Jack’s Camp

The Kalahari Legend

We wouldn’t be surprised if you’d heard the name ‘Jack’s Camp’ bandied around before, for it truly is one of the most legendary and iconic camps in Southern Africa. Founded by explorer Jack Bousfield in the 1960s, the camp sits in a striking spot on the edge of Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans, gazing over glittering salt pans and shimmering expanses of sun-scorched earth. It’s an oasis of style and old-world glamour in a landscape of savage beauty, and more elegant and enchanting than you could imagine in such a remote landscape.

So far, so intriguing – and the surprises don’t end there. Firstly, there’s the camp itself, with its quirky, Forties-style interiors, decadent furnishings, and sleek swimming pool pavilion. And then, there’s the activities. If walking with San bushmen, getting up close and personal to a group of wild meerkats, and game drives in search of intriguing desert-adapted species don’t set your heart racing, we’re not sure what will…

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From $ 1,290 PER PERSON

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Details, Details

Why Book this Camp?

  • Jack’s is one of Africa’s most storied and iconic camps and just one of just three in a one million-acre private wildlife reserve.
  • The only camp in Africa with a swimming pool tent – and a tea tent!
  • A blockbuster of activities, including quad biking, horseback riding, bushman walks, traditional game drives and meerkat encounters with some of the best and most experienced guides in Botswana.
  • 50,000 zebra and wildebeest migrate through the area from January to April.
  • Year-round wildlife includes zebra, wildebeest, springbok, steenbok, elephant, brown hyaena, oryx, Kalahari lion and cheetah.
  • The camp has one of the most comprehensive collections of ancient artefacts in Botswana, collected by the Bousfield family over decades.

At-a-Glance

Accommodation & Amenities

  • 10 tents: 7 twins, 3 doubles
  • Ensuite bathrooms with indoor & outdoor showers
  • Swimming pool tent
  • Wifi available: No
  • Hairdryers: No
  • Battery charging facilities: In the mess tent
  • Complimentary laundry service
  • Child policy: We welcome all ages
  • Disabled access: Please enquire with reservations

What’s included?

  • All meals and local drinks; activities (NB some activities at an extra surcharge)

What’s not included?

  • Flights; premium brand beverages; tips & gratuities; insurance

Camp dates

Jack’s Camp is open all year round

Green season: 10th January to 31st March

Shoulder season: 1st April to 14th June; 1st November 9th January

High season: 15th June to 31st July; 1st September to 31st October

Peak season: 1st – 31st August

Activities

Year Round

  • Get up close and personal with our habituated meerkats.
  • Discover the secrets of the pans with the Zu/’hoasi Bushmen on a fascinating bush walk.
  • Take game drives and night drives in custom built 4x4s to see the unique desert wildlife.
  • Embark on an adventurous two-hour horseback safari (for all levels of riders; additional charge, but one two-hour safari included if staying for three nights or longer). Multi-day riding safaris are also available for experienced riders – please contact us for more information
  • Enjoy a spot of R&R with a spa treatment – we guarantee that it will be the most unique massage you’ve ever had (additional charge, but included if staying for three nights or longer).

High/Dry Season (16th April – 31st October)

  • Take a radical sabbatical and quad bike across the salt-crusted pans to Kubu Island (2 night expedition; additional charge. Please enquire with us for more details or have a look at the Quad Bike to Kubu Island Safari here).
  • Lie out on the pans as the sun sets and watch the planetarium of stars unfold above you.

 Green Season (1st January – 15th April; 1st November – 31st December)

  • Witness the second largest migration of zebra and wildebeest in Africa (and it’s also the last remaining one in Southern Africa). 

Location

Jack’s Camp was the pioneer of Kalahari tourism, and has played an enormous part in protecting this exquisite area that might otherwise have been turned over to cattle. To ensure we’re doing absolutely everything we can for the animals and environment, we regularly host scientists from around the world, specialising in desert wildlife and palaeoanthropology. And whilst our scientists hail from all over the globe, our staff all hail from local lands.

