Botswana: Selinda Camp – quiet luxury with a big WOW effect
Botswana is known for its vast expanses of sporadic land, making it one of the world’s most sparsely populated states. On our flight from the Khwai airfield to the Selinda Reserve, this bird’s eye view of this special feature becomes particularly clear to us:
We fly over an endless “nothing” from partly dead trees and kilometers long, dehydrated channels. Especially in the dry season, when many areas fade from drought, the slowly appearing Selinda concession area looks like a mirage. A green oasis, filled with life.
No wonder, as the adjacent Linyanti wetland is watering year-round, and the eponymous Selinda Spillway is the only permanent connection between the Linyanti area and the Okavango Delta. Amidst this natural backdrop is the exclusive Selinda Camp of Great Plains Conservations.
It is early September, when our small plane touches down on the Selinda Reserves airstrip and shortly afterwards we are chauffeured in the safari vehicle towards the camp. Our guide Spike gives us a first introduction to this extraordinary project and reveals that the area has been hunted for many years.
The success story of Great Plains and the Jouberts
Only with the commitment of Great Plains Conservations, the 135,000-acre animal paradise was bought, placed under nature conservation and completely dedicated to the gentle photo safari tourism. Part owners are the two well-known animal filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert, who also shot several times for National Geographic in the Selinda Reserve.
Today, the wildlife is thriving again, even the sensitive elephants have regained their confidence and tolerate the presence of humans quite relaxed. The balance seems restored, the Selinda Reserve is one of the most exciting and animal-rich regions in Botswana.
While the sister camp Zarafa focuses on opulent luxury with a colonial touch, in the exclusive but discreet Selinda Camp the earthiness and profundity comes first. The shady camp is undoubtedly luxurious, but remains quiet and ecologically restrained. But this just reinforces the wow effect.
Selinda Camp: Soft luxury with a vision in the heart of nature
One of the managers tells us that the Jouberts wanted above all to make contact with nature at every single step and from every corner of the camp. And indeed, whether from your own bed or at the breakfast table, whether in the pool or with a coffee around the campfire – the panoramic view always goes out into the expanse of fabulous nature.
The landscape is more varied than expected, fish-rich canals and alluvial surfaces intersect the vast savannah and are broken by some palm islands. Forest areas go into open pans, south of the camp is with the Zibadianja Lagoon another lifeline of the reserve.
The Selinda Camp is home to eight spacious luxury tents with thatched roof and sliding door, all of which have their own wooden verandas and fantastic views. The heart of the camp is the main area with an open restaurant, a small shop, exquisite wine cellar and comfortable seating around the beautifully designed pool deck.
Here usually starts the day (with breakfast at the campfire) and here he goes after eventful experiences with excellent cuisine in the evening to end. In between, of course, are the animal observations in focus and these are in the Selinda Reserve, especially during the dry season (May to October) absolutely stunning.
The Selinda Reserve is home to up to 10,000 elephants, including several herds of lions, numerous leopards and is visited by at least one pack of African wild dogs annually to raise their young. They usually leave their construction in the middle of September and then become more nomadic again.
Game Drives: Moments for Eternity
We were lucky and could experience the bustling activity of the wild dogs on the day of arrival at close range. An extraordinary feeling to be able to observe more than 10 juveniles of this critically endangered species up close. And otherwise, the scenic beauty and biodiversity in the Selinda Reserve fascinate us all along the line.
The philosophy of the Selinda guides is based primarily on intensive animal observations, instead of ticking off the list in a quick run, we spend a lot of time at the respective sightings and thus get the opportunity to study the social structures and peculiarities of the animals.
So we accompany a pack of lions in the hunt and find that they leave their two youngest family members (four weeks old) well hidden in a bush. The next morning we meet two handsome brothers who rush to a turf boundary in the sprint because they have heard the roaring of a strange intruder.
There is no shortage of leopard sightings either, and one afternoon we see an angry female desperately calling for her offspring. In the play of colors of the setting sun, the majestic leopard climbs a tree for a better view and gives us a unique photo opportunity.
Selinda Camp: Safari with WOW guarantee
The next morning we are greeted by a real unique, a wild hybrid antelope from Letschwe and waterbuck. Such a crossing is very uncommon in the wild and the reasons are still scientifically unclear. The male is infertile, but an absolutely impressive appearance.
Again he flits us over the lips at the same time – the exclamation that accompanies our Selinda stay too often: Wow! Especially as travelers who are familiar with numerous luxury lodges and private safari concessions in Africa, the abundance of exciting emotions is by no means self-evident. Great work was and is done here.
Due to the many lions in the Selinda Reserve, cheetahs are rarely discovered in recent months, but otherwise nothing remains to be desired. Even a nocturnal ornitholf and two African wildcats (no photo) cross our paths after sunset and provide additional enthusiasm.
After exciting sightings, the pulse in Selinda Camp quickly returns and switches to the absolute relaxation mode. Enjoyment with all senses is made possible not least by the cordial and very courteous staff, who take care of the wishes of the guests with a lot of positive energy and charisma.
The camp has a very informal, decent atmosphere – it dispenses with ecologically dubious extras such as a minibar or other unnecessary power guzzlers, the energy supply in the tent via solar cells. Nevertheless, there is no lack of it, in every corner the special love for the detail is noticeable.
Selinda Camp Botswana: more information & Conclusion
No question, a stay in such an exclusive and sustainable safari camp in the middle of no-man’s-land has of course its price. However, it should not be forgotten how comprehensively Great Plains Conservation works outside its own reserves for the preservation and protection of African nature.
Under the umbrella of The Great Plains Foundation, a large number of projects are converging, always aiming for a sustainable participation of the local population. The initiative Rhinos without Boarders, which we support, is also one of the many areas of application of Great Plains, together with andBeyond.
Depending on the water level, Selinda Camp can also organize tours with the dugout (Mokoro). The Selinda Adventure Trail even offers a 4-night adventure program that combines canoeing and walking safaris in the reserve, providing particularly intense impressions.
These tours start with a helicopter ride that takes guests from the Airstrip to a remote launching point deep in the heart of the reserve. Overnight stay in mobile tents built by the staff along the route. We have met several guests who praise the Adventure Trail in the highest tones.
The mixture of absolutely quiet, often unnoticed approach to the wildlife and impressive camping adventure seems to fit perfectly with the quiet luxury of Selinda Camp, making it ideal for a combination trip. And we’ll give you a tip, which exclamation will also be heard on the canoe very often: “Wow!”
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