Although less than 4km north of Jao, Jacana (GPS: JACANA 19°16.766’S, 22°36.619’E) is a 35-minute boat ride from it. Jacana was originally a basic ‘trails camp.’ It started life being used as a base for mokoro excursions for small escorted-group itineraries that run across Chobe and Moremi. However, for 2001 Wilderness changed its emphasis and was marketing it directly for individual visitors as part of the small group of ‘vintage’ camps.
It’s a much smaller, simpler camp than most in the Delta, and stands on a small island in the very beautiful Jao Flats area. Like Jao, the density of date palms lends Jacana the feeling of a ‘tropical island’. The dining/bar area is a simple two-storey structure with a canvas roof and roll-down screens around its side. Downstairs this has a neat, well stocked bar and a small lounge/reading area with easy chairs and a sofa. Upstairs is the dining area, with a polished wooden floor and a large dining table.
Behind this is a thatched hut, which they call a ‘hustshi’, and a few hammocks. Meals are sometimes eaten outside, in the open area behind at the centre of camp – which reminds me of eating in a traditional African kraal.
Each of the tents here are raised slightly on decking, and fairly small by the standards of the Delta (about 3m x 3m).
These have simple low-voltage electric lights, twin or double beds, and a basic wardrobe. There’s a small veranda at the front with two canvas directors’ chairs and a table. Behind each is a private toilet, shower and washbasin, which are all open to the skies. (It’s lovely to have a hot shower under blue skies and palm trees, but this isn’t an ideal design for use during the rains, between January and April!)
One of the camps most entertaining features is the ‘guest toilet’, which is down a rough walkway from the main upper deck. There’s an impressive cement-moulded bowl, a great view, and a pulley made in ‘Heath-Robinson’ style to flush the toilet. In a similar vein, the camp has several painted concrete features, a hippo, a crocodile, and a purple sofa that pay tribute to the builder’s imagination. They may not sound fun, but they are.
From around April to September, flood levels are high and the area around the camp is flooded. Then Jacana is best visited as a base for mokoro excursions, as game drives would entail a 20-minute boat ride to reach the jetty, the nearest point where Jacana’s vehicles can be parked.
During the rest of the year game drives are possible from the island. Though simpler than some of the Delta’s camps, Jacana is a beautiful and a very good-value choice for a couple of nights, especially towards the end of the dry season.