Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

The Tarkuni Valley is waiting for you


Tarkuni offers the ultimate escape at any time of the year, providing opportunities to stop and appreciate the silence and the immense sense of space that defines Tswalu Kalahari.

The word ‘Tswalu’ means ‘a new beginning’ and Tswalu Kalahari is driven by two ambitions: to create an inspirational experience for its guests and a conservation vision, to restore the Kalahari to itself. This entails the management of the entire ecological system, including the vegetation and the available water resources to restore vital ecological processes which have disappeared in parts of the Kalahari, thereby maximizing the diversity of life found in the region. These two goals sit in perfect equilibrium with each guest contributing directly to the sustainability of the reserve in a true model of eco-tourism.

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.

Originally the private safari home of the Oppenheimer family, Tarkuni is located in a secluded valley below the ancient Korannaberg mountains. For multi-generational families or a reunion of friends, the rustic-chic thatched retreat is everything you’d want in an exclusive-use safari camp - a home from home that is luxuriously comfortable, yet comfortingly familiar.

Tarkuni Homestead

Tarkuni sleeps 10 people in five luxury bedrooms

Tarkuni Homestead

The five guest bedrooms have new, natural light-flooded bathrooms with outdoor showers, a king-size bed with exquisite cotton linen. All the glass sliding doors throughout the house have been fitted with screen doors. In the evening the glass doors can be flung wide to allow the scents and sounds of the bush to filter in, while the screen doors can be secured to keep bugs out and ensure a peaceful night’s sleep.

Outdoors, besides the large, shaded veranda, there is a tsala with teak day beds – a quiet spot away from the main house for a post-lunch siesta or an outdoor massage. Closer to the house there is a deep splash pool for refreshing dips on a warm day.

Tarkuni Homestead offers unparalleled safari accommodation for guests who want to travel in small groups. Guests can expect genuine indulgence and pampering and, with their own private vehicle, guide, and tracker, a completely flexible safari experience.

Tarkuni is a place to restore and replenish the mind and body

Specialised activities at The Motse

Each activity becomes part of your exclusive, personalised Tswalu safari.

  • Private vehicle With a guaranteed private vehicle and guiding team assigned to each booking, days on the reserve are entirely your own and unfold at your own pace. Sightings of cheetah, Kalahari black-maned lion, desert black rhino and other rare and endangered species are often a highlight here. Tswalu is also one of the best places in South Africa to photograph elusive species, such as aardvark, pangolin, bat-eared fox, brown hyena and aardwolf.
  • Bush walks Guided bush walks are encouraged at Tswalu. We want people to get even closer to the land. To touch the unique vegetation (and learn about some plants’ extraordinary properties). To inspect nests and burrows. To examine the smallest insect. A morning can begin by walking to a meerkat colony and watching these engaging mammals warm themselves in the sunshine before they scamper off to forage. Night walks are now also possible, offering the chance of exceptional sightings such as aardvark, aardwolf, porcupine or brown hyena at even closer range.
  • Horseback riding Horseback safaris allow guests to explore the dunes and savannahs on our well-schooled and well-mannered horses, which are suitable for all ages and all levels of experience. There is no better way to get close to nature and the wildlife. On a horse safari in at Tswalu, you become part of the landscape and many of the animals react differently to your presence. No-one who experiences this kind of closeness with wildlife ever forgets it.
  • Habituated meerkats Join a group of habituated meerkats as they emerge from their burrows and warm themselves in the rising sun or meet up with them as they return home at the end of the day and groom and play at dusk. Their gregarious nature and amusing antics (think early morning sunbathing and playing chicken with scorpions) have made meerkats extremely popular as subjects of wildlife documentaries. Our two habituated colonies have accepted the presence of humans without letting it disrupt the important business of grooming and foraging.
  • Helicopter Viewing Tswalu from the air is the best way to appreciate the sheer scale of the southern Kalahari. The folds in the land reveal themselves as you look down on mountain peaks where quite possibly no-one has ever walked and trace intertwined game paths that wind through the grasslands. Flying at either end of the day reveals the fascinating interplay of light and shadow as the land glows warmly or slowly slips into darkness. Watching eland patiently file down to a waterhole, or the puffs of dust raised by the hooves of an oryx on the run are moments that will live with you forever.
  • The Malori sleep out Watching thousands of stars slowly spin through a black velvet sky as you fall asleep makes a night spent on our Malori sleep-out deck an unforgettable experience. Enjoy a glowing Kalahari sunset as you eat dinner, then see the world anew as birdsong and the strengthening light awaken you at dawn.
  • San petroglyphs Join your guide in trying to puzzle out the hidden meanings in millennia-old rock engravings of animals, birds and abstract shapes. Today, no one knows whether they were created as memories, prayers or maps, but their beauty and mystery endure.
  • Junior Ranger's Programme The youngsters will be introduced to the Junior Ranger programme and given a backpack with guides and tools to help them learn about the Kalahari. During their stay they will make their own bow and arrow for archery, learn how to identify spoor, and track game on foot. A separate children’s menu caters for their individual tastes.
  • Tswalu Spa Tswalu's Spa is a combination of sensual spaces which combine to create one of the most unusual spa experiences in Africa. Designed to enhance the natural beauty of the Kalahari and take advantage of the superb climate, the outdoor treatment area is within an indigenous spa garden where guests may find the occasional antelope grazing alongside them and be lulled into a deep state of relaxation by the sound of birdsong.The indoor spa area is a natural extension of the earth, inspired by nature and the splendour of the Kalahari.
Sundowners at Tarkuni
Tarkuni starbed

