What is so special about Jack's Camp in Botswana?

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Mar 15th, 2005, 08:08 AM
  #1
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What is so special about Jack's Camp in Botswana?

I do not mean this in a condescending way, but I would really like to know.

Here are my perceptions...let me know how many of them are correct, and how many of them are incorrect.

I picture a place in the middle of the Kalahari that is mostly special for its isolation and its warm staff. As far as gameviewing goes, I imagine a limited amount of gameviewing, and as a result activities such as riding on quad all terrain vehicles is available to help fill the void.

What gameviewing is possible here? I have heard that there are blackmaned lions in the Kalahari. Has anybody seen them while at Jack's Camp?

I had hoped to visit Liuwa Plains, Sioma Ngwezi, Kafue NP and Kasanka in November/December but this is turning out to be nearly as expensive as a high season safari to Botswana. Mutemwa (www.mutemwa.com) looks like a fabulous company, but it is also very pricey, owned by a former Springboks rugby player. This is one of only a couple companies that offers safaris to these off the beaten path places in Botswana, and Mutemwa is definitely the most exclusive option.

Therefore, I am also considering a September visit to Botswana and I am playing around with different itineraries, such as the following:

Westcliff, Joburg (2)
Jack's Camp (4)
Kwando Lebala (4)
Kwando Kwara (3)
Chiefs Camp (3)
King George V Four Seasons, Paris (3)

The only place that I am uncertain about is Jack's Camp.
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Mar 15th, 2005, 08:21 AM
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Can't tell you anything about Jack's Camp, but I stayed at the George V last summer for my 10 year wedding anniv. and it was amazing! The service is top notch. It's first class, but not stuffy at all. You are going to love this hotel. Gosh, I can't imagine a better trip -- Africa and Paris. That's like my ultimate fantasy!
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Mar 15th, 2005, 09:41 AM
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travelwmn,

Yeah, for sure, next time I am going to fly from Paris-Joburg, and hit Paris for a few nights on the return. King George V looks like an amazing hotel, and while I would not ordinarily drop $800 per night on a hotel room, I will be fresh from dropping nearly double that per night in Botswana or nearly 50% more per night if I end up going to Liuwa Plains and Sioma Ngwezi with Mutemwa...so, may as well continue the bloodbath (to my pocketbook) while in Paris, huh?

While I have been to Paris, my wife has not yet been to Paris and this would be a great way to round out the trip.
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Mar 15th, 2005, 09:57 AM
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In 6 months I hope to be able to answer that question definitively. In the meantime, I am attracted by meerkats!!!
brown hyena and San Bushmen. Not expecting herds of game, especially not in August.
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Mar 15th, 2005, 12:38 PM
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Roccco,
don't expect too much from lions at Jack's Camp. Because of "incidents" with the local cattle community, they don't want the lions getting used too much to humans - so you can only view them from the distance. Also expect radio collars - not quite a dream if you want to make nice photo shots. Interesting gameviewing include meerkats and (with luck) brown hyaena - and, of course, birds. The camp itself is a dream, and you will meet a lot of interesting people there. Other activities include bush walks with the San (interesting!) and quad biking (really big fun!) with sun downers in the salt pans - if you like vast spaces then it's something for you. I stayed 3 nights there (2003), and in my opinion that's enough time for this camp. (Next time I will try San Camp.)
Another recommendation: I would book as much nights as possible at Chief's Camp. This camp is a very good alternative to Mombo, and the Mombo area is the best gameviewing spot in Botswana.
 
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Mar 15th, 2005, 01:05 PM
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Rocco
It's very hard to put into words what is so special about Jack's Camp because it's a magic that doesn't translate readily into words...
As far as game viewing we spent hours sitting and walking AMIDST an habituated meerkat group, some hours sitting on the roof of our vehicle as it parked near to a brown hyena den, some time watching an immense herd of several hundred zebra, a flock of flamingoes in a shallow waterpan, numerous birds and other sightings too. The other group saw lion but we were keener to see the flamingoes.
It's not just about the wildlife though but also the landscape and the history - geological and anthropological.
The quad-biking on the dry pans is great fun too (though STD might not like the way it messes up her hair).
And the way that Jack's Camp staff look after you, I can promise you, is NOT like anywhere else.
It's something that you'll have to find out for yourself.
You know I have been to a lot of camps and I can tell you it's in my top 3.
Kavey
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Mar 15th, 2005, 01:41 PM
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Kavey,

Actually I think my wife, Alexsandra, (I am retiring those nasty little initials) would quite enjoy the quad bikes. One of our fondest memories are riding scooters on our honeymoon on one day we spent in Santorini (or was it Mykonos?).

