A reverence for nature: at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

April 16, 2022
Tswalu Malori Southern Kahalari

At  ROAR AFRICA, we believe that travel should inspire, educate and enlighten. An authentic safari should be full of wonder and surprise, delight and discovery, fostering a deeper connection with self, while contributing to the local community, landscape and wildlife. 

There is an art to it, though. As a gentle steward for all our travelers, our goal is to remove the noise, the complications, and the demands that travel today can induce. Instead, led by our hand-picked experts and guides, we create the space for you to move softly and slowly and immerse in the beauty that surrounds you in Africa's wildest, most unspoiled spaces.  

One such place that allows this kind of transformative travel experience to unfold is Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in South Africa. The rich, red earth, undulating hills, vast blue skies, abundant, desert-adapted wildlife and serene silence are truly otherworldly. 

The story of Tswalu in South Africa 

An inspiring story of regeneration and conservation, South Africa largest private game reserve, 11’s the 1,000 hectare reserve represents rebirth on a large scale across all 282 000 acres. Once farmland – gradually rehabilitated by Tswalu’s owners, the Oppenheimer family – it is now a place of abundance, serving as a triumphant example of what can be achieved over time, with passion, commitment and cooperation. 

It is indeed cooperation that keeps the wheels of nature turning, particularly in the form of animal and avian family units, in a type of “teamwork” between plants, and in inter-species partnerships. You see this teamwork over, but perhaps most obviously in the colonies of sociable weaver birds, typical of this arid landscape – working, living, and building together in the pursuit of protection and community.  

Tswalu Kalahari

The Motse and the Tarkuni camps 

Tswalu’s camps – The Motse (a contemporary and intimate nine-suite camp),Tarkuni (an exclusive-use homestead lying in the shadow of the Korannaberg mountains) and new Loapi (an exclusive, contemporary all-suite tented camp) – are tucked into the uppermost reaches of the Northern Cape in South Africa All three properties wrap the Kalahari’s rugged, unique beauty into a luxury travel experience that serves to highlight nature in the most organic and immersive way.  

At the Motse at Tswalu, suites merge with the surroundings; their organic design is contemporary and yet does not compete with the splendor of the landscape in which they sit. Imagine waking up to the gentle calls of desert birds and the breathtaking panorama of the Kalahari unfolding before your window. The Motse's private suites are havens of tranquility, featuring organic materials and muted tones that echo the desert palette. Accommodations at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve are understated and yet luxurious in every way the modern traveler would expect – from local craft gins and whisky in the suite bar, to scenic outdoor showers and a spacious private deck from which to watch the passing sable as they navigate the camp. Enmeshed with the bush itself, you feel part of the landscape, furthering Tswalu’s mission to inspire its further protection into the future.   

This is an entirely standout safari, thanks in part to the people, unique landscape, and wildlife here, but largely to Tswalu’s attention to detail and seamless incorporation of its purpose into every element.  

This reverence for nature comes through from the passionate and knowledgeable team to the beautifully equipped photographic studio where enthusiasts can print their images, and where the varied conservation and research projects that focus on species both great and small are showcased (the likes of Tswalu’s nearly 80 species of butterfly, pangolin, and white-backed vultures to name a few).  

Here, guests embark on a transformative journey that goes beyond mere observation, delving into the ecological intricacies and fostering a deep appreciation for the delicate balance of this remarkable ecosystem. Walks through the Tswalu Kalahari in the Northern Cape of South Africa unveil the intricate tapestry of life woven across diverse landscapes. Tswalu's commitment to conservation translates into exclusive wildlife interactions for a limited number of guests. This fosters unparalleled opportunities to witness nature in its purest form. 

Every aspect of your Tswalu Kalahari Reserve experience is meticulously curated to cultivate a profound reverence for the natural world. Through transformative activities, guests not only develop lasting memories but also gain a deeper understanding of the ecological principles that govern this remarkable reserve. You will depart with a newfound respect for the delicate balance of our planet and a commitment to its preservation. 

Tswalu Kalahari meerkats

Celebrating local heritage: dining at Klein JAN 

A reverence for place is also one of the hallmarks of a memorable dining experience. Restaurant Klein JAN is Michelin-star chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s eponymous South African outpost and distills all of what Tswalu and indeed the Kalahari stands for.  

This restaurant in the wild exemplifies Tswalu’s commitment to celebrating local provenance, heritage, and culture, as part of its journey towards greater sustainability. Working with Tswalu’s executive chef, Marnus Scholly, Jan spent two years researching the flavors, foods, and culture of the Northern Cape and the menu is a tribute to the area. 

Here, nature’s own ingenuity and resilience, the meeting of past and present, seasonal abundance and renewal, natural rhythms, and the celebration of the unique come together in a remarkable culinary journey. Because “journey” really is the only way to describe a meal at Klein JAN, which takes diners on a trip through time and space 

Arriving at a small heritage cottage on the plains of the Kalahari, in the shade of a windmill, the experience begins with a hand-washing ritual with an indigenous vine that is used as soap in the veld: a reminder of the resources to be found in nature.  

Tswalu Malori Southern Kahalari

The power of surprise: visiting the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve 

Local heritage-inspired snacks and cocktails follow on the nostalgically appointed stoep (porch in Afrikaans), where antiques and collectibles have been lovingly curated to transport you back to another era. Once tastes are piqued, guests are led outside and through a seemingly innocuous door, and then, for all intents and purposes, down the rabbit hole. To avoid spoiling the experience for guests still to visit this food and wilderness wonderland, the details are best kept vague – as part of the joy lies in the surprises that await.  

But suffice it to say it’s an experience where nothing is what it seems. Like the weavers who create a “false” nest to trick snakes and protect their chicks, what initially seems to be one thing, is something else entirely. This paves the way for a delightful series of discoveries – a journey that showcases local produce (wine, meat, cheese, fruit) in an elevated and elegant but authentic fashion.   

Everything that travel should do in fact: celebrate context and culture while furthering a larger purpose. Honoring the history of the landscape by planning for a more sustainable future. Allowing a space where you can find what you didn’t know you were looking for.  

Come and enjoy this moment of stillness and we can assure, you will be deeply moved and inspired by the breadth of experience, culture and cuisine this spectacular landscape has to offer. 


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