Dining at Tarkuni

Guests at Tarkuni have their own resident chef and can discuss their food preferences with the chef.There are various dining options for guests who can dine indoors or out, in the dining room or at the pool deck, and can enjoy their meals at times that suit them.From a late breakfast at the pool, a picnic in the dunes, a feast in the boma, or sundowners and snacks on your private deck... guests will delight in the delicious gourmet meals prepared by their chef under the supervision of Executive Chef Mandi.

Working in partnership with Michelin-starred South African chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, our chefs look to reinterpret the flavours they find around them and create unique taste touchpoints at every turn. Our choice of ingredients is only half the story; the context from which they come and in which they are served completes the picture. All guests now have the once in a lifetime opportunity to experience Restaurant Klein JAN.

Tswalu's wine list has been carefully selected from the best South African wines available and guests will enjoy the food and wine pairing menus.The wine list was awarded Platinum status by the coveted Diners Club Wine List Awards.

Tarkuni private dining
Easy access to Tarkuni

Unlike most private reserves in South Africa, there are no other lodges on the property and the land is not shared with guests from other concessions or properties. This means that there are no areas of the reserve that are off-limits to guests. Heading off in a new direction every day, it literally feels as if you have the entire southern Kalahari to yourself.

Tswalu is malaria free, making it an ideal safari destination for families. Children are actively encouraged to participate fully in the safari experience.

Making a difference

Through a voluntary The Tswalu Foundation, The Tswalu Foundation exists primarily to support ecological research at Tswalu. Through accumulating a growing body of quality output on the fauna, flora and the unique habitat of the southern Kalahari we have been able to make informed conservation management decisions to better support our shared vision. This information has been made freely available to our neighbours and other interested parties so that, as we seek to add to our shared understanding of this rich and diverse landscape, they too can care for their land in the best long-term interests of the wildlife and people of the Kalahari. During your stay at Tswalu, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with researchers studying both iconic and more obscure species and witness scientific conservation in progress.

Tswalu offers a vision of hope that brings together conservation, research and an unrivalled safari experience. Everything we do is centred around our creed: To leave our world better than how we found it.

Tswalu Private Reserve

Imagine yourself relaxing at Tarkuni's pool

This is a Malaria free area.

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