Anyone actually stayed at Jao? Chobe Chilwero?

May 16th, 2004, 11:46 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 118
Anyone actually stayed at Jao? Chobe Chilwero?

I've scoured the boards, and people seem to speculate that Jao is luxurious but the game viewing is not as good. But can anyone that has actually stayed there confirm this? What is the game viewing like? What are the rooms like? What's the best room to book?

For a romantic destination, would Jao or Chobe Chilwero be better? Where is the game viewing better?

Thanks for the feedback!
soleil17 is offline  
May 16th, 2004, 02:49 PM
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soleil17 - can't comment on Jao, but we stayed at Chilwero and the accommodations are beautiful. You're given a house (not as large and luxurious as Singita, but very impressive). The main room with super Kingsize bed is about 20x20-ft with mosquito netting surrounding the bed (even nicer than Singita), plenty of closet space, in-room safe. Sitting area behind the bedroom, small but more than sufficient. Then your own enclosed backyard - very private for tanning. Large bathroom with sunken tub, the best showerhead ever and shower stall is large enough for 4-people. There's also an outdoor shower adjacent to the indoor. Of course a nice sitting area outside with a great view of the river.

The public space is very welcoming as were the managers and staff. Food was outstanding. Our ranger was excellent.

As to animals - I can't say too much. I had hoped to see herds of elephants which Chobe is known for, but only saw three (3) versus the 30,000 Chobe is supposed to have. Why, I have no idea - we couldn't find them on the 1-1/2 game drives I did. Unfortunately, jetlag hit me our first afternoon at Chilwero (bear in mind this was 6-days after we arrived in southern Africa) and I slept thru the afternoon drive on the river. My partner, loved it. I slept right thru dinner.

The kitchen was wonderful and prepared a tray for me with venison and veggies and a great wine, but I was way to tired to even taste it; but most thoughtful of them. The next morning I was just fine and actually went out on an early 6:30am game drive. But it started to rain, and even though I had a slicker and the camp provides (my partner used one of these) - it's not that comfortable being out in the rain. And guess what? The animals don't like the rain either - few to be found. We headed back after an hour.

After breakfast, the sun came out and we went to the croc farm and that was interesting and also took a ride into Kasane. And then, would you believe, I actually passed on the late afternoon/evening game drive. Though my partner went out and there were plenty of animals to be seen.

So I can't even comment with any substance re the game - but the accommodations were lovely, food excellent, as was the service and the staff. While I was disappointed in not seeing large herds of elephants, I don't put much weight on not seeing animals. They're animals and as I've mentioned previously, they're not on my schedule - so sometimes you see lots and other times not as many. It took five trips to Africa before I saw a Leopard. On to the next stop. There's always another trip. You see what you do, or you don't - it's certainly not a crisis.

All I can say, is that the accommodations don't disappoint. But the Delta and Chobe are two distinctly different environments, so that might be what you base your decision on.
May 18th, 2004, 02:08 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 371

We stayed at Jao in June 2003. It's a spectacular camp but is mainly water-based (code for less game than a land-based camp.) However, we did manage to see some big cats (a leopard & several lions) as well as the resident sitatunga while on game drives. Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there as the delta is absolutely stunning.

If you want to see what Jao is like, you can go to our website where we have 3 galleries of Jao pictures - I'm not sure which room is the best to book. Also, if you stay at least 3 nights, you may be able to opt for one of their sleep-outs as we did..."camping" with only mosquito netting between you and the stars.

As Sandi stated, the two areas are very different. Although I've never been there (we went to King's Pool in the same general area), I suspect the game viewing would be much better at Chobe Chilwero.
ovenbird is offline  
May 20th, 2004, 03:01 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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We stayed at Chobe Chilwero and the accomodations were really beautiful. We had been to Savute, which is of course Chobe and Moremi and right in the Delta area. When we headed towards Chilwero our guide advised us that the game viewing would not be great because of the large number of tourists. It is right off a paved highway and there were lots of trucks with 20 tourists in them. We saw a few elephants and a couple of lions, impalas etc. but nothing too exciting. With all the trucks running around there and the fairly sparse gameviewing it certainly didn't feel like Wilderness. The sunsets on the Chobe river were the most spectacular that we saw. As a matter of fact I got one sunset photo with a couple of deer by the water. Absolutely everyone who has looked at our pics thinks we should be able to sell it because it is so spectacular. One other amateur photographer said the picture alone makes the trip to Africa worthwhile in his mind.
Sprig is offline  
May 21st, 2004, 09:17 AM
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Ovenbird...I, too am interested in Jao. Thanks for posting the pics. It looks quite nice.

When you say "water based camp", do you mean that you can do the mokoro trips at Jao? See hippos, etc.? We would consider combining Jao with a SA Singita stay if it offered something uniquely different (like water and natural beauty).

Thanks again for your help.

P.S. How was the food?
Ericka is offline  
May 21st, 2004, 09:22 AM
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Oh, I almost forgot the most important bad were the bugs at Jao?
Ericka is offline  
May 21st, 2004, 01:36 PM
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I'm not familiar with either of these camps but one issue for me in planning for one lodge over another (in the romance stakes) is the arrangements for dinner.

In terms of a romatic destination I prefer camps that will organize a special meal alone for you, preferably somewhere lovely...for me the romance of the destination is somewhat minimized by the large amounts of time with other people...on drives and at dinner.

I've loved meeting people on safari and in many ways that's one of the nicest aspects...but it's also nice to go to a camp where they appreciate that you'd like at least some time alone. Not all camps are equal in this regard.

Some will go to great lengths to please you in the matter (Tongabezi proves dinner on a floating pontoon on the Zambezi!) while others seemed to regard the idea of having dinner on your own as not being into the spirit of the group (our experience with Robin Pope's camps.

Hope that helps!
welltraveledbrit is offline  
May 25th, 2004, 02:00 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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Erika: Try the Wilderness Safaris website to get an idea of activities at Jao --

We were there for 5 nights, so we were able to sample just about all the activities. We did mekoro rides, motor boat rides, game drives, game walks, and even took a behind the scenes tour of the camp.

We were quite taken by the beauty, serenity and vastness of the delta. Jao was very different from King's Pool and Little Mombo, but we thoroughly enjoyed it for its differences.

The food was very good at Jao, served buffet-style with many choices. And depending on time of day and type of activity, there were either no bugs, a few bugs, or a zillion bugs. Mosquitos were not a problem when we were there in June 2003, but the midges (non-biting teeny flying bugs) were sometimes annoying on late afternoon game drives. "Midge clouds" were present, but we drove through them fairly quickly. Just remember when zipping around in your Rover to wear some sort of eye glasses, cover your nose and mouth, and breath through your nose rather than your mouth!
ovenbird is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 03:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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"Midge Clouds".....uggggh. Good to know.
Ericka is offline  

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