There is just something privileged about being lucky enought to visit Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve in the Northern Cape, South Africa. From the moment you arrive at their private lounge for the jet transfer into this 100 000 hectare private reserve which only caters to 13 rooms to the small touches in the room such has home-made vegetable crisps and fudge.
What really touched me is the community involvement and the staff who are true ambassadors rather that just employees, showing such pride in the lodge and the development of what was once a waste land into a conservation success story with boasting rights to lion, cheetah, rhino, wild dogs and some fascinating little things, such as caracal and aardvark.
Our guide was proud to show off his staff home which every member of staff is entitled too. In addition there is a pre and primary school, a comprehensively equipped medical centre which is open to the local community, which is often staffed by international volunteer doctors and many other excellent projects.
Tswalu is one of only three places in Southern Africa where you can see meerkats up close in their natural environment. After spending many Sundays glued to Meerkat Manor on Channel 5, I got to see the family dynamics up close and I found myself on the lookout for predators! Guides know exactly where to find them and we got to see them twice, early morning and late afternoon.
This experience is not for those wanting to tick off the mammal list from a safari vehicle, as you truly have the opportunity to get the dust of Africa on your boots with guided walks, sleeping under the stars and going into the hills to see bushman paintings. They also cater for all horse riding abilities from their immaculate, fully equipped stables, they even had a donkey carriage for me!
I loved Tswalu’s private house, Tarkuni which is in fact a huge 5 bedroom family home perfect for large groups or a family taking over to celebrate a memorable occasion, and I thought it would be perfect for my next big birthday (my 21st of course). I can just imagine my family gathering around the communal table or relaxing at the pool. Motse Lodge is also great with families and the suites are large enough to take two adults and two children under 12 years.
During my quiet time at Tswalu, under the big sky on my luxurious veranda, I had time to contemplate and reflect on this special place, true safari for the soul.