Experience a new beginning at Tswalu Wildlife Reserve. This remote lodge, located in southern Kalahari, is actually a large conservation project. Tswalu is a part of The Long Run, a sustainability project that focuses on conservation, community, culture, and commerce.
Nature walks, animal tracking, stargazing, and horse riding are all offered to give guests a better view of the South African wilderness. Explore vast game habitats in private vehicles. The vision behind Tswalu is to leave the world better than they found it, and through eco-tourism, Tswalu is able to restore the natural habitat to its former glory.
With only 14 suites (suitable for 28 guests), Tswalu has one of the lowest footprints in South Africa. It is situated in the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, a privately owned Formal Protected Area that covers over 114,000 hectares of land. The reserve is set in the savannah biome, the largest in South Africa. Enter a new era of hope at Tswalu, where nature and humans can live in harmony.
The Oppenheimer family, owners of Tswalu looked to give the land a new beginning. The word Tswalu literally means “new beginning” in Setswana. Through conservation and education, the Oppenheimer family brought new life to the land. Once a collection of commercial livestock farms, this land was given to the Oppenheimers by a British businessman entrusting them to restore the land to its former glory.
The Oppenheimer family removed previously erected fences and structures and began to work on repairing the land. Tswalu has embarked on several large conservation projects, including reintroducing indigenous species and restoring the Kalahari. In 2014, Tswalu was designated a Formal Protected Area.
This labor of love has become a unique getaway for eco-tourists looking to experience the African Savannah. Sitting between the Kalahari ecotype and savannah, the rolling dunes offer unbeatable habitat diversity. Guests can embark on expeditions into the wilderness, experiencing nature the way it is meant to be. Learn everything there is to know about the Kalahari at this unique reserve. Read more about them here.
Lowest impact construction and operation
- The main goal of the Tswalu Reserve is to reduce human impact on nature while repairing the damage that has already been done.
- Water is heated through solar power instead of gas. The consolidated units offer insulation benefits, water savings, and a lower total impact.
- The staff units are oriented to allow the best passive heating and lighting from the sun while taking advantage of the breeze for natural cooling.
- The manmade water holes have been removed, except for some that are used solely by the endangered animal species during droughts. This reduces waste and allows for more natural distribution of water.
Highest level of energy efficiency
- Gas, diesel, and petrol usage are carefully monitored, with yearly carbon emissions goals. Tswalu is currently working on a carbon neutrality project to ensure that they never emit more than they sequester. This will be achieved through reducing carbon emissions and improving land management techniques.
- Solar pumps are used to bring water into boreholes. Water usage is meticulously measured and reported.
- Only low-flow showerheads are used.
- All lighting is LED-optimized.
- There are shared pools for guests, which they shrank to reduce water usage.
Pioneer in waste management
- Staff households have rainwater collection tanks that collect water for gardening. Guest’s greywater is treated and used for drinking water for the animals, saving 8,000 liters of water a day.
- All waste is separated and taken to a central facility to be weighed and recorded. It is collected and taken offsite for proper recycling. There are efforts to partner with locals to create a recycling economy.
- Organic waste is given to the gardens.
- The lodge is 100% single-use plastic free. Guests are given reusable bottles and toiletries are in refillable containers.
Aims to have a fully organic and chemical-free operation
- Tswalu is committed to the elimination of chemicals when possible. All products used for cleaning, laundry, and kitchen maintenance are biodegradable. The only chemicals used on site are carefully monitored and discarded with respect to hazardous waste protocols.
- Food at Tswalu is procured with local culture in mind. The food respects South Africa’s culinary heritage, all of which is ethically sourced from regional producers. Chefs at the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve use South Africa’s bountiful produce to create beautiful meals for guests.
Actively protects nature and community
- Tswalu buys firewood from local suppliers who control invasive species and bush encroachment. In doing so, Tswalu does not need to use wood from protected species.
- Tswalu carefully monitors the population numbers of rare and endangered species, like the black rhino, cheetah, and African wild dog.
- The Tswalu Foundation develops research programs for conservation and education.
- The lodge sits near a number of archeological sites, which the owners have taken care to respect and research.
- Traditional foods of the Northern Cape are served to guests to show them the beauty of the local culture.
- The Tswalu Foundation recently added the Artist in Residence program to highlight local artists’ talent. The art is displayed in a gallery for guests’ viewing pleasure.
Most Popular Activities at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve
- Private game viewing vehicle with a dedicated guide and tracker for all bookings
- Walking safaris
- Nature walks, including traditional plant use interpretation
- Habituated meerkats
- Horse riding and bird watching
- Some of the oldest bushman rock engravings in Africa
- A visit to our community clinic and pre-school
Best time to visit Tswalu Kalahari Reserve
- Tswalu has always been a year-round destination, each season offering unique and memorable sightings along with the freedom to explore the reserve’s vast reaches in complete privacy and at your own pace.