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Exploring Okavango

Touring around Jao Camp in Botswana

Gill Staden, eTN  Apr 25, 2010

We were at the last camp of our safari - target="_blank">Jao Camp. It is right in the middle of the Okavango and was the place to investigate the channels and lagoons for which the Okavango is famous. Our first sortie into the depths of the Okavango was by motor boat through the reed and papyrus beds. Our guide for the trip was KB, a very professional guide. KB told us about the people, the wildlife, and about the environment.

His first story was about how the local people eat the papyrus stems by tearing off the outer layer and munching the inside. We ate some; it wasn’t very tasty. He also told us that when on a fishing trip, the men did the netting while the women and children took to the croc-infested water to harvest the tubers of the water lilies.

The landscape of the Okavango is flat with small islands, islands which were created by termites. The termites build their nests during dry periods; seeds find a roothold; trees and shrubs grow. The small mounds become bigger, finally turning into islands. The channels through the reeds are generally made by hippos as they wander through them; it was these channels that we used to explore.

After we had trundled through the waterways, enjoying the scenery and watching the birds, we met up with a well-timed vehicle on the banks of dry land into which we transferred. Then the game-viewing began.

We first met a lioness with four male cubs, about 2 months old. She was leading them through the grass, three of them following obediently. The last lion cub was complaining bitterly as he trotted along, sometimes going off in another direction, brave youngster that he was. At one point, the mother came back to the errant youngster, and he quickly came back into line. Finally, the mother lay down and allowed the cubs to feed. KB said that he had seen the group miles away the previous day, so he knew that they had walked a long way; the cubs were obviously tired.

Other animal sightings were the lechwe, wildebeest, steenbok, reedbuck, tsessebe, and impala. It really was very wet, the game being off elsewhere, so we concentrated on the bird life, which was tremendous.

The following day started off wet; the rain blurred the view. Some of the guests braved the elements and went out onto the boats cloaked in ponchos. We just enjoyed the rooms, reading the books, looking at maps, and generally being lazy. By the afternoon, the rain had gone, and we went out for a game drive. And just down the road we found a lion and two lionesses. This was our first male lion sighting of the whole trip, and he was worth waiting for ‚Äď a real brute of a boy.

And that was the perfect way to end a perfect trip, thanks to Wilderness Safaris.

Touring around Jao Camp in Botswana
Photo by Gill Staden

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