Jacana Camp

Small, relaxed and characterful, Jacana is a lovely little camp and newly stylish since a rebuild in 2019. Hidden on a tropical palm island, the camp is utterly private. Jacana is, for most of the year, completely surrounded by water and is a lovely contrast to camps whose focus is big-game and open plains. Water activities are the mainstay here; enjoy the superb birdlife and aquatic splendour of a true Delta experience.

Previously perhaps not as stylish as some in the Wilderness portfolio, but always recommended for being full of charm and character, Jacana Camp is now a fully refreshed and refurbished camp. The camp is set on a heart shaped island situated on the Jao Flats in the Jao Concession. The density of date palms gives Jacana the feeling of a ‘tropical island’: it’s often been called the ‘Robinson Crusoe’ island because guests arrive and leave by boat. The camp is fully solar powered and has a new floating fire deck, pool and jetty and updated décor.

This camp is a true water camp that offers mokoro and walking safaris all year round. Here guests will see the rare and shy sitatunga and other water specialist antelope, the red lechwe and even, if you are lucky, reedbuck. Hippo surround the camp and their grunting will be a constant soundtrack. The Pel’s Fishing Owl is a favourite amongst birders, as are wattled crane and the African and lesser Jacanas, the small wader which gives the camp its name. When the water lessens in the summer, lion, elephant and tsessebe can be seen.

The main lodge is a two-storey structure, with a mezzanine level bar. Upstairs from the mezzanine is the dining room and seating area with folding stacking folding doors which truly ‘let the outside in’ (the philosophy behind the rebuild) and reveal the magnificent floodplain vista. The bottom floor is an open plan lounge which flows onto the main deck and connects with the new pool, jetty and fire deck. The ‘floating’ fire deck is completely surrounded by water when the inundation arrives and the fire pit is lit every evening and surrounded by chairs where guest can relax with coffee after dinner. There is also a small curio shop situated downstairs in the main area and many of the baskets sold here are made by members of local staff.

The meru-style tents at Jacana Camp are accessed by short wooden walkways. Now bigger since the rebuild, each tent is on a wooden deck overlooking the floodplains which surround the island. The private balconies boast two director’s chairs and a small table. All the tents have indoor and outdoor showers and an outside bath, allowing for wallowing in a luxurious tub by starlight. The rooms have safes, fans and mosquito coils which are lit nightly by the staff.

Activities offered at Jacana Camp include mokoro trips, boating trips and walking safaris all year round, as well as game drives when the floodwaters have receded – generally between September and May. During the high-water season, most of the activities at Jacana Camp take place in mokoros, motorboats, or on foot.

Wildlife concentrations depend on the water levels and thus change from season to season but all the big animals can be found in the Jacana area including elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo. The concentrations will simply be lower in the high flood period. If you want to see large herds of game here, visit in September and October, otherwise enjoy the many wonderful game and birlife experiences outside that time and focus on the water experiences. Jacana Camp is set in one of the most densely populated wetland areas for sitatunga and red lechwe.

Birdlife is abundant with a large variety of bird species found in the vicinity of Jacana Camp including wattled crane, saddle-billed stork, African darter, reed cormorant, king-fishers, slaty egret, several species of heron including the goliath and rufus-bellied variety and all the more common water-bird species. Ground hornbills are also spotted regularly when water-levels are low.

Exploring the surrounding waterways of the Okavango Delta is the ideal way to get a bird’s-eye view of the wetland’s bird and aquatic life. Fishing, on a catch and release basis, is offered at Jacana.

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Jacana Camp

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