After undergoing a complete reinvention, Wilderness Safaris’ extraordinary new Jao Camp has reopened in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. In addition to featuring five spacious tented suites, Jao is delighted to reveal its two new exclusive Villas, each with its own private vehicle, guide, chef and butler.
We are thrilled to reveal the transformation of Jao Camp after eight-and-a-half months of construction, and proud of our various teams and craftsmen who worked tirelessly to make this happen,”says co-owner of the Jao Reserve, Cathy Kays. “The unique layout of the camp draws you into this special area, with all elements of the rebuild embracing the true essence of the Delta. This is also encapsulated in the beautiful colour palette of creams, greens, soft purple and yellow, incorporating a unique botanical theme throughout the design, with special emphasis placed on the abundant water lily. The handcrafted and uniquely designed furnishings and fittings fit perfectly into the buildings, and provide fabulous eye-catching detail.”
The camp comprises a new main area, elevated into the tree canopy, with the new villas and suites all featuring private plunge pools, lounge and dining areas and en-suite bathrooms, including indoor and outdoor showers. Jao’s exquisite new spa is tucked away beneath palm trees in a tranquil location, complete with two new circular treatment rooms that have been finished with impressive saligna-laminated beams, rosewood-clad ceilings and rosewood floors, and are surrounded by tranquil water ponds. For the energetic, there is a fully-equipped gym, while the main pool, with its unique nest-like canopy pavilion for dappled shade, projects out over the floodplain and is the ideal spot to enjoy the sunset.
Another fascinating feature is the camp’s new Centre of Knowledge museum and gallery, with its emphasis on learning and sharing information about the area and its denizens, from a two-storey high giraffe skeleton to geographical maps and Okavango history.
“Among the gallery items will be a series of botanical pressings made by my great-grandfather, EE Galpin; he was known as the ‘Prince of Collectors’ and one of the pre-eminent botanists of his time. He left over 16 000 sheets to the National Herbarium in Pretoria, and a number of plant species have been named after him. It is so rewarding for us to have this special place to house his work, and to share my family’s dedication and love of conservation with our guests,” added Cathy.
In line with Wilderness Safaris’ commitment to operating with a light eco-footprint, Jao is 100% solar powered, with a new power plant that works on one of the biggest Victron inverter systems in the world, and the largest lithium-ion battery bank in southern Africa. The suites and villas will be cooled with an indirect Climate Wizard evaporative cooler, using a fraction of the energy of conventional air conditioning. They have also been fitted with innovative self-igniting Calore fireplaces, which use pellets made of sawdust left over from working natural wood, without any additives or caking agents.
Jao is a place that is dedicated to the conservation of the Okavango Delta and its unique ecosystem – the waters and the dry land, and the plants, birds and wildlife that call it home. “We are proud to have pioneered sustainable ecotourism at Jao for over 20 years now, and we can’t wait to share the new camp’s extraordinary wilderness offering with our guests”, concluded Cathy.