Reviews of Jao Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Jao Camp review
See my comments on Trip Advisor.
[Ed: ... which reads as follows:
I stayed here w. a freind as part of a 12 day safari of Botswana and Zambia's premier Wilderness Safaris Camps.
It's a lovely Italian designed all wooden camp w. an Indonesian feel to it. There is a 1 km long wooden walk way up to 2 meters high in places directly under trees to the rooms making you feel you are in a tree house. The rooms are beautifully appointed and animals come right into the camp (a leopard did when we were there!), so you need to be accompanied to your room at night.
The food is stellar if not quite as excellent as at Mombo. On Monday night they do a buffet around a bonfire with a traditional African dance and sing song put on by the staff. Unlike other premier camps in Botswana, this camp has less Americans and is very cosmopolitan. Service is impeccable but the place can feel a bit snootty. (Unlike at other camps, people spend more time in their rooms or enjoyng the facilities than communally.)
We arrived here from Mombo and had been told there would be less game viewing. It is true that one rarely sees lions here and that on a mokoro you see less game, but oh what a joy to be on the water with just one other person is a boat and be poled through greenery in the early morning or at sunset. We asked especially to do this twice during our 3 night stay we liked it so much!
However, they offer a trip to Hunda Island where the Tubu Tree Camp (in the same concession and under the same management) is with terrific game viewing. The red litchwe and zebras running through the water is stunning. You can get right next to elephants and see crocs. We got stuck in the mud and had to get towed out by another vehicle when our high jack broke. It was so beautiful though that no one complained! At Jao itself we saw a leopard hunting in grass. Some guests come here to fish as well.
There is a great gift shop and a mini spa next to it where you can have various treatments while looking over the peaceful scenery and being sereneded by the bell chime frogs, birds, etc.
Whenever I need to think of a magical, peaceful place, it will be Jao. I can't wait to have some more Jao Therapy! ]
Best tree house ever
Again great guiding, Jakes made our fishing trips ones to remember, with hipos and crocodiles and loads of fish. Again excellent friendly staff.
We all really enjoyed the evening by the fire and the dancing. The staff were all knowledgeable and helpfull with photography of the animals, we now have about 3,000 photos to edit, at least we can relive our safari over the next few months.
Overall we were really impressed. Thank you everyone.
Very different indeed. First of all, they seemed to be unaware of our arrival (no names), checked & questioned at the airstrip, etc. The camp is of course very beautiful; also very formal. The pre-requisite for being on the "management team" seems to be upper-class public school English and, preferably, a lack of any sense of humour. Local people seemed to be trained as servile butlers.
For our first drive a boat trip was "planned" for us (nobody asked), so we were driven for an hour between the reeds, didn't see a thing. (We could easily arrange for an aluminium motor boat and reeds not far from where we live :-)
The guides were very pleasant (obviously educated; again, perfect English) but, somehow their heart wasn't really in it. The drives were quite short, repetitive, same standard roads. Got lots of great Kingfisher images as we drove by the same ones twice a day. We saw of course the local lions (old Freddy is always there for the tourists), elephants, etc., etc. Once, there were two leopards in a tree; so our guide took off at full speed towards them: they did of course what comes naturally - disappeared in the underbrush, never to be seen again. We almost heard them laugh ;-) (We had a very different, better experience at Lagoon).
We learned that Jao is not really a Wilderness Safaris camp, they just market it. It shows. It is supposedly owned "100% by the citizens of Botswana" - read one citizen.
There was also an information booklet in our room saying that Jao is a Ngabiland Adventures Safaris camp. It contains misleading information, particularly regarding antimalarials - dosages seem to refer to Lariam (once per week) without naming it and potentially dangerous if applied to other drugs, advises not to drink coffee or alcohol as these are "dietetics" (sic), etc.
The tent was luxurious; towels re-arranged 3x per day, although some things did not work; menus beautifully printed, there was an attempt for supposedly French cuisine. Unfortunately the result was meat or fish equally cooked to shoe-leather quality. The general impression from Jao: Beautiful area & camp, pretentious and wholly artificial. Wilderness drives are more or less a side show. Don't forget your jewellery in the evening.