San Safari Camp (Makgadikgadi Pans) Botswana
ROMANCE IN THE KALAHARI
Imagine a smattering of billowing white tents, shaded by desert palms and surrounded by a thousand acres of shimmering, sparkling nothingness. You’ve just dreamt up San Camp, our impossibly romantic, seven-bedroom camp on the edge of the Nwetwe Pan in Botswana’s Makgadikgadi. San isn’t a place for frills and fluffiness. The magic is in the minimalism, both at the camp and in the mysterious desert landscape. You can forget the tourist crowds and over-stuffed 4x4s too; it’s just you, the wildlife, and a handful of local San Bushmen, waiting to share their secrets with you.
Of all the Makgadikgadi pans, we think Nwetwe is the most iconic. Meerkats pop up from the desert dust, brown hyaena hide in the grass, and you’ll see red hartebeest, springbok and gemsbok scurrying between them. But San Camp isn’t just about wildlife-watching – it’s about the atmosphere and the ethereal surroundings. Disappear into a remote world, a million miles from glowing screens and fruit-themed devices, where the 360-degree panoramas are so vast, you can see the curvature of the earth…
San Camp is located on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in the Kalahari Desert of Botswana. San Safari Camp is the most authentic and classic safari camp in Southern Africa, evoking the atmosphere and elegance of a 1940's East African safari. San Camp is a small seasonal camp of palm trees and white Ottoman style tents that overlook the vastness of the Kalahari Desert.
Accommodating only twelve guests the camp has the feel of safari style in the 1920's. Each of the spacious tents has a bucket shower open to the blue African sky and a private toilet. The camp prides itself on its delicious and innovative cuisine, its friendly ambience and the relaxed scientific approach of the guides. For those wanting an experience on "the edge", San Camp is romantic and remote - it appears to be the last bastion of civilization at the edge of the world!
We’ve already mentioned those beautiful, billowing tents, but what’s in store inside the canvas walls? Think enormous four-posters, draped in crisp cotton and feather-soft blankets, raised high above Persian rugs. Mahogany writing desks and leather armchairs contrast the rugged surroundings, and there’s a lazy day bed just outside, perfect for an afternoon of view-gazing. Ensuite bathrooms have hot, running water showers and flush loos, and there’s plenty of water in the elegant copper jugs and basins. The entire camp runs on solar-power and when darkness falls, you’ll find lanterns scattered around to light the way.
At the main area, the open-sided pavilions are bright and breezy – and let that view do the talking! Gather in the splendid mess tent for a three-course feast, accompanied by white linen and crystal glasses, or sink into a cushion in the tea tent and treat yourself to one of the best brownies in the desert. If you can drag your eyes away from the surroundings, take a peek at our natural history cabinets with their eclectic collections of old maps, fossils and artefacts, and then, it’s time to let your mind unwind in the sanctuary of the yoga pavilion. We couldn’t think of a better place to end the day.
WHY BOOK THIS CAMP?
- Elegant and impossibly romantic, San Camp’s classic white tents offer 360 degree views over the sparkling salt pans.
- Take game drives and night drives in custom built 4x4s to see the unique desert wildlife, spend time with the cheeky meerkats, and join the Zu/’hoasi Bushmen on a bush walk.
- Travel across the salt-crusted earth by quad-bike. The fact that you’ll travel at great speed, yet arrive nowhere underlines the true immensity of this remarkable area.
- San Camp has a reputation for delicious and innovative cuisine – think fresh tomato tartlets, three-layer banana and caramel cake, and the best beef Wellington you’ve ever tried.
- Lie out on the pans as the sun sets, and watch the planetarium of stars unfold.
- Retreat to the yoga and meditation pavilion and absorb the compelling energy of your surroundings. This is the perfect spot to relax, unwind and retreat.
Accommodation & Amenities
7 tents: 5 twins, 2 doubles
Ensuite bathrooms with indoor showers
Tented yoga pavilion
Wifi available: No
Battery charging facilities: In the mess tent
Complimentary laundry service
Child policy: We welcome all ages
Disabled access: Please enquire with reservations
All meals and local drinks; activities (NB some activities at an extra surcharge)
What’s not included?
Flights; premium brand beverages; tips & gratuities;
San Camp is only open in the dry season :- 16th April to 15th October
The area is also the only place in Southern Africa where one is often able to see a migration of tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebra followed by predators. Although migrations do occur elsewhere in Botswana, the tree cover prohibits a view of the magnitude that we are able to see due to the exposed nature of the surrounding grasslands. The Makgadikgadi, a relic of one of the world’s largest superlakes, dried up thousands of years ago as a result of the continued shifting of the earth’s crust. When the Pans are dry, to travel where conventional vehicles cannot, and to guard against scarring the Pan’s crust, we utilize four wheel drive quad bikes. Venturing far into the middle of the Pans, we are able to explore remote archaeological sites, periodically discovering sites never before documented such as fossil beds of extinct giant zebra and hippo.
be thoroughly advised as to the traditional nature and style
of our camps. Ours are the most authentic and classic safari
camps in Southern Africa and evoke the atmosphere and
elegance of a 40's East African safari. This is an
experience in itself and one which most adventurous and
sophisticated Guests will appreciate and enjoy. The
important distinction is that Guests should arrive knowing
what to expect. Some people find luxury in running water and
electricity in their tents whilst others find luxury in
Persian carpets underfoot and having their steaming water
brought to their tents in a gleaming copper jug. We fall
into the latter category. Flush loos are an exception but
hopefully, we do not compromise too much comfort in the name
Enjoy up-close encounters with our habituated meerkats.
Join the Zu/’hoasi Bushmen on a bush walk.
Take game drives and night drives in custom built 4x4s to see the unique desert wildlife.
Embark on an adventurous two-hour horseback safari (for all levels of riders; additional charge). Multi-day riding safaris are also available for experienced riders – please contact us for more information
Feel the wind in your hair as you quad bike across the immense salt pans.
Give your mind a holiday and spend some time in the yoga and meditation pavilion.
Take a radical sabbatical and quad bike across the salt-crusted pans to Kubu Island (2 night expedition; additional charge. Please enquire with us for more details or have a look at the Quad Bike to Kubu Island Safari here).
San Camp’s great appeal is the nothingness, but that certainly doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see. You’ll find wildebeest and zebra roaming in straggled herds, standing out like sore thumbs against the pristine whiteness of the earth, and ostrich bobbing on the horizon. Stay for a few days and there’s a good chance of spotting lion and elephant on a game drive, and even brown hyena, one of the continent’s most rare and elusive mammals that’s pretty much impossible to see anywhere else.
If you’re looking to tick a few species off your bird list, then sharpen your pencil for the pan is home to Kori bustards and northern black korhaan, chestnut-backed finch larks and capped wheatears. And we couldn’t talk about the Makgadikgadi without mention of our meerkats. We’ve worked with researchers to habituate a whole mob of them, and the cheeky fellows aren’t afraid to come and find out exactly who you are.
The real allure of San Camp is in its minimalism, and this extends to the surroundings. San sits at the edge of the mysterious Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (overlooking Nwetwe Pan to be precise), in the heart of the Kalahari Desert and adjoining the Makgadikgadi National Park. The pans were once a super lake covering most of Botswana, and they shimmer seemingly never-ending all the way to the horizon, interrupted only by scattering of desert palms and baobabs. The beautiful nothingness brings with it a cathartic sense of silence, and there is truly nowhere on else like this magical corner of Botswana.
Accommodation Rates:- From
$1,250 per person per night sharing.
Please contact us
for a quote and suggested itinerary.