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Makgadikgadi

Jack's Camp Properties |

Jack's Camp
Ten Roomy Stylish Tents

The camp's hub, a romantic canvas pavilion of low spires and finials, with a fluttering valance beneath its eaves, could have come straight from a mediaeval jousting tourney, were it not a deciduous green. Three poles support the main chamber where everyone meets for lavish and elegant meals at a long communal dining table. 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 creating an oasis of civilisation in what can be the harshest of stark environments. Persian rugs underfoot and cool cotton sheets form a striking contrast with the rugged wilderness viewed from the comfort of one's own veranda.
Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana


Mkgadikgadi Pans

The Makgadikgadi Pans consist of two major basins, relics of a massive lake and swampland that existed over much of northern Botswana between about 2 million and 40,000 years ago. On the edge of the western basin, also known as the Ntetwe Pan are Jack's and San camps.

Jack's is situated on an isolated island filled with tall fan palms and commiphora trees. Named for the legendary Jack Bousefield, who was a pioneer of these remote wastes, Jack's Camp remains one of the most intriguing and mysterious places in the Kalahari or Kgalagadi. Owned and designed by Ralph Bousefield and Catherine Raphaely, Jack's and nearby San Camp offer guests access to a completely unique area.

During the summer months (November to April) the focus is on the thousands of zebra which have migrated from the Boteti River and Makgadikgadi Pans National Park immediately to the west. During these same months, the pans fill with water and attract numerous species of birds from flamingos to wattled cranes and pelicans. During the dry, or winter months, the migrations move westwards to the water available in the Boteti River but many desert-adapted creatures remain resident.

This is the domain of the brown hyaena, a shy and elusive creature, as well as suricates, aardvarks and small bustard species. Ralph Bousefield and his guides have made many important finds in the field of palaeontology, with stone implements and other evidence of Stone Age dwellers.

This is an extremely fragile environment filled with fascination and interest. The management and guides have an approach of maximum care for the environment, and this is a destination for the true lover of remote experiences.
Year Round

Botswana is an all-year-round wildlife destination. However, there are certain seasonal concerns of which groups with special interests should take note: The best birding months are November - March, when the delta is brimming with migratory birds. The best botanical months are December - May, when the vegetation is lush and green and most plants are in flower. Botswana’s popularity as a destination is such that seasonal differences are not as marked as in other African destinations. Traditionally, however, peak season is from July to October and middle season is from May to June. Note that availability is at a premium during these seasons so you will need to book well in advance. November to April is a less popular time for travel to Botswana. This is the wet season, and due to the abundance of water it is less certain that one will see wildlife at perennial water holes. Also, the heavy rains can make dirt roads impassable.

Game drives, suricate (meerkat) visits, bird walks, quad bikes, night drives, game walks with Bushman trackers. Visits to Chapman's Baobab and remote area dwellings, cattle posts, and archaeological sites.

A relic of one of the world's largest super-lakes, the Makgadikgadi dried up thousands of years ago as a result of the continued shifting of the earth's crust. When the lake was formed, some five to seven million years ago, its shores were the setting for the mysterious transition from ape to man.

Venturing far into the centre of the Makgadikgadi, on 4-wheel-drive quad bikes, you are able to explore remote archaeological sites, periodically discovering never-before-documented fossil beds of extinct giant zebra and hippo. The fact that you can travel across the pans at great speed and still arrive nowhere only underlines the pan's immensity. There is nothing out here.

A safari to Jack's Camp is also a complete desert experience, focusing on species unique to the area such as aardvark, gemsbok and springbok. It is the only place where guests are virtually guaranteed to see the rare and elusive brown hyaena and are able to walk through the Kalahari with a gang of habituated, yet wild meerkats (suricates)!

During the wet season the landscape transforms. Clouds of flamingo and other migratory birds descend from the heavens to decorate the watery grasslands. Herds of zebra and wildebeest materialise, drawn by the lush grass, and for several months, the desert is teeming with game and predators.

The guides at Jack's are an erudite breed. Often graduate students who combine research with guiding, they team up with a small group of Zu Hoasi Bushmen to guide guests on the morning's walks and game drives.
Catherine Raphaely & Ralph Bousfield

Jack's Camp was originally established in the 1960s by Ralph's father, the late Jack Bousfield who lived there for many years preceding his unfortunate death in an aircraft accident in 1992.

