In the heart of the Okavango, luxurious Jao is set amongst islands fringed with riverine forests and vast, floodplains with prolific wildlife. The camp (rebuilt in 2019) comprises a main area elevated into the tree canopy, two exclusive villas and five twins all with private plunge pools, lounge and dining areas, and en-suite bathrooms, including indoor and outdoor showers.
The two Jao Villas, accommodating four people each in two identical guest rooms, share a main area, and also have an exclusive vehicle, guide, chef and butler. The fresh and contemporary design, in the same lovely location, continues the sense of adventure that Jao has always prized, adding an element of surprise and delight in ever-evolving sculptural and architectural language.
When Jao reopened last July, safari lovers everywhere took a deep breath. Was it going to be too modern? Too polished? In short – ruined? The answer: If traditionalists don’t take to the steel pillars, recycled-plastic thatch, and glass frontage, eco-warriors will. The reimagined camp in the western Okavango Delta has been conceived not just for the well-travelled but for thoughtful adventurers who understand how their journeys impact the environment.
The five tented suites and two villas are fitted with all manner of sustainable tech – solar panels, reverse-osmosis water filters – all hidden behind Balinese-inspired architecture that could have appeared in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Renowned designers Lesley Carstens and Silvio Rech ensured that not a tree was cut to recreate the place, so trunks pop up through floors and branches poke through walls into the interiors. Indulgent touches include a Terres d’Afrique spa, a pool overlooking the watercourse, and a feast for every appetite, with fruit salads, beef and gorgonzola schnitzel, and flower-strewn cakes. Plus, enthusiastic guides will track down the Big Five on nearby Tubu Island or take you bird-watching on one of Africa’s greatest watery wildernesses. It’s not the old Jao, but a high-design incarnation for a greener era. –Lisa Grainger
The fresh and contemporary design, in the same lovely location, continues the sense of adventure that Jao has always prized, adding an element of surprise and delight in ever-evolving sculptural and architectural language. Underpinning it all is the operator’s commitment to the pristine environment around Jao, minimising its footprint and allowing its guests to experience the Delta in its fullest sense. Innovative insulation ensures comfort, while gauze and glass panels let natural light and the outside in. The suites and villas are cooled with a silent evaporative cooler, at a fraction of energy used by conventional air-conditioning, and Calore ‘fireplaces’ provide heating during the colder months.
Insider Tip: The game is often as good in low season as it is in high – and the camp is half the price. Doubles from $1,310 per person, all-inclusive
For the complete article: https://www.cntraveler.com/story/hot-list-2020-winners
For further information about Jao Camp: https://wilderness-safaris.com/our-camps/camps/jao-camp