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Travels In Botswana

The refurbishing of Jao Camp in Okavango

Gill Staden, eTN  Apr 11, 2010

target="_blank">Jao Camp has recently been refurbished. It is all brand-new-second-hand and looks a treat. The camp is one of Wilderness Safaris Premier Camps so it is luxury personified in the African bush. Jao Camp is in the middle of the Okavango, Botswana; a few islands surrounded by water. It is a stunning spot in which Wilderness has constructed a lodge in among the tall mangosteen, palm, and sausage trees, almost hidden from view.

The main building, a double-story structure, has a library and curio shop downstairs, which leads out onto various decks with pools, a jetty, and a sitting-round-the-fire-after-dinner spot. It is also connected to the spa where guests can be pampered after a hard day’s game-viewing.

Upstairs with its views over the landscape are the bar and restaurant. From the second floor, walkways high up in the trees wind their way to the rooms. The high walkways allow the animals to walk underneath and pay a visit from time to time.

The rooms, of which there are nine, are, what can I say, stunning. It is difficult to decide whether to be sociable and talk to the rest of the guests in the main building or to sit in the opulence of one’s own room. Josh and I did a bit of both on our stay at Jao Camp in March.

I think one of the fun items of design that I noticed at Jao and was definitely an attention to detail: some of the railings were missing from the timber walkways at ground level. When I asked what had happened to the railings, I was told it was so that the elephants can wander freely throughout the grounds. If they didn’t leave the railings out, the elephants trashed them anyway. I suppose it was a bit of a compromise, and that is what one does at a lodge in real African bush – wildlife rule.

Obviously, going to Jao was not about admiring their newly-polished lodge; it was about seeing the environment and the wildlife it supported. We took boats through the channels and rivers; we drove by safari vehicle around the islands. Our guide, KB, told us stories; he showed us the alleyways through the water; he found us lions and other wildlife. ut that will have to be another story.

The refurbishing of Jao Camp in Okavango
Photograph by Gill Staden

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