Selinda Camp

Selinda Camp: Our full report

Rooms
9
Traveller's rating
Excellent (96%) From 42 reviews
Open
All year

Selinda Camp is situated in the Selinda Private Reserve which protects 1,350km² of northern Botswana, including the Selinda Spillway: a vital ancient watercourse (now flowing again) that links the Okavango River with the Linyanti Swamps. Here you will find game-rich floodplains and the famous Zibalianja Lagoon. Partly owned by renowned filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, Selinda has been fully renovated and rebuilt in the last few years, bringing a new level of luxury to its beautiful and varied location.

Wide, dry grasslands, dotted with waterholes and interspersed with palm-fringed 'islands' and stands of leadwood trees, cover the area as far as the eye can see. It's a picturesque, open environment and guests can spot game a long way off. It’s perfect for following predators like wild dogs on hunting sorties – which we’ve done in the past when visiting here.

The main area at Selinda Camp blends into one vast, open-plan central area with panoramic views across the surrounding channels and floodplains. Constructed of wood and thatch, it has a lovely viewing deck and relaxing lounge area, with plenty of comfy sofas. The décor and design are influenced by a variety of African cultures – a west African carving here, a heavy Zanzibar-style door frame there – while furniture comprises stained teak tables and chairs and objects made from old mekoro (dug-out canoes). Unusual semi-circular tables in the dining area are pushed together in the evenings to form a large circular dining table – very sociable!

Another sociable spot is Selinda’s firepit area, where breakfast is served around the fire before your early-morning game drive. The camp also has a circular pool, complete with fountain – it’s quite small, but serves its purpose.

A short, sandy path from the main area leads to a well-stocked curio shop, and beneath is a gallery showcasing Beverly Joubert’s impressive photographic work. Should guests wish to buy copies, the camp can organise for these to be shipped anywhere in the world. Adjacent is the camp’s submerged wine cellar keeps everything from house wines to premium champagnes cool.

Reached by a sandy and well-lit path, Selinda Camp’s nine tented chalets are spacious and luxurious, constructed of wood, with canvas walls under a canvas-and-thatch roof. Steps lead up to a large decked balcony with two chairs and a table, and picturesque views over the floodplain in front of camp.

The chalets are entered through sliding doors at the front, with hook-latches to keep them closed. Inside, both the bedroom and bathroom are fully enclosed and insect-proofed by a mixture of canvas and mesh; it’s quite cleverly designed and lets in lots of light. Each room is dominated by a double or twin beds under a large walk-in mosquito net, with a fan above that gives a fairly good air flow through the netting. Set into the large headboard are lamps and plug sockets (three square pins – as in the UK) for charging your camera and any other equipment.

In front of the beds are two very comfortable chairs, and a desk with two miniature decanters of port and sherry, a bottle of red wine and a thermos of purified water as well as, refreshingly, ice in a thermos jar. Selinda Camp also provides all guests with mosquito repellent, bug spray and mosquito coils, which are lit nightly by the staff.

Expect individual touches such as beaded decoration on the mosquito nets, and signed and dated copies of Beverly’s photographs displayed prominently throughout.

At the back of each room is a washstand, with a sturdy wrought-iron luggage rack and a large teak wardrobe: there is ample storage space. Double washbasins beneath a long mirror back onto the bedstead. But the main en-suite bathroom is hidden behind double, sliding doors, and is truly spectacular. The centrepiece is a large, stand-alone, egg-shaped bath, with a brass towel rail and a good selection of bath bubbles! In one corner is an open, powerful shower – standing above a slatted wooden base for drainage; in the other is a separate flush toilet. Hot and cold water are on tap, and various complimentary toiletries are supplied, along with white waffle-weave dressing gowns and matching towelling slippers.

Activities at Selinda concentrate on morning and evening game drives, as well as mekoro (dug-out canoe), fishing and boat trips utilising the surrounding waterways. Short guided walks can also be arranged. With the Selinda Canoe Trail operating in the same concession, many guests choose to use a couple of nights at Selinda Camp as an add-on to the beginning or end of their canoe adventure.

