Weather and Landscape
It was ‘Octane-tober’ this month – not just because it was a blast or that it was blazing hot with temperatures up to 36 degrees Celsius and as low as 16 degrees Celsius – but there were many fascinating things that happened. We did experience quite a bit of cloud cover and finally we had a big storm on the last day of the month – with hail and lots of lightning.
Water levels are at an all-time low, so we had to move the boat jetty a little further away, which has allowed us to enjoy some great water activities. The dry season is now contradicting the green environs, exposing more ground and a whole mix of interesting creatures.
It was indeed a very productive month as we often found the lions around camp but mostly between Jao and Kwetsani. The resident male lion was seen a few times sleeping on the eastern side of the Jao Bridge… it seemed like he was our custodian this month.
The lionesses also made their presence known and the guests loved taking pictures of them. Lots of guests have seen lionesses before but not when they are pregnant and they found it very special. It was a long wait as we knew they should deliver their new cubs soon. It was an exciting interval though. Then at last on the 15th, it finally happened. As we got close to their den, we heard the little growls of the darling cubs. It seems a new generation of felines will rule these domains. We don’t know how many cubs there are at this stage.
The male was similarly seen sleeping a lot, guarding his two lionesses in front of their den on the Kwetsani floodplains. Then there was a new pride of lions also spotted at Hunda Island. We still need to identify the two young fellows; maybe Salt and Pepper have returned?
But that’s enough of the lions now, because all the leopards had their own story to tell. It seems the heat made a few of these cats very drowsy, as we found a female leopard a few times close to Ivory Road slumbering up in a tree. One younger male leopard was more energetic though and was seen stalking an impala close to Marks Road.
The last few months have been quite unusual in terms of buffalo as we have seen very few in the concession. This however changed this month as a large herd of around 300 buffalo have settled on Hunda Island. A couple of old buffalo bulls have also taken up residence around Jao Camp and were often seen sleeping or grazing next to the deck.
Elephant encounters were abundant this month and we really enjoyed some excellent sightings of breeding herds with small calves. Big bulls also entertained us, and quite often they were seen around Jao Camp.
As the water levels have dropped, we have seen an increase in crocodile numbers as the receding water exposes more dry land.
On the subject of scaly creatures, we have had a few sightings of serrated-hinged terrapin and water or Nile monitor lizards. Spotted-bush snakes, southern African pythons and a tiger snake were also seen this month.
Let’s not forget about our resident mongoose family – the Mongoose Mafia. They are still very active in the camp area and are very pleased with the abundance of reptiles as they provide many meals.
We were blessed with a good few sitatunga sightings this month! Other antelope such as impala, tsessebe and lechwe were seen in abundance around camp. On Hunda Island, we encountered zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, hyaena and baboon.
Honey badgers dwelling on the Jao floodplains were found foraging for something tasty. A Cape clawless otter was also seen swimming in front of the boat jetty.
Birds and Birding
At this time it is the yellow-billed kites that are ruling the skies at the moment, swirling in the heavens, circling and rotating in remarkable numbers. They made a few squirrels and mongoose feel uneasy, landing in trees before their next lift-off. Aerial attacks were also frequent while swallows and other birds tried to dodge these assaults.
In a tree right next to the bridge a Verreaux’s eagle-owl nested in an old hamerkop’s abandoned nest making itself cosy before the big thunderstorms.
Two southern-ground hornbills were running on the floodplains doing their chicken run looking for cover from the rain. We just take all these lovely bird sightings for granted as there were plenty more to see – like African fish-eagles, maribou storks, African jacanas, little bee-eaters, woodland kingfishers, and lilac breasted-rollers to name a few.
The Jao experience has really been setting the benchmark, providing a wide range of activities depending on our guests’ needs. Our team offers great locations for tranquil sundowners, bush brunches, high tea and fine dining with the Delta at your doorstep overlooking the floodplains.
The rhythm of our boma nights and blazing camp fires combined with singing, dancing locals dressed in their traditional outfits will get you in the African spirit.
Basket-weaving is a traditional art form that is performed by our staff, only using natural resources from the bush making a fascinating assortment of colours. These skills are usually presented at high tea where guests are intrigued and can participate if they wish.
Mokoro trips give an inside view of how the river bushman people travelled around the Okavango Delta.
Staff in Camp
Managers: William Whiteman, Angie Whiteman, Barend Vorster, Alejandra Pablo Roa, Charl Bergh, Retha Prinsloo, Marina Lunga and Nelly Oteng.
Guides: Johnny Mowanji, Salani Tibabili, Cruise Mollowakgotto and July Mogomotsi.