South Africa is famous for its game reserves and national parks and rightly so. Massive tracts of grassland, acacia woodlands, and savannah have been set aside that protect populations of some of Africa’s rarest animals such as the African Wild Dog, Cheetah, and two species of rhinos. Tourists visiting these parks on wildlife viewing safaris hope in particular to see the famous “Big Five” of Africa; the African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros, Lion, Cape Buffalo, and Leopard.
Kruger National Park is a good place to get the Big Five and have a fantastic African safari experience but people who can afford to stay at the Tswalu Game Reserve (another place to see the Big Five) say that game viewing at this luxury reserve just doesn’t get any better. Accommodations and food are excellent but a good portion of the 1,000 dollars a night price tag pays for privacy. With a maximum capacity of 30 guests within 100,000 hectares of restored Kalahari desert grasslands, elbow room isn’t really a concern.
Guests stay in the middle of nowhere in comfortable, traditionally designed housing with waterholes located in front of the buildings for fantastic wildlife viewing right from their front porches. They also enjoy horseback rides that allow close looks at animals such as Burchell’s Zebra, Sable Antelope, and Lesser Kudu (equestrian guides wisely keep away from the huge black-maned Lions that occur in the reserve), and look for animals on expertly guided walks and from Land Rovers.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Tswalu Reserve, though, is the fact that all 100,000 hectares are restored Kalahari Desert habitat. It’s hard to believe how denuded the wildlife-rich grasslands and desert landscapes were only a few decades ago when the land for the preserve was a smattering of severely overgrazed farms. As these properties were purchased, one of the largest restoration projects in the world commenced with the razing of all human-made structures and by simply leaving the land alone. Since then, a chunk of the Kalahari Desert grasslands has been brought back to their former glory and even if only the richest of eco-travelers can visit it, it’s still good to know that this piece of wilderness exists.