Jao Camp in the Okavango Delta
In the central region of the concession, vast open floodplains provide some of the most stunning scenery Botswana has to offer. Jao Camp lies in the southern side of the plains, an area with beautiful islands fringed with riverine forests.
Jao Camp has nine spacious, beautiful tents, each individually handcrafted. These twin-bedded canvas and thatched rooms are situated beneath a canopy of shady trees and have en-suite facilities, as well as an outdoor shower for the more adventurous. Built on raised decks, each has a private sala for afternoon siestas and offers wonderful views of the spectacular surrounding floodplains of Botswana. In addition to the lounge and dining area, there are two plunge pools and an outdoor boma for dining under the stars, complemented by wines from an excellent wine cellar. The Camp also has a spa where a wide range of massage therapies are offered.
At Jao Camp mekoro, boat trips, fishing, nature walks (which must be requested prior to travel), day and night game drives and birding are usually on offer all year round due to the abundance of wildlife in Botswana. There are two platform hides in the concession. During an unusually high flood season, game drives begin by boating out to a nearby Hunda Island where the vehicles are waiting, and the drive begins from there. Huge herds of red lechwe can be seen, followed by their primary predator – prides of lion. Other game typical of Botswana include elephant, buffalo, leopard, tsessebe, zebra and wildebeest, hippo and crocodile. Many bird species are resident such as Meyer’s Parrot, African Harrier Hawk, Black egret, Coppery-tailed Coucal, Malachite Kingfisher, Hamerkop and Black Crake being some of the avian treasures found at Jao Camp.
Facts 30% Game Drives and 70% Water Activities (but very much dependant on flood levels and time of year) occur at camp. In the summer months, activities tend more towards game drives, whereas in the winter months mainly water-based activities are offered.)
- Land game drives in 5 x 10 seater open 4×4 Land Rovers each accommodating a maximum of 7 guests, allowing all guests an outside seat (each vehicle is equipped with a tree book, a bird book, a mammal book, a pair of binoculars and insect repellent in a centre consol on each row of seats)
- Full day game drives and picnics on Hunda Island – a 45min boat ride away from Jao Camp. Night drives with spotlights. •Private activities available on request. •Game walks, which must be requested prior to travel
- Water game viewing in 2 x 2-seater glass-bottomed mokoro (dug-out canoe), and 12 x 2 seater mokoro 2 x 12-seater boat used in the waterways to the east of camp.
- Fishing – on a catch and release basis; basic rods and reels supplied by camp but fly-fishing equipment to be supplied by guest.
- A raised hide located about 20 minutes from camp (which can be used for sleep-outs – maximum 4 people at a time – and is equipped with a long-drop loo).
- At the spa we offer a full menu of therapies ranging from Clarins’ facials to manicures, pedicures and a range of massage options.
- Gym, equipped with a cross trainer, rowing machine, stationary bike, yoga mats, exercise ball and free weights.
- Entertainment room, furnished as a lounge and dining area. It is suitable for private dining, children’s entertainment, watching wildlife documentaries and conducting lectures etc.
Jao Camp Game Viewing
The Jao Concession is 60 000 hectares in extent and is in the north-western area of the Okavango Delta below the Panhandle. The Moremi Game Reserve forms the eastern boundary of the concession.
The Okavango Delta rests between shallow fault lines at the end of the Great African Rift Valley. Deserts are low on annual rainfall and the Okavango Delta is no exception. However, each year floodwater flows into the Okavango Delta from its source in the moist African highlands over 1000 km away. These floodwaters flow from their catchment southwards and into the Kalahari Desert to create a unique wetland that supports and sustains the huge diversity of wildlife in the Okavango Delta.
Lying as it does in the very heart of the Okavango Delta, the Jao Concession embodies all the magic and mystique of Botswana. Narrow water channels cut their way through the papyrus and reed beds in the permanent delta to the north and east of the Jao Concession, providing the perfect environment for the elusive sitatunga and the rare Pel’s Fishing-Owl. Beautiful lush palm islands dot the water, begging to be explored.
Further west the area gets progressively dryer and Hunda Island, which is the tip of a large ‘sand tongue,’ is the largest area of dry land in the Jao Concession during the flood season. Hunda Island has sandveld vegetation supporting many species of nutritious acacia and grewia shrubs which provide excellent browsing.
It is perhaps the birds for which the true wetland areas of the Okavango Delta are best known however. The largest concentrations of endangered Wattled Crane are found in this area and Slaty Egrets, Rosy-throated Longclaws and African Skimmer are some of the specials that can be seen. Hallowed species such as Pel’s Fishing-Owl and Slaty Egret are found alongside more conspicuous and commonly seen Coppery-tailed Coucal, Pygmy Goose, while the specialised African Skimmer (from which Wilderness Safaris takes its logo) may be seen on the larger lagoons and channels in the Jao Concession.
The Jao Concession is set in the most densely populated wetland area for sitatunga antelope and red lechwe, and of course hippo and crocodile are regularly sighted. In the dry season lechwe, tsessebe, elephant, wildebeest and zebra occur here, and lion, cheetah and leopard are often sighted on the floodplains. The lion prides in this area of the Okavango Delta have been extensively studied in recent years, thereby building up a more intimate knowledge of their behaviour.