Makgadikgadi Pans, Ntetwe Pan Private Concession
The Kalahari Legend
After several decades of setting the standard in the Kalahari, we are delighted to announce that Jack’s Camp is undergoing a full rebuild and refurbishment and although we had planned to reopen in May 2020, this opening has been delayed until further notice due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The brand-new Jack’s Camp will pay homage to the property’s enduring and much-loved 1940s campaign style. The guest tents, seven twins and three doubles, will be made much larger and each will be a whopping 271 square metres in size: 136 sq m inside, and 135 sq m outside. The iconic interiors will remain but with the addition of intricate textiles from all over the world, Natural History Museum cabinets, wood burning morso stoves for the chilly evenings and mornings, and an overhead bed cooling systems. Ensuite bathrooms will have both indoor and outdoor shower and outside, each veranda will have a private plunge pool.
The new, larger mess tent will be resplendent with the renowned Natural History Museum, library, antique pool table and a well-stocked drinks chest. The iconic nomadic Persian tea tent will be made larger, whilst the swimming pool pavilion will be reimagined with the addition of a sun deck. The shop will be renovated and restocked with new treasures, and a dedicated spa tent will be added.
When Jack’s reopens in May 2020, it will pay homage to the much-loved 1940s style of the existing camp. The 10 guest rooms will be almost double the size of the existing tents and whilst the iconic green canvas and muslin-draped walls will remain, each will feature new textiles from around the world, Natural History Museum cabinets curated by Ralph Bousfield himself, wood burning morso stoves for the chilly evenings and mornings, and an overhead bed cooling system to ward off the desert heat. Outside, each veranda will have a private plunge pool as well as several velvet-clad chairs overlooking the glittering landscape.
The new mess tent will still house the renowned Natural History Museum, library, and antique pool table and the iconic, nomadic Persian tea tent will remain, both just 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, still the only one of its kind in Africa, will be reimagined with the addition of a sun deck, and a dedicated spa tent will be built.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Natural Selection Safaris
Semi-Permanent Tented Camp
Max. clients in vehicle
Game Drives, Meerkat Visits, Village Visit, Traditional Lunch, Baobab Walk, Quad Biking, Overnight Pan Sleepouts, Horse Safaris