Johan Van Zyl / Photography / Wild-Eye / Kalahari

The Kalahari – A Hidden Gem

Johan van Zyl All Authors, Johan 4 Comments

As Photographers, whether professional or enthusiasts, we are constantly looking at broadening our portfolio, either photographing different species, cultures or landscapes.

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to visit Tswalu in the Kalahari and what a find this property is.

Situated in the Northern Cape, its a very easy 1h30min flight from Johannesburg where you are met by your own Guide and tracker.


Gemsbok at sunset

This private property which stretches over 100 000ha is one of the largest private game reserves in Africa and with only two lodges on the whole property, makes it extremely exclusive.  With very little or no vehicle pressure, time in sightings can be maximized giving you the ideal opportunity to not only see different animal behaviour but also get more creative with your photography.


An Inquisitive Meerkat having a peak

The big drawing card for me to this property is that it’s different.  Different to your normal safari destinations.  The lack of rainfall does mean that you don’t get the big trees you would in Bostwana or in the Lowveld, but there is a definite charm about the Kalahari.  The red sand sand creates beautiful contrasts, the vegetation consists of some grassland with small to medium sized Acacia trees and the dunes create beautiful vistas to enjoy a ice cold Gin and Tonic.


The “elusive” Aardvark crossing the road


Aardvark during full moon


A relaxed Aardvark on a early winter’s afternoon

Tswalu is definitely a place for photographers looking to add different animals to their portfolios, animals that are almost impossible to find  in most other places.  In 10 years of guiding I’ve only managed to see 2 Aardvark and 1 Pangolin.  My first afternoon at Tswalu and 5 Aardvark and a Pangolin!!  Needless to say Tswalu had me hooked.  Having now returned numerous times, I’ve seen around 10 Pangolin and lost count of how many Aardvark, where in the world can you say that??


It is not unusual to see a Pangolin during the day in winter at Tswalu



Meerkats or Suricates are another huge attraction to this property and thrive in these dry conditions. Whether you get to them first thing in the morning waiting for them to get up, following them as they forage, digging up scorpions or photographing them as they play before heading into their burrow, it is guaranteed entertainment.


Meerkats waiting at their burrow late in the afternoon

I am super excited to be part of the Wild Eye Team and making this a destination we will visit more often.  Why not join me?

Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

Stay in touch.


About the Author

Johan van Zyl


The opportunity of visiting some of the wildest, undisturbed areas and sharing my passion for wildlife, conservation and photography with like minded people is a privilege that I am forever grateful.


Comments 4

  1. Carol Bell

    Johan fascinating photos and it’s so nice to see something completely different. Congrats on joining the “Wild Eye Team” and looking forward to seeing more of your photos…… and blogs…

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  2. Jenny Reid

    Johan, this really seems like the place we would love to visit , however, looking at the Lodges, it is well beyond the price range of many South African bush & amateur photography enthusiasts. It does look as exciting as your blog describes so I ask as to what package do you have to offer photographers & partners alike. We are hoping to do a self drive, in a group of 6 senior adults in early Sept 2016 to the Kalagadi on our own wild life expedition to the area.

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