Reviews of Jack's Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
A total surprise!
A must as an add-on to a 3+ day safari in the delta.....but not something to be done as a stand alone. The holiday relief manager from Zimbabwe, Milo, was a great host, Dabe our guide was excellent, Weda was charming and otherwise everything was great.
A shame that for two nights we were the only guests there - but it would have been worse having the camp full of HNWI Americans (all had of course cancelled because of Ebola in Africa!!!).
Loved the meerkats
We chose this camp to see the habituated meerkats. Happily, we were successful with one even crawling onto my husband's head. The group contained 9 members.
The camp is lovely. There is a waterhole just in front of the camp where many zebra, wildebeest, and birds frequently came to drink. There was also a large bull elephant and a brown hyena.
I found the quad bikes fun. The pans were amazing. As many others have said, the scenery is quite different.
The game is quite sparse in November. We were lucky enough to see 2 lionesses and 2 cubs.
It was a little disturbing to see cattle mingling with the wildlife.
I would recommend the day with the bushman--very interesting.
I think 2 nights is probably enough. The night under the stars was not an option--I suspect too much potential for rain. We had a great time, but I am not sure it is worth the cost compared to the other camps if we hadn't wanted to see the meerkats, at least during the off season.
For Meerkats only
The only reason to come here is to see and experience the Meerkats. Getting a photo with one of the Meerkats on your head is a fabulous experience even if the clan was only 4 in number when we visited.
We felt that everything else on offer was just fill in around visiting the Meerkat clan.
We did not enjoy the camp greatly, this goes for management, food etc except for Sheila who was delightful. Did not care for the paraffin lamps either as the fumes from them are quite suffocating
Quad biking was fun!
Jack's Camp review
Jack's camp was a museum but we experienced some long walks to our tent. Not a big problem but would not want to do this in the summer months there!
Some of our people on the tour felt a bit disappointed in the number of Meerkats but you cannot manufacture their presence.
Their pool area was very nice and evenings by the fire especially relaxing.
Worthwhile different experience at Jack's
Transfer from Selinda, via Maun, to Jack's was fairly gruelling. We stopped at Chobe then at Jao, arriving at Maun only after 90 mins. Efficient transfer at Maun, then nearly an hour to Jack's. (If we had known this was likely we might have booked private transfers.) This meant we were about 2 hours later at Jack's than expected. Welcome tea and cakes were ready for us.
Again, an excellent management team. Our guide was Chabba - very experienced, although could have consulted us more about our preferences. He gave an excellent introductory talk about Makgadikgadi. I celebrated a big birthday while here, and got my wish for a meerkat sitting on my head (plus 8 others on various other parts of my anatomy). The staff put on a wonderful "cabaret" for my birthday dinner, plus a chocolate cake. The Bushmen took A on a very interesting walk.
An enjoyable stay although very little "game" - porcupines, jackals, a few wildebeest, ostriches, korhaan. The quad bike drive was interesting. Sundowners were wonderful under the clear, enormous, sky alight with stars. Worthwhile visiting Jack's for a very different aspect of Botswana. However, like Selinda, I would have much appreciated better lighting in the tent.
Fantastic Meerkats at Jack's Camp
The third bed provided in the family tent was merely a mattress pulled out from under one of the beds and placed on the floor. Although it was acceptable for a few nights, for a camp of this quality something less basic and more comfortable should have be provided.
Our guide, Fanuel, was excellent particularly, having no tracker to help, he had both to drive and track or spotlight at the same time which with only one pair of eyes could mean fewer sightings particularly during the green season when the grasses are high and the trees are in full leaf. The Meerkats were probably the highlight of the visit but we enjoyed walking and talking to the San Bushmen.
Jack's Camp review
Jack's Camp is a special camp in a remote and very special place.
We enjoyed the laid-back and somewhat historic athmosphere. However, we felt that when the camp is fully booked (as it was during our stay), the number of guests (more than 20) does impact the remoteness and silence of the desert feeling, especially if 7 of the guests are children.
This having been said, we did love our experience at Jack's, especially with the meerkats. Chapman's baobab, the bushman walk as well as the sundowners at the salt pans were highlights, too. We would like to return some day, but that would most probably be during low season when the camp is more quiet.
Jack's Camp is unique
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Jack's Camp with one exception (see below). The location and surrounds are unique in our experience with amazing scenery and wildlife. The guiding was excellent as was the food. However the management was inexperienced, far too young and sometimes invisible. The tents are in need of a refresh in order to make them comparable to the best Botswana has to offer.
