Motswiri Camp is situated on the Selinda Spillway and now offers game drives, riding and walking.
Motswiri Camp: Our full report
Situated in the far western corner of northern Botswana’s Selinda Reserve, Motswiri Camp stands on the banks of the Selinda Spillway (also sometimes known as the Magwegqana Spillway). This is an ancient watercourse linking the Okavango Delta to the Kwando-Linyanti River drainage system. For many decades the Spillway seldom flowed. However, after a particularly good rainy season in 2006 water entered the Spillway from both ends, and it has filled annually since. The location of the camp at the western end of the Spillway means that although Motswiri is located in the Selinda Reserve it’s really more a part of the Okavango Delta system.
We’ve been sending travellers to Motswiri Camp since it changed ownership in April 2010 and moved from offering hunting to photographic safaris. It is now part owned and run by a couple whom we’ve known for many years and who have enormous experience in many different facets of the safari industry in northern Botswana.
With this change in ownership came an extensive refurbishment of Motswiri and the camp is now looking in fantastic shape. It’s small and intimate with only five large tents built up on raised decking with timber frames and canvas walls. Each is entered from the front via wooden sliding doors which lead onto a wooden veranda. Mesh window and door pains keep insects out but allow a breeze to flow through for ventilation. Each tent is simply decorated but has everything one could need while on safari. On our last visit to Motswiri in October 2012 the double bed which formed the central feature of the tent was by far and away the most comfortable we had ever slept in – exactly what was needed after a long day’s walking. At the front of the tent, with views out on to the Spillway, there is also a writing table.
Immediately behind the large floor to ceiling headboard of the bed are his and her’s washbasins and a couple of mirrors. Although the water is fine to drink from the tap many people prefer to stick to filtered water and there’s a jug kept topped-up next to the basins throughout your stay.
To the side of the bed there is a luggage rack and on the opposite side of the tent there’s also a wardrobe offering not only storage space but also containing the complimentary insect spray, a torch and the electronic safe.
Through a doorway off to the side of the main bedroom area is the en-suite toilet and shower, both built separately from one another. Further past here there is another door through which the outdoor shower is reached – secluded but with great views across the Spillway.
Although the camp does have access to a generator to power fridges and other back-of-house equipment, for the most part Motswiri is solar powered. This means that at night there is enough light to read by and to navigate around your tent by but not much more, you truly are detached from the modern world here.
All of the tents at Motswiri are linked to one another and to the main area by sandy paths which are lit at night by paraffin lanterns. The main area is a very open plan construction and is where all meals are taken. There’s also an area with some very comfortable couches with a small bookcase nearby containing works of fact and fiction. There’s no bar as such but there is a large fridge which is fully stocked with soft-drinks and alcoholic beverages as well as a drinks cabinet containing liqueurs and spirits – both of which are self-service if there isn’t a member of staff around. A small plunge pool is a short way away from the main area with a few sun-loungers dotted around it.
Motswiri focuses on activities that don’t use engines. There is a full stable of horses here, but for safety reasons in this big game area, riding is an option only for skilled and experienced riders. For us at Expert Africa and for most of our travellers the biggest draw card for Motswiri is the opportunity to get out on foot and do some fantastic walking – all lead by Grant Truthe, a well-renowned walking guide who has been leading and operating safaris in the Okavango for over 20 years.
With the Selinda Spillway now flowing again the chance to get out on the water is one that Motswiri has grabbed with both hands. The water in front of camp is not yet deep enough for crocodiles and hippos but the diversity of landscape is home to myriad bird species and the opportunity to get out on the water by boat or canoe is one not to be missed. We enjoyed a great afternoon’s fishing while on safari here in October and the landscape was incredible while lit in the colours of the setting Sun as a thunderstorm rolled in far off on the horizon.
