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Trip Report: Tswalu (Kalahari Desert) with Our Son

Trip Report: Tswalu (Kalahari Desert) with Our Son

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Old Sep 1, 18, 1:16 pm
  #1  
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Trip Report: Tswalu (Kalahari Desert) with Our Son

The Motse - Tswalu Kalahari Luxury Private Game Reserve

Tswalu Desert Reserve Kuruman, ZA 8460

Trip Report: Tswalu (Kalahari Desert) with Our Son (22 Photos)

The Motse - Tswalu Kalahari Luxury Private Game Reserve

Intro

Mr. Ericka and I had been on safari before (Singita Ebony, Jao, and King’s Pool). We knew our animal loving son would enjoy the experience and safaris have become more family friendly in the last few years. We started inquiring about the Four Seasons Serengeti and the private Singita Explore camp when some fellow flyertalkers recommended Tswalu. What a wonderful suggestion! The property was free of malaria and tsetse flies, had an excellent “Junior Rangers” program and was located in a strikingly beautiful part of the Kalahari desert with red sand and surrounding mountains.
 
Arriving at Tswalu was part of the fun. We started in Johannesburg at the lodge’s private Fireblade Aviation terminal where we were served a light lunch before being escorted to the Pilatus PC-12, arguably the most advanced and luxurious bush plane currently flying in Africa. The flight was one and a half hours.
 
Striking Scenery
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Pilatus PC-12 (photo by Tswalu)
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Main Lodge
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Swallow Tailed Bee Eater
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Family Legae (Suite)

We loved the rustic charm of our Family Legae with it’s red sandstone, thatch roof, and mosquito-netted beds. Our expansive suite had two bedrooms with two ensuite bathrooms, a living room with a romantic wood fireplace, a large covered deck with separate lounging and dining areas, and wonderful views of the watering hole. Each bathroom had a freestanding bathtub, indoor shower and an elaborate red sandstone outdoor shower.
 
There is a remodel taking place in early 2019. While the soft furnishings could use an update, we hope the remodel doesn’t take away from the legae’s charming personality.
 
Family Legae Floor Plan (photo by Tswalu)
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Family Legae Living Room (photo by Tswalu)
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Meerkat Pups
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Service and Guiding

At Tswalu, every point of contact was exceptional. Staff members were outgoing and friendly. Requests were met with a “yes” and they surprised us with events like a private bush dinner, star gazing and a complimentary massage.
 
Each legae had it’s own private game vehicle, guide and tracker (essential when there are children involved). We had an incredibly enthusiastic guide, and a tracker with decades of experience in an environment that required it. At one point, our tracker sat at a pangolin burrow for hours and when the pangolin came out, he followed it for us until we could get there. The Junior Rangers program was also a delight. In addition to being given an adorable backpack full of goodies, people proactively offered to babysit our son and sought him out for activities like animal cookie decorating and pizza making. Our guide showed him how to track a lion and made a mold of the lion’s paw print. He also showed our little guy how to use a bow and arrow while teaching him about the Kalahari Bushmen.
 
On our last day, our guide took us on a horseback safari. As an avid equestrian, I was impressed with the quality and temperament of the horses. Each horse was carefully selected for the rider’s size and ability, and our 6 year old was able to ride along with us lead line. Being on horseback was much quieter than being on the Land Rover and we were able to enjoy the sounds of the Kalahari. One of the grooms offered our son extra time to brush and pet his horse…unfortunately, we had a plane to catch. :-(
 
Cookie Decorating Palette
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Tracking Kalahari Black Maned Lion
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Finding Kalahari Black Maned Lion
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Pangolin
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Dining

For anyone who’s ever been on safari before, this will come as a pleasant surprise. Meals were served WHEN we wanted them, and WHERE we wanted them. Gone are the days of late night drawn out dinners followed by 5:00am wake up calls. Most of the dining was done outside at private tables around the pool and overlooking the watering hole, but we also enjoyed dinner on our legae’s deck. We were asked for food preferences before our stay and the chef then created daily personalized menus for each person with approximately three choices. Our favorite foods at Tswalu included the kudu, ostrich, chicken curry, and honeycomb ice cream. And of course, there was no shortage of fine South African wines with someone on hand to help us make selections.

Lodge DiningP1080598.jpg

OryxP1080040.JPG

CheetahP1080538.JPG

Habituated MeerkatsP1090360.JPG

Game Sitings

Tswalu is known for the unique, the rare…the protected. And our guide and tracker helped us stay focused on the animals that make this private game park special.
 
Our sightings included wild dogs hunting and killing a warthog (not for the faint of heart), a black maned kalahari lion with females and cubs, cheetah, pangolin, habituated meerkats and their pups that allowed us to walk alongside them, desert black rhino, white rhino with a calf, yellow mongoose, horned puff adder, plains zebra, mountain zebra, giraffe, cape buffalo, roan antelope, tsessebe, red hartebeest, steenbok, springbok, oryx, eland, sable antelope, kudu, duiker, blue wildebeest, black backed jackals, bat eared fox, baboons, scrub hare, ostrich, hornbills, lilac breasted roller, yellow canary, and swallow tailed bee eaters.
 
Wild Dog Hunt
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Female Lion and Cubs
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Sable
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Horned Puff Adder
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Summary

Our time at Tswalu was magical and we’d like to thank the Oppenheimers for their vision, their conservation efforts and for bringing such joy to our family and so many families before us. This was our favorite stop during our visit to South Africa.

Next stop...Morukuru!

Yellow Billed HornbillP1090170.JPG

White RhinoP1090633.JPG

GiraffeP1080345.JPG

Trip Report: Tswalu (Kalahari Desert) with Our Son

Would you like to write a review on the The Motse - Tswalu Kalahari Luxury Private Game Reserve?

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Old Sep 1, 18, 2:15 pm
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DSI
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Your superb review has piqued my interest for next summer. Thank you!!
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Old Sep 1, 18, 4:00 pm
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This looks spectacular - thanks for sharing!
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Old Sep 1, 18, 5:27 pm
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Thanks, guys.
Can anyone think of a reason why the photos under “dining” appear smaller than the others? The photos should all be the same size. I’m still pretty knew to the flyertalk trip review tool.
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Old Sep 2, 18, 12:59 am
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Thanks, Ericka. Looks like a wonderful trip.
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Old Sep 2, 18, 1:08 am
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Originally Posted by Ericka View Post
Thanks, guys.
Can anyone think of a reason why the photos under “dining” appear smaller than the others? The photos should all be the same size. I’m still pretty knew to the flyertalk trip review tool.
Thanks Ericka for your detailed review.

Photos seem to all be the same size to me. I'm viewing this on the mobile phone though so not sure if that makes a difference.
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Old Sep 2, 18, 5:00 am
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Originally Posted by Nizar View Post
Thanks Ericka for your detailed review.

Photos seem to all be the same size to me. I'm viewing this on the mobile phone though so not sure if that makes a difference.
Yep...different sizes on my iPad...same sizes on my iPhone. Must have to do with how I’ve designated to view as mobile or not. Oh well, first world problems I guess. :-)
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