Exclusive Bespoke South Africa
Discover the once-in-a-lifetime custom luxury safari at Tswalu Kalahari Private Game Reserve
By Kelly Villasuso
Low-lying, uninterrupted bush — rhythmic, swaying grasses dotted with brilliant yellow flowers and earth-toned fauna for as far as the eye can see, interposed solely by the scurrying of meerkats, porcupines or pangolins. Dunes undulate across the semi-arid landscape, like ocean waves gently flowing into the majestic Korannaberg mountains — cresting frequently against a brilliant red sky to provide unparalleled views of winged and four-limbed inhabitants, such as lions, antelopes, giraffes, and zebras. It is the promise of scenes such as these that has propelled South Africa to the top of the bucket lists of affluent travelers — individuals, couples, and families, alike; travelers seeking full immersion into the timeless, natural beauty of the motherland of civilization and into luxurious environs.
There is a plethora of safari lodges on the subcontinent ready to help travelers escape into its storybook marvels through pre-set safari itineraries and fully customizable adventures. “For affluent travelers, though,” shares Deborah Brye with Unique Travel of Palm Beach, Inc., “booking a tailor-made safari is really the best way to be fully enveloped in luxury, gain extraordinary access to South African wildlife, and be fully immersed in all the wonders on display there.” According to Travel & Leisure’s 2017 World’s Best Safari Lodges, Tswalu Kalahari Private Game Reserve is one such place at which to embark on a highly personalized — and often life-changing — interlude with South Africa.
The breathtaking, ever-changing South African terrain of the Kalahari savanna at Tswalu Kalahari, the Oppenheimer family’s 272,000-acre private game reserve, peacefully invites you to bear witness to its natural wonders — great and small, and envelopes you in awestruck serenity and subtle elegance. Brooke Berlin, North American representative for Tswalu Kalahari, shared with International Opulence, “No matter time nor place in the Kalahari, the treasures of the wild and rugged savanna are spectacular to behold — an experience enhanced exponentially by the fully bespoke safari experience and the astoundingly luxurious environs at Tswalu Kalahari.”
Vicarious Views of a Tailor-Made Tswalu Kalahari Safari
“Tswalu means ‘a new beginning’,” Berlin said, “and every moment of every day at the reserve is custom-designed to help each guest achieve that.” Every five-day, four-night itinerary is designed to fit the desires of each Tswalu Kalahari guest — as opposed to fitting the guest into a pre-set itinerary.
The highlights below depict astounding moments from an actual interlude at Tswalu Kalahari from which you can live vicariously or from which you can draw inspiration for your own bespoke adventure into the birthplace of humanity.
Memoirs of Our Time at Tswalu Kalahari
Highlights of Day One:
En route from the private airstrip to our accommodations, breathtaking scenery reenergized us after our lengthy journey and the diversity of game around every turn — from oryx, roan, and elands, to buffalo and giraffes — kept us on the edge of our seats. Tarkuni, the Oppenheimer family’s home and our glorious accommodations, took what was left of our breath away. We were met by our personal staff who quickly reaffirmed that nothing at Tswalu has a time frame to it — whatever we want to do is exactly what will happen. Here’s to new beginnings!
We tracked rhinoceroses on foot through the bush, enjoyed traditional sundowners as the sun set out over the Kalahari, and experienced a traditional fire-lit Boma feast high up on the dunes.
Highlights of Day Two:
We set out on a sunrise horseback ride into the Kalahari with our personal guide and tracker to get unbelievably close to giraffes, Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras, porcupines, and the eland — Africa’s largest antelope. A full breakfast was served to us — tablecloth and all — out in the bush.
After a few laps in our pool and a massage in our private Tarkuni spa, we had a leisurely lunch overlooking the watering hole near the house.
We went on an afternoon safari during which we saw a male Kalahari Black-Maned Lion fight his brother over dominance of a female just beyond our vehicle. Once in a lifetime!
After dinner on our patio, we took a walk in the bush under the Big Sky with the lead researcher (and flashlights in tow) to track the endangered, nocturnal pangolin as it foraged for its food before balling up and rolling back into its den. Incredible!
Highlights of Day Three:
We arranged a private, pre-dawn trek with reserve habituators to observe the sunrise rituals of the meerkat and delighted in their antics as they popped out to greet the day.
On safari today, we saw a momma cheetah teaching her cubs how to hunt and enjoyed a little leopard tortoise sighting!
Instead of returning to Tarkuni for dinner and bed, we spent the night glamping at the Malori in the middle of the Kalahari under the diamond sky — 10 miles from the watch — atop an elevated platform. After dinner, our team left us nestled in a gorgeous bed sipping champagne as the cool, crisp wind whispered good night in passing.
We also chose to sponsor a rhino notching to try to play a more instrumental role in the conservation activities of the Tswalu Foundation and to help protect these animals from poaching. We got up close with the Tswalu research team and learned so much about these spectacular animals!
We spent the late afternoon relaxing alone in our pool and sipping gin and tonics (the traditional sundowner) as we watched the sun slip below the Kalahari horizon for the last time.
Our chef served us the most spectacular gourmet dinner tonight. The only thing that topped the food and the night stars was the delicious South African wine that just kept flowing!
Highlights of Day Five:
We set out on our last game drive at Tswalu Kalahari, capturing in our minds’ eye as much of this glorious land as possible before heading off to the airstrip for our flight home, our hearts full of new beginnings.