All of our camps surrounding the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park support the Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pans Conservation Initiative, a project aimed at creating optimal conditions for the mammal migration through the area. What is believed to have been Africa’s greatest large mammal migration used to occur here and, over the last decade, we’ve seen its gradual return. But since the migration last occurred (pre-1960), the landscape has changed considerably. This has led to land use incompatibilities primarily due to livestock and fencing, and the safe passage of the migration is not guaranteed. The Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pans Conservation Initiative therefore aims to address human-wildlife conflict around the park through community-informed land use planning and the introduction of sustainable economic incentives for wildlife-friendly land use practices.

When To Go

Jack’s Camp is a year-round destination, yet the two different seasons in the pans couldn’t be more different. The dry season, from April to October, is the desert as you know it. A shimmering whiteness envelops the scorched landscape, like a mirage floating over the crusted salt, and you’ll spot nomadic herds in the distance, as if an illusion. This is time of year for whizzing across the pans on the back of a quad bike, sleeping under the stars, and enjoying the pans in their most iconic, dazzling state.

When the rains start to fall in November, the Makgadikgadi Pans are transformed. It’s a time of plenty (even in the desert), and the salt flats are turned into watery grasslands, almost unrecognisable from the previous months. A layer of emerald-green grass stretches out in every direction, pink clouds of flamingo and flocks of migratory arrive to nest, and Africa’s second largest mammal migration of wildebeest and our black and white striped friends floods the plains. The green season in the desert is one of Africa’s, great unpredictable spectacles, and a magical time to visit.

Rain transforms everything, turning the pans into lush grasslands from November onwards. Animals are on the move and the desert becomes a green oasis teeming with life, notably thousands of zebra and blue wildebeest that feast on the sweet summer grasses. The safari activities are similar in these months although you usually won’t travel as far; on many days you can see the wildlife direct from your verandah. This green season continues until mid-April and corresponds with the off season for tourism in Botswana, making it a slightly cheaper time to travel.

Logistics

The closest town to Jack’s Camp is the safari town of Maun, to which there are direct flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg. We suggest you fly to Johannesburg on an international carrier of your choice and then on to Maun. From there, you will take a smaller, light aircraft to Jack’s Camp in the Makgadikgadi.

Camp Story

In the 1960s, crocodile catcher and legendary hunter Jack Bousfield set out on a trapping expedition in the desolate Makgadikgadi Pans. He soon stumbled upon a site that so captured his imagination that he set up a camp in that very spot, with the unshakeable expectation that others would feel the same… That was the first incarnation of Jack’s Camp, a simple, no frills affair in the heart of the desert, visited by guests as much to see Jack as the otherworldly area.

Fast-forward a few years to Jack’s untimely death in 1992, and Ralph, Jack’s son, along with his partner Catherine, established the Uncharted Africa Safari Company in homage to his father’s vision. Jack’s Camp was refurbished in the nostalgic 1940s style we know today, but kept as authentic and genuine as possible: no electricity, steaming water in gleaming copper jugs, and showers under the stars. The portfolio expanded to include San Camp and Camp Kalahari, each one as quirky and eccentric as the next, and each guaranteeing every guest ‘Real Adventure in Unreal Style.’ Jack would be proud.

Why Book this Camp?

  • Jack’s is one of Africa’s most storied and iconic camps and just one of just three in a one million-acre private wildlife reserve.
  • The only camp in Africa with a swimming pool tent – and a tea tent!
  • A blockbuster of activities, including quad biking, horseback riding, bushman walks, traditional game drives and meerkat encounters with some of the best and most experienced guides in Botswana.
  • 50,000 zebra and wildebeest migrate through the area from January to April.
  • Year-round wildlife includes zebra, wildebeest, springbok, steenbok, elephant, brown hyaena, oryx, Kalahari lion and cheetah.
  • The camp has one of the most comprehensive collections of ancient artefacts in Botswana, collected by the Bousfield family over decades.

