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Jack’s Camp

LOCATION:

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

NUMBER OF ROOMS:

9

PRICE RANGE:

$1,450 — $2,195

DATES OPEN:

Year Round

LOCATION:

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

NUMBER OF ROOMS:

9

PRICE RANGE:

$1,450 — $2,195

DATES OPEN:

Year Round

The Kalahari Legend

After several decades of setting the standard in the Kalahari, we are delighted to announce that Jack’s Camp has undergone a full rebuild and has now reopened in 2021.

The brand-new Jack’s Camp pays homage to the property’s enduring and much-loved 1940s campaign style. The guest tents, seven twins and two doubles, are much larger and each is 270 square metres in size. The iconic interiors remain and are embellished with rich textiles from around the world, Natural History Museum cabinets, and an overhead bed cooling system. Ensuite bathrooms have both indoor and outdoor showers and outside, each veranda has a private plunge pool.

The new, larger mess tent is resplendent with the renowned Natural History Museum, library, antique pool table and a well-stocked drinks chest. The iconic nomadic Persian tea tent has been made larger and the shop has been renovated and restocked with new treasures.

Why You’ll Love Jack’s Camp:

  • Jack’s is one of Africa’s most iconic camps and has reopened in 2021, refreshed and reinvigorated, yet still retaining the very stylish old world glamour we all know and love.
  • Enjoy the ultimate in space and exclusivity; the camp is one of just three in a one million-acre private wildlife reserve.
  • There’s an impressive choice of extraordinary activities to be enjoyed including quad biking, bushman walks, classic desert game drives, meerkat visits and horse rides.
  • After an early morning desert exploration, retreat back to the sanctuary of camp to sit back and relax in the elegant Persian tea tent.
  • The camp has one of the most comprehensive collections of ancient artefacts in Botswana, collected and curated by the Bousfield family over decades.
  • Indulge in a lazy afternoon in your private plunge pool overlooking the Makgadikgadi pans, watching the world go by.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for the year-round desert wildlife: brown hyena, oryx, Kalahari lion and, after dark, aardvark, porcupine, honey badger and bat eared fox.

We recommend booking Jack’s Camp as part of a complete Natural Selection safari, but if you want to book it separately or just check availability, click here to select dates and book.

Interested in learning more about the prices? View Rates

Explore Jack's Camp

Jack’s Camp Accommodations

The new Jack’s pays homage to the much-loved 1940s campaign style of the existing camp. Adorned with a classic East African safari feel, the nine guest rooms, 7 twin tents featuring two queen-size beds and 2 double tents with extra-length king beds, have almost doubled in size. Whilst the iconic green canvas and muslin-draped walls remain, each tent is embellished with Persian and North African rugs, paraffin lamps, brass fittings, luxuriant textiles and mahogany campaign furniture.

There is a comfortable living area, with a sofa and day bed for expansive views of the Kalahari. You’ll discover Natural History Museum cabinets curated by Ralph Bousfield himself, an overhead bed cooling system to ward off the desert heat and an en-suite bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers. Outside, each veranda has a private deck with a sparkling plunge pool as well as several velvet-clad chairs overlooking the glittering ancient landscape.

The new, larger mess tent still houses the renowned Natural History Museum, library, vintage 36 seater dining table that served as an officer’s mess table in the 1820’s, well-stocked drinks cabinet and antique pool table. The iconic, nomadic Persian tea tent remains, now a little larger in size. Framed Peter Beard pictures sit alongside original posters from French taxidermist Deyrolle, both complemented by Bousfield family photos. The swimming pool pavilion is still the only one of its kind in Africa.

Accommodation & Amenities

• 9 tents: 7 twins, 2 doubles.
• Rooms are an enormous 270 sq metres: 135 sq metres indoors and 135 sq metres outdoors.
• Ensuite bathrooms with indoor & outdoor showers.
• Private plunge pools.
• Bed cooling systems.
• Swimming pool pavilion.
• Persian tea tent.
• Wifi available: No.
• Hairdryers: No.
• There is 24-hour electricity in the tents (100% solar-powered).
• Complimentary laundry service.

When to Visit Jack’s Camp

Jack’s Camp is a year-round destination, yet the two seasons 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 the 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 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 birds 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 veranda. 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.

Seasonality

Dry season: 01 April – 31 October
Green season: 01 November – 31 March

Jack’s Camp Activities

One of the most original and exciting camps in Africa, the safari experience at Jack’s is unique. Here the living desert is constantly full of surprises. At first sight, the lunar-like salt pans appear devoid of life, but in the hands of the of the knowledgeable camp guides the story of the Makgadikgadi begins to unfold. Throughout your stay you will find an impressive choice of extraordinary activities and desert culture experiences to enjoy in and around camp. 

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 spot the unique desert wildlife that inhabits the pans, like the elusive brown hyena or Kalahari lion.
• Enjoy a visit to the site of the historic Chapman’s Baobab. Once one of the three largest trees in Africa and a national monument of Botswana, Chapman’s Baobab was visited by many a tourist and was originally even used as a landmark for travellers.
• Enjoy game drives in the Makgadikgadi National Park during longer stays.
•  Go on an thrilling helicopter flip
• Embark on an adventurous horseback safari (for all levels of riders; additional charge applies, but one two-hour safari is included if staying for three nights or longer). Multi-day riding safaris are also available for experienced riders – please contact us for more information.
• After an afternoon exploring the Kalahari desert, enjoy a refreshing sundowner while watching the sun set over the pans.

Dry Season (1st April – 31st October)
• Take an exhilarating quad bike across the salt-crusted pans.
• Lie out on the pans just before night fall and watch the planetarium of stars unfold above you.
• Hunt for stone tools in the crusty salt flats of the enormous Sowa Pan.

Green Season (1st November – 31st March)
• Witness the second largest migration of zebra and wildebeest in Africa (and it’s also the last remaining one in Southern Africa).

In Camp

• Sleep inside a tent that’s a designated Natural History Museum.
• Relax on your private veranda with a sparkling plunge pool and breath taking views of the Makgadikgadi pans.
• Treat yourself to a wellness therapy on your private deck.
• Spend time looking at the fascinating Natural History Cabinets, dripping with artifacts from this ancient landscape as well as telling stories from around the world.
• Relax in the new larger mess tent, enjoying the well-stocked drinks chest and antique pool table.
• Soak up the sun at the swimming pool pavilion, the only one of its kind in Africa.
• Enjoy sweet treats in the Persian tea tent.
• Grab a book from the large collection in the library and find a quiet spot to read.

Jack’s Camp Landscape & Wildlife

Landscape

Jack’s Camp is 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.

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.

Jack’s 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.