Lodges

San Camp

Old world safari romance in the eerily beautiful Makgadikgadi

San Camp

San Camp brings you forward into the future of eco-friendly, responsible travel by taking you back in time to an era where safari meant personal butlers and starry banquets. Huge, open, airy tents appear as an oasis of old-world civilisation on the desolate Makgadikgadi Salt Pan - the site of an extinct lake bed. This mysterious place is home to a healthy meerkat population—willed, but delightfully habituated—as well as desert-adapted wildlife, including brown hyenas, Aardwolf, bat-eared foxes and black-maned lions. Walk with a local San Bushman for a real-life history and biology lesson, or get an on the spot archaeology and geography lesson from your guide; navigate the vast moon-like landscape at your own speed, on the back of an ATV. Bedouin tents, Persian rugs and careful colonial accents conjure a true Lawrence of Arabia feel - the atmosphere is hallucinogenically romantic.

At the lodge

The hotel

Everything here is exquisitely composed, like a film set. The luxury is only amplified by the lack - there is no electricity at San Camp, so paraffin lanterns scatter the camp and light the walks adding enchantment to the evenings. A mess tent with a large dinning table is host to gourmet meals. You'll find a library tent full of bones and fascinating artefacts and carefully curated books. Take tea in the dedicated tea tent - a sprawling area with exotic rugs and cushions. Truly unwind in the tented yoga pavilion, meditating on the endless horizon.

The rooms

Each of the six 1940s safari style tents is extremely luxurious - even without electricity or running water. The en-suite bathroom with heated bucket shower and long drop loo is all you need. Water is provided in copper jugs and basins. Wooden four-poster beds are fringed with lovely white canopies. A vanity set and sitting area with leather chairs form the entrance to the tent. Lounge on the outdoor deck appointed with a cushioned chaise - perfect for a breezy afternoon snooze.

On safari

Experiences

San Camp is ideal during Botswana's dry season, from May through September. This is not a big-game destination but does offer one of the most unique combinations of wildlife, culture and landscape. There are several ways of exploring the vast salt pans: game drives, guided walks, ATVs, or on horseback (for an extra fee). For an intimate look at the flora and fauna and a dose of history and local knowledge, take a walk with the Zu/’hoasi Bushmen. Highly qualified guides will escort you to archeological sites and geographical anomalies, like rock outcrops and gnarled baobabs. The resident meerkat colony provides some of the best wildlife entertainment around and is sure to make a lover out of even the most reluctant skeptic.

When to go

Makgadikgadi by month

January

Season: Wet
  • The Pan's are waterlogged during this time of year making certain activities like quad biking impossible.
  • Temperatures are high and relatively humid, with rainfall at its peak for this desert environment.
  • There is plenty of water and lush green grass attracting wildlife and their predators from far and wide.
  • Second largest migration in Africa, with zebra and wildebeest moving into the region.
  • The treetops are alive with the sounds of migratory birds in breeding plumage.
  • Witness a sea of pink on Sowa Pan, home to tens of thousands of Greater flamingo during this time of the year.

February

Season: Wet
  • Temperatures are hot with relatively high humidity, rainfall is at its peak for this desert environment.
  • Wildlife viewing is at its best with lush green vegetation, plenty of water and predators and prey in close proximity.
  • Experience the spectacle of Africa's second largest migration of zebra and wildebeest.
  • An ideal time for birders with migratory species present and in their breeding plumage.
  • The Pan's become waterlogged over this period, making quad biking and overnight fly camping impossible.

March

Season: Wet
  • There is low humidity with high temperatures, less rainfall is experienced usually in the form of sporadic showers.
  • Animal densities are at an all-time high with predators and prey enjoying a time of plenty with lush green grass and waterholes full.
  • Zebra and wildebeest have gathered in the region, following the second largest migration in Africa.
  • Bonding with the habituated meerkats of Jack's Camp is a real highlight of any trip into the area.
  • The Pan's are not accessible during this time of year making certain activities like quad biking and fly camping impossible.

April

Season: Wet
  • Temperatures are still high in April, with rain taking the form of irregular afternoon showers.
  • Over the course of this month animals begin to migrate out of the area as water starts to dry up and the lush grasses die back.
  • Walks led by local bushman provide an incredible insight into survival in this harsh environment.
  • A great time of year to visit the ancient chapman's Baobab, an incredible tree steeped in history.
  • In this month the Pan's may still be too wet for quad biking and fly camping activities.

