Camp Kalahari in a Nutshell
This camp is the “mid priced’ option for the Makgadikgadi area. It is a rustic style bush camp, well located on the edge of the salt pans, right next to the boundary of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. It is ideal for those that seek adventure, fun, comfort and style and children of all ages are accepted. It is the perfect base to explore the salt pans on foot, camp out on quad bikes under the stars or go for game drives in the park to track down the zebra migration.
- 10 classic style “Meru” tents
- Family tent available
- Price range of USD510 – USD700 pppn
- Access to salt pan ecosystem
- Game drives, walks with San Bushmen
- Access by road or light aircraft
- Habituated meerkat experience
- Horse riding
How to Get There
You can fly into Camp Kalahari from any bush airstrip, or direct from Maun or Kasane (flying costs here are usually relatively high). We like this camp because it is also accessible by road on a self drive safari (by prior arrangement) or as part of your itinerary on a mobile safari.
Game Viewing and Activities
We like the fact that the activities here are a little different:
Standard day and night game drives are, of course, on offer. There are two distinct seasons that offer contrasting experiences at Camp Kalahari. A safari in the wet season (December to April) will reward visitors with an experience of the zebra migration. These animals materialise with the bloom of fresh new grass and the presence of water to drink in the pans. For these months, the desert is alive with grazers and the odd predator. Recent estimates put the zebra population at 30, 000 – certainly the most substantial migration in Southern Africa.
With the arrival of the dry season (roughly May to November), the zebra return to the permanent rivers on the other extremity of the park – the extraordinary ecosystem of the salt pans now becomes the main attraction while at Camp Kalahari. Guests can experience this vast landscape on quad bikes. This is the only way to get out to “the middle of nowhere” and experience a feeling of solitude and emptiness – guests can sleep out on the pans under the stars, no tent. The star gazing is pretty impressive too! Guests can also accompany local San Bushmen on guided walks to gain insight into their former way of life. This is an obviously “staged” performance, but each guests usually departs with a better understanding of how intimately these people intricately relate with and understand the complex desert environment they used to thrive in.
Perhaps the most unique experience is an interaction with a clan of habituated meerkats. These animals still remain wild but allow humans to observe them from (very) close proximity. You can spend a morning with them, following as they dig for scorpions while sentinels scan the sky for avian predators. You are guaranteed to see the meerkats as their daily movements are constantly followed.
There are also horse rides available here – do ask us for more information. The camp has also introduced “fat” biking and it is a safe area for this activity.
It must also be noted that this area IS NOT for traditional game viewing experiences where you can follow a range of big predators and find the so-called “big 5.” Indeed, far from it. In this regard, it might not be to everyone’s taste and it would rarely be on an itinerary unless combined with another productive game viewing camp. With all this known to you beforehand, it certainly is one of the most interesting locations in Botswana and the desert ecosystem reveals secrets and surprises on a fairly regular basis, if you spend enough time here. It is all about “desert adapted” species in the Makgadikgadi, with meerkats, brown hyenas, bat-eared foxes, aardwolves and other species otherwise elusive elsewhere, all likely to make your check list!
The bird life is amazing especially after good rains as the pans hold water and attract breeding waterbirds.
The camp décor maintains classic safari style and simplicity. Guests are accommodated in Meru tents with en-suite covered and netted bathrooms with running water. (There is also a larger family tent). The tents have battery lights and a small fan which run on solar power.
The setting is within a tree island in the middle of the open grasslands. This means there is no expansive view out onto the salt pans from the tents or main area of the camp. There is however a little welcome shade. The main building is thatched which helps to keep it cool and there is also a most welcome swimming pool.
We really admire the simplistic rustic appearance of this camp which breathes a bit of atmosphere and charm. The family that started safari operations in this part of Botswana have “all things safari” in their blood. Unchartered Africa Safari Company owns all of the camps in this area, and are responsible for developing tourism out on the pans. This rich family history is reflected in the atmosphere one experiences at Camp Kalahari, although this is the cheaper and least “iconic” of the 3 camps they have built in the area, which is reflected in the fact that Camp Kalahari has been kept much more low key.
Dining is on a communal table so you sit with other guests. Food is of a high standard and all meals are “plated” rather than buffet style.
What we think
This is the most affordable option in this area with the other sister camps being nearly double the price (Jack’s Camp and San Camp). It does offer good value and you get virtually the same experiences and activities on offer in all camps. The affordability is reflected in the slightly less inspiring views from camp and possibly more people on your safari vehicle during activities. It is the best option for families as they have a family tent which is unfortunately lacking from the other camps.
Everything is kept simple here, which we like – so no frills, sand pathways, and tented accommodation that has not gone over-the-top.
Flights to this area are relatively expensive because of the unusual far distance from Maun airport compared to other camps.
If you choose the private guided option with us, we can drive into this camp on our itineraries.