Jacana Camp – March 2014
Weather and Landscape
Being the rainy season we have seen plenty of it, with six or seven days of constant heavy rain at the beginning of the month, the most being 55 mm in one night. For the rest of the month it’s mostly been late afternoon thunder showers, bringing the monthly total to a decent 184 mm. In between the rain, it was still hot, pushing the mercury over 30° Celsius every time the sun came out, the hottest day being a whopping 38°. With the heavy rain we saw the delta rise impressively and then drop again when the rain subsided, allowing us to bring our vehicles back on to the island. It has been four years since a vehicle resided at Jacana. It has been remarkable to watch Mother Nature, in all her glory, fill the sky with impressive double rainbows, stunning sunshine and even the occasional, nerve-wracking tropical storm.
We have spotted sitatunga regularly between Jacana and Jao Camp on our boat rides as well as plenty of crocodile and hippo; one big bull seems to camp on one of our regular boat channels. We have a resident male hippo, Harry as we call him, who also plays on the island. At first we only saw his tracks in the morning, but as the rain has come, we bumped into him regularly in the mornings on our way to the office. Luckily, he seems quite calm around us and hasn’t shown any aggression, probably due to the fact that hehas the entire island for grazing entirely to himself. Our chests rumble as the lions thunder during the night and in the early morning. By the sounds of it, they’re closer to Kwetsani than Jacana, but their calls are still exceptional. Although it seemed the elephants had moved on since the rain, one lonely bull reports to camp for a graze. Recently he’s been coming right up to the room balconies.
Sightings are always impressive here at Jacana and this month was no exception. Saddle-billed storks that nest near the island have shown us their new chick for the first time – it has been seen every day right outside the front of house, feeding and learning how to hunt from its attentive mother. Woodland kingfishers can be heard all day with their very distinctive call. Thumping on the trees, various woodpeckers make it known that they are nearby and the constant cry of the African fish-eagle reminds us that we are in the Okavango Delta. Our guests love the tranquillity and peacefulness of the mokoro activities, with guides sharing insights about the local environment. We have been lucky enough to catch some great sightings of the rare, yet well-known, Pel’s fishing-owl. A mating pair resides on an island just to the north of us. Little bee-eaters are a daily treat for Laura and I and we have seen several chicks near our office still coming to grips with flying for the first time. Also large flocks of our camp’s namesake, the African jacana, up to 40 strong – a first for us as we are used to seeing them only singly or in pairs.
Laura and I are proud to be a part of the Jao Concession and the running of this spectacular, water-based safari camp. We started just before the New Year after a big career change, from working mostly in Europe to here in the beautiful Okavango Delta. We started with only a few guests in camp as we were winding down to the annual maintenance period which started on 7 January. We are both very excited and have quickly fallen in love with Jacana whilst making it ‘our’ home. The maintenance period was a great way to get to know the ins and outs of the camp as well as becoming accustomed to the local culture and making a bond with our staff by getting stuck in to every small task. The transition has been warm and welcoming and we have already begun to build our relationships with our new family. The first guests that arrived were also very impressed with the state of the camp as well as the staff, which made us even more delighted to be involved here.