Jacks camp and it’s sister, San Camp, offer one of the most unusual safari experiences in Africa. They are located in the harsh and rarefied environment of the Mkgadikgadi salt pans in northern Botswana.
Jack’s camp was originally set up by the late and legendary Jack Bousfield in the 1960’s. Having spent many years in the Lake Rukwa region of Tanzania hunting crocodiles, he became disaffected with hunting and moved down to Botswana where he became intrigued by the rich archaeological history and wildlife of this remote area. The camp was originally his home and was taken over after his death by his son Ralph who runs it today along with his partner, Catherine.
Today, Jack’s is a stylish and elaborate tented camp with ten large luxury tents widely spaced around the edge of a small palm island. But the camp is about much more than luxury for its own sake. At the centre of the camp is an extensive mess tent that houses an extraordinary and, doubtless unique, collection of archaeological material, skeletons, skins and material of all kinds collected in and around the salt pans. You’ll find everything from a pickled ostrich penis, to incredibly beautiful, and almost completely spherical white balls, which turn out to be lion fur balls.
This collection (which is hopefully on the cusp of being designated museum status) also includes large numbers of books and photographs, and adds a dimension which cant be manufactured, and sets Jack’s apart from most luxury tented camps.
Jacks camp is stylish luxury with few compromises in terms of comfort, but a sound ecologically sensitive approach to the environment.
The ten luxury tents are built on raised wooden platforms, with beautifully constructed wooden floors and plenty of space inside. The interiors of the tents are lined with printed cotton and the furniture is of an extremely high standard. Hardwood military chests of drawers with burnished brass fittings, a writing desk and a brass table on which your tee and coffee is placed in the morning. The beds are wonderfully extravagant four posters, each of which has a small step ladder to help you climb in.
The bathrooms are ensuite, although a great touch is the option of an outside shower behind the tent, and there can be few better places to have a shower than under the African night sky. The bathrooms are supplied with running water from the camp’s bore hole, with hot water on demand, heated by gas. The loos are a work of art in them selves – these are quite literally a throne, a large and extremely comfortable leather seated chair, the seat of which lifts to reveal the loo.
There is no electricity in the tents and all lighting throughout the camp is by kerosene lanterns. This makes the camp minimally intrusive on the environment at night; no flood lights or light pollution of any kind. But the interior of the tents can be quite dark for reading at night, so it’s worth bringing a reading light of some kind with you.