Meerkats and more
It’s been on my bucket list for ever! For as long as I can remember, I have harboured a strong desire to visit Tswalu, a private reserve in the Kalahari. This year, the dream became a reality. The meerkats have been calling me for years, but I soon realised that it was much more than meerkats that make up what I class as a premier safari destination. From the moment you arrive at the Fireblade air terminal either in Johannesburg or Cape Town, enjoy some light savouries and beverages, and then climb aboard the private jet, the stage is set.
Tswalu is 110,000 hectares of privately-owned, environmentally sustainable paradise – a landscape of spectacular beauty – red dunes, sweeping grasslands, sheltering mountains and just two exclusive camps: The Motse and Tarkuni. On arrival at the airstrip we met our guide, Tristan and our tracker, James and went straight into our first game drive en route to The Motse. At Tswalu, every guest has their own private guide and tracker the entire stay which does set it apart from most other safari camps. On the short 35 minute drive in our customised open 4×4 we ticked off giraffe, ostrich, zebra, black-backed jackal, oryx, tsessebe, eland and many more antelope species. And where there are antelope, there are certainly predators!
The Motse is simply gorgeous and its sparkling swimming pool with mini waterfall to a plunge below beckoned us immediately. But first we were invited to lunch Eggs benedict and a little lemon meringue tart later… the food delicious and substantial to say the least, it would be impossible to be on a diet while you were here. Our legae (or “little house”) is over 170sqm, made with local materials such as the desert sand, rich red clay and Kalahari thatch. There was a bedroom either side of a central living room which includes a butler’s pantry filled with additional goodies, plunge coffee and all manner of teas.
We head out on our late afternoon game drive with Tristan and James who I have primed to spot certain wildlife such as the rare pangolin and the aardvark which are endemic to this area and not found regularly in other destinations. By the second day we had seen not only the rare species we came for including the meerkats of course (watch this short video to get an idea of how close you really can get) but some incredible and private sightings of cheetah, lion and a pack of wild dog hunting. As the sun sets, we silently watched two black-maned Kalahari lions ‘roaring’ – complete with steaming breath – and soon after we saw a pack of wild dogs hunting and devouring a not too lucky warthog.
Aside from the exceptional wildlife sightings, let’s not forget the landscape because it was spectacular! There were scenes so lovely that I will savour them in my memory forever. Light green lush grasses waving in the wind contrasts with the red sand. Everything comes together in the late afternoon with a yellow orange sky against the Korannaberg mountains backdrop. At the end of our evening safari, we walked up over a hill only to be surprised by lanterns lit, tables set and a wonderful al fresco dinner being made while we toasted the sun going down. They really have thought of everything that could enchant the guests here at Tswalu.