Reviews of Jack's Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Jack's Camp review
We were a bit wary of Jack's Camp after reading other reviews but we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Maybe it was the time of year (early rainy season) but there were no "surprises" and our guide, Chabba, was flexible in accomodating what we wanted to do. In particular he took us out to meet the oncoming migration of large numbers of zebra, wildebeest and springbok which was an incredible experience and also allowed us a second trip to the meerkats !
Spending time with the meerkat family was the highlight but we also enjoyed excellent views of Brown Hyenas at 2 dens as well as numerous other mammal, bird and reptile sightings. The landscape is completely different to the Okovango etc and it was a nice contrast to visit the Kalahari.
We also enjoyed our time with the Kalahari bushmen and it was a real experience to see and understand a bit about their way of life and how they survive in the Kalahari. We were also able to join and witness a "Trance Dance" by a group of bush people which was a real experience but a one off I'm afraid as specially arranged for a photographer.
The food was easily the best of our holiday and the accomodation is absolutely unique, period and atmospheric as trailed but very comfortable. I am not small and the dimensions of my bed were fine !
Jack's Camp review
Like a return to colonial Africa. Jack's is very stylish and a very different safari experience. The meerkats were the main attraction for us but we also enjoyed the Bush Walk, and saw ostrich and Aardwolf. No game on the menu :-(.Read more about the whole safari
Expert Africa comments
Just to clarify, this traveller likes to eat game meat, and the comment about ‘no game on the menu’ is a literal one. See their review of Chobe Game Lodge, where they did eventually find some on the menu!
Pluses and Minuses
We have mixed feelings about this place, some things we really liked, others we hated.
We liked: The activities are all very interesting and very different from the other camps. The landscape is beautiful and out of this world, so vast and quiet, it's worth the visit just for this. The food, excellent, without a doubt the best of the 5 camps we stayed at.
We disliked: the somewhat snobbish and arrogant attitude. They treat guests in a condescending way, was the only place where a manager or guide didn't sit down with us upon arrival to inform us of the activities and make a tentative plan. They make the plan for you, don't tell you about it -the place is all about surprises, a bit childish-, expect you to love it and get defensive if you suggest changes. Also, it was the only camp that didn't give us a feed-back form upon departure.
The tent was spacious but uncomfortable. We didn't like the decoration, too stuffy, the 1930-40s style feels completely out of place. There is really nowhere to put your clothes (eg, 2 hooks were the only hangers). The beds are very short: I'm not a tall person (1.8 m) and didn't fit in the bed, which is a pain because at night it gets so cold you really have to tuck yourself in completely, so I couldn't really sleep much.
Not having electricity in the tent was more of a problem than I expected. Thankfully, I brought a flashlight from home (strongly recommended if you come here), which came in handy to find things in the semi-darkness. Also this no-electricity thing is a bit phoney, because they do have a generator for the water pump and the kitchen, they just choose not to put lights in the tents for “a more authentic experience”. By the way, the first morning there was no water in the tent because the pump broke down during the night. No light, no water, no good.
I recommend a 2-night stay here, which gives you plenty of time to do the key excursions: meerkats, walk with the bushmen, quadbiking, walking in the pan. There's not much more to do, but if you stay a third night they guarantee a suprise activity. More on that later. There used to be another interesting activity: visiting the brown hyena, but apparently these animals disappeared 3 weeks before our arrival so we couldn't do it, maybe they'll come back... ask before you go if this interests you.
(Now comes the spoiler, so don't read on if you like surprises)
At Jack's they make a huge deal about their “surprise activity”, which consists in sleeping out on the pan. Looks like they do it every 3 nights, so you are only guaranteed to do it if you stay 3 nights. We only stayed 2 nights but were lucky and had the surprise. Too bad it was a surprise, because we weren't prepared for a night out and had to go back to camp. If they had told us instead of making this big secret about it, then we would have stayed. Again, this is all a bit childish. But it was very nice having dinner in the pan, it was a beautiful night (with a lunar eclipse!).
Honestly, I think the “3rd night surprise” is just a marketing gimmick to make people book for 3 nights, otherwise no one would, given that the camp is so expensive and you can cover the key things in 2 days. There are other places in Africa where they give you the chance to sleep under the stars and don't make such a big fuss about it.
Not to be missed
We would love to return to Jack's camp. Such luxury, and such amazing food. We were very well looked after, the tents and communal areas delightful and the oil lamps gave an amazing ambience to the accomodation.
The activities were unusual and varied. Our guide, Super, had an amazing knowledge and enthusiasm for the area, and we had very intereting drives. We were able to see the tail end of the migration, with large herds of widebeest and zebra, and we also saw a large herd of the resident oryx. We also saw many smaller mammals, including bat eared foxes, a honey badger, mongoose and various colonies of meercats.
Bird life was good, including good views of secretary birds. These trips were complemented by a leisurely walk with bushmen who could show us how even the most unlikely grassland could provide food for man and beast.
The experience of the quad biking on the salt pans, and experiencing the sunset in such emptiness, was a unique and amazing. I am not allowed to talk about what followed, BUT IT WAS GREAT.
We all felt priviledged to experience meercats at very close quarters, it was fun to have them sitting on us, but I think our group all agreed that the best part was walking with these animals as they moved from one area to another.
There is always one, and surprisingly there was one guest, unfortunaltely English, who didn't enjoy the camp. The rest of the guests found her rather self centred and didn't want to share acitivites with her. The staff coped admirably. keeping all happy, and are to be commended on that.
I am so glad that you recommended a three night stay in this area, rather than the two nights we had originally intended.
Jack's Camp review
Apart from the meerkats, we had a fairly dull time.
We were furious to be shown to a room with a tiny double bed which was not much more than 4 feet wide when we had asked for a king size. After our initial complaint, they offered to put a small lower single bed in the room but, when Andie refused to accept this, they finally gave us a room with two similarly sized beds
No idea if it was just the "luck of the drawer" but this was the first camp (out of about 20!) that I have ever stayed in at which I took an active dislike to several other guests
I repeat, if it hadn't been for the meerkats, I would not recommend othes to go here
Expert Africa comments
We’re sorry that these travellers didn’t enjoy Jack’s Camp as much as we would have hoped – although glad they enjoyed the meerkats there.
The furniture at Jack's Camp is a collection of antiques, many of which are unique, which helps to make it a very interesting, and slightly quirky, camp to stay in. These antiques include the four-poster beds, which are often smaller here than the queen-size, or even king-size, beds which are increasingly being used in some of Botswana’s better camps.
If you have a preference for double, twin beds, or a particularly large-sized bed – or anything else that’s important to you about your trip – then please let us know when you book the trip. Tell us about what is important to you and also write your special requests on our booking form. Then we can take these into account as we plan and book your trip – and we’ll always do our best to get what you want where we possibly can.
Often specific requests will influence the camps that we suggest for you visit. Hence, ideally, we need to know about these before you book your trip. If we learn about your likes and dislikes only after your holiday, there is often nothing that we can do.
Jack's Camp review
Knowledgable helpful guides. Salt Pans very different from other places we've been in Africa (especially after dark!).
All staff very friendly and helpful. The plunge pool was welcome in the heat of the afternoon. Enjoyed the surprise element of the activity programme.
We both enjoyed driving quad bikes even though we had never done that before.