Jack's Camp sounds like a great place, and when a multitude of people say that a place is really special, I tend to believe them...just trying to nail down exactly what it is that makes it so "special", but as you pointed out, it is always possible to exactly describe what makes a place special.

Jack's Camp would definitely be on my list for a September visit, but if I were to visit in November/December/January, I would probably be wise to save it for a future visit, right? The Kalahari Desert is probably very unforgiving in the summer months.
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Mar 15th, 2005, 02:06 PM
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Rocco,
It's nice to have a "real" name for your wife, or at least, a nicer alias than Scared_To_Death!
All I can say is that it's worth booking for 3 nights not for 2 in order to experience the full experience of Jack's (please just take it on trust) and that it's worth it.
Re the quad bikes, I decided to ride behind Pete rather than drive my own (choice was mine) and I'm glad I did as I found the salty dust that came up from the surface quite overwhelming in my eyes and nose. Being behind Pete I was able to wrap my headscarf to cover everything but my eyes and those were OK when behind him because he protected me somewhat. And I still got the experience the thrill of speed and the incredible scenery. My face and hair were WHITE with when we stopped and my skin where exposed was white too (I'm brown). A good wash under their wonderful hot showers later sorted that out. It was fabulous fun.
And the old-feel of the entire camp is amazing too!
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Mar 15th, 2005, 02:08 PM
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PS You definitely want to go when the water pans are almost dry - with water left in a few in the area near the camp.

If water levels are too high there's no quadbiking. Of course there are more zebras and flamingoes instead. What we saw was the tail end of the huge numbers of those.

And they said that temperatures in summar are 40+!!!!
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Mar 15th, 2005, 02:12 PM
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PPS Yes how could I forget the lovely walk with some elders and younger members of a local San community.

Not only did we learn about their folklore (having various tales translated for us), we learned about which plants they used for food (learning to choose the tastiest berries from one tree and enjoying them as we walked) and we were also treated to demonstrations of their setting a sprung snare and a fire from which to light their pipes.
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Mar 15th, 2005, 05:19 PM
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Thanks for your insights on Jack's. Gives me more to anticipate when I visited San Camp "next door."
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Mar 15th, 2005, 07:25 PM
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We are going to Jack's Camp in May. Before booking our trip, I read extensively about the different camps and spoke to various travel agents about our self planned itinerary. While there were different recommendations regarding land or water based camps, there was unanimous agreement about the special nature of Jack's Camp. In addition to the activities that were mentioned by other writers, I was told there is a surprise. No one would reveal what that was. The experience there is supposed to be unique. I know that my entire safari will be wonderful, but I am truly intrigued about the mystique surrounding Jack's Camp.

I'll be happy to share my experience(except the surprise)when I return.
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Mar 15th, 2005, 11:10 PM
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I'm sure you'll both love the experiences at San and Jack's.

When they upgraded the tents and facilities in Jack's Camp a year or two back they upgraded San with the old Jack's tents and also staff accommodation with the old San tents! So Jack's has permanently fitted bathrooms with beautiful wood panelling, San has bucket showers and drop loos and larger tents than previously and staff now have more space than their original igloo style tents!
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Mar 17th, 2005, 06:04 AM
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Thanks Kavey, San Camp is on the other side of the "tracks," for a savings of several hundred dollars over Jack's.
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Mar 17th, 2005, 08:09 AM
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Yep! We booked really far in advance and so didn't know about the upgrade of both camps. Now that San accommodation is at the level Jack's used to be at, I'd be happy staying at either, I'm sure.

Activities, staff and scenery are going to be the same...

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