It's our 20 year anniversary at Jack’s Camp! 14 August 2013

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We are extremely fortunate to celebrate the 20th year of operations at Jack’s Camp this August. Jack’s Camp was founded in 1993 by
Catherine Raphaely and Ralph Bousfield in memory of Ralph’s father, the legendary Jack Bousfield.

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20 years after the foundation of Jack’s Camp, as tribute to this visionary man, we would like to dedicate the anniversary to the Camp itself, to the people who created it and to those who have been passionately working there, but most of all to all our guests and supporters who have believed that something out of the ordinary was possible.

We asked Catherine and Ralph to tell us a bit about how it all started...

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“I always automatically think of the story of the place. That gives it a context that leads to your imagination taking flight followed by an idea just popping into your head. The burnt red of the earth combined with the dusty bottle greens of the acacias that you see during the wet season, along with the leather hunting aprons of the Bushmen inspired the colours of Jack’s Camp. A rich burnt umber and sienna for the printed interiors combined beautifully, as in nature, with the green canvas exterior of the tents.

The historical background of the camp was the story of Jack Bousfield who had been a free spirit and a “great white hunter” in Kenya and Tanzania. Jack had collected cultural artefacts and curiosities relating to nature and the history of the areas and I simply put them on display. In the mess tent, we have the three biggest hand axes in the world, found by Jack, Ralph and our Guides. Due to the fact that many of the items found are of national and international cultural significance, our Mess Tent has been declared a Museum!

The Guest tents were sited for views and privacy with quite long walks between them, which was very unusual at the time. Initially, we had outside loos and showers, surrounded by mopane stockade each with a tree for shade. When, however, we had to bow to market pressures and add en suite facilities, I decided that we should have some fun and made our loos in the style of wooden Victorian “throne” commode lavatories. This has since given rise to some unexpected viral marketing since rather unusually, Guests are often inspired to record these unique facilities on camera! It seems strange in today’s luxury-obsessed world to remember that, as far as I know, we were the first safari company in Botswana to use silver, white cotton sheets and napiery as well as traditional wooden safari chairs and feather bedding.

We started the camp with very little and no generators, fridges and freezers. I used to make as much of the food as I could at the farm in Francistown and then drive five hours to the camp with a land cruiser full of cold boxes and the cook for each safari. My first cook was called Method, a name I thought a wonderfully appropriate moniker for someone of his profession. We cooked together on an open fire! So nature and culture and history all affected my choices and the style of the camp. I knew that this was very romantic and I knew that it was very evocative and I knew it would be commercial and, it seems that happily, this was indeed the case!”  Catherine

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“Jack’s Camp was built in memory of my late father. Most importantly, we inherited his ethos that the experience that people received through excellent guiding and interpretation of the environment is what they should take with them from Africa. It was real pioneering stuff. The area and the concept were both untried and tested. Our focus was on the experience, delivered through old style guiding, and a warm family feeling of hospitality, without compromising style and comfort...

Conditions under which we worked were very basic. We started with 4 guest tents, no running water, electricity and most challenging of all no flights into the area. Altogether it was a 12 hour round trip to get guests into camp. Driving into Maun, rushing into Riley’s hotel, having a shower and changing into clean clothes before spending an hour polishing the dust off the vehicle, arriving at Maun airport looking cool, calm and collected, ready for the next adventure.

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Our water came from a hand dug well that slowly seeped I drip by drip. Someone was constantly down the well, scoping out the water, filtering it into drums which where then wheelbarrowed into cisterns which ran into flush toilets, and filled the bucket showers. A full time job for 2 men. We started with one land cruiser safari car and one back up vehicle. We had to play the role of guide, manager, host, mechanic, cook, supported by a dedicated team of 8 staff - 5 of whom (Super and Cobra, John Cowboy, Samweli and myself) are still with us today. The success of Jack’s Camp is wholly down to the team of people who have been involved over the years - ‘a motley crew of misfits’ who through dedication, enthusiasm and a love for the area have made it what it is today.”  Ralph

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A surprisingly growing trend in the past few years, is that travellers are more interested in a place that can offer them an experience and not just luxury accommodation. Jack’s Camp has been quite the pioneer in this trend and we have asked some of our long-standing supporters to tell us what it is that makes Jack’s Camp so special...

“Jack’s Camp has always been part of our life at C+L being that we all started the same year. Jack’s Camp has maintained its very high standard levels and has always been in a league of its own in authenticity, style and exceptional guiding. In our view, little has changed, it just continues to get better and better.  The Kalahari is magical and every client who we have ever sent, comes back captivated by its magic.”  Henrietta Loyd, Cazenove + Loyd

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“Jack’s Camp is definitely one of my most favourite places on earth.  Unique and incredible it combines unbelievable style with authentic cultural encounters and rewarding wildlife experiences. I have had the privilege of visiting Jack’s Camp on more than one occasion, of quad biking across the pans by moonlight, exploring on foot with the San and sitting peacefully amongst meerkats at dawn.  The sheer delight on the faces of my daughters will remain with me forever; and to be able to provide the opportunity for our clients and their families to connect with Africa in the same way is incredibly rewarding.  Uncharted Africa creates magical experiences that exceed expectations. In my opinion Jack’s Camp is unsurpassed in Africa and everyone must visit at least once in their lifetime.” Sarah Hoyland, The Classic Safari Company

Sarah first visited Jack’s Camp in 1995, when she was very very young (she asked us to mention this!) and returned in 2002 and 2010 with her daughters, who also loved it!

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We attempted to reach one of our most dedicated Guests and legendary visitors to Botswana, Jan. She is probably out on some great expedition… and has no time for the internet! Jan has been visiting Jack’s Camp since its inception (last time she counted, it was her 18th year of visiting). She has become part of the Uncharted family! She loves to spend time with Super, going out bird watching, enjoying sundowners on the pans and searching for lions (she is famous for being a lion magnet), but moreover she loves to spend time with our adorable meerkats.

We would like to thank Jan and all our Guests for the love and support that they have shown through all these years and propose a toast to those adventurous spirits who enjoy the Great Nothingness!

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To celebrate our 20 year anniversary we have a special offer at Jack’s Camp for the month of October 2013!
Book 3 nights stay and the Maun-return flights are with the compliments of Uncharted Africa Safari co.
Terms & Conditions apply.

Wishing you 20 more years of fun, challenges, amazing experiences, and incredible explorations!

From the Desert with gratitude!
The Uncharted Africa Family