Once the home of the Oppenheimer family in Tswalu, their private game reserve, the largest in South Africa, Tarkuni’s understated elegance eloquently bespeaks the family’s multi-generational African roots. Set between two mountain ranges in the soul-stirring, animal-rich vastness of the Kalahari, recently redesigned, exclusive-use Tarkuni is a sublime sanctuary from the too-often unmelodious world into a “a whole world,” Elspeth Huxley wrote, “that revolves in balance with itself more perfect than the finest symphony.” (A world where one of the rare interruptions to your privacy—one that many Micato guests have welcomed: an audience with the reserve’s cheerfully habituated meerkats.)
Tarkuni’s five luxurious suites each have a magnificent ensuite bathroom that features outdoor showers, and, on their outside terrace, a starbed for sleeping under what the great laureate of the Kalahari, Laurens van der Post, called “the far sea-sound of urgent stars.”
Guests at Tarkuni are attended by a dedicated team that includes a host and a private and very crackerjack chef, who, along with your Micato Safari Director, are dedicated to ensuring a deeply personal and bother-free safari experience. Moments of calm and contemplation are enjoyed in the shady salas that surround Tarkuni’s quiet pool. Starlit meals are served in the traditional boma, while two lounges with open fireplaces add to this exclusive homestead’s serenity.
At 440 square and beauteous miles, the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is the largest private game reserve in South Africa. Tswalu is owned and operated by the country’s immensely rich and conservation-minded Oppenheimers (of the De Beers diamond company and much else). Their magnificently designed, soothingly luxurious small lodges, Motse and Tarkuni Homestead, are the reserve’s only lodges or camps, and so their 28 or fewer guests have all the enchantments of Tswalu to themselves at any given time.
Game drives in Tswalu with our Micato Safari Director introduce us to Tswalu’s desert-adapted lions, its Cape buffalo, leopards, and rare desert black rhinos, its aardvarks and pangolins, and a host of hardly less compelling mammals and avians (and more butterfly species than inhabit the entire British Isles), all of whom prosper in Tswalu’s diverse habitats, ranging from the high hills of the Korannaberg, to the sand dunes of the Kalahari, to golden savannahs.
In addition to game drives, Tarkuni offers a variety of ways to soak up the Kalahari’s subtle and dramatic beauties: horsebacking and walking safaris, helicopter flights over the Kalahari (as always, flying over Africa seems to add another, thrilling dimension to our experience), and excursions to see San petroglyphs, mysterious reminders of the very successful hunter-gatherers who lived in the Kalahari centuries before our respectful visit.