Jao Camp, Okavango Delta: The Lowdown

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Jao’s has long been one of the more luxurious camps in the Okavango Delta– a fantastic option for safari newbies who don’t want to rough it, or anyone seeking a little polish to come home to at the end of an exciting day.

What’s Jao Camp really like? 

Jao is a gleaming oasis of luxury amongst the wetlands, palms and sandy floodplains of the Okavango Delta. Oasis is probably the wrong word, as this area is one of the Okavango’s more watery concessions, but you get the general idea. Jao’s main area is huge, with soaring thatched roofs, and a stylish, airy feel. A wall of windows opens out onto the deck and the floodplain beyond. Fitting Jao’s reputation as one of the Delta’s more luxurious camps, there are a few extras here that you don’t find often elsewhere- a “nest”-covered pool for an afternoon wallow, a rather beautiful library, an excellent wine cellar, a gym overlooking the floodplain, and a spa that does a good selection of treatments.

Rooms are five vast suites, and two two-bedroomed villas. We’ve seen the rooms described as tents, but this is a bit misleading. The thatched roof soars from floor to ceiling on one side, and in front, huge glass windows open out onto the deck and the floodplain beyond. With their own sitting and dining area the suites are easily large enough to form a one bedroomed flat in London or New York. Suites use a low-energy cooling system, the bathrooms have indoor and outdoor showers, and on the deck there are private plunge pools. The villas have two rooms, each sharing a private living/dining area and firepit. Here you’re looked after by your own chef and butler, and have a private game drive vehicle.

What can I do at Jao? 

We particularly love the water based game viewing on the Jao concession. There are both gentle, pottery mokoro trips and faster-paced boat safaris in flat-bottomed motor boats. As part of these you can also do catch and release fishing- this is seasonal. The magic of Botswana is that all water activities are entirely dependent on water levels in the Okavango Delta, though in a normal year you should be able to do boat safaris most of the time. There are, of course, game drives from Jao too- we were very impressed with the Wilderness Safaris guides. While we particularly loved the landscape on the concession, and saw a pair of mating lions, the volume as game wasn’t quite as prolific as elsewhere in the Delta, so we’d suggest spending your time here focused on the water and glorious birding which is really what makes Jao so wonderful

Giving back at Jao:

Remarkably for such a luxurious camp, your accommodation here is entirely solar powered (including the hot water in your tub) and the camp treats all water and waste to avoid polluting this fragile environment. The Jao Concession as a whole is also working hard to reduce conflict between the community and the concession, ensuring that the local community benefits from tourism and poaching and over-fishing are reduced.

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