For those wanting a more extensive and slightly more adventurous outing than the usual, it can also be arranged to walk or canoe to Motswiri’s fly camp Kala Bush Camp where you can spend the night. This usually takes about 4 or 5 hours on foot and is a great option for guests staying three nights or more.
For those wishing to take part in the more traditional game viewing activities there is a 4WD game vehicle for day and night drives too.
When we first visited Motswiri in 2010 we found that the densities of game around the camp were quite low and certainly not as good as in many other areas in the same Okavango / Linyanti region. As a former hunting camp many of the animals used to quickly move away when they smelt or heard humans in the area. This meant that for the first couple of years in its current guise Motswiri was a relatively poor option for big game sightings. In October 2012 however we found the situation was certainly much improved, we found good populations of the more common game such as impala and giraffe as well as lion and buffalo, the latter while on foot. So, it appears that the area is really beginning to recover and the animals are beginning to become habituated to walkers and riders being in the area. This is really encouraging and we’re now looking forward to hearing from future travellers as well as seeing for ourselves if this trend continues.
Motswiri is a remote and secluded little camp, surrounded by a fascinating diversity of terrains from open flood plains to woodland. Come to this lovely corner of Botswana for welcoming and informative hosts, great guiding, exclusivity and a multitude of ways to explore this good wildlife area with constantly improving viewing opportunities.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend a 3-night stay at Motswiri Camp giving guests time to enjoy all of the activities on offer here.
Directions: The camp is reached by a 40 minute flight from Maun (or a 45 minute flight from Kasane) followed by a short drive.
Owner: Ride And Walk Botswana
Staff: Camp Manager: Sam Shepherd-Baron Guide: Grant Truthe
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On our last visit to Motswiri, in October 2012, the food was excellent.
On arrival at the fireplace before the morning activity (at around 6 am) we were met by a light breakfast of muesli, cereals, yoghurts, muffins and tea and coffee.
After the morning activity we then returned to a lunch of a vegetable bake accompanied by a selection of cold meats, a four bean salad, a green salad and freshly baked bread.
Dinner was a green pea soup for starters with fresh bread rolls. A main course of beef stroganoff, spaghetti and salad followed by a fruit medley dessert.
All of these dishes were accompanied by a quite incredible homemade chilli brandy dressing made by adding chillies and garlic to bottles of brandy and then leaving them to infuse.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Soft drinks, bottled water, spirits, local beers and a selection of South African wines are included. Imported wines and spirits and champagne cost extra – and may even need to be requested in advance.
Birdwatching: Motswiri Camp overlooks a shallow waterway fringed with reeds, and from here (especially when you are out on the canoes) you can spot a good variety of waterbirds. The riverine woodland around the camp also attracts a good diversity of species, many of which can be watched from your private veranda.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Riding: Motswiri Camp offers guests the opportunity to ride through big game areas. Join an excursion lasting a few hours or a longer 5- or 7-night horseback safari overnighting in relatively simple fly camps. Horse riding amongst wildlife can be an amazing and exhilarating experience. However, it is only possible for experienced riders for safety reasons.See more ideas for Riding in Botswana
Attitude towards children: No children under 6 years, although this is often open to negotiation and taken on a case-by-case basis.
Notes: Parents with children aged between 8-12 years are advised to share accommodation with the child and take private game activities. All children will need to be constantly and closely supervised by their parents.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: For most purposes, consider yourself out of contact here. There is no mobile reception, no direct fax or phone and no email! Swift radio contact can be made with Maun if there is an emergency.
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: A comprehensive first-aid kit is kept at camp and for medical emergencies there is a medical evacuation service covering the whole Delta.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Guests are escorted to and from their rooms after dark as dangerous wildlife is known to wander through the camp. A thorough safety briefing is given on arrival. A fog-horn is provided in each room for attracting attention in case of medical emergencies.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers around camp and fire assembly points are identified to guests on induction to the camp when they first arrive.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Included
Money: No exchange facilities are offered at Motswiri. There are small safes in all the rooms.