The Makgadikgadi Pans are a series of flat, prehistoric super-lakes. Thousands of years ago the area would have been an immense wetland. Now, the waters have long since disappeared, making it one of the most remote and hauntingly beautiful desert locations in Africa. 50 years ago, pioneer Jack Bousfield set up Jack’s Camp in an oasis of palms and grassland on the Makgadikgadi Pans. Today, Jack’s maintains hints of that original pioneering camp.
Jack’s Camp now has nine imaginatively designed canvas pavilions, with long poles creating low spires. Inside both the guest tents and the lounge and dining room are African prints and old Persian rugs, and the camp has a style and décor unique to this part of Africa. The tents are comfortable with proper beds, crisp cotton sheets and an en-suite bathroom.
The interest in this area lies firstly in its amazing remote location, and in the way the plants, wildlife, birds and people have adapted to this strange desertscape over the millennia. Sometimes you will be guided by San Bushmen, revealing something of their age-old survival and tracking skills. You can walk with them in the morning, learning about desert-adapted vegetation, and later in the day can move further afield across the fragile salt-encrusted pans, either on specially adapted quad bikes or by vehicle, seeking out wildlife and evidence of ancient civilisations, where you might find rock engravings and shards of pottery.
When you first arrive at Jack’s Camp you will wonder how anything could survive here, yet you quickly become acquainted with birdlife and the desert wildlife, which includes meerkat colonies, brown hyena, aardvark and smaller antelope such as gemsbok and springbok. During the rainy season, particularly from February to April, the area often receives sporadic thunderstorms which can bring about a migration of zebra, wildebeest and other creatures in search of seasonal fresh grasses in these ancient lake lands.