Guest tent at Jack's Camp

2013 Grand Awards: Jack's Camp, Botswana

By Andrew Harper Staff

The Harper Way | February 2, 2013




An hour by light aircraft southeast of the desert outpost of Maun, the vast Makgadikgadi salt pans cover an area larger than Switzerland. Jack's Camp is located on a low island at the edge of the pans. It is a place of silence and emptiness, overseen by the immense and cloudless Kalahari sky.

Jack’s was founded by the adventurer and filmmaker Ralph Bousfield in memory of his father, a larger-than-life pioneer. The enormous main living and dining tent reflects the men’s shared passion for Africa’s most elemental places. A stuffed lion in a glass case stands guard over a treasure trove of animal skulls, fossils, eggs, spears, arrows, hundreds of books and maps, 19th-century etchings, and framed posters for exhibitions by the artist and photographer Peter Beard. Down the center of the tent, a dining table seats 20 in comfort, and looks as though it might originally have been intended for army officers on some far-flung Victorian campaign. The 10 guest tents share the same nostalgic décor, with four-poster beds, writing desks, antique furniture, brass-bound chests and bookshelves crammed to capacity. However, they are also extremely comfortable, with large electric fans, en suite baths, effective indoor and outdoor showers, and spacious verandas.

A splendid swimming pool is shaded from the desert sun by a flamboyant cotton canopy. Close by, a waterhole has been dug, which, along with elephant, zebra and wildebeest, occasionally attracts a wandering pride of lion. Jack’s Camp is an extremely well-organized place that also offers delicious cuisine. For those of a romantic and adventurous spirit, it cannot be recommended too highly.

Tented Accommodation, from $2,550 for two (all meals and scheduled activities included).

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