A wild, relaxing time

Jackalberry Camp, on the Kwando-Linyanti River, deserves its spot as a Responsible Tourism Award finalist because it is not only as green as the plains around it, but it is a magical destination.

20 March 2017 | Tourism

Jackalberry Camp is the second camp opened by the Micheletti family on the banks of the Kwando-Linyanti River system, the first being Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge, which is situated just outside the park on an island bearing the same name as the lodge.

What sets Jackalberry Camp apart is its location within the park and its exclusivity. Consisting of only four tents, guests are assured of experiencing the serenity of nature and all its sounds, as well as receiving personal attention from the staff.

Being unfenced, Jackalberry Camp has elephants, buffaloes, hippos and sometimes lions roaming through the camp, which adds to the wild experience of staying here.

The idea was to build something with the least impact on the environment as possible, not only on the terrain, but also visually, explains Ruggero. This is evident in the site chosen for the camp. Each tent is built in such a way that it is tucked underneath and next to bushes and under trees to offer shade, but also to obscure the tent from view.

The main building and defining feature of the camp is the Jackalberry Tower, which overlooks the lagoon of the Linyati swamp system and is built around a giant jackalberry tree. It houses the reception, lounge, dining and bar area on the first floor. Upstairs there is another comfortable lounge where the surroundings and animals can be viewed.

The elevation offered by the Jackalberry Tower gives one a completely different perspective of the flat landscape and makes it easy to spot game. On the ground floor of the tower there is a fireplace around which the day's adventures can be shared and plans can be made for the next day.

The design of the camp incorporates natural products and uses recycled material where possible, like the sausage-shaped fruit of the sausage tree decorating the outside of the Jackalberry Tower, and old wooden sleds and yokes used in the interior of the tents. Everything is built in such a way that it can be easily disassembled and the area can be easily rehabilitated if need be in accordance with the rules of the concession in the park.

Being in such an ecologically sensitive area, providing a true eco-friendly camp is very important to the Michelettis and therefore the whole camp runs on solar power.

As with Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge, Jackalberry Camp is run in cooperation with the local Wuparo Conservancy, who granted the concession to the Micheletti family, but because the camp is situated inside a national park, the agreement also includes the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

As part of the agreement Jackalberry Camp pays a fixed annual fee to the ministry as well as a fee and part of the revenue to the Wuparo Conservancy. In working together with the conservancy, the aim is to protect the natural surroundings and animals, as well as looking after the well-being of the local population. At both establishments almost all employees are from the local community.

Visiting Jackalberry Camp, guests have to book for a minimum of two nights. Rates include all meals plus two activities per day. Activities consist of game drives, night drives and boat cruises. There is no self-driving to the camp. Guests can leave their vehicles either at Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge if they have 4x4s, or at the conservancy office in Sangwali village if they have 2x4s, where they will be picked up by one of the guides. Once you are in the tented camp, you will realise how nice it is not to have cars buzzing around you.

Jackalberry is one of the finalists in the Responsible Tourism Awards, the winner of which will be announced at the Namibia Tourism Expo at the end of May.



LE ROUX VAN SCHALKWYK

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