Escape to the vast Makgadikgadi pans in the Northern Kalahari Desert, where you will spend 3 nights at the famous jack’s camp or the classic “Camp Kalahari,” all of which offer serene sanctuaries at the edge of the world, where you can see the curvature of the earth. A complete desert experience awaits you, including time with habituated meerkats, quad biking across the pans, and san bushmen led walks.
Camps and Lodges
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 | Maun / Makgadikgadi Pans – Northern Kalahari
Upon arrival in Maun you will be met and assisted on to your scheduled light aircraft flight south to the vast wilderness of the northern Kalahari Desert. After you touch down at the Tsigaro airstrip, you will be met and driven to the famous Jack’s Camp, the luxrious San Camp, or the classic Camp Kalahari, all of which are set in private concession on the edge of the great Makgadikgadi Pans. These saltpans are among the largest in the world, part of a fossilized super-lake that thrived in ancient times. With it’s harsh, lunar-like environment, life still abounds, and lion, brown hyena, oryx and springbok are just a few of the desert-adapted species that can be seen.
You’ll experience the phenomenal geology and the wide-open spaces of this ancient lakebed as you explore the Makgadikgadi Pans and the surrounding grasslands with palms and giant Baobab trees, on game drives, quad bikes and on guided walks with the San bushmen. You will also have a unique opportunity to participate in up-close encounters with suricates (meerkats), one of the most fascinating and endearing animals in the world. These families have been habituated so you can get up close, and they will even sit on you to gain an improved vantage point.
Jack’s Camp – Jack’s Camp is an award winning classic desert safari camp. Ten green 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) have been fashioned in classical style and are set into a palm grove. These amazingly decorated “tents” even have Persian rugs and each has it’s own private verandah. The main tent houses the dinning area and the lounge/museum has been designated as a National Museum of Botswana for its renowned collection of desert artifacts. There is also a shaded pool for cooling off in the heat of mid-day.
San Camp – (April 16 – October only) San Camp has just 6 roomy and stylish canvas guests tents with en-suite bathrooms, featuring showers and flush toilets. The camp has been fashioned in classical 1940’s style …Grass matting underfoot, cool cotton sheets, mahogany and brass form a striking contrast with the rugged wilderness viewed from the comfort of one’s own verandah.
San Camp’s hub is a white canvas pavilion, with a fluttering valance beneath its eaves and could be the site for a medieval jousting tourney. Two poles support the main chamber where everyone meets for meals at a long communal dining table. Interesting collections of bones, pottery, stone tools and beadwork crowd antique display cases – the spoils of many family safaris through the area.
Camp Kalahari – Camp Kalahari is set in the same reserve and is, nestled amongst the acacias and Mokolwane palms of Hyena Island, on the edge of the pans and adjacent to the Makgadikgadi National Park. This camp is in the traditional safari style of the old explorers, and is wonderful way to experience the Makgadikgadi. The camp has only 7 guest tents, each with an inter-leading outdoor bathroom with flush toilets and even hot showers. There is also a dinning tent with one long table, and a lounging tent with a full library.
Enjoy a light lunch and rest up in your tent through the early afternoon. After tea, drive into the grasslands and the beautiful evening light. Stop to watch the sun set and listen to an explanation of how the Makgadikgadi pans, the remnants of the world’s largest ever superlake, were formed. Return to for a lavish dinner in the elegant mess tents.
Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Day 2 | Meerkat’s and More
Set off early in the morning to visit some of the Kalahari’s meerkats. (‘suricate’ to science-minded people and ‘Timon’ to Lion King fans). Get up close and personal with these captivating creatures. On chilly mornings, you might well find a meerkat snuggling up to you for warmth. Or, in the absence of a termite mound or tree, using your head as a sentry lookout post. By spending quality time with these incredibly social, superbly adapted animals, you will be able to see how they interact with each other and their environment.
You also get the chance to see the desert through the eyes of a meerkat which, despite the fact that it’s only a foot off the ground, is a pretty spectacular vantage point, and definitely one of the most special and memorable game experiences you will encounter in Botswana.
After a picnic breakfast, visit a remote cattle-post to learn about the traditional culture of the Botswana people. Close by is the famous Chapman’s Baobab (Also known as the Seven Sisters) which is acknowledged to be one of the largest trees in Africa, and was the campsite of early explorers like Livingstone and Selous when they pioneered the area. This gives you an opportunity to gain a fascinating insight into the history of the early explorers. Return to San Camp for a rest and refreshing lunch.
After tea, travel down to the pans where you will be given a brief safety talk before mounting your trusty quad bike. Head off across the pans. Watch the sun set and the stars rise. This is one of the only places in the world where the silence is so complete you can hear the blood circulating through your ears. There is not one visual landmark to be seen and one swiftly loses one’s sense of perspective. These 9,900 sq. miles (16,000 sq. km.) of baking soda void are inhabited only by you and a few gazillion invisible brine shrimp!
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3| Fossils & Hyenas
Early in the morning, comb the edge of the extinct lake shore to find some of the many stone tools and fossils that litter the pan surface and learn of the origins of early man. Afterwards return to your camp for brunch.
After another tea and coffee, head off to see one of Africa’s rarest carnivores – the brown hyena. Due to a PhD research program on this cleverly adapted desert species, the cubs are habituated and allow us to observe their social behavior without disturbance.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4 | Bushmen Walk / Maun
Spend the morning walking with Zu/’hoasi Bushmen trackers. The camps have been working closely with the Zu’hoasi people of the Western Kalahari for many years and are privileged to have a small group of these extraordinary men to guide guest, offering a window into the past, they teach us how they have survived in this harshest of environments for some 38,000 years, using their vast and ancient knowledge of plants, animal behavior and survival skills.
Return to camp for one last unforgettable lunch before you are driven to the airstrip for your flight back to Maun, or onto your next safari camp.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Rates and Dates
Scheduled Light Aircraft Flights:
- Maun to Tsigaro airstrip, round trip
Three nights accommodation at Jack’s Camp or Camp Kalahari
All drinks, including alcoholic beverages, excluding premium wines, champagnes and premium spirits
Twice daily shared wildlife activities in Botswana and Zambia with professional resident camp guides
All National Park and Wildlife Reserve Fees
Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance
International airfare and flights
Visa’s and visa fees
Quad Biking during wet season
Travel Insurance (Emergency medical, transportation and repatriation insurance is required)
All items of a personal nature
Gratuities for guides and camp staff
Drinks with meals at Camp Kalahari