Makgadikgadi Pans, Makgadikgadi and the Kalahari, Botswana
At a Glance
The completely renovated Jacks Camp has kept its enchanting 1940 feel, still full of antiques and deep red and green canvas. The tents have now doubled in size and each boast their own private plunge pool looking out over the salt pans.
Jacks deserves more than one visit – it is a year round destination but the two seasons could not be more different. Cool and dry in the summer with a myriad of activities compared to hot and wet in the winter with flocks of flamingos and huge herds of zebra.
With a family of habituated meerkats near by you can get up close and personal, they might even use you a look out post!
Take afternoon tea in their spherical tea tent, adorned with Persian rugs and completely open walls to make the most of awe inspiring views.
Walk with the San Bushmen. No walk is the same as they can show you how they have adapted to survive in such a harsh environment; making fire, hunting, which plant they use for water and so much more.
It combines so well with the Okavango Delta to showcase the huge diversity in Botswana’s landscape and wildlife.
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
Botswana’s winter is May to October when the weather is hot during the day (not stiflingly hot) and cold at night. Botswana's summer months (November to April) can be hot and humid and there is a chance of rain. Botswana has one rainy season which runs between mid-December and runs through to mid-March.
To start planning your holiday to Jack’s Camp
Jack's Camp was set up by the legendary African character Jack Bousfield, who was one of the great explorers and adventurers of the continent. There are just ten tents and this intimate camp is one of only two permanent camps in the Makgadikgadi.
While on a trapping expedition in the Makgadikgadi Pans during the 1960s, Jack Bousfield stumbled upon a site that so captured his imagination, he set up camp under an acacia with the unshakeable expectation that others would feel the same. A relic of one of the world’s largest super-lakes, the Makgadikgadi dried up thousands of years ago as a result of the continued shifting of the earth’s crust.
At Jack’s Camp, the sand-scape is stark but awe-inspiring in its apparent emptiness. The camp is set on a small rise with endless views of rolling grassland on one side and saltpans on the other. A stylish pool tent is a great place to enjoy the views over the area and keep an eye on the small waterhole in front of camp. The water hole is regularly visited by all animals and birds in this often water scarce area.
Jack's is furnished in traditional East African 1940s safari style. The tents are positioned for maximum privacy and perfect views through the palms and acacias, although a number are located closer together, ideally suited for families. The tents are kitted out with four poster beds, campaign furniture and items from Jack's own collection. The en-suite bathrooms are bedecked in dark wood and brass, with both indoor and outdoor showers and piping hot water.
Meals are served in the central Mess Tent, a registered museum, where the chefs work wonders to prepare delicious breakfasts, light lunches and three course dinners. Jack's is also enjoying a recently revamped wine list, showcasing a selection of delicious South African wines.
This is one of the most original and exciting camps in Africa, set in a truly fascinating area. The camp is well run and the activities are endless, although it should be noted that other than during the migration, this is not a typical ‘big game’ destination.
Game walks and drives take place every day with experienced local guides and qualified overseas zoologists and biologists to show you the unique desert flora and fauna. In the dry season, around May to September, guests explore the inner pans on quad bikes and learn about their ancient history, both geological and human.
Guests also have the opportunity to spend time with the Ju'Wasi Bushmen, who first accompanied Jack to the area. Walking with the Bushmen is an unforgettable experience and a great way to learn about their fascinating way of life at first hand.
The classic tented accommodation is in ten roomy and stylish canvas tents, with en-suite bathrooms and indoor and outdoor showers (for those who want to feel the Kalahari breeze on their skin) and are set into a palm grove. Persian rugs underfoot and cool cotton sheets form a striking contrast with the rugged wilderness viewed from the comfort of the verandah.
Children of all ages are welcome at Jack's camp however, if guests are travelling with children under the age of eight years, a Private Guide & Vehicle is required. Children under the age of 12 are not permitted to have their own tent and would need to share with a parent.
Creative menus emphasising fresh tastes and original cuisine; home to a unique national museum, library, pool pavilion and plunge pool.
The activities all revolve around game viewing and the guides at Jack's Camp are often graduate students who combine research with guiding, they team up with a small group of Zu/’hoasi Bushmen to guide guests on morning walks and game drives. Venturing far into the centre of the Makgadikgadi, on 4 wheel drive quad bikes, guests are able to explore remote archaeological sites, periodically discovering never before documented fossil beds of extinct giant zebra and hippo. Horse-riding (experienced riders only) can also be arranged at certain times of year, for a surcharge - this must be prebooked before you travel, so please speak to your Travel Consultant to find out more.
Kelly Connor (Staff)
You may be nine hours ahead but here you will feel like you are back in time. Designed to look like a traditional 1920s safari camp, you will be swept away by the romance of being truly out in the remoteness of Africa. With nothing as far as the eye can see let the beauty of isolation take over you. Sipping tea whilst you sit on a cushion and the tent flaps in the wind makes gives you the exciting shiver down your spine that Jack probably felt when he was discovering something new.
