Jao Camp has been a hive of activity, abuzz with productivity. The new camp is rising like a phoenix from the ground, and we can now see just how beautiful the camp will be once construction is completed.

The walkway is linking up all the areas and the striking red balau is being laid. All areas are pulling together to create a clear picture of the new look. The decking is being laid in the main area and the pool, jetty and gym are clearly identifiable, all blending into the snug “home” everyone has come to expect at Jao, coupled with the luxury the camp has always delivered.

Jao Spa artist impression

It is impossible to imagine any improvements to the Jao Spa, especially after being voted the Number 1 Spa in Botswana. Walking between the treatment rooms and the reception area, it is clear to see that the new spa is going to be magnificent and one of a kind! I believe the spa will continue to lead in terms of the experience and luxury it will offer, perhaps even a reason to visit in and of itself!

Of all the villas, No. 3 is quickly taking shape, slightly ahead of the other villas. With the roof complete and most of the internal walling in place, you can’t help but stand in awe. The unique design and layout makes you feel part of the beautiful Delta scenery, drawing you into this special area. The view from the room with the soon-to-be-completed pool is magnificent – we can’t wait to try out our first “Delta swim”.

The villas being prepared for the final roof tiling

The full solar system is up and running and everything will be 100% solar-powered in all areas of the camp. This is amazing in its own right, and we are feeling excited and proud to run this incredible camp in the most sustainable way possible.

Our museum, curio shop and wine cellar is also taking shape and with the walkways in place everything is blending together beautifully – a masterpiece of architectural design, combining effortlessly with nature. I believe our guests will be tempted to stay longer, simply to take in the entire camp and the experiences we have to offer!

The new kitchen is now complete as well as the laundry and back-of-house stores, with only the office remaining. The above-ground sewerage system is also running, and once all is complete, guests can enjoy learning more about our energy-efficient systems and camp operation on a back-of-house tour.

With all the excitement in camp, it’s easy to get consumed by all the details of the build, and forget that there’s a whole other world to be seen and appreciated beyond the camp!

Our coalition of four lion brothers is still holding the fort, and their deep roars can be heard every night and in the early morning. If they continue to keep their powerful dominance in the area, we expect that their reign in the area will continue for some time.

Our lioness and her four sub-adult cubs are doing well, and are edging closer to being accepted by the four dominant males.

A lioness takes a break to quench her thirst on a warm summer’s day

February was a dry month, and the channels and lagoons continue to shrink, attracting herds of animals around the available water sources during the day. We have had two more herds of zebra arrive on the Jao floodplain, and we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a few more wildebeest to join the lonesome three males we frequently see.

Hippo are starting to “squeeze” into waterholes but rather than fight, it seems they are content to play “Marco Polo” – the heat is exhausting for all!

Elephant cooling off in a mud wallow

Our wild dog pack is still looking strong. On one occasion they arrived at Hippo Pool where the youngsters decided to play with everything on the lagoon bank, from small crocodiles to a resting hippo.

The crocodiles and hippo, like all self-respecting sunbathers, were not too happy to have these “teenagers” disturb them. The crocodile gnashed its jaws, “telling off” the youngsters before eventually sliding back into the water. The hippo got up and, just like a grumpy person, threatened the youngsters until they got bored and moved on, leaving the hippo in a huff…

A tortoise caught by surprise – demonstrating some poor “table manners”

A mother warthog with her two little ones; she is teaching them that mother always has first right to the mud hole

Our pack of wild dog, with the youngsters causing absolute chaos during their mid-morning visit to the waterhole

Our band of mongoose is doing well and they seem to be settling back on Jao Island – with the annual inundation just a few months away, maybe they are in search of a winter home on the island.

The entire Jao team is preparing for the final stretch, and excitement continues to grow. This is truly going to be a grand opening!

Written and photographed by Antony Mulligan

Post courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

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