Botswana

Jack's Camp

There are things we all do and come to understand in the course of living a normal life in the modern world. There are a different set of customs and attitudes that one learns while on Safari in Africa. But in the Kalahari desert, on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan, none of that stuff really matters. Jack’s Camp is unique in the extreme, and it was the most fun and eye-opening experiences we have ever had.

So what can you expect to see?

You will see meerkats. Some might even stand on your head as they scan the horizon for predators.

Meerkats are highly social animals and excellent hunters. They cooperate by alternately standing guard while the rest of the mob forages for food.
Meerkats are highly social animals and excellent hunters. They cooperate by alternately standing guard while the rest of the mob forages for food.
Sean Pont

You will most likely see a brown hyena, which is one of the rarest predators in Africa. It has a mocha-colored mane, striped front legs, and a handsome, intelligent face with bone-crushing jaws. Their den is not far from camp.

Brown hyenas, also called strandwolf, are primarily scavengers. They live in small clans and are mostly nocturnal.
Brown hyenas, also called strandwolf, are primarily scavengers. They live in small clans and are mostly nocturnal.
Sean Pont

You might see some lions. The lions of the Kalahari are massive, muscular creatures and we were fortunate to have had several encounters during our short stay. The first was somewhat comical. We went for a run to the salt pan in the middle of the afternoon when all the sensible animals (and humans) are napping in the shade. Our guide followed us in the Land Rover. When we got back to camp, another guide asked us if we had seen the lion that was lounging 20m to the side of the trail. We were stunned. Sure enough, when we drove back out an hour later, there he was. This lion had almost certainly looked straight at us as we ran past, considered the heat of the day and the lack of meat on our bones, and decided to pass.

This chap was lying behind a bush 20m from the trail. We ran right past it without suspecting a thing.
This chap was lying behind a bush 20m from the trail. We ran right past it without suspecting a thing.
Sean Pont | Not eaten

Our second lion encounter was even more incredible. We were on our way back from “sundowners” on the salt pan when our guide heard on the radio that two lionesses were hunting wildebeest not far from our location. We drove into position. It was too dark to see clearly but we couldn’t use our lights lest we tip the balance of the hunt in one direction or another. With quick flashes of a red light (which is less disruptive), we could just make out that a herd of about 40 wildebeest was directly in front of us and the two lionesses were approaching from the right. Suddenly, the herd split as the lions attacked. It appeared that they had failed, but then we saw one of the lionesses lying down to our right. We approached cautiously and found it suffocating its quarry by holding the wildebeest’s entire nose and mouth in her massive jaws. The other lioness looped back around and started feeding straight away. A few minutes later, the alpha male lion that we had seen earlier casually sauntered past. He greeted the two lionesses warmly and set to work on the hindquarters.

Photographing the lions at night was challenging because we could not shine our flashlights directly towards them.
Photographing the lions at night was challenging because we could not shine our flashlights directly towards them.
Sean Pont
One of the lionesses brought her two cubs to the dinner table. Dad can be seen behind it in full food coma mode.
One of the lionesses brought her two cubs to the dinner table. Dad can be seen behind it in full food coma mode.
Sean Pont

The Kalahari has been home to the San people, or bushmen, quite literally since the dawn of man. They are kind, curious, and supremely respectful of the land and of each other. Their knowledge of the bush is astonishing. They demonstrated how to find and dig up edible bulbs. They made a fire by rubbing sticks together. They showed us their favorite game, a sort of musical version of rock-paper-scissors. They are beyond doubt the most culturally different people I have ever met. I wish that I could have stayed with them for a month.

Bushmen have lived in the Kalahari basically forever. Their knowledge of the area is boundless.
Bushmen have lived in the Kalahari basically forever. Their knowledge of the area is boundless.
Sean Pont
This edible bulb has a texture like an Asian Pear and tastes like a bitter radish.
This edible bulb has a texture like an Asian Pear and tastes like a bitter radish.
Sean Pont
Water can be extracted from the bi bulb plant by shaving off a handful of the root and squeezing it in your hand. It tastes like bitter cucumber water.
Water can be extracted from the bi bulb plant by shaving off a handful of the root and squeezing it in your hand. It tastes like bitter cucumber water.
Sean Pont

Jack’s camp sits on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Pan, one of the largest salt flats on earth. It is at once featureless and captivating.

YiOu running on the pan. Greg, our guide, follows in the Land Rover. Few animals venture out onto the pan.
YiOu running on the pan. Greg, our guide, follows in the Land Rover. Few animals venture out onto the pan.
Sean Pont
You can run for miles and see nothing but salt.
You can run for miles and see nothing but salt.
Sean Pont
The complete lack of features on the pan enable all sorts of photographic shenanigans.
The complete lack of features on the pan enable all sorts of photographic shenanigans.
Greg | Our guide
The Makgadikgadi salt pan is most accessible by quad bike.
The Makgadikgadi salt pan is most accessible by quad bike.
Sean Pont
These three male lions bid us farewell. They had recently arrived in the area and were trying to push the alpha male out.
These three male lions bid us farewell. They had recently arrived in the area and were trying to push the alpha male out.
Sean Pont