Why the Kalahari? I ask myself. It’s a schlep: it’s in the middle of nowhere, access is expensive, no elephants (with whom I believe I have a special affinity – don’t we all?!), seriously hot at this time of the year. So, why? And more specifically why Tswalu?
Horizons as far as the eye can see, smooth, vibrant red road cutting discreetly through the vast 120,000 ha property, herds of graceful airborne Springbok, Nyala that come and lick your hand around the lodge, magnificent Sable seeking a bit of shade right outside your suite. Think of a name of an antelope species and you’re almost guaranteed to see it at Tswalu: majestic Oryx with their painted faces and impressive horns, the floppy-eared roan, whacky wildebeest, kudu everywhere as well as all the little bambi’s (duikers, steenbokkie, klipspringers and more).
And then, the very elusive (and grumpy) black rhino (but this particular mum and calf were very accommodating), the fantastic (very smelly), amazing endangered wild dog (try not to be down-wind of them), and the best entertainment of all : colonies of meerkats. And if you really want to see some cats, they are there too. But I didn’t even miss them there was so much else to keep me enthralled.
And then of course, there is the lodge itself. Think or wish it, and you’ll find Tswalu has thought about it first. Lady size slippers, light gowns, sarongs, sun-hats, big wicker baskets for your pool-stuff, outdoor hand-showers and rain-showers that actually work (why would you shower indoors?), every cream, lotion, spray you could wish for. Make up your own menu, eat when you like, enjoy a game drive with your very own ranger (no sharing or having to speak to ‘other people’). Do what you like, when you like – all in unadulterated luxury.
Touch and feel the heat of the midday sun, listen to the silence while you laze by the pool on your private deck until you depart on your evening drive – to be surprised by a ‘desert dinner’ laid out on one of the magnificent red dunes, where you are treated to a sunset of unbelievable colours and as the sky turns dark you feel you can touch the stars. And you realise how truly insignificant we humans are.
So that’s why I am saving already for my next trip to the Kalahari and to stay at this utterly amazing property, Tswalu.