Jack’s Private Camp – Unmatched Exclusivity Amid Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans

Author Jules Hadley
Date December 13, 2023

In the world of African safaris, Jack’s Camp is nothing short of an icon. For the past 30 years, this landmark destination has combined an immersive discovery of Botswana’s ethereal Makgadikgadi Pans with a deeply luxurious experience celebrating the grandeur of vintage African journeys.

And while a major rebuild in 2021 transformed the nine expansive tents at Jack’s Camp, 2024 will be a watershed year for this legendary destination with the launch of Jack’s Private Camp, an exclusive-use under-canvas villa tailored for small groups, families and multi-generational travellers.

“Across our portfolio of Premier Camps in Botswana, we are seeing an increased demand for smaller lodges, including exclusive-use safari properties. Travellers are looking for more intimate spaces to truly reconnect with their loved ones,” explains Dave van Smeerdijk, co-founder of Natural Selection. “We’ve also seen how multi-generational travellers, and those guests simply seeking additional privacy, have very specific requirements in terms of service and flexibility. In creating Jack’s Private Camp the Jack’s team have gone to great lengths to ensure those are entirely taken into account.”

Designed as an oasis of exclusivity amid one of the world’s most remarkable desert landscapes, Jack’s Private Camp – which opens on 1 March 2024 – rests on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Pans, set slightly apart from the main camp to guarantee privacy.

Jack’s Private Camp is built as a stand-alone under-canvas villa, with a pair of expansive bedrooms set on either side of a spacious central living area. While the focus is on offering new levels of privacy and exclusivity, it shares the same aesthetic as the much-loved original, paying tribute to the timeless charm that has long defined Jack’s Camp. From the splashes of colour brought by North African rugs to the abundance of burnished brass and luxuriant hand-woven African textiles, expect a colourful blend of unabashed opulence blended seamlessly with considered luxury and contemporary comforts. To cater for the demands of modern travellers, Wi-Fi Internet access is available throughout Jack’s Private Camp.

Both bedroom suites – one features a king-size bed, the other has two king-size beds – offer indulgent amounts of living space, with en-suite facilities extending to a pair of indoor showers, an open-air outdoor shower and a bathtub of shimmering brass – the first baths in the history of Jack’s Camp! Private verandahs leading off each bedroom allow guests to find serene spaces for quiet contemplation amid the restorative stillness of the Kalahari.

But Jack’s Private Camp is equally a place for creating shared memories, and the airy central lounge and dining room are ideal for spending time together, whether it’s over an afternoon of board games and bird-watching, or an indulgent afternoon tea. Jack’s Private Camp includes a private chef and butler, allowing guests to choose when and where they dine, as well as what’s on the menu. Desert picnic or al fresco barbecue? Wine pairing dinner or family-friendly pizza night? The choice is yours.

The communal lounge area opens out onto a wide outdoor terrace, where a private swimming pool – with plentiful sun loungers – offers a desert idyll for whiling away the hours between activities.

Guests at Jack’s Private Camp will enjoy a dedicated 4×4 game drive vehicle and guide – personally trained by safari icon Ralph Bousfield – for the duration of their stay. That means each safari adventure is entirely bespoke, with no rigid schedules to keep to. Shaped around the needs of each guest, this is a tailor-made safari at its finest. Guides will suggest myriad ways to spend fill days amid the Kalahari landscape, whether it’s a morning in the company of habituated meerkats, or discovering the secrets of the Pans on a wilderness walk alongside local Zu/’hoasi San tribesmen. Daily safari drives reveal the abundance of wildlife in this harsh desert landscape, while horse-riding and quad-bike adventures offer yet more ways to explore the Pans.

“In dreaming up Jack’s Private Camp we wanted to create a place where guests are given the freedom to create their own unique discovery of this remarkable corner of Africa,” adds Ralph Bousfield, the visionary behind Jack’s Camp. “The Makgadikgadi Pans are a truly timeless landscape, and we encourage guests to allow at least three nights here, for a true immersion in this unique ecosystem.”

Celebrating and protecting fragile ecosystems like the Makgadikgadi is central to the ethos of both Jack’s Private Camp and Natural Selection.

Natural Selection was founded in 2016 as a purpose-driven tourism company, using the transformative power of nature-based tourism to ensure the ongoing conservation of crucial wilderness areas across three African countries. Contributions from each lodge are channelled into funding research and conservation projects in the region, ensuring the preservation of wild landscapes and protecting ancient migratory corridors.

The Makgadikgadi Pans surrounding Jack’s Private Camp are a prime example, playing host to the second-largest – and by many accounts, the longest – zebra migration on the planet. When the summer rains turn the dusty moonscapes of the Makgadikgadi Pans into a wonderland of water and lush grassland, herds of zebra and wildebeest come from as far afield as the Chobe River to feast on the abundant grazing.

Guests with Natural Selection are also able to discover those ancient migratory routes first-hand, with an extended safari to include Natural Selection’s complete circuit of Premier Camps. From the Makgadikgadi Pans, journey north to Tawana [opening May  2024] in the world-famous Moremi Game Reserve. Then fly across to Tuludi – set amid the 200 000-hectares of the Khwai Private Reserve – and North Island Okavango, in the remote northwest  corner of the Okavango Delta, to discover a remarkable circuit of characterful premium quality lodges and camps across northern Botswana.

Jules Hadley

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