August is probably one of the best months of the year in terms of climate, made even more enjoyable by the sun coming up a tad earlier and hanging in the west just a bit longer. Although the bush still looks deserted of its colours, the temperatures have risen slightly making for pleasant mornings and evenings. Our averaging lows for the month were around 10 degrees Celsius with highs of 26 C. It is clear that winter has come and gone as August lives up to its name with prevalent winds reminding us of the cold early mornings of the last two months, especially when we were out on a boat cruise.
The month was filled with activity right on our doorstep. We had a breeding herd of about 25 elephant come for a drink in front of camp and here they stayed feeding for about three days. They had a newborn of about a week old with them much to our delight and entertainment as the youngster learned to use his trunk. A male kudu was also seen strolling ever so elegantly opposite camp.
Our little hyaena clan on the Island has again been a highlight. On one special Friday, the hyaena and our resident ‘one-eared’ hippo had a go at each other. Clearly the hyaena was not out for a kill, but the interaction was fascinating and it led to the management village walkway being trampled by the huge mammal.
The baboon troop has been around for the wake-up call as they bark and move from one end of the camp’s riverine canopy to the other. There is always a bit of strife between them as they swing from mangosteen to jackal-berry. One youngster had an encounter with the troop leader and we witnessed it tumble from a tree and do a standard ‘land and roll’ on the deck, barking his lungs out as this happened. In case a fresh pot of coffee did not wake us up, the baboon's bark definitely did as it happened right above the camp.
Being very close to water, Jao Camp has been blessed by the sight of a rare and elusive male sitatunga. He was seen as we crossed the bridge, well hidden on the water’s edge.
Full day trips to Hunda Island always prove fruitful with leopard sightings almost around every corner. Giraffe, wildebeest and of course the hyaena always keep us company on these activities too. A giraffe carcass was a ‘hot spot’ for quite some time. At one point there were three different leopard on the carcass - a rare sighting.
For the first time in a long time African skimmers were seen on the Jao floodplain. Yes, you heard that right! An African skimmer pair that are in all likelihood looking for new breeding grounds.
The yellow-billed kites are back and this has put the mongoose on high alert. After the long silence from the African ground hornbills, we are glad to hear them back again. Their calls remind us that we really are in the wilderness, together with the somewhat eerie call of the coppery-tailed coucal, loud arrow-marked babblers and white-browed robin chats in the morning, and of course, the call of the red-billed francolin as we enjoy sundowners. All of these are songs of the Delta!
On returning from a long productive safari, the Jao Spa is a worthwhile experience as you get pampered while you relax under the cool riverine forest with robins, starlings, monkeys and baboons adding a special touch to the ambience.
“Attention and passion, kindness and the people/staff make you feel at home! It is like a family.”
Staff in Camp
Managers: Neuman Vasco, Retha Prinsloo, Charl Bergh, William Whiteman, Angie Locker
Guides: Johnny Mowanji, Alberto Munduu, July Mogomotsi, Bee Ndozi