Horse Riding Safari on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
3 Nights in the Makgadikgadi Pans & the Kalahari Desert
The following itinerary is an outline of the activities offered during your stay at Jack’s Camp. The order in which the activities are experienced may vary depending on weather and/or other factors. Please note that Guests with an early morning departure will not be able to do the final morning’s activity.
Arrive at Jack’s Camp, pitched on a low grassland knoll amongst an oasis of dignified desert palms and Kalahari acacia. The camp’s hub is a romantic canvas pavilion of low spires and finials with a fluttering valance beneath its eaves and could be the site for a medieval jousting tourney were it not a deciduous green. Three poles support the main chamber where everyone meets for meals at a long communal dining table.
On arrival by air or road, you will be greeted by your host and Guide David Foot and settled into Jack’s Camp. Ten green roomy and stylish canvas tents with en-suite bathrooms, indoor and outdoor showers (for those who want to feel the Kalahari breeze on their skin) have been fashioned in classical 1940’s style creating an oasis of civilization in what can be the harshest of stark environments…
Wake up to a steaming hot cup of coffee and a light breakfast, before heading off on your horses in search of some of the Kalahari’s most fascinating inhabitants, the meerkats. With our horses tethered we will proceed on foot in to the midst of the group.
Due to an ongoing habituation programme by Uncharted Africa Safari co. it’s possible for us to get up close and personal with these captivating creatures. Remember, they are not tame – just used to our non-threatening presence.
On chilly mornings, you might well find a meerkat snuggling up to you for warmth. Or, in the absence of a termite mound or tree, using your head as a sentry lookout post. By spending quality time with these incredibly social animals you will be able to see how they interact with each other and their environment.
You also get the chance to see the desert through the eyes of a meerkat – which, despite the fact that it’s only a foot off the ground, is a pretty spectacular vantage point, and definitely one of the most special and memorable game experiences you will encounter in Botswana.
As the day warms up, leave the meerkats to continue foraging. Mount up and follow the well-worn trails that lead to the resident herds of zebra and large congregations of ostriches attracted to the area by permanent freshwater in hidden waterholes.
Return to Jack’s Camp for lunch, a refreshing shower and a siesta in the shade of the mess tent. After tea, head off by vehicle to see some unique desert species such as springbok, gemsbok, red hartebeest and the elusive brown hyaena; these consummate desert specialists survive in arid areas where both food and water are scarce. The brown hyaena is a timid nocturnal, solitary forager, rarely seen by humans, but in spite of this are very social animals, living in clans of up to 10-12 hyaenas. Enjoy a night game drive back to camp, and with the aid of a spot light, look for nocturnal desert inhabitants such as aardvark, bat eared foxes, aardwolves, porcupine, honey badgers and perhaps even a black maned Kalahari Lion.
Arrive at Jack’s Camp in time for dinner.
Enjoy another early breakfast before mounting up and heading out at a fast pace sometimes riding along the edge of the Pans and at other times heading into the woodlands and open grasslands where the zebra and wildebeest graze. From a great distance the famous Chapman’s Baobab appears on the horizon.
Also known as the Seven Sisters, it is acknowledged to be one of the largest trees in Africa, measuring 25metres around its girth, and was the campsite of early explorers like Livingstone and Selous when they pioneered the area.
Ride back to Jack’s Camp for a refreshing shower and lunch and relax for the day.
Uncharted Africa has pioneered and passionately supported cultural tourism in Botswana since the company’s inception in 1993.
It has long been our belief that it is a vitally important tool in terms of preserving this unique, but sadly fast-vanishing, culture. We have been working closely with the Zu’hoasi people of the Western Kalahari for many years and are privileged to have Bushmen women, men and pre-school children comprised of four generations, living at Jack’s Camp in the Makgadikgadi.
Offering a window into the past, they teach us how they have survived in this harshest of environments, using their vast and ancient knowledge of plants, animal behaviour and survival skills. The Zu'hoasi lead a semitraditional lifestyle, and share their traditional hunting and food-gathering skills as well as how they make jewellery and hunting equipment, it is a glimpse into their traditional way of life, but by no means an attempt to keep them frozen in time. Through our initiative, a community is able to work together and share their knowledge with each other and our Guests, allowing the older generation to pass the knowledge on to the next generation. The young children are the future and we hope that they carry the knowledge and traditions of their incredible ancient culture into the modern world with a sense of pride and personal empowerment.
After your siesta, head to the central area for another decadent tea, before driving through the bush to the traditionally built Bushmen village; where the community gathers during the day. The huts provide shelter from the harsh Kalahari environment, but are not the community’s permanent accommodation.
On arrival, the elders of the community will meet you in a traditional manner after which you will walk out into the bush with the men, women and children. The focus of the walk will be to provide a gentle introduction to the Kalahari and Bushmen way of life. The group will point out the distinct ecological characteristics of this area and its animal and bird species.
Spontaneous gathering and discussions about the uses of plants and wildlife by your Bushmen Guides provide the link between culture and wild environment that we seek to offer our Guests.
Return to camp for another beautiful evening under a Kalahari sky with a delicious dinner around the campfire.
Up with the dawn, a light breakfast is followed by a long morning ride through the “land of a thousand islands”. Stranded on the ancient lakebed, these sand dunes covered in palm trees are one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas of the Botswana wilderness.
At the height of the migration season, the islands and adjoining grasslands are awash with zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest and ostrich - and of course the attendant predators! The white encrusted pans between the islands provides excellent going for the horses, but if there has been a lot of rain then many of these areas will be full of water attracting several species of migratory water birds. Return to the camp for one more lunch; before you bid farewell to Jack’s Camp in preparation for your onward journey.
COST: request for rates