Weather and Landscape
The weather was particularly varied during November. We had days where it was sweltering hot with the mercury in the high 30’s (Celsius), even reaching 40° C on a few occasions. The evenings however, were cool and comfy. We had some spectacular thunderstorms too, but very little rain, with only 12mm falling over the month. We had a few cloudy mornings but by the afternoon the clouds had broken up. A few of the storms looked promising for a good amount of rain, but no luck. Other areas of the Jao Concession have received good showers. The water levels have stabilised and we are still doing boating as well as mokoro activities.
On the wildlife front, we had good days and quiet days. Elephant bulls have been around camp most days, regularly crossing from island to island in front of camp. We have seen a few breeding herds of elephant on the island to the north of Jacana and we certainly heard them, but they have not been on Jacana Island.
We had very good sightings of sitatunga as they spent a lot of time between Jacana and Jao Island. With the water levels dropping, sightings of crocodiles have improved and pods of hippo are a common sighting. Our resident hippo however, has been shy and only seen on a few occasions.
The lions were seen around Kwetsani Island during the month of November and there is evidence that both females have given birth. We have not seen the cubs yet, but hopefully they will make their appearance in December, a nice Christmas present for the Jao Concession.
As more of Jacana Island and surrounds dry up, the lechwe herds are growing by the day. Quite a few babies have been born and they are very cute to watch as they jump through the water following mom.
We also managed to have vehicles on the island for the first time in nearly four years. The last time that vehicles were on the island was February 2010. This means that we are now taking game drives directly from camp, but still concentrating on water activities as the water is still high enough for boating and mokoro outings.
Birds and Birding
As far as the birdlife is concerned, it has been great. We have a pair of African paradise-flycatchers nesting just above the camp office and it is great to see them each day, looking after their eggs and chasing off a much larger grey hornbill and even a vervet monkey. We have seen the African green-pigeons mating and looking to build a nest in one of the palm trees near our boma area. The resident Pel’s fishing-owl has been seen regularly but has moved to an island to the south of Jacana where there is more water and deeper channels.
Around the island we have a multitude of aquatic birds such as spurwing geese, and we counted 39 in a flock one day! The white-faced ducks are still seen each day, often flying past the front of the main building. We spent one beautiful late afternoon watching two breeding pairs of African fish-eagles sparring in the air in front of camp. We have also had black crake come right into the office, totally unfazed by the fact that Michélle was still inside!
Other birds sighted regularly through the month of November have been: African and lesser jacana, saddle-billed storks, African openbills, yellow-billed kites, African harrier-hawk and wattled cranes.
The woodland kingfishers are back for the summer. One really knows that it is summer when you hear their calls.
“Service was perfect, very kind staff. We saw a lot of animals, it was very interesting living so close with nature.”
“Thank you for the gluten-free treats! Such lovely staff and beautiful location, we can’t wait to return! Slow motion wildlife viewing and a drink at sunset – can’t get any better! The candles were soooooo romantic!”
“Shangrila – peace. We will hold this in our memory always.”
“It was like staying at a friend’s place!”
“Travelling through the flooded plains was a unique experience – to see the co-existence of both the flora and fauna. The tall papyrus and elephant grass, the water lilies and all sorts of wildlife, from the very small frogs to the big elephants all sharing common resources.”
“Seeing the lion and lioness on our game drive with Timothy and getting up close to elephants on our boat drives. We also liked spending dinner with our hosts and guides and getting to know them better. The accommodation, service and activities were great!”
Staff in Camp
Managers: Ian and Michélle Burger
Guides: Moruti Maipelo, Timothy Samuel, Tshenelo Mahongo and Mokgosi Dichaba