At-a-Glance

Accommodation & Amenities

  • 10 tents: 7 twins, 3 doubles
  • Ensuite bathrooms with indoor & outdoor showers
  • Swimming pool tent
  • Wifi available: No
  • Hairdryers: No
  • Battery charging facilities: In the mess tent
  • Complimentary laundry service
  • Child policy: We welcome all ages
  • Disabled access: Please enquire with reservations

What’s included?

  • All meals and local drinks; activities (NB some activities at an extra surcharge)

What’s not included?

  • Flights; premium brand beverages; tips & gratuities; insurance

Camp dates

Jack’s Camp is open all year round

Green season: 10th January to 31st March

Shoulder season: 1st April to 14th June; 1st November 9th January

High season: 15th June to 31st July; 1st September to 31st October

Peak season: 1st – 31st August

Activities

Year Round

  • Get up close and personal with our habituated meerkats.
  • Discover the secrets of the pans with the Zu/’hoasi Bushmen on a fascinating bush walk.
  • Take game drives and night drives in custom built 4x4s to see the unique desert wildlife.
  • Embark on an adventurous two-hour horseback safari (for all levels of riders; additional charge, but one two-hour safari included if staying for three nights or longer). Multi-day riding safaris are also available for experienced riders – please contact us for more information
  • Enjoy a spot of R&R with a spa treatment – we guarantee that it will be the most unique massage you’ve ever had (additional charge, but included if staying for three nights or longer).

High/Dry Season (16th April – 31st October)

  • Take a radical sabbatical and quad bike across the salt-crusted pans to Kubu Island (2 night expedition; additional charge. Please enquire with us for more details or have a look at the Quad Bike to Kubu Island Safari here).
  • Lie out on the pans as the sun sets and watch the planetarium of stars unfold above you.

 Green Season (1st January – 15th April; 1st November – 31st December)

  • Witness the second largest migration of zebra and wildebeest in Africa (and it’s also the last remaining one in Southern Africa). 

Conservation

Jack’s Camp was the pioneer of Kalahari tourism, and has played an enormous part in protecting this exquisite area that might otherwise have been turned over to cattle. To ensure we’re doing absolutely everything we can for the animals and environment, we regularly host scientists from around the world, specialising in desert wildlife and palaeoanthropology. And whilst our scientists hail from all over the globe, our staff all hail from local lands.

All of our camps surrounding the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park support the Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pans Conservation Initiative, a project aimed at creating optimal conditions for the mammal migration through the area. What is believed to have been Africa’s greatest large mammal migration used to occur here and, over the last decade, we’ve seen its gradual return. But since the migration last occurred (pre-1960), the landscape has changed considerably. This has led to land use incompatibilities primarily due to livestock and fencing, and the safe passage of the migration is not guaranteed. The Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pans Conservation Initiative therefore aims to address human-wildlife conflict around the park through community-informed land use planning and the introduction of sustainable economic incentives for wildlife-friendly land use practices.

When To Go

Jack’s Camp is a year-round destination, yet the two different seasons in the pans couldn’t be more different. The dry season, from April to October, is the desert as you know it. A shimmering whiteness envelops the scorched landscape, like a mirage floating over the crusted salt, and you’ll spot nomadic herds in the distance, as if an illusion. This is time of year for whizzing across the pans on the back of a quad bike, sleeping under the stars, and enjoying the pans in their most iconic, dazzling state.

When the rains start to fall in November, the Makgadikgadi Pans are transformed. It’s a time of plenty (even in the desert), and the salt flats are turned into watery grasslands, almost unrecognisable from the previous months. A layer of emerald-green grass stretches out in every direction, pink clouds of flamingo and flocks of migratory arrive to nest, and Africa’s second largest mammal migration of wildebeest and our black and white striped friends floods the plains. The green season in the desert is one of Africa’s, great unpredictable spectacles, and a magical time to visit.

