Botswana safaris come in many shapes and sizes, and more often than not guests go to the lush Okavango Delta which is fantastic for game, but only covers a very small amount of Botswana. Most of Botswana is made up by the Kalahari Desert and the vast salt pans, the Makgadikgadi. It is such a shame for guests to only see the lush Delta when the real magic undoubtedly happens in the Desert. San Camp in the Makgadikgadi Pans blew The Luxury Safari Company’s MD Rose Hipwood away when she stayed there recently. It is quite simply the best camp in Botswana and wins on every count. Open from April to October this white Moroccan style camp is impossibly luxurious.
San Camp is made up of white tents spread far and wide through the salt pans. The walk to the furthest tent is about ten minutes and you couldn’t wish for a more private setting. The tents are huge and furnished with Persian rugs and campaign four poster beds. There is a large en suite with dark wood paneled shower and an antique loo fit for an Elizabethan queen. It simply is luxurious. The vast pans stretch before you only dotted with scrub grass and doum palms behind camp. This must feel like walking on the moon and you are overwhelmed by the enormity of the whole thing.
The Makgadikgadi Pans were the birthplace of early man and whilst walking on these salt pans one can often find early man tools and weapons, all of which are collected and put in the San Camp museum which is certainly the most interesting museum in Africa. The San bushmen also live here, they are the oldest living tribe in Africa and their tracking and botanical knowledge is incredible, a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
Star gazing here includes the milky way and the silence and peace of the night here is magical – you can sleep out on the pans, there is no dangerous game and no dew so your night’s sleep is as deep as one could have anywhere. The highlight here is meeting one of four habituated meerkat families that live in the areas around San Camp – these adorable creatures play and forage around you, and often climb politely onto your head so to get a better view of the surrounding bush. Watching them is fascinating as they bare many human characteristics and are absolutely charming with it.
Quad biking across the pans is also fantastic and speeding along with a sarong around your head to avoid the dust is both exciting and refreshing. Here you can also visit Chapman’s baobab which was used as a navigation point for the first explorers covering Botswana – it has many engravings which are historic and is a wonderful specimen of the famous baobab tree.
San Camp’s staff are gracious, efficient and very friendly, you feel immediately at home. Nothing is too much trouble and they produce the most delicious food from their kitchen. It beats any London restaurant we’ve been to.