Jao Camp has been completely reinvented, with a fresh and modern take in the same lovely location in the Okavango Delta. Designed by the same team who worked on the original Jao – Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens (who also designed Vumbura Plains and North Island) – Jao will maintain the same high stilted main area built into the tree canopy with more private areas in amongst the trees. Jao is a place 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. Jao’s fresh and contemporary design, in the same lovely location, continues the sense of adventure that the camp has always prized, adding an element of surprise and delight through its ever-evolving sculptural and architectural language. Underpinning it all is the commitment to the pristine environment around Jao, minimising their footprint and allowing our guests to experience the Delta in its fullest sense.
The camp comprises a new main area, elevated into the tree canopy, two new exclusive villas and five twins all with private plunge pools, lounge and dining areas, en-suite bathrooms, including indoor and outdoor showers. Two Jao Villas, accommodating four people each in two identical guest rooms, share a main area, and will also have an exclusive vehicle, guide, chef and butler.
Lead architects, Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, who designed the original Jao in 1999, share 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”.
The Spa at Jao is tucked in amongst the palms for privacy, and is surrounded by water to provide a calming and tranquil atmosphere. The spa’s Signature Terres d’Afrique treatments are based on Africa’s unique botanical heritage with organic baobab and sausage tree-infused skincare products that nourish skin and soul. The gym, built on the edge of the island, presents stunning views over the lush waterways, while the main pool projects out into the floodplain with 270-degree views of the Delta.
A fascinating new feature is the museum and gallery, with its emphasis on learning and knowledge sharing of the area and its denizens, from a giraffe skeleton that soars two storeys high to geographical maps and artworks. It is here that Jao presents the history of the Kays family in the Delta, their love of and commitment to its conservation. This also creates a space where visiting scientists and researchers will share their research with guests and staff.
From waterways and lagoons to dry Kalahari grasslands, Jao’s location on a remote island in one of the most picturesque concessions in the Okavango Delta provides both land and water Okavango experiences, with day and night game drives all year round. The Okavango Delta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that provides critical habitat for various specialist wildlife species. Preserving the integrity and biodiversity of the Jao Reserve is of great importance, with research and monitoring being a vital component of its conservation.
IMAGES OF THE NEWLY REFURBISHED JAO CAMP: