Tswalu The Motse | The majestic oryx (or gemsbok) can be found in the arid Kalahari.

Tswalu The Motse | Kalahari Luxury South African Safari Lodge

Located on the distinctive red sands of South Africa‘s Kalahari, with unique wildlife from desert black rhino to meerkat and pangolin, Tswalu The Motse offers a safari experience like no other. Explore the private reserve by vehicle, on foot or horseback, sleep in the wild or relax at the spa or pool.

The place

We fly over an expanse of flat, semi-arid land – the earth ranging in colour from pale cream to ochre and russet red – punctuated only by the Korannaberg mountain range. We meet our guide, Francois, who drives us along the red dirt roads to Tswalu The Motse while telling us about the animals of the desert: aardvark, pangolin, desert black rhino, the black-maned Kalahari lion, cheetah, honey badger and meerkat. Spread over 1,000 square kilometres in South Africa’s Northern Cape, Tswalu (meaning ‘new beginning’ in Tswana) is the largest privately owned game reserve in South Africa, and it offers our best chance of encountering our bucket-list sighting – the elusive pangolin.

We fly over an expanse of flat, semi-arid land – the earth ranging in colour from pale cream to ochre and russet red – punctuated only by the Korannaberg mountain range. We meet our guide, Francois, who drives us along the red dirt roads to Tswalu The Motse while telling us about the animals of the desert: aardvark, pangolin, desert black rhino, the black-maned Kalahari lion, cheetah, honey badger and meerkat.

Spread over 1,000 square kilometres in South Africa’s Northern Cape, Tswalu (meaning ‘new beginning’ in Tswana) is the largest privately owned game reserve in South Africa, and it offers our best chance of encountering our bucket-list sighting – the elusive pangolin.

The room

We draw up in front of The Motse and walk along a path made from recycled railway sleepers, through a gap in the high reed fence and into a beautiful oasis flourishing with ornate cacti and other indigenous plants. Set between the camel thorn trees, The Motse has a main lodge with comfy chairs, a quirky chandelier made from ostrich eggs and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the swimming pool and semi-desert savannahs. A quick tour takes us upstairs to the library, back down to the bar and dining area (used on those rare occasions when it’s too cold to eat outside), and along a snaking path to our room – set in a thatched cottage of red clay and stone and painted the deep red of the Kalahari sands. My partner doesn’t make it past the Emperor bed, but I’m drawn out the glass sliding doors to the deck, which offers unparalleled views of the Tswalu Kalahari as far as the eye can see. Though the indoor bathroom features a roll-top bath and candles everywhere (a dream setting), it’s the outdoor shower with its reed walls and views of the distinctive red sandy plains that wins my heart; I simply can’t tear myself away from this beautiful landscape. Fortunately there’s no need to – meals can even be enjoyed from our private deck, at the boma, or atop a dune on any star-lit evening.

We draw up in front of The Motse and walk along a path made from recycled railway sleepers, through a gap in the high reed fence and into a beautiful oasis flourishing with ornate cacti and other indigenous plants.

Set between the camel thorn trees, The Motse has a main lodge with comfy chairs, a quirky chandelier made from ostrich eggs and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the swimming pool and semi-desert savannahs.

A quick tour takes us upstairs to the library, back down to the bar and dining area (used on those rare occasions when it’s too cold to eat outside), and along a snaking path to our room – set in a thatched cottage of red clay and stone and painted the deep red of the Kalahari sands. My partner doesn’t make it past the Emperor bed, but I’m drawn out the glass sliding doors to the deck, which offers unparalleled views of the Tswalu Kalahari as far as the eye can see.

Though the indoor bathroom features a roll-top bath and candles everywhere (a dream setting), it’s the outdoor shower with its reed walls and views of the distinctive red sandy plains that wins my heart; I simply can’t tear myself away from this beautiful landscape. Fortunately there’s no need to – meals can even be enjoyed from our private deck, at the boma, or atop a dune on any star-lit evening.

What sets it apart

With a private vehicle, guide and tracker for the length of our stay, we had the freedom to do what we wanted at The Motse – we sat at various watering holes for hours (along with our gourmet picnic lunch), and tracked the ever-elusive pangolin! Founded on eco-friendly principles, the lodge is the country home of the Oppenheimer family, who are involved in every aspect of its operation from conservation to improving the lives of the people who live and work at Tswalu.This ethos pervades the lodge – the staff are happy and friendly, there are now over 300 species of animals and birds in the reserve, and even the meerkat colonies allow you up close. Perhaps the jewel of it all is the chance to sleep in The Malori (‘dream’ in Tswana), an outdoor bed set on a deck that’s open to a sky crowded with stars.

With a private vehicle, guide and tracker for the length of our stay, we had the freedom to do what we wanted at The Motse – we sat at various watering holes for hours (along with our gourmet picnic lunch), and tracked the ever-elusive pangolin!

Founded on eco-friendly principles, the lodge is the country home of the Oppenheimer family, who are involved in every aspect of its operation from conservation to improving the lives of the people who live and work at Tswalu.

This ethos pervades the lodge – the staff are happy and friendly, there are now over 300 species of animals and birds in the reserve, and even the meerkat colonies allow you up close. Perhaps the jewel of it all is the chance to sleep in The Malori (‘dream’ in Tswana), an outdoor bed set on a deck that’s open to a sky crowded with stars.

At a glance

  • Luxury eco-lodge in the Kalahari with spa, library, swimming pool, wine cellar and a sleep-out deck. It has nine legaes (suites), including three for families.
  • Private reserve, private airstrip, flexible all-day dining in varied locations, flexible schedules and a private guide, vehicle and tracker (for minimum three night’s stay).
  • Game drives, walking safaris, horseback safaris, meerkat encounters, spa treatments (additional cost), swimming, stargazing, San rock-art excursions and The Malori sleep-out deck (additional cost).
  • Children are welcome. Children’s menu and activities provided and complimentary babysitting available. Under 12s can share free of charge, and there are three family suites.

  • Luxury eco-lodge in the Kalahari with spa, library, swimming pool, wine cellar and a sleep-out deck. It has nine legaes (suites), including three for families.
  • Private reserve, private airstrip, flexible all-day dining in varied locations, flexible schedules and a private guide, vehicle and tracker (for minimum three night’s stay).
  • Game drives, walking safaris, horseback safaris, meerkat encounters, spa treatments (additional cost), swimming, stargazing, San rock-art excursions and The Malori sleep-out deck (additional cost).
  • Children are welcome. Children’s menu and activities provided and complimentary babysitting available. Under 12s can share free of charge, and there are three family suites.

Prices

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

When to Go

Cooler, drier months herald the onset of winter. As it progresses, the vegetation starts to recede, making spotting wildlife that much easier. Later in winter, water for wildlife is at a premium and game drives to waterholes become even more rewarding. Temperatures can catch visitors unawares – especially on early morning game drives. It’s certainly worth heeding the advice to wear layers and you may even be glad of a hat, scarf and gloves. During the day, expect temperatures of around 25°C – which is pretty much ideal!

This is a time of rain, which brings lots of greenery, as well as migratory birds and new antelope fawns. This is not the grey drizzle you may have left behind, though. Rather, we’re talking dramatic afternoon thunderstorms that end as soon as they begin. Summer here means hot days, with temperatures cooler at night and in the mornings, while as we move into autumn, both the heat and the storms begin to dissipate.

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