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Tau Pan Camp

Tau Pan Camp

Tau Pan Camp, together with its sister camp Nxai Pan Camp, is situated in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve, one of the largest protected habitats in the world at over 20,000 square miles. Tau Pan Camp is constructed on raised decks that afford incredible views from the ridge of an ancient sand dune across Tau Pan. This pan is extremely remote, and its beauty lies in its starkness.

Tau Pan Camp was the first safari camp to be built in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and has taken the matter of eco-sensitivity seriously. Solar power alone is used for generating electricity, including heating water and pumping water. Waste water is treated in a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant, and the fully treated water is returned to the Kalahari from which it was pumped. Tau Pan Camp is one of only two camps in the reserve (its sister camp being the other).

It is during the annual summer rains that fall from December to April that the region really comes into its own. Animals such as springbok, oryx, kudu, zebra, and wildebeest congregate in their thousands on the pans. The high concentrations of grazers attract predators including cheetah, Kalahari black-maned lion, black-backed jackals, brown hyena, and wild dog. At this time of year, the reserve is certainly one of the premier wildlife hotspots in Botswana, yet somehow remains relatively undiscovered . . . at least compared to the legendary Okavango Delta to the north.

Those who are keen on birdwatching will not be disappointed as there are numerous species in the area including Kori Bustard (the world’s heaviest flying bird), Black Korhaan, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Crimson-breasted Shrike, ostrich, and many raptors such as Pale-chanting Goshawk, Rock Kestrel, and Bateleur.

Accommodation at Tau Pan is in eight desert-friendly thatched chalets of which one is a family unit and the others are twin units. The chalets have well-insulated walls, which are a necessity as temperatures fluctuate quite a bit from season to season (and day to night!). Ceiling fans, outside showers, and private viewing decks complete the picture. The main area comprises a viewing deck, a lounge, a dining area, a library, a curio shop, and a pool.

The crescent-shaped, thatched central area is completely open on one side, drawing your eyes to the never-ending landscape beyond. The large communal dining table is at one end of the room, and a seating area separates it from the bar at the other end. Canvas blinds can be rolled down in case the weather turns nasty. A huge viewing deck overlooks a permanent waterhole. The fire pit in the middle of the deck is where guests congregate for early morning coffee and late night drinks.

Guests enjoy a simple breakfast around the fire before the morning activity, and upon their return a hearty brunch buffet is served. Afternoon tea precedes the evening activity, and a buffet dinner ending the day.

Morning and afternoon game drives in 4x4 vehicles are your best shot at maximizing the wildlife viewing. No off-road driving or night drives are allowed in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The daily drives are mainly on the Tau Pan, but full-day trips to Deception Valley (the location of the largest herbivore concentrations during the green season) and other nearby locales can be arranged.

Nature walks with one of the Bushman trackers is perhaps the best way to truly appreciate the wilderness. While game viewing from a vehicle allows one to see more animals as you cover greater distances, being on foot brings you closer to nature, creating a more intimate experience.

At first glance, stargazing may seem an insignificant diversion compared with the daily wildlife pursuits. But this area’s lack of cloud cover (except when it is raining, of course) and the complete absence of light pollution combined with the fact that many visitors are from the northern hemisphere makes for a breathtaking experience. It is guaranteed that you have never seen this many stars.

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