Wilderness Safaris has announced the rebuild and complete reinvention of Jao Camp in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, set to open on June 1, as well as the introduction of the camp’s luxurious and brand new Jao Villas.
Jao Camp, located on a remote island in a concession in the Delta, provides both land and water experiences, with day and night game drives all year round.
The new Jao Camp will retain the same high stilted main area built into the tree canopy, with more private areas in amongst the trees.
The camp will comprise two villas and five twins with private plunge pools, lounge, dining areas, kitchen facilities, plus en-suite bathrooms, including indoor and outdoor showers.
The new Jao Villas, accommodating four people each in the two identical guest rooms, which share a main area, will feature a private vehicle, guide, chef and butler.
“Having to replace our old substructures provided us with the opportunity to enhance the special features that we always loved about Jao, to make improvements and incorporate extra touches. We are making the most of our camp environment, with buildings set to blend into the tree canopy whilst offering stunning views and honouring our commitment to be as eco-sensitive as possible,” says Co-Owner of the Jao Reserve, Cathy Kays.
The main area will feature both indoor and outdoor lounges, dining areas, a satellite kitchen and several private dining areas, along with a fire deck. The spa at Jao will be tucked in amongst the palms for privacy, and is surrounded by water to provide a calming and tranquil atmosphere. The gym will be built on the edge of the island, presenting stunning views over the lush waterways, while the main pool, with its unique canopy pavilion providing shade, will project out into the floodplain with 270-degree views of the Delta.
A key feature is the museum and gallery, as an important aspect of the camp rebuild is the emphasis on learning and sharing knowledge.
A colour palette of creams, greens, soft purple and splashes of yellow will be used, incorporating a botanical theme with emphasis placed on the water lily. A range of new furnishings will be crafted to reflect the theme. A mix of wood and light coloured Eva-tech decking will contrast with the red balau wooden walkways and lighter floors in the internal areas. The walkways reflect the old camp and provide a difference to the room interiors, which will be more refined in appearance.
Lead architects, Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, who designed the original Jao in 1999, shared their approach to the rebuild: “We have taken a fresh and contemporary approach to the sense of adventure Jao always had – creating a feeling of not knowing what to expect around the next corner, adding an element of surprise and delight in this ever-evolving sculptural and architectural language.”
Comfort is provided through cooling and heating systems, complementing the camp design. Using Climate Wizard, an Australian cooling system, the suites and villas will be cooled with an indirect evaporative cooler that delivers a large amount of cold air with no added moisture, for a fraction of the energy used by conventional air conditioning systems. Self-igniting Calore stoves will provide heating during the colder months.
For maximum eco-efficiency, built walls will feature Cavitybatt insulation and an added board of plywood, with waterproofing and fibre palm attached to the top layer. “We have made great use of natural lighting – parts of the roof feature sky lights covered with latte poles to provide shaded, dappled lighting. All buildings will have a latte verandah roof to provide extra shade,” concludes Kays.