Sustainable safaris at Tswalu Kalahari | Jumbari Family Safaris
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Sustainable safaris at Tswalu Kalahari

Located in South Africa’s malaria-free Green Kalahari Region, Tswalu Kalahari offers the ultimate sustainable safari experience for families traveling to  South Africa. The reserve hosts two award-winning eco-friendly camps, The Motse and Tarkuni that serve as the perfect base to discover some of Africa’s rarest and most unique wildlife namely the black-maned Kalahari lion, desert-adapted black rhino, wild dog, cheetah, meerkat and pangolin. Offering private vehicles for groups traveling together, expert guides and trackers, families have the freedom to design their safari experience according to their mood. 

We caught up with Marketing Executive, Russel Binks of Tswalu Kalahari to find out more about their conservation and sustainability initiatives, as well as how they cater to families traveling to South Africa. 


Exterior view of The Motse Lodge, Tswalu Kalahari

01. Tswalu is a firm favourite for families traveling to South Africa. What makes Tswalu a leading family safari lodge?

What makes Tswalu so attractive as a family destination, is that no two days are the same. With each booking including the use of a private vehicle, guide, and tracker, there is no specific schedule and each safari plan is tailored around the interests and activities on our guests’ wish list. Each camp has an outdoor pool and children under the age of 12 stay free with their parents in a suite at Tswalu The Motse.


Expertly guided bushwalks in the Tswalu Reserve

02. Can you describe what a day on the reserve entails for families?

On one particular day, families can pack a mid-morning picnic and head out early to enjoy the antics of our habituated meerkats. Families can continue on safari enjoying what is certainly one of the most diverse safari experiences in Africa. Enjoy the culinary delights on top of a dune crest or near a watering hole, and then seek out the majesty of the Kalahari black-maned lion.


Black-maned Kalahari Lion in the Tswalu Reserve

Thereafter head back to camp for a little rest and relaxation – enjoying the privacy of the two-bedroomed family legae (dwelling) or some family time cooling off in the kiddie-friendly swimming pools. A late leisurely lunch is followed by a brief drive to the stables, where the family gets to experience the wonders of the southern Kalahari on horseback.


Kiddie-friendly horseback rides

You’ll arrive at a designated location in the bush where your afternoon cocktails and snacks await as you watch one of the most spectacular sunsets on the planet. Thereafter, families can continue on in their private game vehicle in search of the elusive nocturnal aardvark, aardwolf and pangolin.


A rare sighting of a pangolin in the Tswalu Reserve

Pre-order dinner for the children so when you arrive back at camp, their favourite meal awaits whilst mom and dad select their wine preference from our magnificent cellar. Families can enjoy an incredible dinner reminiscing on the day that has passed, and what opportunities await the following day.


Examining wildlife tracks alongside expert guides

03. Tswalu offers an interactive Junior Ranger Programme. What are some experiences that little ones’ can look forward to?

Whilst Tswalu offers a host of in-camp activities, our future conservationists will get to enjoy a multitude of activities whilst out in the bush. These activities include making plaster casts of lion tracks, making bows and arrows from raisin bush, spending time with habituated meerkats, discovering Africa’s smallest creatures on expertly guided bush walks and morning or afternoon horse rides. The Junior Ranger booklet that we give our youngest guests has a number of puzzles, questions and drawings to keep them entertained and learning.


Fun cookie decorating classes for kids

04. We all know kids can be picky eaters, what does the team at Tswalu do to accommodate kiddies around the dining table?

We offer a children’s menu and will gladly accommodate dietary requirements and personal preference for little ones. The lodges offer flexible dining times and venues for families to suit each guest’s schedule.


Spa experience at Tswalu Kalahari

05. What about when mom and dad need some downtime? What experiences does Tswalu offer exclusively for adults?

Tswalu offers a complimentary babysitting service for families. Outside of the safari experience, parents can choose from a number of spa treatments, a private wine tasting, or a romantic dinner on the deck whilst the children enjoy popcorn and a movie in the TV room. Parents can also browse our gallery for the perfect gift or keepsake, or spend quality time in the photographic studio editing those prize memories.


