Uncharted Africa Safari Co.

Makgadikgadi Pans  - Botswana 

"They said only idiots go there. I thought 
fine, that's the place for me."
                                 - Jack Bousfield

 

Zebra and wildebees migration in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
Spoonbills in the Pans Bushmen at Kubu Island in Makgadikgadi Pans  
jack's camp set in a palm oasis in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park  

 

 
Botswana Panache -  Uncharted Africa Safari Company

Uncharted Africa combines 1920's East African panache with scientific exploration of desert biology and adaptation, stone age archaeology, bushman anthropology and the unique geology of the Makgadikgadi Pans. Owners Ralph Bousfield and Catherine Raphaely  offer a unique opportunity to venture into a part of the world that had been lost since the beginning of history. The headquarters at Jack's Camp provides the focus for ongoing research in the surrounding area conducted by visiting research scientists.

Indeed what is distinctive about Uncharted Africa is that staff guides are biologists and zoologists often pursuing their own graduate research of the Kalahari desert. Uncharted Africa works closely with the U.N. recognized "First Peoples of the Kalahari" to provide a safari experience in the Central Kalahari that will allow close observation of both the wildlife and the unique way of life of the Bushmen, perhaps the only culture that has maintained a truly sustainable culture in this very fragile ecosystem.

Uncharted Africa operates two  permanent camps, in luxury East African tents, with four poster beds. Jack's camp overlooks the grasslands of the Makgadikgadi game reserve. San Camp is set on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Pans themselves.  Mobile luxury camps are fitted with polished copper water jugs, paraffin lamps, white cotton sheets, and feather bedding.  Excellent well prepared meals are provided.

A more basic safari camp is operated at Camp Kalahari, offering a more affordable access to the region.  The newly established Planet Baobab in Gweta offers a menu of activities and expeditions in the surrounding area for the budget traveler.

Uncharted Africa offers opulent mobile safaris in the Okavango and Bushman safaris

 


 

Makgadikgadi Pans  and the Kalahari Desert

“Chemical warfare in the desert” is how Ralph Bousfield, zoologist, guide and owner of Jack’s Camp, explained the early morning burning in our eyes caused by the pungent fragrance of the wild sage growing in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. He went on to explain how the powerful and deadly combination of poisons employed by the San (Bushmen) in their arrows derives from natural substances evolved in  100’s of millions of years struggle between plants and insects, a story in which mammals appeared only recently, and man even more so.  As we proceeded across the rolling grasslands towards a line of zebra and wildebeest stretching across the horizon, one of the last vestiges of Africa's annual animal migrations, Ralph continued to point out the novel adaptations that occurred in the Kalahari semi-desert.  Every 1/2 mile along the road, a Black Korhan, with territories as clear as if mapped out at the local planning office, would leap out of the grass, flapping its wings, and cackling loudly to decry our trespass.

At Makgadikgadi we observe  the only natural wildlife migration that still occurs in Southern Africa, the herds of wildebees and zebra that move South from Chobe and Moremi every year after the rains have brought new grass to the Kalahari. During the dry season you will witness the unique desert wildlife of Southern Africa, including springbok, gemsbok, and suricate. In the dry season 4 wheel drive quad-bikes are used to explore deep into the dried out and desolate pans, and guests may participate in treks to Kubu Island, a granite outcropping in the Pan covered with Baobabs. Enroute you will visit a recently discovered ancient defense fortification in the pans.

Uncharted Africa Safari vehicles are top of the range Toyota Landcruisers, extremely comfortable and have multiple thoughtful details that make them perfect for game viewing such as roof top seats, leather bean bags for photography etc.

Suggested Reading:

Mark and Delia Owens "Cry of the Kalahari" 
Laurens van der Post's "Lost World of the Kalahari" 

 


MAKGADIKGADI PANS

The Makgadikgadi Pans are the size of Switzerland in extent, relics of an ancient lake that used to connect with the Zambezi River, but dried up approximately 1,500 years ago with the shifting of the earth's crust. These pans fill to a shallow depth during the wet season, forming one of the most important wetland sites in Africa. They attract large flocks of flamingo and up to 30,000 fledglings can be seen. One can also see herds of tens of thousands of migratory wildebees and zebra, the only remaining animal migration in Southern Africa. When the pans are dry they form a desolate flat featureless surface, white in color from the dried salt. The Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve encloses the grasslands to the northwest of the pans and has its western boarder on the Boteti River. 

The archaeology of Makgadikgadi testifies to the antiquity of man's long association with this great, ancient lake system, for around its perimeter are to be found stone tools that date back to the Early Stone Age times, more than 10 000 years ago. On and near the Pan, artifacts from the Middle and Late Stone Ages exist in a number of localities. The time of arrival of the first the Iron Age people, is not known, but extensive village remains dating from as early as 1000 AD have been discovered around the edges of the lake. So too have a number of sites more recent than that. 
 
Kubu  itself, a granite extrusion island studded with baobabs, is  one of the most graphically beautiful spots in Botswana and is full of intriguing detail, such as walling, trade and bushman beads.

30 000 flamingo fledge here when water is good and although the mud mound nests are deserted at the times of the year when we are able to visit Kubu, they are still very interesting to visit. Many chicks are left to die if they hatch too late to be able to join the incredible march across the Pans that the young flamingos undertake in search of water. Their remains lie on the pan surface almost petrified by the salt. Unhatched eggs also remain in some of the thousands of abandoned nests...

 


 
Cape To Cairo:  African Business and Adventure Travel
2761 Unicorn Ln NW, Washington DC 20015
Tel (800) 356-4433 / (202) 244 5954
Fax (202) 244 5993 
home: www.capetocairo.travel / safari@capetocairo.travel