Okavango Delta, Botswana
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KWETSANI CAMP RATES: Kwetsani
KWETSANI CAMP - OKAVANGO DELTA,
Kwetsani Island is a large, elongated island surrounded
by enormous open plains in Botswana's Okavango Delta. It is located in
the private Jao Reserve, an area of 60,000 hectares to the west of Mombo
and the Moremi Game Reserve. The island is heavily wooded with palm,
mangosteen and fig trees. In the central region of the concession, vast open floodplains provide some of the most stunning scenery of the region. Kwetsani Camp lies on the same floodplain system as Jao Camp, on the southern side of the plains. This area of the concession has beautiful islands fringed with riverine forests.
The water levels around the island change each
year, depending on the magnitude of the annual floods from central Africa.
The water levels at Kwetsani are at their highest from April or May to
September each year. Kwetsani is operated by Wilderness Safaris.
For images of Kwetsani, click Kwetsani
Images For Layout map of Kwetsani Camp, click Kwetsani
Five beautifully furnished 'tree-house' chalets, each with its own en-suite bathroom, provide guests with open, airy accommodation of thatch, wood, glass and canvas. The dining room, lounge and pub area, situated under a cool thatched roof, looks out over an enormous floodplain that is often dotted with lechwe, wildebeest and other plains game. Guests can watch the animals from the pool or the privacy of their rooms. Complimentary laundry services
A variety of habitats ensures
diverse and interesting game viewing. Hippo,
Sitatunga antelope and Crocodile reside in the deeper permanent lily-filled
lagoons of the area and these can be explored using the Delta's traditional
form of transport, the mokoro. However, Kwetsani offers superb land and
water activities - with much of the focus depending on the water levels
from the region's annual flood. In addition to stalking game by mokoro,
you will also be able to enjoy exploring palm fringed islands on foot.
Day game drives are a highlight, enabling guests to experience varied
and diverse game viewing. Guests have excellent chances of spotting predators
during the day as well as on night drives. Night drives are permitted
in the Jao Reserve, as it falls outside the Moremi Game Reserve and is
not subject to its rules regarding drives after sunset.
Kwetsani offers excellent land and water activities dependent on annual flood levels. There are two platform hides in the concession. Guests can view wildlife by mokoro, explore palm-fringed islands on foot, or experience outstanding game drives by day or night. Lion, leopard, wild dog, cheetah, tsessebe and red lechwe are among the major game attractions at Kwetsani, while hippo, sitatunga antelope and crocodile reside in the deeper permanent lily-filled lagoons of the area. Nocturnal animals such as porcupine, aardwolf, serval, large spotted genet and lesser bushbaby can be observed on the night drives (water levels permitting).
wildlife at Kwetsani depends largely on the water levels in the area. In the permanent waters, Sitatunga can be
tracked silently by mokoro. From October to March the waters subside
and enormous open plains are the highlight. This is where the game viewing
is the best. Lion, Cheetah and Leopard are plentiful, while Tsessebe,
Red Lechwe, Zebra and Wildebeest dot the flood plains. During the winter
months, the water levels at Kwetsani rise and the savannah areas become covered
NG 25 - The Jao Concession
The Jao Concession is 60 000 hectares in extent and is in the north-western area of the Okavango Delta below the Panhandle. The Moremi Game Reserve forms the eastern boundary of the concession.
The Okavango rests between shallow fault lines at the end of the Great African Rift Valley. Deserts are low on annual rainfall and the Okavango Delta is no exception. However, each year floodwater flows into the Okavango from its source in the moist African highlands over 1000 km away. These floodwaters flow from their catchment southwards and into the Kalahari Desert to create a unique wetland that supports and sustains a huge diversity of wildlife.
Lying as it does in the very heart of the Delta, the Jao Concession embodies all the magic and mystique of the Okavango. Narrow water channels cut their way through the papyrus and reed beds in the permanent delta to the north and east of the Concession, providing the perfect environment for the elusive sitatunga and the rare Pel's Fishing-Owl. Beautiful lush palm islands dot the water, begging to be explored; Jacana Camp is built on one such lush and thickly forested island.
In the central region of the concession, vast open floodplains provide some of the most stunning scenery of the region, with beautiful islands fringed with riverine forests. Further west the area gets progressively dryer and Hunda Island, which is the tip of a large 'sand tongue,' is the largest area of dry land in the vicinity during the flood season. Hunda Island has sandveld vegetation supporting many species of nutritious acacia and grewia shrubs which provide excellent browsing.
It is perhaps the birds for which the true wetland areas of the Okavango are best known however. The largest concentrations of endangered Wattled Crane are found in this area and Slaty Egrets, Rosy-throated Longclaws and African Skimmer are some of the specials that can be seen. Hallowed species such as Pel's Fishing-Owl and Slaty Egret are found alongside more conspicuous and commonly seen Coppery-tailed Coucal, Pygmy Goose, while the specialised African Skimmer (from which Wilderness Safaris takes its logo) may be seen on the larger lagoons and channels.
The concession is set in the most densely populated wetland area for sitatunga antelope and red lechwe, and of course hippo and crocodile are regularly sighted. In the dry season lechwe, tsessebe, elephant, wildebeest and zebra occur here, and lion, cheetah and leopard are often sighted on the floodplains. The lion prides in this area have been extensively studied in recent years, thereby building up a more intimate knowledge of their behaviour.
Kwetsani is involved in the Jao Lion Monitoring Project, which was begun soon after the camps in the Jao Concession opened. Individual lions are identified, and every effort is made to keep track of their movements, social behaviour and condition. Over the years some unusual behaviour and intriguing developments in the various lion prides have been documented. Read more: Jao Lion Monitoring Project
Jao Concession holder, David Kays, is a member of the Tubu Joint Management Committee which he was involved in launching together with the University of Botswana under the auspices of the Biokavango Project. The aim of this committee is to reduce conflict between the community and the Concession - specifically with regard to curbing poaching and over-fishing. We hope to assist the community with developing tourism ventures in their area.
|David and Cathy Kays and their families and Kingsley Mogalakwe are the long-term
leaseholders of Jao Reserve. The Kays are one of Maun's oldest families. David's
great grandfather first came to Ngamiland in 1887. In 1912 the Kays family settled
in Tsau, at that time the headquarters of the Batawana tribe (Maun was not yet
founded). When the Batawana tribe decided to establish a new village at Maun
and move its headquarters there in the mid-1920's, the Kays family moved with
them. David's father, Ronnie, was instrumental in advising the Batawana Tribal
Authorities on the formation of Moremi Game Reserve and assisted in the demarcation
of the reserve's boundaries. Kingsley Mogalakwe is from a prominent and well-known
Maun family. His uncle, Montsho Mogalakwe, was also instrumental in the formation
of Moremi Game Reserve and has now retired from service in Maun as the deputy
chief for Ngamiland.
Like all families raised
in and around the Okavango, wildlife was in their blood, and they spent
most of their lives out in the bush. When they won the rights for the Jao
Reserve in the recent tender process, they were determined to make this
Botswana's finest reserve. They turned their backs on hunting, even though
it is allowed in this reserve.
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