Weather and Landscape
March passed by and there was no rain, only hot days. We did receive some solace from the heat as there was a constant cool breeze for a couple of days during the middle of the month. We have yet to feel the onset of winter, but we are sure the cold will arrive in the mornings very soon.
The water level has dropped a little this month, but it will rise substantially as soon as the annual inundation arrives in the Okavango Delta.
We have had many rare and beautiful sightings this month at Jao. The local band of ‘mafia’ mongoose decided it was time to move their den right next to the camp office. They have become very habituated and will often sit relaxed in the presence of people less than 30cm away. A genet has also taken a liking to the camp and was even seen in broad daylight next to the boardwalk having a snooze.
The resident hyaena clan have continued to visit the camp on most nights. During the still of night, these inquisitive animals come into camp and sample some of the camp décor, giving it a little chew. We have now installed a "hyaena gate" on the bridge in order to prevent these late night visits. However, the clan has returned regardless, and has taken a liking to chewing the pool pump and boma equipment.
Hippo have also been joining the hyaena with their nightly camp visits, as these bulk grazers seem to find the lush grass under and in between the tents tasty.
Other exciting sightings for the month included that of a sitatunga, which was a huge highlight for all of us. We also had sightings of civet, southern African python and Cape clawless otter at Kubu Island. We found a number of fresh leopard tracks on Jao Island, but unfortunately no sightings of the feline.
Birds and Birding
Bird sightings have included the rare and the wonderful this month. Some of the staff had the opportunity to have some birding lessons from our concession manager, Anthony. The camp twitchers would take birding walks along the camp boardwalk and try to identify as many species as possible. These walks revealed some specials for the area! Some of the camp species recorded were: Verreaux's eagle-owl, African paradise- flycatcher, African dusky flycatcher, southern black flycatcher, emerald-spotted wood-dove, pied kingfisher, woodland kingfisher, crested barbet, black-collared barbet, marabou stork, blue-cheeked bee-eater, green pigeon, fork-tailed drongo and brown-hooded kingfisher.
A martial eagle has been spending lots of time around camp, scaring the living daylights out of the mongoose mafia. The birding highlights for the month included sightings of purple gallinule, Pel’s fishing-owl, Ayers’s hawk-eagle and lappet-faced vulture.
As the Jao floodplain is now submerged in ankle-deep water, it has provided the perfect spot to have a relaxing bush brunch, high tea or sundowner – a great way to enjoy the Delta while cooling off your feet.
Camp staff have been very enthusiastic when it comes to traditional nights in the boma, and have wowed many a guest with their tuneful singing and energetic dancing.
The Jao wine cellar has fascinated quite a few of our guests with its eco-friendly status and workings, as well as our wide quality and variety of South African wines. We completed a photo shoot for our wine cellar this month with Geir and Gunnhild from Tara Magazine along with some fun wine tastings and wine tours.
Sala sleep-outs have been done by a number of Jao guests, and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Our local ladies have also fascinated guests at high teas with their basket-weaving skills.
Hunda Island trips and mokoro trips have also been a highlight for guests at Jao.
Staff in Camp
Managers: Bryan Webbstock, Theresa Fourie, Nadia Fourie, Retha Prinsloo, Cindy Swart, Phill Ngisi, Neuman Vasco and Charl Bergh.
Guides: Bolatatswe Makgheto, Ipeleng Mollowakgotta, Albert Munduu, Johnny Mowanji and Solomon Kanyeto.