FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Tswalu Kalahari Reserve Spa

by Richard Newton

Jul 1, 2018
July 2018

THE RELAXATION STARTS NOW, in Johannesburg International Airport. Not many people can say that. The lines for security and boarding, the hubbub in and around the duty-free shops and the customer announcements — all seem distant. And they are. The main passenger terminals are out of sight on the other side of the airfield. Here we are in the exclusive Fireblade VIP Terminal, snacking and sipping Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc while our private plane awaits.

Our flight takes 90 minutes, heading southwest. We skirt the hazy sprawl of Johannesburg and fly across vast swaths of farmland. As we descend, the air is clear and the earth below is vividly red, speckled with trees and bushes and laced with game trails. We are arriving at Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa’s largest privately owned game reserve.

We transfer by open Land Rover to the Motse, one of the reserve’s two luxury camps. The camp consists of just nine thatched legae, the Tswana word for “home”; ours is on the camp’s edge, with a veranda looking out onto the Kalahari wilderness. Birds flitter and trill in the nearby acacia trees. Two gemsbok — large, straight-horned antelope — amble through the brittle grass toward the camp’s waterhole.

We arrived during the mid-afternoon lull. Guests lounge in their legae, where cold drinks and snacks are provided, or by the pool. As the ultimate capper to an unstressful journey, we opt for the spa.

In keeping with Tswalu’s ethos, the spa is in harmony with its surroundings. The décor is stylishly rustic, with unhewn walls and reed ceilings. We wait initially in the lounge before transferring to the couple’s room: two beds, a therapist each. I choose a hot stone massage while my wife selects the Signature Tswalu Touch Experience. The treatments incorporate local ingredients including Kalahari red sand, white crystals from a desert salt pan and aloe fibers.

As the therapists knead the knots out of our muscles and exfoliate our skin, the African bush provides the soundtrack: the pulse of cicadas, the rhythmic call of a Cape turtle dove, the rustle of a nyala antelope browsing immediately outside.

At 4 p.m. we clamber into an open Land Rover for a game drive. As the day cools, the animals become active. Our goal is to see one of Africa’s most elusive animals. In a lifetime of safaris, I’ve never seen one … until now. Our tracker, Jackson, points at a pinkish shape moving across scrubland. Our guide, Nicole, pulls over, and we get out. We stalk away from the road and are soon rewarded with a clear view of an aardvark.

Shy and nocturnal, these bizarre-looking anteaters have become habituated to humans in Tswalu and are often seen at dusk. This is the only place in Africa in which aardvark sightings are almost guaranteed.

Haley Newton on the Malori sleep-out deck

Haley Newton on the Malori sleep-out deck © RICHARD NEWTON

We stop for sundowner drinks, then drive on in darkness, with Jackson scanning the bush by spotlight. We see a jackal, an owl, a brown hyena. We return to the Motse for an abundant barbecue (or braai, as it’s known in South Africa) in the outdoor dining area.

Before dawn the next morning, another game drive. Shortly into it, Nicole stills the engine. We listen. Lions roaring. She estimates they’re about seven miles away. We go in search of them as the sun rises, and eventually find a pride resting in a clearing. Even at rest, they’re formidable; the lions of the Kalahari are the largest lions in the world.

Back to camp and, after lunch, another spa session. We opt for a neck and shoulder massage, smoothing out the tension generated by gripping onto the Land Rover as it made numerous off-road excursions during our morning drive.

During our three days at Tswalu, we rack up numerous magical highlights. On the final morning, we spend unforgettable minutes with a group of meerkats as they emerge from their burrows and prepare to head off for a day’s foraging. They stand sentry-like within touching distance, alert for predators. We’re mostly ignored; they’ve come to view humans as honorary meerkats.

Prior to the meerkats, Nicole and Jackson had picked us up from the Malori sleep-out deck, a thatched wooden platform in the middle of nowhere. We had been left there the previous evening, with a radio to contact the camp in case of emergencies. Otherwise we were completely on our own. We had been supplied with everything we needed for a delicious braai and a cooler amply stocked with drinks.

After dark, we rolled the bed out onto the deck and lay beneath the dazzling desert sky, just us and the nocturnal sounds of the Kalahari. The spa treatments soothed our bodies, but the experience of sleeping under the stars went deeper. It was a tonic for the soul.

Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

Farm Korranaberg 296
Van Zylrus, 8467, South Africa
tel 27 53 781 9331
tswalu.com

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Dec 2, 2022

AKA West Palm Beach Opens in Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida, recently welcomed AKA West Palm, a hotel residence offering long-stay accommodations. As AKA’s second South Florida property, AKA West Palm features 215 hotel residences comprised of studios, one- and two-bedroom spaces, and Penthouse suites. The five-story hotel blends modern luxuries with comfort and simplicity, with sleek kitchens, washers and dryers, and private terraces. Room furnishings contrast with a backdrop of stone, metal and wood to create simple, clean lines with minimal contrast.

Luxurious Adventures Await.

Discover why Global Traveler readers named Cunard® the Best Large-Ship Cruise Line for seven consecutive years. For a limited time, book your voyage during Cunard’s Black Friday Sale promotion and take advantage of Reduced Fares*, up to $600 Onboard Credit^ per stateroom, and a 50% Reduced Deposit‡. Choose from an array of exciting journeys, including Transatlantic Crossings and voyages to Alaska, the Caribbean and Canada & New England.

Daily
Dec 2, 2022

Heart of the South

Birmingham, Alabama, was named for the city in the English Midlands that kept the fires burning, warmed the homes and made much of the steel for the United Kingdom’s industrial revolution. Decades later, the American city also made steel, so much of it, in fact, it became known as the “Magic City” for steel production, and the moniker stuck. But today’s Magic City makes more than steel, taking the raw product a few more steps to become a major center for automobile parts manufacturing and more, including Honda, Mercedes-Benz and U.S. Steel. Thanks to local leadership and long-term planning, the magic still works for Birmingham, as evidenced by its role hosting The World Games 2022 last summer.

Daily
Dec 2, 2022

El Museo Del Barrio

As New York City’s leading Latino cultural institution, El Museo del Barrio welcomes visitors of all backgrounds to discover the artistic landscape of Latino, Caribbean and Latin American cultures. El Museo’s wide-ranging collections and exhibitions represent these cultures’ richness, complemented by film, literary, visual and performing arts series, cultural celebrations and educational programs. Ranging from pre-Columbian to modern and contemporary art, the permanent collection totals more than 8,000 objects.

Celebrity is celebrating Spring with 25% off Cruise Fares!

There’s no better time to plan the vacation you’ve been missing. Step aboard with your better half, your friends or the whole family and reconnect, reunite and rejoice with 25 percent off cruise fares for all guests. We’ll also help everyone get there with 25 percent off airfare from 20 major gateways across the country or $100 savings per person on flights from all other gateways when you book your air travel using Flights by Celebrity.*

Daily
Dec 2, 2022

Fairmont Gold Reopens at Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown

Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown recently reopened its Fairmont Gold, introducing amenities, a contemporary new style in the Fairmont Gold Lounge and dedicated concierges. The 48-room, three-suite Fairmont Gold, positioned as an urban oasis, takes over the entire ninth floor of the hotel and delivers exceptional service to meet guests’ needs.

Press Releases
Dec 1, 2022

Global Traveler Announces 19th Annual GT Tested Reader Survey Awards

The results are in! For the 19th consecutive year, Global Traveler conducted its GT Tested Reader Survey, asking frequent luxury travelers to name the best in a variety of travel-related categories. More than 22,000 people responded. Global Traveler’s inaugural awards were celebrated in 2004.

8 Reasons to Press the Green Button and Visit Ireland

Start planning that long-awaited trip to the island of Ireland. With all travel restrictions now lifted, there has never been a better time to visit.

December 2022
Dec 1, 2022

Rich in History: Explore Gilded Age Mansions and More in Newport, Rhode Island

Originally a thriving Colonial seaport, Newport became the summer playground for the Gilded Age’s elite in the late 1880s. Today their mansions dot the coast of Aquidneck Island, and their favorite pastimes — sailing and tennis — still dominate the city’s recreational offerings. In fact, Newport hosted the first U.S. Open tennis championship in 1881 and golf tourna- ment in 1895 and hosted the America’s Cup from 1930 to 1983. You can experience most of Newport on your own, including the mansions, but don’t rule out a guided tour or two when you visit.