The Kalahari is an amazing place truly different from anything we have seen before. The camp is very well situated for the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.
They are comfortable but somewhat dated. While the loo was very quaint (throne type) the fact that the seat could not be fully lifted caused some hygiene problems. The room was also rather dark even during the day with no electricity after 5 pm. Hot water supply was sometimes a problem.
The staff were very friendly and helpful and we would especially single out our guide, Shabah, who was first class and also accompanied us at meal times. Unfortunately senior management at the camp was almost invisible and front of the house was left to temporary and volunteer staff who were either just about to leave or straight out of school in the UK and had only been there for 2 days! This got reflected in the way the camp was run: our hot water was not switched on before we arrived; drink facilities that we were told would be open were locked and it was impossible to find anyone to open them even for water; flight times were changed at VERY short notice with no explanation; no one from management was there to say goodbye to us when we left.
Was excellent - probably the best of our whole trip - good quality and very nicely presented.
Very good. Although being a desert, game is sparse but we saw magnificent Kalahari Lions, Ostrich, Meerkats and a variety of birdlife including a huge flock of vultures. The quad bike ride into the salt pan was unforgettable as was the walk with the Bushmen.
Very good - especially the pool area and the library.
Our final two days at Jack's Camp
Let us start with the best first. For health reasons we could not take part in all the activities. However,, our guide and the organising staff really put themselves out to make our stay as enjoyable as possible - and succeeded admirably. For example, my wife didn't feel up to the quad-biking on the pan one afternoon, but the manager drove her out there later in his Land Cruiser for the sundowner. Another example, I had been particularly looking forward to the walk with the San. This was not in fact on the schedule for the two days we were there. However, it was arranged for my final morning - just for me!
Jack's Camp has echoes of Great White Hunters of the past. This is reflected in both its management policies and in the decor. Our most disconcerting moment was to find, on arrival, that all the front line staff were young Europeans and that the numerous African staff were working mainly behind the scenes. This was in marked contrast to the two previous camps we had been to, where we were introduced to all staff. That said, the staff here could not have been more helpful. Also, the service unit here is much larger than most, serving two other camps as well. In the main communal area there were hunting memorabilia, period furniture, old photographs, maps, and books which were fascinating for those interested in such things, although appreciating them fully would require more time than the average visitor has. Period furniture also filled the sleeping rooms which didn't necessarily contribute to room comfort. Our room was in fact fairly comfortable, especially the beds, but the room was too cluttered to lay out our belongings. The flow of water was totally reliable but the bathroom/lavatory would have been more functional with modern furniture. However, these negatives pale beside the huge logistical difficulties of providing any sort of service in such a remote location. The food was nothing short of outstanding, although it had to be conveyed across 30 metres through rough grass from the kitchen to the dining area. The dining service was consequently a little haphazard, handicapped further by an insistence on Ladies First even when parties were arriving at different times.
My wife, whose main interest was in wildlife, did wonder before we went whether this was a good choice of location for the final two days of our holiday in Botswana, but my reason for choosing it was precisely because it was so different from the Moremi/Okavango area where we had spent the previous six days. This location gives a real feel for the Kalahari and is located right next to the extraordinary salt pans. There is wildlife here, though not so much at the time of year we went (August) but it tends to be either smaller or big but more distant. The highlights on our first evening/night game drive were a brown hyena, honey badger, genet and porcupine - pretty thin perhaps for a Kruger Hoover but fascinating nonetheless. If you like meerkats, this is certainly the place to come, for you can walk with a human-habituated colony and see them wake up, warm up, and hunt, all at close quarters. However, no one comes in August primarily to see the game. There is in fact a good deal to see and do. In our two days we had the game drive just mentioned, a visit to Chapman's baobab, hunting with meerkats, quad-biking out to the Makgadikgadi salt pan, sundowner on the pan (strictly non-alcoholic this time) and, most wonderfully for me, a walk through the Kalahari with a family of six San. The activity program at Jack's Camp is astonishingly wide and adventurous for such a remote location. I am lost in admiration for the sheer organisational prowess of the manager and his staff. This extends to the running of the camp as well.
Different, but yes I would certainly recommend a short stay of two, perhaps three days, here.
Jack's Camp review
We had an excellent time at this camp - fantastic combination of activities, scenery, relaxation and offbeat wildlife (including aardwolf, bat-eared fox, porcupine and elephant in one evening, not to mention the meerkats).
The only trouble is that it ups the ante for the next trip, and it is hard to believe that there are places that are overall more enjoyable. So we may have to return... Rich was a top class guide as well as being a lot of fun.