Tswalu Kalahari


The word Tswalu means ‘a new beginning’ reflecting Tswalu Kalahari’s vision to restore and conserve its natural environment, and to empower and celebrate its community. The large-scale conservation project protects the region’s unique biodiversity, and safe-guards a number of rare and endangered species. Tswalu has created a model of conservation supported by ecotourism, so that it can be sustained indefinitely; its holistic approach corrects past mistakes, laying the groundwork for long-term ecological and economic viability. Tswalu is now poised to enter a new decade of progress, aspiring to even higher levels of sustainability.


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. It celebrates the ancient history and culture of the Kalahari, and shares this with visitors from around the globe. Central to Tswalu’s purpose is to share economic opportunities with people from the surrounding communities by providing careers and enhanced health and education services.


Tswalu Kalahari’s expansive landscapes have long drawn travellers seeking multi-layered, immersive safaris. Exclusive access to this wilderness is a privilege that far outweighs more conventional notions of luxury. From the ancient quartzite Korannaberg mountains to the southern Kalahari’s grassy, red sand dunes rippling away to the horizon, Tswalu offers what discerning travellers crave most—space and time. This is a place to recalibrate and reconnect, both with nature and yourself.



The 4Cs

Tswalu Kalahari joined The Long Run in 2020 embarking on a sustainability journey committing to a holistic balance of the 4Cs – Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce – as a means to contribute meaningfully to the biodiversity and the people of their local region.



Tswalu is conservation-in-progress. The reserve began in 1994 with the consolidation of approximately 14,000 hectares of adjacent farmland—desolate and depleted by over-grazing—into a hunting reserve. When the Oppenheimer family bought the reserve in 1998, hunting stopped and the restoration work began. Since then, further land has been added and the reserve now protects an area ten times its original size, making it the largest private reserve in South Africa. Damage caused by previous farming endeavours is being repaired, with fences and structures removed and natural processes consistently restored. Tswalu’s national and regional importance as a habitat was acknowledged in 2014 when it was designated as a formally protected area.


From Tswalu’s earliest days, there has been a recognition that we can only care for and conserve what we can understand. The Tswalu Foundation exists primarily to support and facilitate ecological research at Tswalu, which continues to reveal fascinating aspects of the ecology.


Our conservation goals are linked to the past, present and future of the southern Kalahari:

  1. To restore the natural environment
  2. To re-establish and protect biodiversity
  3.  To maintain the Kalahari’s characteristic ecological processes


Tswalu is committed to treading lightly on the Kalahari environment. Energy, water and waste is carefully monitored, and the reserve seeks continually improvement to ensure it has a net positive impact.




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 enables Tswalu to create shared value for all key stakeholders, including team members and surrounding communities.


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


  • Tswalu operates a primary healthcare centre on the property for this community. This facility is available free of charge to all. The health care centre is run by a professional nurse who offers various health care programmes. Apart from the community health programme and various trauma cases being treated, the centre also facilitates frequent eye and dental care. The centre is increasingly used by the state health care programmes for rural communities and sees between 800 -900 people per month.


  • An extensive HIV/AIDS awareness programme is run through the healthcare centre.


  • The WARMTH programme (WAR against Malnutrition, Tuberculosis and Hunger) aims to educate residents on the benefits of healthy eating and offers various immune system and nutritional supplements. Food gardens are encouraged, and awareness lessons are presented to both expectant mothers and mothers with young children.


  • Tswalu operates a pre-school for children on the property. The children benefit from a range of early learning programmes which prepare them for their formal schooling.


  • Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) programmes assist team members with literacy and gaining formal recognition for their skills and knowledge. Tswalu aims for 100 percent literacy among staff.


  • Rather than increase carbon footprint by transporting food over long distances, Tswalu grows fresh produce onsite, and continues to investigate sustainable approaches to small-scale horticulture.Combining traditional techniques with modern, minimal water irrigation techniques has enabled the reserve to reduce food supply radius while providing our kitchens with new inspiration.




Tswalu is an extended family of people from the Kalahari and beyond. The reserve finds strength in diversity, and celebrates everything unique and special about the southern Kalahari, both ancient and contemporary. Tswalu strives to create a true sense of place, and a sense of belonging.


The many San engraving sites at Tswalu testify to the importance with which earlier inhabitants regarded the green Kalahari. It gave them sanctuary and both physical and spiritual nourishment. A preliminary investigation on the reserve has revealed the presence of important archaeological sites ranging from the Middle Stone Age (50 000 – 280 000 years ago) to the Late Stone Age (10 000 years ago). These sites enjoy the utmost protection and research is being encouraged to reveal as much of this early history as possible. This ancient culture is the inspiration behind Tswalu’s brand and logo design—the petroglyph symbol, and remains at the core of the guest experience.


Tswalu’s food philosophy is based on two core values: locality and respect. The traditional foods of the Northern Cape and Kalahari are prized using the freshest local ingredients, respectful of seasonality, simplicity and authenticity in sourcing and cooking methods.


A recent addition to the Tswalu Foundation, the Artist in Residence (AiR) programme, was initiated to highlight South African artists and their diversity of talent. Visiting artists are encouraged to gain inspiration for their work from the vast expanses of the Kalahari and its varied landscapes, culture, fauna and flora. Artists are selected by a core team of Foundation members with key input from Mark Read of the Everard Read gallery. All proceeds generated from the sale of artworks, produced while an artist is involved with the programme, go towards funding environmental research at Tswalu. This ensures that the inspiration the destination brings goes back into the destination and its communities.




Tswalu is committed to treading lightly on the Kalahari environment. Energy, water and waste is carefully monitored, and the reserve seeks continually improvement to ensure it has a net positive impact.


Tswalu’s low-footprint, high-value approach to ecotourism ensures that revenue flows directly back into conservation work, which has never been more important. Those that choose to visit Tswalu contribute to preserving the southern Kalahari’s biodiversity for future generations.



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