Sian Frost (Staff)
Jacks Camp is a bit like going back in time, full of antiques and real old world charm. It is the most unique camp I have ever been to. There is no electricity in the communal areas or your room so everything is romantically lit by hurricane lanterns (during the day there is a charging station to charge your cameras). There are so many activities on offer which change depending on the time of year you visit, but you really need 3 days to feel like you haven't missed out on anything. This camp works really well as a fantastic end to a Botswana safari to experience a completely different landscape and the activities that come with this.
Meg Shepro (Staff)
Jack's Camp is the ultimate authentic expedition camp with old world charm. You instantly feel at home with the staff and can feel the love they have for their surroundings. Whether you're out interacting with habituated meerkats, enjoying a walk with the traditional San bushman or out looking for Kalahari lion on the salt pans you'll be entertained from start to finish.
Rose Gemmell (Staff)
The iconic camp of the three Unchartered Africa camps in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan this ten bedroom camp is the largest of the three and is where Unchartered first started. The main area is home to one of only three museums in Botswana with a large collection of fossils, ancient tools and more to provide guests with an in depth view of Botswana. The pool here is much bigger than Camp Kalaharis and looks out over an active waterhole. The tented rooms are beautifully decorated and very spacious. This camp has a real sense of history behind it and it is the perfect base from which to explore this magical area and learn more about the unique history of it.
Camilla Whitworth (Staff)
I was completely blown away by my experience at Jack's Camp. The tents are so beautifully designed with so many interesting artefacts everywhere. The camp is fantastically comfortable and full of history and stories about how the place came to be as it is today. It is a fascinating area with so many activities on offer; Quad biking through the vast salt pans is huge fun and sitting having breakfast on the pans with that complete silence is quite an experience. The meerkats are hilarious! such little characters and watching them scrub around for their food and having them climb on you as a vantage point is just brilliant!
A real highlight was also going on the bushman walk and hearing about their ways of life.
Jack's really is a place to remember and I would highly recommend it to anyone! A true gem in Africa.
Best for location - Set on the edge of the Kalahari Desert's Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Jack's Camp has outgrownits rudimentary origins to become one of the most luxurious safari camps in southern Africa. Accommodation is in 10 tented suites with ensuite bathrooms and opulent, Forties-style decor; guests dine together in a central pavilion. Days are spent walking with San trackers looking out for - depending on the season - meerkats, zebra, wildebeest and other wildlife that live in, or migrate through, this part of the famous desert.
X-factor 'In the dry season, Jack's Camp is surrounded by miles and miles of sand, parched grass and saltpans; in the rainy season the landscape is transformed into watery floodplains which attract thousands upon thousands of birds,' says Gold List contributor Lisa Grainger.
The gold medal goes to the remote Jack's Camp in Botswana, which - on top of being your favourite hotel in the Middle East, Africa & the Indian Ocean Islands - was propelled to number one in our top 25. You particularly like its environmental friendliness, ambience/decor and its Kalahari location…
Louisa Verney (Staff)
Ohh my god I have been lucky enough to explore many remote corners of Africa but my nights at Jacks Camp still stand out as one of the most memorable experiences ever. The Pans are eerily quiet and spectacularly beautiful and zooming over them on a quad bike was just so much fun. Followed by a morning with the meerkats and a walk with the bushmen explaining how they survive in such a harsh environmentI was blown away.
Horse riding safari from Jack's Camp, Makgadikgadi Pans
Horse riding in the Makgadikgadi Pans with Ride Botswana is an incredible way to explore this unique landscape, cantering across the chalky white pans. Staying at Jack's Camp each night ensures a good dose of comfort after a day in the saddle, too.
Meerkats on the Makgadikgadi
Down in the Makgadikgadi Pans, and accessible from both Jack's and San Camp, is a very special, habituated clan of meerkats, which have been studied by scientists for years. Guests to Jack's and San are able to visit and observe quietly.
Quad biking on the Makgadikgadi Pans
Staying in the Makgadikgadi during the dry season from May to November gives guests the opportunity to explore Botswana's salt pan by quad bike, a unique and fun adventure for the family.
Walking Safaris and Nature Walks
Walking in the African bush with a professional safari guide is a fantastic experience. Enjoy a completely different perspective on foot than from a vehicle.
Walking with the Kalahari Bushmen
The San interpret the signs of the bush like no one else, all senses build a picture of their world. Beyond this, on the hunt, San tap into the spirit world, entering the minds of their quarry. This natural understanding has to be seen to be believed.
Botswana in Ultimate Luxury
Okavango Delta, Linyanti & Makgadikgadi Pans
from £16000 pp inc flights & transfers for 9 nights
- Ultimate safari experience showcasing Botswana's most luxurious lodges
- Botswana is renowned for its excellent game-viewing and this itinerary will take you to the top wildlife spots
- Light aircraft flights over the Okavango Delta are truly awe-inspiring
Location & directions
Makgadikgadi Pans, Makgadikgadi and the Kalahari, Botswana
Situated in the Makgadikgadi Pans, which was once the largest inland sea in Africa, Jack's Camp is quite literally in the middle of nowhere.
How to get there
The nearest international airport is Maun, which is a 2-hour international flight from Johannesburg. From there you will need a short flight (1-hour) to get you to the camp.
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