Renowned safari journalist and expert Lisa Grainger recommends her favourite African camps, from savannahs teeming with Big Five, to star-lit desert wildernesses.
Recommended place to stay:
Southern Kalahari, South Africa|tswalu.com|
Official star rating:
This private, malaria-free retreat of the Oppenheimer family is set in 100,000+ hectares of arid savanana, with only two other camps around. The setting is miles and miles of nothing but desert sands and golden grass – and pinky mountains in the distance.
With so much solitude, with very little light pollution, the star-gazing is fantastic, and evenings can be spent around a campfire, learning about galaxies. Their malori – or star-bed – has been constructed out in the dunes so you can take in the stars from bed, without creatures coming (too) near.
Game & game viewing
Tarkuni delivers an exotic mix of exciting game: desert rhino, black-maned desert lion, cheetah and meercats (some habituated, so children can get up close). At night, you can spot aardvark, aardwolf, porcupine and pangolin. There are more than 230 species of birds, including endangered raptors. It’s an arid savanna, so no water-dependent big mammals – elephant, crocodile and hippo.
Guides & guiding
Guides are generally good and knowledgeable and clearly enjoy having a mix of both anthropological sites and game to show guests. They’re passionate about the ecosystem – from rare desert plants to the Bushmen who lived here thousands of years ago (the wilderness is speckled with rock art and Stone Age arrows).
The Oppenheimers are keen horsemen – there is a stable housing some of the continent’s best horses, which can be taken into the savannah grasslands. A spectacular way to take in the scenery and wildlife.
Taking the kids
The Junior Ranger programme educates children about the desert: plants, creatures, track-identification, stars, and campfire cooking. There are babysitters, 24 hours a day.
Flights take two hours from Cape Town or 90 minutes from Johannesburg, on Tswalu’s private plane.
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Food & drink
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