San Camp has a decidedly Lawrence of Arabia feel to it.

San Camp | Makgadikgadi Pans National Park Luxury Botswana Safari Lodge

In any location, the classic white tents of San Camp would be eye-catching; on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Pans, this luxury Botswanan safari lodge manages to both stand out and blend in, exuding an achingly cool Lawrence of Arabia vibe. The immensity of the surroundings is incredibly liberating.

The place

We immediately sense the timeless quality to San Camp – it’s set on the fringes of Makgadikgadi Pans, once the bed of an immense prehistoric lake covering much of present-day Botswana. The pans are vast enough that we can perceive the curvature of the earth, and the salt crystals sparkle in the sunlight. Long lines of palm trees trace ancient elephant paths, and small clusters of them mark the location of each guest tent. The first residents of this area, the San, are still present, and their profound knowledge of the pans (and the creation myths they have woven around them) is spellbinding.We walk out a short way across the surface of the pan, and slowly turn around to take in the sheer scale of the deep blue sky, and this seemingly infinite expanse of desert. We try to imagine how this area must have been aeons ago, when it was all submerged, but it’s hard to believe it could have been any more impressive and magical than it is now. We look back towards the lodge, and hear the stiff snapping of taut white canvas in the breeze.

We immediately sense the timeless quality to San Camp – it’s set on the fringes of Makgadikgadi Pans, once the bed of an immense prehistoric lake covering much of present-day Botswana. The pans are vast enough that we can perceive the curvature of the earth, and the salt crystals sparkle in the sunlight. Long lines of palm trees trace ancient elephant paths, and small clusters of them mark the location of each guest tent. The first residents of this area, the San, are still present, and their profound knowledge of the pans (and the creation myths they have woven around them) is spellbinding.

We walk out a short way across the surface of the pan, and slowly turn around to take in the sheer scale of the deep blue sky, and this seemingly infinite expanse of desert. We try to imagine how this area must have been aeons ago, when it was all submerged, but it’s hard to believe it could have been any more impressive and magical than it is now. We look back towards the lodge, and hear the stiff snapping of taut white canvas in the breeze.

The room

We’ve heard San Camp described as ‘the most romantic camp in Africa’, and we’re not about to disagree. The manager lets us walk first along the path to our desert home and, in terms of elegance and grace, it’s a tie between the tent itself and the palm trees leaning over it. We step up onto our private verandah, and look out across the pans. I mentally reserve the daybed for myself, but decide to only tell my partner later.The neatly tied back tent flaps reveal a cool, shady interior that could have come from an old English country house. Antique wooden furniture, lovingly polished, is complemented by prints of birds and old maps. The twin four-poster beds have a prim striped pattern that echoes the interior walls of the tent. When I see the gorgeous rugs beneath my feet, I immediately kick off my sandals with the happy thought that it may be some time before I want to wear them again. On a small round brass table stands a jug of homemade lemonade and two glasses – and I half expect cucumber sandwiches!

We’ve heard San Camp described as ‘the most romantic camp in Africa’, and we’re not about to disagree. The manager lets us walk first along the path to our desert home and, in terms of elegance and grace, it’s a tie between the tent itself and the palm trees leaning over it. We step up onto our private verandah, and look out across the pans. I mentally reserve the daybed for myself, but decide to only tell my partner later.

The neatly tied back tent flaps reveal a cool, shady interior that could have come from an old English country house. Antique wooden furniture, lovingly polished, is complemented by prints of birds and old maps. The twin four-poster beds have a prim striped pattern that echoes the interior walls of the tent. When I see the gorgeous rugs beneath my feet, I immediately kick off my sandals with the happy thought that it may be some time before I want to wear them again. On a small round brass table stands a jug of homemade lemonade and two glasses – and I half expect cucumber sandwiches!

What sets it apart

San Camp is indeed almost impossibly romantic, both in terms of the austere beauty of its setting and the old-world style of the lodge itself. The timeless elegance of the interiors perfectly matches the prehistoric landscape, and we feel that we’re following in ancient footsteps.It’s rare these days to be somewhere with no light pollution whatsoever – the stargazing at San Camp is (excuse the pun) out of this world. While a single star provides enough solar power to run the entire camp, thousands more come out at night to dazzle and delight. Nowhere else in Africa have we felt so far from everyone else, and yet so close to each other.Also, this camp is near the annual Great Zebra Migration, a little known wonder of nature.

San Camp is indeed almost impossibly romantic, both in terms of the austere beauty of its setting and the old-world style of the lodge itself. The timeless elegance of the interiors perfectly matches the prehistoric landscape, and we feel that we’re following in ancient footsteps.

It’s rare these days to be somewhere with no light pollution whatsoever – the stargazing at San Camp is (excuse the pun) out of this world. While a single star provides enough solar power to run the entire camp, thousands more come out at night to dazzle and delight. Nowhere else in Africa have we felt so far from everyone else, and yet so close to each other.

Also, this camp is near the annual Great Zebra Migration, a little known wonder of nature.

At a glance

  • Intimate safari lodge with a white marquee mess tent with natural history museum and library, a separate tea tent and relaxing yoga pavilion. There are five twin and two double guest tents with private verandahs scattered along the edge of the sparkling salt pan, each watched over by a cluster of palm trees.
  • Set on Makgadikgadi Pan, in the middle of the Kalahari Desert.
  • Game drives, San walking safaris, meerkat walking safaris, sundowners, yoga, fly camping, horse safaris (additional cost) and quad biking expedition (additional cost).
  • Children are welcome, but under-12s must share tents and quad bikes with adults. For families travelling with children aged 8 and under, a private guide and vehicle must be booked (additional cost).

  • Intimate safari lodge with a white marquee mess tent with natural history museum and library, a separate tea tent and relaxing yoga pavilion. There are five twin and two double guest tents with private verandahs scattered along the edge of the sparkling salt pan, each watched over by a cluster of palm trees.
  • Set on Makgadikgadi Pan, in the middle of the Kalahari Desert.
  • Game drives, San walking safaris, meerkat walking safaris, sundowners, yoga, fly camping, horse safaris (additional cost) and quad biking expedition (additional cost).
  • Children are welcome, but under-12s must share tents and quad bikes with adults. For families travelling with children aged 8 and under, a private guide and vehicle must be booked (additional cost).

Prices

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

When to Go

The Makgadikgadi Pans themselves are only truly accessible during the cooler, dry winter season, when the full range of activities (from quad biking to meerkat encounters) can be enjoyed. It’s also when the sparkling white salt pans are at their most visually impressive. The pans tend to be completely dry from mid-July until October. This coincides with the peak northern Botswana safari season, when the Okavango floodwaters cause game to be more concentrated, so a visit to the dry pans can be combined with some time exploring the watery wonderland of delta.

During the summer rains, the pans become large, shallow lakes extending for many kilometres, inviting a different sort of wilderness experience. The birdwatching is phenomenal, with large flocks of flamingos and pelicans enjoying the water. From January to March, Botswana’s two zebra migrations arrive at the Makgadikgadi and Nxai pans (from the Okavango and Chobe rivers, respectively) – wonders to be witnessed. This ‘green season’ is quieter in northern Botswana, but the bush is at its most beautiful and predator action is more frequently witnessed.

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