endangered raptors) and 70 species of mammal, like desert black rhino, lion, aardvark, aardwolf, pangolin and porcupine. The area is malaria free which makes it easy for families with small children.
What to expect
The beautiful thatched villa has 5 luxurious suites with en-suite bathrooms, and accommodates up to 10 guests on an exclusive-use basis. It has 2 lounges with open fireplaces, a traditional boma for outdoor dining, a pool and a shady sala to lose yourself in a book. A chef, host, butler, field guide, tracker and night watchmen are at your service.
What to do
Tarkuni offers game drives (take a gourmet picnic if you wish) through the scenic reserve and a chance to see the animals of this extraordinary region. It's also possible to get up close to animals on horseback. You can sleep out under the stars, enjoy outstanding star gazing, view rock art (at 380,000 years old, these are some of the oldest on earth), and enjoy exceptional dining and fine wines.
Kids Tswalu's mission is to excite the next generation about conservation. Every child is welcomed with a backpack full of picture guides and tools, as well as their own opportunity to chat with the guide about what they would like to do. There's a junior rangers' program and activities such as archery (make your own bow and arrow), spoor identification and casting, as well as animal tracking on foot. Inclusive babysitting is available around the clock.
The good news
Tswalu means a new beginning and this - the largest privately-owned reserve in South Afirca - was establish to conserve the Kalahari biome and the animals that occur within it. The Oppenheimer family have won awards for their generous commitment to preserving habitat and encouraging education in the field of conservation. They were jointly presented with the prestigious World Wildlife Fund Lonmin Award for environmental conservation. While at Tswalu guests can visit the community health centre, children’s school, and adult learning centre. At Tswalu you can see the immense benefit of the Tswalu Foundation in action - and talk to the researchers about their studies.
When to visit
The Kalahari promises things you'll never see elsewhere, and each month reveals sights and sounds different to the last. Summer (November to May) brings hot days and mild evenings with the occasional thunderstorm. Winter (June to August) brings with it frost and night time temperatures drop below freezing. In winter the sightings of rare animals increases and day time sightings of the rare pangolin are possible.
How to get there
Private charters to Tswalu are offered from Johannesburg and Cape Town.