May

Season: Dry
  • May is a transition month, temperatures begin to drop from the extremes and rain is almost nonexistent.
  • By the end of the month, water's have dried up leading to a mass exodus of wildlife, only the most hardy species remain.
  • Enjoy an incredible landscape of extreme beauty and extreme hardship in this month.
  • There is no better way to meet this region than on a bushman guided walk, offering insight into their ancient culture and survival in this environment.
  • Quad biking and fly camping are just a couple of the must do activities at this time of year.
  • Clear winter skies make for picture perfect sunrises and sunsets.

June

Season: Dry
  • Temperatures are comfortable but have dropped considerably at night, with morning frost on occasion, rainfall dry's up.
  • Wildlife has now spread out over a large area with only the unique species of the desert remaining.
  • A breathtaking landscape awaits over this period, showcasing the contrasts of extreme beauty and hardship.
  • Bushman guided walks provide a special look at survival in this harsh environment.
  • Take advantage of ideal quad biking and fly camping conditions in this month.
  • Enjoy the romance of desert sunsets and sunrises during this time of year.

July

Season: Dry
  • Nights are cold with occasional frost, day temperatures are comfortable and rainfall is nonexistent.
  • Big game has migrated out of the region, allowing the unique desert species to take centre stage, such as brown hyena, aardvark and the very habituated meerkats of Jack's Camp.
  • Incredible harsh landscapes provide interesting photographic composition at this time of the year.
  • Meet the habituated meerkats of Jack's Camp, an unmissable experience in this region.
  • Explore the incredible archeological sites present in the region with ancient stone tools and other remnants of our history.
  • The night sky is at its most impressive, with shooting stars and the Milky Way taking centre stage.

August

Season: Dry
  • The coldest night temperatures have passed, with the daylight hours warming considerably, rain is still very unlikely.
  • Africa's larger species have migrated out of the region, leaving the unique desert species as the wildlife highlight in this month.
  • Quad biking and fly camping are just a couple of the must do activities at this time of year.
  • Bushman led walks offer insights into this ancient culture and survival in this desert environment.
  • Relax with an ice cold beverage, as the sunsets on this magical place.
  • The night sky is at its most impressive, with shooting stars and the Milky Way taking centre stage.

September

Season: Dry
  • Temperatures start to climb, with rain being unlikely in this month.
  • During this month the unique desert species like brown hyena, aardvark and the habituated meerkat of Jack's Camp, provide interesting wildlife viewing.
  • Fly camping in the desolate salt pans looking up at a blanket of twinkling stars is a not to be missed experience.
  • Visit the ancient Chapman's Baobab, an immense tree thought to be thousands of years old.
  • Enjoy the romance of a picture perfect sunrise or sunset at this time of year.

October

Season: Dry
  • Temperatures reach their peak with humidity starting to climb toward the end of the month, it is unlikely that the rains will fall in October over the Makgadikgadi region.
  • Wildlife is experiencing its most dire month with the unique desert species the only wildlife present until the rains break.
  • Photography is particularly good in this month, with clear blue skies and an extreme landscape.
  • An early morning bushman walk, provides insight into an ancient way of life and surviving in this harsh environment.
  • The habituated meerkats of Jack's Camp, are a highlight of any trip into this region.
  • Explore the incredible archeological sites present in the region with ancient stone tools and other remnants of our history.

November

Season: Wet
  • Temperatures are hot and relatively humid with the first rains of the year falling in the form of late afternoon showers.
  • This can be difficult to predict as weather can come early or late depending on the year.
  • Large mammals slowly start to make their way back into the area, bringing a host of predators with them.
  • Visit the ancient Chapman's Baobab, an immense tree thought to be thousands of years old.
  • Known for interesting cloud formations and spectacular electrical storms, illuminate the evening sky.

December

Season: Wet
  • Temperatures are hot and relatively humid with rain falling in the form of late afternoon showers.
  • There is plenty of water and lush green grass attracting herbivores and their predators from far and wide.
  • Migratory birds have returned in breeding plumage, displays for mates are frequent and flamboyant.
  • The smaller insectivores of the region are particularly active during this period with the habituated meerkats of Jack's Camp always a highlight of any stay.
  • Known for interesting cloud formations and spectacular electrical storms, illuminate the evening sky.

Wildlife


This harsh desert environment is transformed during the wet season, attracting wildlife from far and wide. Africa's second largest migration of wildebeest and zebra can be seen here, followed by the infamous Kalahari Black-maned lions and stalking cheetah. An added bonus is the impressive list of unique birds, and a sea of pink flamingos, feeding on the algae-rich waters of the pan.

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