Spending two nights on an educational at Tswalu Private Game Reserve, the day after my 37th birthday has got to be one of the most memorable birthdays I’ve ever had.
We were flown to the lodge in an immaculate PC12. Flying over the reserve with the Korannaberg Mountains rising up below us, I was reminded of how truly beautiful and unique an area Tswalu is. At 110,000 hectares it is South Africa’s largest privately owned reserve.
Heading out on a game drive that afternoon, our guide Nicky asked us what we wanted to see and without hesitation we all said aardvark and pangolin. This is no small request as any guide will tell you, but to our sheer surprise and delight we didn’t have to wait very long before we saw one. Just minutes after we left the lodge, this elusive animal wandered out from the bush and onto the red Kalahari sand road ahead of us. My heart was pounding in my chest at the excitement of finally getting to see this incredible animal. Our guide stopped the vehicle, we got off and started tracking the aardvark on foot. We managed to get within about fifteen metres before it scurried off into the bush.
As if that wasn’t excitement enough, we saw another aardvark on foot later in the day. He gave us a little show and stood up on his hind legs, something we were told is not often seen. He must have known I had my camera at the ready!
The following day we ventured further into the reserve, where we got to see some wild dogs with their pups, lion, cheetah, gemsbok and eland as well as some rare roan and sable antelope. We added meerkat to our list, Tswalu being one of the few places in South Africa that you can see them.
However it was the topography of the reserve which blew me away. From the rolling red Kalahari sand dunes to the beauty of the Korannaberg Mountains, running right through the reserve, Tswalu has to be one of the most picturesque reserves in South Africa.
Another for that bucket list perhaps?
All Images © Natasha Springer