Jackalberry Tented Camp: Our full report
Jackalberry Tented Camp lies in the far north of Namibia, on its own exclusive concession deep within Nkasa ...... Rupara National Park (formerly Mamili National Park). It was initially opened in 2015 as a self-catering camp for those looking to enjoy unrivalled access to the park. Then in February 2016 the owners decided to change tack and it is now an intimate, fully catered and hosted eco-camp.
Jackalberry Tented Camp is a sister property to the excellent Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge on the edge of the same park.
The camp has just four fairly simple tented rooms, accommodating a maximum of eight guests. Each room comes with twin beds or a double, a fridge/minibar that is filled on request, and a writing desk. An en-suite bathroom is set at the back behind an intriguing wooden partition, which is made from old bits of wood, such as cattle yokes, sourced from local villages. Furniture is fairly sparse but continues this rugged, wooden theme. The bedside tables, for example, are made from large, polished triangular- shaped planks and the headboard consists of large wooden beams that look as though they have had a very interesting previous life.
The rooms all have running hot and cold water and a power point, but please be aware that Jackalberry is an eco-camp in a remote location. Solar geysers heat the water, and electricity is produced from solar panels, so the camp urges you to charge electrical items sparingly and where possible during the day.
Outside each tent beneath a canvas awning is a small seating area and standpipe, a vestige from Jackalberry's days as a self-catering camp. Now this area serves as a great place to relax and enjoy a drink in your own private piece of wilderness. During our most recent stay, in July 2017, we loved the way that the tents almost blended into this remote, untouched landscape. This was accentuated when we watched the dark, bulky shapes of hippos and elephants trundle past the gauze of our tent windows during the night. In the morning, checking the footprints on the sandy path to our tent, it was clear that the animals paid little attention to these man-made structures.
The main area, sometimes referred to as Jackalberry Tower, is built over three levels around a giant jackalberry tree – the camp's namesake. At ground level is the kitchen and a small boma, complete with a firepit: the perfect place for an evening around the fire with friends and, on occasion, dinner by firelight.
Up a metal staircase on the first floor is the camp's reception area, which doubles as the dining room and bar with a communal dining table. It may be small but with its elevation and open-sided nature it affords superb views of the surroundings – making the squeeze for the camp's maximum eight guests, worth it.
At the top of the tower is a viewing deck/sundowner spot and curio cupboard. The views from here are spectacular and can be enjoyed from a small sofa and a couple of comfortable chairs. On a clear day, it is worth scanning the vista for game, as it is possible to see as far as the Botswana bank of the Kwando River.
Activities from Jackalberry focus on day and night game drives in Nkasa Rupara National Park and boat trips along the Kwando-Linyanti river that separates Botswana and Namibia.
The guide during our stay was very knowledgeable and engaging. On our boat trip, besides the numerous hippos and crocodiles, and trees dripping in bee-eaters and cormorants, the real highlight was a herd of elephants. At a point where the river opened out and was flat calm, we watched as a herd of seven tentatively made its way across to Namibia. Set against a sky dappled with fluffy white clouds reflected perfectly in the glass-like water, this was a truly memorable sighting.
After dinner we headed out on a night drive, where we saw quite a number of hippo grazing on the banks of the river and of the various pools that are dotted around the landscape. We also spotted a herd of around 180 buffalo and heard lion roaring from a nearby island.
The following morning we managed to the find the buffalo once again on an early drive, as well as seeing elephants just behind the camp.
Although the game densities in the Nkasa Lupala do not rival those across the river in Botswana, a broad selection of antelope calls this park home. We understand that there are large herds of buffalo and elephant later in the dry season, between about August and October, as well as occasional sightings of wild dogs and lion. A range of both migratory and resident birds is also found here.
Small and remote, Jackalberry Tented Camp has a real wilderness feel. We think that it would suit those looking for something off the beaten track and a little adventurous without compromising on comfort.
- Caprivi Strip, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- Given the remote location we suggest a minimum of two nights here.
- Nkasa Rupara National Park is accessible only by 4WD. Even if you have a suitable vehicle, Expert Africa would advise leaving it at the village of Sangwali and transferring to Jackalberry Camp in one of their vehicles driven by an experienced guide.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- During our stay in July 2017 we thoroughly enjoyed our meals at Jackalberry. As the kitchen is at the bottom of the tower, meals are brought up in a manually powered dumb waiter to the middle floor.
For breakfast, accompanied by freshly made coffee, there was a good selection of fruits, cereals, meats and cheeses as well as hot dishes cooked to order.
Light lunch options are on offer and included in the full board rate and homemade cakes are served mid-afternoon.
Dinner started with a creamy cauliflower soup. The main course was a nicely cooked game steak with mashed potato, carrots and greens, and our dessert was a delicious crème brulée. The meal was finished perfectly with a shot of either grappa or limoncello, a salute to the Italian roots of the owners.
- Deep within the remote Nkasa Rupara National Park, close to the Linyanti River, Jackalberry Tented Camp is a great location for birdwatching in Namibia. A variety of activities allow guests to explore the park’s varied habitats in search of avifauna.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Private villas & houses
- With just four tented rooms, Jackalberry Tented Camp on the Caprivi Strip can be booked on an exclusive-use basis for groups or families travelling together. This would be a fantastic way to enjoy this spectacular corner of Namibia.
- See ideas for Private villas & houses
- Attitude towards children
- Jackalberry Camp welcomes children over the age of 16.
- Property’s age restrictions
- The camp does not accept children under the age of 16.
- Special activities & services
- Generally recommended for children
- We agree with the camp’s age restriction: it is not well-suited to children.
- The camp is unfenced so there is a risk from dangerous wild animals such as elephant and hippo entering the reserve.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Jackalberry Camp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Jackalberry Tented Camp have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- As all tAlthough power is supplied 24/7, it is best used during daylight hours as it is 100% solar-generated. Guests are asked not to use hairdryers.
- There is no cellphone service or WiFi.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The water is clean but not suitable for human consumption.
Hot water is provided by solar geysers so please bear this in mind, as this may not be piping hot especially in the morning, evening or on a cloudy day.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The nearest doctor is at the Sangwali clinic, and the nearest hospital is in Katima Mulilo.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers outside all the tented rooms and in the main areas.
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- Not offered – Jackalberry is an eco-camp with limited water supply so a laundry service isn’t offered.
- The camp doesn't offer foreign exchange services. There were no safes in the rooms at the time of our visit.
- Accepted payment on location
- Payment can be made with Visa or Mastercard, or in cash using Namibian dollars or South African rand.
Other lodges in Caprivi Strip
Alternative places to stay in this same area.