The legacy of the colonial explorers of Africa lives on at Jack’s Camp: a unique encampment that combines the gracious living of the past and the high-speed thrill of modern quad bikes with the natural splendour of the endless Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana. The pans, which were once a pre-historic lake roughly the size of Switzerland, are today among the largest salt flats in the world. Despite being both remote and unforgiving, the area teems with life: genets, Cape hares, honey badgers, brown hyena, Kalahari lions and porcupines can all be spotted. Jack’s Camp has a family of habituated meerkats who enjoy interacting with humans and the camp can also experience the outer reaches of the Great Migration, when herds of wildebeest thunder dustily past.
The interiors of Jack’s Camp rival the landscape. With a collection of canvas tents set up under a grove of mokolwane palm trees, the settlement looks like a royal encampment from days past. The communal dining tent features an extra-length dining table that groans under the weight of silver and crystal while the billiard room and lounge are dotted with animal trophies and relics, not to mention maps, photographs and lithographs that hark back to the early years of southern African safaris. Even the swimming pool is sheltered under a canvas tent and surrounded by decking – a lovely spot to wait, crispy white wine in hand, for the heat of the afternoon to pass.
Guests’ tents are as romantic as the communal ones: there is no electricity so paraffin lamps are provided, spreading a warm and inviting glow around your room. Antiques are scattered everywhere, from the canopied 4-poster beds to the old-fashioned vanities in the en suite bathrooms. But, if you are lucky, your tent will not be only place you sleep: Jack’s Camp can arrange a night out on the pans under the Milky Way and an unforgettable way to greet the new dawn.