Wilderness Safaris’ Jao Camp in the Okavango Delta in Botswana has recently reopened after a redesign, which includes a rejuvenated health and wellness offering through its new spa.
“Visiting Jao is therapy in itself, given its tranquil wilderness location in the heart of this World Heritage Site,” said Cathy Kays, owner of the Jao Reserve. “However, a treatment in our new spa – tucked away beneath palm trees in a tranquil location – is bound to further inspire our guests to fully appreciate Jao’s extraordinary holistic offering, which seamlessly reflects the health of the Delta’s ecosystem.”
The interiors of the two new round treatment rooms have been finished with a construction of saligna laminated beams, rosewood-clad ceilings and rosewood floors.
“The sense of space and the view of the massive saligna beams whilst lying on your back on the massage bed is truly spectacular,” said Kays. “We have taken great care to create an extraordinary space that not only evokes a sense of calm but brings nature inside.”
The spa at Jao is tucked in amongst the palms for privacy, and is surrounded by water to provide a calming and tranquil atmosphere.
The upgraded wellness area also includes a reception area with a nail bar, allowing guests to enjoy manicures and pedicures in a more social setting while appreciating the views. The mesh stacking doors allow for the rooms to open up fully in good weather, or remain closed in winter to keep out the chill.
Terres d’Afrique skincare products, based on Africa’s unique botanical heritage, including organic baobab and sausage tree infusions, are used to nourish the skin during massages, scrubs and facials.
Jao’s signature ‘African Botanicals’ treatment includes a bath, an express facial and a massage, with many possible add-ons to enhance the experience. The facial makes use of the natural anti-ageing properties of kigelia (sausage tree) and baobab, while the massage is a baobab pinda massage, which is designed to be deeply relaxing yet detoxing, using heated baobab seeds (pindas) and organic shea butter scented with mopane and omumbiri essential oils.
The resort will also offer a signature couple’s treatment, ‘The spirit of togetherness – Ubuntu’, which represents the idea that ‘I am because we are’. “It is an African philosophical concept that we exist because others exist,” explains Kays. “It views individuals through their connections with others and not just as an individual. This further aligns to Jao’s core philosophy of driving sustainable ecotourism in the region, giving back to conservation and community empowerment at the same time.”
A typical day exploring the Delta sees guests outdoors on game drive vehicles, boats or even on foot, searching out the wildlife of the area. For those looking to continue the active theme of their stay, a well-equipped gym, built on the edge of the island, presents Okavango views, while the main pool, with its unique canopy pavilion and waterfall, projects out into the floodplain.
The camp includes two villas and five twins with private plunge pools, lounge and dining areas, kitchen facilities plus en-suite bathrooms, including indoor and outdoor showers. New Jao Villas accommodate four people each in two identical guest rooms, which share a main area, will feature a private vehicle, guide, chef and butler.
“Having to replace our old substructures provided us with the opportunity to enhance the special features that we always loved about Jao, to make improvements and incorporate extra touches. We are making the most of our camp environment, with buildings set to blend into the tree canopy whilst offering stunning views and honouring our commitment to be as eco-sensitive as possible,” said Kays.
Lead architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, who designed the original Jao in 1999, shared their approach to the rebuild: “We have taken a fresh and contemporary approach to the sense of adventure Jao always had – creating a feeling of not knowing what to expect around the next corner, adding an element of surprise and delight in this ever-evolving sculptural and architectural language,” they said.