We stayed here in May 2010 during a safari to Zimbabwe and Botswana (Kalahari and Okavango).
We were disappointed with this camp. The camp itself is in a spectacular setting, much different from other places you will likely see on safari. We were excited to go to this camp for a change from the typical routine. The activities advertised sounded very interesting, and the ones that we did were great, however, we would give the camp overall a failing grade.
The conditions did not cooperate with us - mosquitos were deadly, and there were not many animals at all, nor were the hyenas around. That is fine - that's the risk you take anytime you go somewhere where weather and climate and animal migration are key factors. When we visited, the area had just come out of the wettest season in a very long time, so we were kind of in-between seasons. The staff said we were not able to do the quadding over the pans and sleeping out under the stars, which is the primary reason we came. If that had been true, no problem. But when we visited the pans briefly in the safari vehicle (only for about 30 minutes max, which really bothered me), there was no water anywhere, and it was clear they'd dried up already from the rains. It seemed the staff were just too lazy to get the quads all started up for us, mere lowly Camp Kalahari guests instead of Jack's Camp guests, who are more valued b/c they pay more (Jack's is a sister camp, more expensive but with the same activities. In retrospect, I really, really wish I had booked there as we would have at least been treated well, but we thought that Camp Kalahari would be just fine as we didn't need the more posh accoms of Jack's, and all the activities are purportedly the same).
The staff and service was the main problem with this camp. I got the impression that they just did not care at all about our experience. Had they taken 10 minutes when we got there to sit down with us and explain that we were too late for a full 'wet-season' experience, and unexpectedly too early for the full 'dry-season' experience,and gotten our input as to how we'd like to spend our time, it would have fixed everything. How hard is that to do?! Instead, we were just told what to do and when to do it, we were shuttled on numerous game drives through the endless Kalahari where we saw basically nothing and got literally hundreds of mosquito bites (one or two drives would have been great, but we came to this camp specifically for a break from driving long periods in vehicles.).
The camp staff and guides did not care about our experience at all, and it was quite clear they were really bored with their jobs and couldn't wait for us to leave. In addition, the food was absolutely terrible and there was never enough. One night they actually ran out of food, and guess who got shortchanged and went to bed hungry - us (the only paying guests at the time), because they were trying to impress a group of travel journalists that had just arrived. Absolutely shocking and unacceptable when you're paying hundreds of dollars per night per person.
The activities we did do (Meercats and walking with San bushmen) were really great. But we did not want to do endless drives and when asked to see the meerkats again, or go on the pans for longer, it was a no. Why, I don't know, as we had a vehicle and guide to ourself as our group was large enough for that.
Camp Kalahari had the potential to be an amazine experience despite the weather and lack of animals obstacles (to be honest, we didn't really care about that, it's the chance you take), but the fact that we were treated like a bother ruined it for us. I recommend that if you want to go to the Makgadikgadi, book Jack's, because at Kalahari you will be treated like second class citizens. With only a modicum of effort by the Camp Kalahari team, it would have been a truly great experience, as we really do understand and fully accept that there are some things that are unable to be controlled. It's too bad that they just didn't care.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This family-friendly camp accepts children of all ages. It's the best way to experience the Makgadikgadi in a fresh and affordable way, ideal for those wanting fun and adventure as well as comfort and style. You'll find Camp Kalahari's ten tents amongst the acacias and Mokolwane palms of Brown Hyena Island, on the edge of the Makgadikgadi saltpans. It's simple, yet comfortable, with a traditionally built thatch library, living/dining area and swimming pool for those hot Kalahari days. Activities on offer year round: Interact with incredibly friendly habituated meerkats, walking with Bushmen Guides, game drives to experience unique desert wildlife, Chapman's Baobab - of the oldest and biggest trees in Africa, birding & night drives. Dry season activities (16h April - 31st October) Quad bike on the saltpans Wet season activities (1st November - 15th April) The zebra and wildebeest migration ... more less
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