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Makgadikgadi

San Camp Properties |

San Camp
Six Canvas Tents

Six pale khaki canvas tents twinned with a dramatic location, combine to create an oasis of civilization in what can be the harshest of stark environments. The result: one of the most romantic camps in Africa! And this place could not be more different from everywhere. The camp is the Stewart Granger Memorial Collection of 1940s safari tents, with no running water nor electricity but with comfortable beds, cotton sheets, paraffin lamps, wonderful food and personal service. Bathrooms are en-suite with bucket showers and flushing loos.
Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana


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.

Local Info

Venturing far into the centre of the Makgadikgadi, on 4wd 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. Absolutely nothing. No outcrops, no features, no grass, no trees, no sound but the crunch of your boots in the crust.

The Kalahari desert is its own universe. It is the only place where guests are virtually guaranteed to see the rare and elusive brown hyaena and be able to walk through the Kalahari with a gang of habituated but, wild meerkats (suricates)!

The guides at San and its satellite, Jack's Camp, 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 our guests on a morning walks and game drives. Offering a window into the past, the Bushmen teach you how they have survived in this harshest of environments, using ancient knowledge of plants, animal behavior and survival skills.
Things to Do

Jack's Camp and San Camp are unique in that they are the only permanent camps to offer a chance to explore and understand the Kalahari. Our concession adjoins the Makgadikgadi National Park with its endless vistas of rolling golden grasslands. Desert palms line the horizon. Through the tent flaps, the Makgadikgadi Pans run over the horizon like the mother of all Norfolk beaches.

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 human.

Venturing far into the centre of the Makgadikgadi, on 4wd quad bikes, we 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. Absolutely nothing. No outcrops, no features, no grass, no trees, no sound but the crunch of your boots in the crust.

The Kalahari desert is its own universe. It is the only place where guests are virtually guaranteed to see the rare and elusive brown hyaena and be able to walk through the Kalahari with a gang of habituated but, wild meerkats (suricates)!

The guides at San and its satellite, Jack's Camp, 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 our guests on morning walks and game drives. Offering a window into the past, the Bushmen teach us how they have survived in this harshest of environments, using ancient knowledge of plants, animal behaviour and survival skills.

Catherine Raphaely & Ralph Bousfield.

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.
San Camp offers the Earth, stripped naked. And, such restraint holds its own charms. The concession adjoins the Makgadikgadi National Park with its endless vistas of rolling golden grasslands.
San Camp is a dry season camp of eight white canvas tents set on the very edge of the Makgadikgadi Pans. San Camp is the sister camp to Jack's combining 1920's East African panache with scientific exploration of desert biology and adaptation, stone age archaeology, bushman antropology and the unique geology of the Makgadikgadi.

At Makgadikgadi you observe the only natural wildlife migration that still occurs in Southern Africa, the herds of wildebeest and zebra that move South from Chobe and Moremi every year after the rains have brought new grass to the Kalahari.

This destination offers a rare insight into an Africa that few ever dreamed existed. The Makgadikagadi Pans, the remnants of a great lake that once covered most of Botswana and where early hominids once roamed among herds of now extinct giant zebra and hippopotamus, dried up only 10,000 years ago due to the continued shifting of the earth's crust and are largest of their kind in the world.

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