Pelo is situated in a wetter region and is a great place to experience classic Delta landscapes
Pelo Camp: Our full report
Situated on a small island deep inside the Okavango Delta, Pelo Camp is Jao Concession's newest lodge, opened in mid-2013. It is surrounded by permanent, open floodplains, so focuses on water-based activities – and primarily excursions by mokoro (traditional dug-out canoe).
The camp is entirely tented, with no 'permanent' structures, and – unusually for the Okavango – is open only seasonally, from about April to November.
The main area of Pelo consists of two separate tents, just a short distance apart. In the dining tent you’ll find a tea and coffee station, and a long table where brunch and dinner are eaten communally. The lounge tent has several comfortable chairs and a couch arranged around an old chest that doubles as a coffee table. There’s a water cooler where guests can fill up their complimentary water bottles before heading out on activities and a small bookcase, which houses a few books on the flora and fauna of the Delta. Overlooking the channel and floodplains in front of camp, a shaded balcony spread with chairs and cushions makes the perfect place to relax and escape the heat of the day.
A short sandy path brings you to a raised platform built around an old anthill – the location of the bar and a central firepit that is lit every evening. With fantastic views across the adjacent floodplain, this is where guests congregate after their afternoon activity.
More sandy paths lead to Pelo’s five reasonably spacious tents – four twins and one double – which are simple but comfortable in design. All are well spread out, and sheltered from each other by the thick palm foliage of the island. Entering through a covered veranda at the front, you’ll find a writing table with a reading light and a charging station for batteries and other equipment. The beds have bedside lights which provide enough light to read by in the evenings, although we recommend that guests bring a good-quality head torch to supplement this. A tea and coffee station includes a flask of hot water that is usually brought twice a day.
At the rear of each tent is an en-suite flushing toilet and basin with cold running water – Hot water is brought on request. There’s also a free-standing wardrobe here which contains a small safe, insect repellent for both the room and the body, a kikoi (wrap) and dressing gowns. An outdoor bucket shower is reached down a short, canvas-lined pathway at the front of the tent. This is filled on request – and with a capacity of 25 litres, it provides ample water for two people to shower from one bucketful.
In keeping with its island location Pelo does not have access to game-drive areas. Instead, the camp’s main attractions are mokoro activities. Your guide will pole the mokoro expertly through the reeds, giving you the opportunity to appreciate the smaller creatures and birds that inhabit the Delta. On past visits to other camps in this concession we have always enjoyed the birding, with potential sightings of endangered species such as lesser jacana, slaty egret and wattled crane. Mammal species include elephant, hippo and lechwe, and on our last visit in October 2013 we had a particularly good sighting of the elusive sitatunga.
Our viewPelo Camp offers a traditional and rustic experience with an emphasis on water-based activities, and is well suited to adventurous travellers looking to explore the waterways of the Okavango Delta. While Pelo will probably disappoint travellers hoping to spot lion and leopard around every corner, its greatest appeal lies in its varied birdlife and picturesque scenery.
Ideal length of stay: We’d recommend a stay of two nights at Pelo to enjoy the mokoro excursions both in the morning and in the evening.
Directions: Most guests fly by light aircraft from Maun or other safari camps to Jao airstrip, then are transferred to Pelo by boat. However, boat transfers are possible from other camps in the Jao Concession. Guests will arrive at camp from Jao airstrip by boat.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Marketed and managed by Wilderness.
Staff: On our last visit the management couple were the very hospitable and professional André and Lynée.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Pelo is very good indeed and with advance notice, the camp can cater for vegetarian and many other dietary requirements.
The day usually starts with a light breakfast of toast, fruit and cereal, along with tea and coffee, which is served prior to your early morning activity.
For brunch, after the morning activity, there is a hot option, which when we visited in October 2013 included a plated meal of pork ribs and sausage with a selection of vegetables, along with a range of cold salad dishes and bread.
Afternoon tea, served at around 4.00pm, usually includes a savoury snack, iced tea and coffee and a freshly baked cake, pie or biscuits.
Dinner is usually a buffet-style meal. On our last visit this included a spicy lamb and rice dish, with salad and gem squash, followed by a very tasty lemon tart with cream.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Beers, house wines, local spirits and soft drinks are included, but note that champagne, imported wines and premium-brand spirits will be at additional cost.
Further dining info: Private meals can be arranged for special occasions.
Attitude towards children: Children over the age of 12 years are welcome at Pelo. Children younger than six may be accepted by special arrangement, but only if the entire camp is reserved for exclusive use. Note, however, that children under 13 may not take part in mokoro trips. Children under 17 must share a room with an adult.
Property’s age restrictions: No under 12s
Special activities & services: There are no special activities or services.
Generally recommended for children: We think that Pelo is unsuitable for children under the age of 16 years. There are other camps in the Okavango more suited to younger children. However, Pelo is such a small camp that a party of ten people, including children, could have exclusive use of it without any extra charges – making it a great choice for one large family or group. Since you would be using the whole camp, you would have ultimate flexibility and private activities at no extra cost.
Notes: Pelo is unfenced, and dangerous wildlife, including leopard, are known to regularly move through camp. The tents are at ground level. Children must be under the constant supervision of their parents.
Power supply: Solar Power
Communications: There is radio only, no internet.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio.
Water supply: Other
Water supply notes: The water comes out of the Delta and is then purified through reverse osmosis for guests. There is also bottled water available for guests.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: All management and guides are first-aid trained and there is a nurse on call (via radio) 24 hours a day. The nearest doctor is in Maun. Medical evacuation is available in case of emergency. Please note that it is only possible to fly out of camp during daylight hours as the bush airstrips do not have any lighting at night.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Guests are escorted to their tents after dark as dangerous wildlife is known to wander through the camp. A thorough safety briefing is given on arrival. ‘Fog horns’ are provided in the rooms to summon help in case of emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers throughout camp.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A laundry service is included. Laundry is collected in the morning and usually returned the same day, weather permitting. For cultural reasons and because items are generally hand washed, the staff do not wash underwear. Detergent is provided in each tent for guests who wish to do a little hand washing.
Money: No exchange facilities are offered at Pelo. There are small safes in all the rooms, as well as a larger one in the office.
Accepted payment on location: Cash in the form of South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula is accepted, but note that any change will be given in pula.