Weather and Water Levels
You can feel that winter has set in, with temperatures as low as 9 degrees Celsius and some days only reaching highs of 15 degrees Celsius. However, on some days the maximum would reach a rather warm 28 degrees while others presented wispy cirrus clouds that often announce the arrival of a cold front. The sun rises much later and the dawn chorus usually only gets heard from about 06h00. A slight mist has been seen over parts of the floodplain and can make for quite a dramatic background when watching a resident male lion on his morning territory-marking rounds.
The water levels have dropped again and are lower on average than the previous few years. However, it is still high enough for water activities to take place so that many a successful voyage into the Okavango Eden took place this month.
It seems the new royalty of Jao think they own the place! The resident pride of lions made its presence known on regular occasions. Many a night was peppered with loud roars from the male. We are under the impression that when the male wanders off to mark his territory, the two females sneak off for a quick snack without him. They seem to not want to share their kills with him - or perhaps it is his deplorable table manners that most lions are famous for not having!
They kept us alert a few times this month as they made a kill and lingered around the pilot’s room and Tent 1. They also circled the Spa and the boma area, patrolling our dirt roads and crossing the bridge back and forth, which we could clearly see from their tracks. They were also found loitering in the airstrip area. Some guests reported seeing the male mating with one of the females. It will be threeand-a-half month wait before we will know if their copulation was successful.
A sizeable buffalo bull was seen grazing in the open plains from our lounge/bar area. He was again seen lingering in the same area by guests returning from a boat activity.
Three hippos were seen 'spooning' in front of Tent 8 by guests being escorted to their tent. The guide who escorted them said it appeared to be a mother cow, a sub-adult and a rather young calf. While dinner conversation flows, battling male hippos can often been heard in the background. On one particular occasion a pair was seen challenging each other close to the main lodge. Guests stared on in amazement and flashlights lit up the area. They (the hippo) eventually disappeared below the water, leaving only bubbles as evidence.
The civet was seen again close to Tent 1 hiding in the bushes and then moving on slowly towards the staff village. The airstrip has hosted, as usual, an array of different antelope, with impala, tsessebe and lechwe to name but a few. Another species that we have also had to chase off the runway this month was a breeding herd of elephant. A big herd of these large beasts were seen roaming on the open plains through our telescope and provided a lot of joy to some of our guests. Another highlight was two elephant bulls clashing it out - you could hear their tusks bash from into each other.
The baboons and vervet monkeys are still up to mischief, hanging in the trees and trying to steal food. The mongoose gang raided our curio shop for reasons unknown. Perhaps it was some females going on a shopping spree or perhaps in need of retail therapy. Off the jetty in front of the camp were five Cape clawless otters seen either fighting or playing, making what can only be described as ‘yelping’ sounds.
Out on an activity, our guests observed a leopard dragging an impala up a tree while a hyaena tried to snap it up - but only snatched the head off. Another hyaena made a visit to our boma one evening while we were sitting at the fire, obviously trying to scavenge something while everyone was having a nightcap.
Two honey badgers were seen hanging around the Jacana Jetty playing hide and seek and we also saw four big crocodiles at “crocodile ally”. Of course these are only just some of the highlights for this month.
Birds of prey have been circling the skies and landing on the tree tops. An African fish-eagle snuggling up in his nest majestically overlooking the landscape was one of the great sightings this month on the airstrip island.
At Jao Camp itself brown-hooded vultures, approximately 16 of them, have been seen decorating the trees and were really a marvellous sighting as they bent the branches close to our concession jetty. Moving in circles right above us was a bateleur gliding away with its lunch. Another wonderful sighting was a Verreaux's eagle-owl sitting digging its claws into a tree branch, waiting to chase after an afternoon snack, while cleaning its feathers.
Spur-winged goose lifted up from the water leaving ripples behind their webbed feet while maribou stork marched through the water cleaning their beaks and making shivering splashes. Ground hornbills have also made a visit to our camp. Numerous other birds were fishing and hovering, being part of the Okavango symphony around the camp.
The Jao experience has really been setting the benchmark providing a large range of activities depending on our guests' needs. Our team has been offering great locations for tranquil sundowners, bush brunches, high tea and fine dining overlooking the floodplains. The rhythm of our boma nights and blazing campfires combined with singing and dancing local people dressed in their traditional outfits really offer a true African spirit.
Basket-weaving is a traditional art form that is performed by our local ladies using natural resources from the bush/Delta making for a fascinating assortment of colours. These skills are usually presented at high tea where guests are intrigued and can participate if they like.
Staff in Camp
Managers: Bryan Webbstock, Theresa Fourie, Barend Vorster, Alejandra Pablo Roa, Charl Bergh, Philli Ngisi and Marina Lunga
Guides: Alberto Munduu, Johnny Mowanji, Bee Makgetho, Cruise Mollowakgotto, July Mogomotsi and Rasta Taetso