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Tswalu Kalahari with Daniel Bailey

Imagine embarking on a journey to one of the most remote and breathtaking corners of Southern Africa, where the endless dunes of red sand meet the vast sky, and every sunrise brings the promise of adventure.

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This is the essence of a private photo safari to Motse Lodge at Tswalu Kalahari, guided by ORYX leader Daniel Bailey. Over five extraordinary nights, we set out to capture some of Africa’s rarest and most elusive wildlife, making memories and photographs that will last a lifetime.

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Our adventure began with a seamless flight from Johannesburg, courtesy of Fireblade Aviation. Aboard a chartered King Air plane, we experienced unparalleled comfort and luxury, setting the tone for the journey ahead. In just an hour and 30 minutes, we descended into the heart of the Kalahari, where vast dunes, grasslands, and Grey Camelthorn trees stretched as far as the eye could see.

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Tswalu Kalahari, a conservation gem spanning 120,000 hectares, is a testament to the vision of the Oppenheimer family, the land’s custodians. This reclaimed farmland has been transformed into a thriving ecosystem, where both wildlife and local communities benefit. The vast landscape offers a sanctuary for a diverse array of species, and we were eager to explore its wonders.

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Our primary mission was to find and photograph the Black Rhino, Temminck’s Ground Pangolin, and Aardvark—species that often elude even the most seasoned travellers. But the Kalahari had so much more in store for us.

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As the sun set on our first evening, we encountered a mother cheetah with her three nearly fully-grown cubs. They were eating an adult Oryx antelope. We sat with them on the ground, as they are habituated to people on foot, and maintained a respectful distance. The golden light provided the perfect backdrop for capturing their grace and beauty. It was a stunning opportunity, and the light and setting of Tswalu is pure magic.

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The majestic Kalahari black-maned lions, with their impressive prides, were another highlight. We were fortunate to witness three young cubs playing under the watchful eyes of their parents, a sight both humbling and exhilarating.

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The desert-adapted Black Rhino and its counterpart, the White Rhino, roamed freely across the red dunes, grasslands, and thickets. Their presence was a powerful reminder of the critical conservation work being done at Tswalu. The black rhino sightings were unbelievable, and not many places are left in Africa where you can see, let alone photograph, rhinos that still have their horns. Tswalu’s incredible security measures and resources, along with well-maintained community outreach programs, ensure their continued survival.

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We were delighted to spend time with a family of habituated meerkats, watching four new babies as they curiously explored their world. Their playful antics provided endless photographic opportunities.

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Two magical afternoons were spent observing the world’s most endangered and heavily trafficked animal, the Temmick’s Ground Pangolin. Watching this elusive creature in its natural habitat was a rare privilege, and the photographs we captured will be treasured forever.

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Another unforgettable moment was spent with a pack of 15 African wild dogs. We followed them on foot as they stirred in the evening light, drinking and playing around a waterhole. That evening, we enjoyed a bush dinner with the pack, a unique experience that connected us deeply with the wild.

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On our final evening drive, we had the rare and exhilarating sighting of an Aardvark. As we took a longer drive back from observing the African wild dogs, we scanned the night with the spotlight in the hope of finding some elusive nocturnal species. It was an exciting moment, and it had taken 11 years for ORYX leader Daniel Bailey to see one. This was a fitting end to our incredible safari.

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Beyond these marquee species, we were treated to sightings of Roan, Sable, Kudu, and other antelope species, often visiting the camp’s waterhole as we savoured delicious breakfasts

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Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra atop vast mountain ranges, giraffes elegantly moving across red sand dunes, and the sociable weavers with their massive communal nests consuming Camelthorn trees added to the richness of our experience.

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The sunsets and sunrises in Tswalu are nothing short of magical, casting the landscape in hues of orange and gold. The thoughtfully designed Motse Lodge, with its hospitable and friendly staff, provided the perfect retreat after each day’s adventures. Our exceptional guide and tracker team ensured that every bucket list species was seen and, more importantly, beautifully photographed.

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One of the most spectacular and mind-blowing experiences of our safari was the culinary feast at Klein JAN. Nestled in the heart of the Kalahari, this dining experience is a treat for all the senses. The magic of Klein JAN is something that must be experienced firsthand—any detailed description would spoil the surprise. Suffice to say, it was a culinary highlight that perfectly complemented our adventure, offering a taste of the Kalahari in the most exquisite manner.

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This private photo safari to Motse Lodge in Tswalu Kalahari, led by Daniel Bailey, was an extraordinary journey into one of Africa’s last great wildernesses. From the luxury of our chartered flight to the heart-pounding moments with some of the rarest animals on the continent, every aspect of this safari was meticulously crafted to create an unforgettable experience.

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Whether you are an avid photographer or a passionate wildlife enthusiast, Tswalu Kalahari offers a safari experience like no other, where every moment is a testament to the beauty and wonder of this magical wilderness.

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Daniel Bailey, ORYX Photo Tour Leader

 

Daniel Bailey is a Photo Tour Leader for ORYX private and scheduled departures. To view Daniel’s small group photo tours, click here.

 

To have Daniel join you on your tailor-made tour as your private Photo Tour Leader, please email [email protected]

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