Rain transforms everything, turning the pans into lush grasslands from November onwards. Animals are on the move and the desert becomes a green oasis teeming with life, notably thousands of zebra and blue wildebeest that feast on the sweet summer grasses. The safari activities are similar in these months although you usually won’t travel as far; on many days you can see the wildlife direct from your verandah. This green season continues until mid-April and corresponds with the off season for tourism in Botswana, making it a slightly cheaper time to travel.

Logistics

The closest town to Jack’s Camp is the safari town of Maun, to which there are direct flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg. We suggest you fly to Johannesburg on an international carrier of your choice and then on to Maun. From there, you will take a smaller, light aircraft to Jack’s Camp in the Makgadikgadi.

Camp Story

In the 1960s, crocodile catcher and legendary hunter Jack Bousfield set out on a trapping expedition in the desolate Makgadikgadi Pans. He soon stumbled upon a site that so captured his imagination that he set up a camp in that very spot, with the unshakeable expectation that others would feel the same… That was the first incarnation of Jack’s Camp, a simple, no frills affair in the heart of the desert, visited by guests as much to see Jack as the otherworldly area.

Fast-forward a few years to Jack’s untimely death in 1992, and Ralph, Jack’s son, along with his partner Catherine, established the Uncharted Africa Safari Company in homage to his father’s vision. Jack’s Camp was refurbished in the nostalgic 1940s style we know today, but kept as authentic and genuine as possible: no electricity, steaming water in gleaming copper jugs, and showers under the stars. The portfolio expanded to include San Camp and Camp Kalahari, each one as quirky and eccentric as the next, and each guaranteeing every guest ‘Real Adventure in Unreal Style.’ Jack would be proud.

Accommodations

There aren’t many camps in Africa quite like Jack’s. The ten, Bedouin-style tents are scattered below a soft canopy of molokwane palms, each one an ode to safaris of old. Expect Persian rugs atop polished floors, vintage lithographs and muslin-draped walls, and the comfiest four-posters we’ve ever slept in. Outside, private verandas and velvet-clad chairs look out over the ethereal landscape, where glittering salt and sun-baked plains stretch as far as the eye can see. And then there’s the bathrooms. As exquisite and quirky as a bathroom can be, you’ll find free-standing, copper bathtubs, splashy sinks, and wooden throne toilets.

At the mess tent, a museum of vintage artefacts, maps, photos, and manuscripts all collected by the Bousfield family, is the centre piece of the 1940s-style canvas pavilion. Separate tents contain an antique pool table, library, and a bar with an excellent selection of fine wines. And if you weren’t already completely and utterly blown away, wait until we mention the sleek swimming pool tent, and the fact that it’s the only one of its kind on the continent. We did say there was nowhere quite like it!

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Explore Jack's Camp

Wildlife

The desert is never a place of abundance. But we’ve spent many years here (not quite as many as Jack, but a good number!), and it still surprises us. The Makgadikgadi is full of elusive species and desert-adapted animals and the perfect complement to Botswana’s traditionally game-rich areas, like the Khwai Private Reserve and the Okavango Delta.

The brown hyena is a symbol of what’s to come in the Makgadikgadi. There are only 8000 of these special hunters left in the world, and there aren’t many other places you’ll encounter one. Other carnivores that know how to eke out their survival here include aardwolves and bat-eared foxes, honey badgers and black-maned Kalahari lion. Then there’s aardvark, gemsbok, springbok and black-backed jackals to look out for on game drives, and perhaps even an elephant or two. And last, but definitely not least, the meerkats. We’ve been busy pioneering a meerkat habituation project with some of the world’s pre-eminent researchers. The cheeky creatures are still very wild, but they do enjoy coming to say hello.

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The Landscape

Jack’s Camp is a Kalahari Desert camp, located in Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, the remnants of an enormous super-lake that used to cover most of Southern Africa. Jack Bousfield himself described the area as the “savage beauty of a forgotten Africa”, and truly, the Makgadikgadi is like nowhere on earth. It’s a landscape of space and remoteness, and the spectacular, otherworldly vistas, unique desert wildlife, and old-world glamour of Jack’s Camp all come together to create an experience that is unlike any other on the continent.

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