Young meerkats in the Tswalu Reserve

06. At Jumbari Family Safaris, we support lodges who are dedicated to sustainable tourism. Can you tell us a bit about Tswalu’s conservation efforts and the strides Tswalu has made towards the restoration of the Kalahari?

The green Kalahari of Tswalu is nature at its most diverse and surprising, and to spend time here is to be touched by exuberant, soulful beauty. Tswalu is striving to conserve this breath-taking landscape for future generations. Tswalu offers a vision of hope that brings together conservation, research and an unrivalled safari experience. Everything we do is centred around our creed: To leave our world better than how we found it. From Tswalu’s earliest days, there has been a recognition that we can only care for and conserve what we can understand. Research has become a vital part of what we do at Tswalu. Rare species have been successfully (re)introduced and have begun to increase in number. Damage caused by previous, misguided human endeavours have been repaired, with fences and structures removed. Natural grasslands have expanded as grazing pressure from livestock has been removed. Tswalu’s national and regional importance as a habitat was acknowledged in 2014 when it was designated as a formally protected area.


Kids playing at the Tswalu School


As well as being an incredible community of flora and fauna, Tswalu is also an extended human family of people from the Kalahari and beyond. We find strength in our diversity, and because we all share the same vision for the future of Tswalu, we can combine our energies and passion to make Tswalu’s vision a reality.

The Tswalu ecotourism model recognises that the people of the greater Kalahari are an integral part of the ecosystem, and crucial to solving the conservation challenges we all face. Running a viable ecotourism business lets us create upskilling and employment opportunities for people from our closest settlements and provide them with meaningful careers as well as enhanced health and education services.

The Tswalu community consists of our staff members and their families, researchers, visiting doctors that support the healthcare centre, visiting artists in residence, and each of our guests, alongside a wider community of neighbours, conservationists and everyone who cares about the restoration of the Kalahari.


Students at the Tswalu School


The Tswalu School provides the ideal educational foundation for our staff members’ children. More structured learning sessions are integrated with creative play and opportunities to explore their surroundings. In this way, the youngest members of our community absorb the values that distinguish Tswalu: respect, togetherness, curiosity and optimism.

 Our Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) programmes assist our team members with literacy and gaining formal recognition for their skills and knowledge.


The Tswalu Healthcare Centre

Healthcare Centre

The Tswalu Healthcare Centre is a focal point for the community, providing vital medical services and health education to improve the quality of life from people in the closest Kalahari settlements, and our own team members and their families. The Healthcare Centre – supported by the South African government and by generous donations – is an extension of Tswalu’s nurturing philosophy.


The local vegetable garden at Tswalu Kalahari

Vegetable Garden

Rather than add to our carbon footprint by transporting food over long distances, we are actively growing our own fresh produce, and continuing to investigate sustainable approaches to small-scale horticulture.  Combining traditional techniques with modern, minimal water irrigation techniques has enabled us to reduce our food supply radius while providing our kitchens with new inspiration.


Researchers working at Tswalu Kalahari

07. Can you tell us about the Tswalu Foundation and how families get involved in conservation efforts at Tswalu?

The Tswalu Foundation exists primarily to support ecological research at Tswalu. Through accumulating a growing body of quality output on the fauna, flora and the unique habitat of the southern Kalahari we have been able to make informed conservation management decisions to better support our shared vision. This information has been made freely available to our neighbours and other interested parties so that, as we seek to add to our shared understanding of this rich and diverse landscape, they too can care for their land in the best long-term interests of the wildlife and people of the Kalahari.

During your stay at Tswalu, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with researchers studying both iconic and more obscure species and witness scientific conservation in progress. Spending time with one of the many researchers whose studies are supported by the Tswalu Foundation provides additional insights into the finely balanced Kalahari ecosystem, and lets you see cutting-edge conservation at work.


Boma dinner at sunset

Want to start planning a sustainable family safari to South Africa? Get in touch with your expert consultant to add Tswalu Kalahari to your itinerary.