Weather and Landscape
It has been a month of hot and cold, windy and dry weather. During the month of September it felt like August with a bit of autumn in the mix. Leaves have been falling nonstop and the mangosteen trees have blossomed favouring us with a sweet smell in the air. Some mornings you wake up feeling this is now summer - then the next day it is cold and windy. Some days we reached temperatures of +/- 37 degrees Celsius and then lows of 19, which is still acceptable.
The water level has dropped rapidly. Between Jao and Kwetsani Camp we had to move our jetties to accommodate our guests with water activities, seeing that the boats cannot travel on certain channels when it is too low. However, travelling to Kwetsani Camp over the floodplains to get to the Kwetsani Jetty will always be amazing.
The lions were the main attraction during the month of September. They have made their presence known around camp a couple of times. One evening William and Angie had a magnificent sighting of them walking past the vehicle on Camp Road. We expected the one female to give birth, however, it still has not happened. All three camps, Jao, Kwetsani and Jacana, have had regular sightings and the guests have thoroughly enjoyed them. We are hoping to have brand new little lion cubs soon.
The hyaena have made their presence known around camp as well. We still see them as our naughty puppies looking for a shoe to chew on - so to speak. The guests love hearing the stories of how they visit the camp nightly.
As the resident civet was killed by this clan of hyaena, we didn’t expect to see another civet by camp for a while and we were surprised this month when two civets began to visit us.
Hippo have also provided us with outstanding sightings from camp and on one occasion two rival males decided to settle their differences right in front of camp during the darkest hours of the night... it went on for hours. The guests who were staying at Tents 7, 8 and 9 arrived the next morning looking a little tired and weary due to the ruckus of grunts and honks.
Red lechwe and impala have massed along the floodplains as the water levels recede and expose succulent and nutritious shoots.
During an evening drive, around seven springhares were seen hopping along the airstrip – a first time sight for many on the vehicle.
Birds and Birding
The southern-carmine bee-eaters are back in town. A couple of them have been seen around camp and on the channels to Jacana. We also saw a pair of Retz's helmet-shrikes at the back of house hopping around in a tree looking for insects to feast on. African openbills are always a good sign that winter has passed and summer is here and have been seen en route to Pelo Camp.
Three southern-ground hornbills were been spotted close to the management tents. Their hoo-too-too calls are the best wakeup call anybody could get. They even showed off one morning making a kill. The youngster in the family of three could not wait to grab the skink from father’s bill and ran off with it.
Yellow-billed storks have also been seen around the camp area. These beautiful birds are a pleasure to have around. We were also fortunate enough to see a long-crested eagle in camp sitting on a tree stump.
The guests that come to Jao have either heard, read or been to Jao before. We try and give our guests an experience that they can remember forever. We had a number of WOW activities for the guests this month. We had bush dinners at several different spots. Some of the guests have never eaten outside in the bush before.
Hunda Island trips were a huge hit as always. Guests enjoyed going to the island and coming back with stories to tell. They had amazing sightings and praised the guides.
We had several basket weaving lessons given to the guests by our local staff. Some of the guests even gave it a try. After a prick or two on the finger by the tool the basket weavers use, the guests understood why the women start basket weaving when they are six years old. The ladies supported the cause by purchasing some of the baskets.
The 30th of September was Botswana’s Independence Day. It really worked out well that it was on a Monday which is cultural dinner night at camp. There was a big crowd of guests in camp which made it more special. The Jao Motswana staff were singing from early morning already. Cindy, our executive chef, planned a special traditional meal for the guests that night. The general staff came dressed in their traditional outfits which all looked spectacular. The guests were asked to join in with dancing around the fire.
Staff in Camp
Managers: William Whiteman, Angie Whiteman, Cindy Swart, Barend Vorster, Alejandra Pablo Roa, Retha Prinsloo, Nelly Otteng and Marina Lunga.
Guides: Alberto Munduu, Johnny Mowanji, Bee Makgetho, Cruise Mollowakgotto, and Rasta Taetso.