Ralph and Catherine set up Jack's Camp as it is today in his memory.

Ralph Bousfield is the last in a long line of family safari operators commencing with his Great Grandfather who took Princess Eugenie on safari to view her son's grave after the Zulu war. Five generations of safari experience have both inspired and informed a unique understanding and sensitivity for Africa and its people.

Members of his father's family trained the lions for Born Free, ran the East African Game Department when it still controlled Ruanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, trapped and relocated the last of the Arabian Oryx to Oman, have various species named after them, sited in the first safari camp in the Moremi and are even recorded in the Guiness Book of Animal Records for trapping 54,000 crocodiles.

On his Mother's side, his Grandfather took part in 18 wars, was a part of the leadership of the famous Selous Pioneer Column, sited Harare, then known as Salisbury and gave their name to the district of Nicholson in Zimbabwe. The same Grandfather was a close friend of Jan Smuts with whom he was exiled to St Helena and with whom he collaborated to create the concept of the League of Nations, which has now become the United Nations.

Ralph's Grandfather was the Auditor General for the Transvaal and the Member of Parliament for the Waterberg district.

Johannesburg is also named after a member of the family, Johannes Meyer.

Ralph's Mother was a cardiac Physiotherapist with her own practice and who worked with Dr Chris Barnard and his team on their ground-breaking heart transplant operations during the 50s and 60s.

Ralph did his thesis on the wattled crane under the Crane Foundation and the Endangered Wildlife trust. Part of this thesis involved pioneer work for George Archibald who was the person responsible for rescuing the whooping crane from extinction through captive breeding and innovative vocalisation techniques.

Ralph is a pioneer of cultural and Bushmen safaris in Botswana. He is also the Presenter of a 13 part series on DISCOVERY CHANNEL entitled Uncharted Africa.

Apart from having an interesting family background, Ralph also has incredible sixth sense about the Bush derived from years of training and testing by his colourful Father, Jack a legendary character in both Botswana and Africa in general.

Catherine was born in Cape Town, South Africa and although trained as an Economist, was inevitably drawn into magazines due to her family's long involvement in the South African publishing world. Catherine's family have a longstanding commitment to philanthropic causes and her Great Grandfather's efforts in sending the boats of the family shipping company to rescue thousands of Jews from Germany during the second world war and their subsequent sponsorship was a substantial and meaningful gesture which changed the lives of many.
Time spent as a stylist in Australia and New York has influenced the development of the camp in terms of maintaining authenticity without compromising on style or, attention to detail. Almost everything in the camps is custom made in Uncharted Africa's workshops from bed linen to woodwork.
Guest Reviews

"A place to remember. The nature is peaceful and serene, the people at Jack's are the most friendly. We loved every moment. Do we come back? ... you bet!"
- Fouad & Elizabeth Kreytem

"Everything exceeded our expectations...terrific. Must come back in the dry season." - Jo & Peter York

"What a unique part of Africa! Thank you Peter for making it so informative, and to all the staff for being so attentive. And, what a chef!! Many, many thanks."
- John & Andrea Minney

"We had a wonderful, quite special time. This is a magical place. Thank you for all your kindness."
-Julie Pullen & Dan Kohn

"Thank you for the best time ever!!... despite all the rain. Next time we'll come back in the dry season."
-Mark & Carmilla Hughes
The response from those who have been to Jack's Camp is always the same. The question, "Jack's Camp?" is followed by a reflective pause - "It's different." And there they leave it, the difficulty of describing it hanging in the air like a half-built bridge.
While on a trapping expedition in the Makgadikgadi Pans during the 1960s, Jack Bousfield stumbled upon a site that so captured his imagination that he set up camp under an acacia tree with the unshakeable expectation that others would feel the same. The choice of such a striking locale owed much to his original taste for the savage beauty of a forgotten Africa, where he lived until his tragic death in an aircraft accident in 1992. As homage to the vision of his father, his son, Ralph, with his partner Catherine established Jack's Camp which was refurbished at the beginning of 2003, using a traditional East African 1940s safari style. The camp's hub, a romantic canvas pavilion of low spires and finials, with a fluttering valance beneath its eaves, could have come straight from a medieval jousting tourney, were it not a deciduous green. Three poles support the main chamber where everyone meets for lavish and elegant meals at a long communal dining table.

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