The word “desert” often conjures up images of desolation. In fact, this part of the Kalahari is a “green” desert, semi-arid grassland with open savannahs, rich in a remarkable range of habitats.
Within its boundaries, Tswalu uniquely combines the classic rolling Kalahari dunes with the Korannaberg, the southern Kalahari’s only range of mountains. These massive hills provide a sheltering influence which increases the biodiversity of the area enormously as well as creating a stunning visual backdrop.
Over 80 species of mammals can be found on the reserve, together with approximately 240 species of birds. Insect life seems boundless; as an example, there are more species of butterfly to be found here than in the entire British Isles.
Every drive is an adventure of discovery. Guests can expect to see familiar plains game such as zebra, buffalo, giraffe, as well as antelope endemic to the region. The sight of springbok against the red sand or the silhouette of a kudu bull on a dune crest are classic Kalahari images. Spend time watching the aloof yet magnificent eland, powerfully symbolic to the Bushmen. Follow white rhino through the acacia thorn and track the critically endangered desert black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis).
Large predators also offer excellent viewing opportunities. The Kalahari lions of our Northern and Southern Prides may be the same species as other lions across Africa, but they are singled out by their sheer size and magnificent black manes.
Opportunities abound to see the rare and the extraordinary. Tswalu has breeding herds of endangered Roan and Sable antelope. Look out for the skittish Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra. Discover a coalition of cheetah, persecuted elsewhere across the Northern Cape, relaxing in the grass. And earmark at least one drive to search for the wild dogs, a species under perilous threat, recently reintroduced back to the reserve.
Tswalu’s smaller mammals offer perhaps the most special and unique sightings of all. Meerkat viewing is fantastic here; dedicated researchers have gently habituated two colonies into accepting our presence, without distorting natural behaviour.
Elsewhere, visitors regularly record lifetime “firsts”, discovering aardvark or the elusive pangolin, along with aardwolf, bat-eared foxes or African wild cats.
“I can say with confidence that Tswalu is probably the best place on earth to view aardvark and pangolin. Both these unusual animals are rarely seen elsewhere but the open grasslands on Tswalu make the animals easier to find, particularly during winter when they emerge in daylight to search for ants and termites.”