We’ve had fantastic game sightings here from June until about November, but at the beginning of and during the rainy season (November–March) the game disperses. That said, in December 2010 we enjoyed watching a honey badger and even a snouted cobra on the road one morning. And on a previous visit we were lucky enough to watch wild dog relaxing at the edge of the spillway, only to jump up in alarm when a crocodile dashed into the water straight between them!

Our view

Expert Africa has been visiting Selinda Reserve and Selinda Camp since the mid-1990s, and it has long been a favourite of ours. In the last few years, we’ve seen major changes here, and – whilst we were sad to see a reasonably priced camp in Botswana become much more expensive – the service and experience which Selinda offers remains undiminished and the quality of the camp is undeniable. That said, game sightings in the rainy season can be hit and miss, and while the guiding on our most recent visit was good, it was a little uninspiring.

Geographics

Location: Kwando-Linyanti area, Botswana

Ideal length of stay: 3 nights is typical here – although Selinda is sometimes combined with its sister camp, Zarafa, or used as a start and/or end point for a Selinda Canoe Trail.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Great Plains Conservation

Staff: Camp Managers – Ishmal and Julia Guide: Humphrey and Gordon Chef: Moyoba

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: When we last visited Selinda Camp in December 2010, the food was excellent, which was particularly gratifying given the variable standards we had experienced on previous visits.

Meals at Selinda follow the usual safari-camp format, with an early breakfast served around the fire before your morning game drive, a brunch on your return, tea and snacks at about 4.00pm and a full three-course evening meal at around 8.00pm (but really depending upon when you return from your game drive).

For brunch, we enjoyed a selection of fishcakes served with a variety of salads including a pasta and three-bean salad, fresh bread and a cooked brunch option.

At dinner, guests are offered a choice of two main courses which they select before departing on the afternoon activity. On our first night we were treated to a pumpkin soup followed by roast beef with pepper sauce and vegetables. A dessert of crème brûlée was excellent.

A recent development at Selinda is the installation of an underground wine cellar. Both South African and European wines are stocked, ready for wine tastings led by the camp management team.

With advance notice, the camp can cater to vegetarians and any special requests.

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 (generally) South African wines are included. Imported wines and spirits and champagne cost extra – and may even need to be requested in advance.

Further dining info: Not available

Special interests

Birdwatching: Selinda overlooks a picturesque channel, which is great for birdwatching. We saw wattled crane, painted snipe, swamp boubou, eagle owl, hammerkop, slaty and black egret, rufous-bellied heron and different varieties of eagle.

See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana

Photographic: As Selinda Camp is partly owned by Dereck and Beverly Joubert, renowned film-makers and photographers, the emphasis here is on photography. Private vehicles (specially adapted for photographers) and guides can be organised for very keen photographers.

See more ideas for Photographic in Botswana

Children

Attitude towards children: Generally children over 8 years of age are welcome.

Property’s age restrictions: Generally children over six years are welcome at Selinda Camp. Occasionally they will accept younger children, but only if the whole camp is reserved for one private party. Selinda has a two-bedroom family unit taking two children aged 6–12 with their parents. Children over the age of 12 are accommodated in standard tents.

Special activities & services: No special activities.

Equipment: No special equipment is provided.

Notes: Selinda Camp is very open with dangerous wildlife walking through the camp, so children will need constant and close supervision by adults.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Communications: For most purposes, consider yourself out of contact here. There is no cellphone reception, no direct fax or phone and no email! Swift radio contact can be made with Maun if there is an emergency.

TV & radio: No radio or television!

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: All camp managers are first-aid trained and a comprehensive first-aid kit is kept at camp.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Because of the Okavango's large population of dangerous game, and the fact that Selinda Camp is unfenced, guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. Alarms, sirens or whistles are provided in the rooms in case of an emergency.

Fire safety: There are extinguishers on the balconies of all rooms.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included, including smalls.

Money: No exchange facilities are offered. There are safe deposit boxes in the rooms.

Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and Amex are not. No commission is charged on credit-card transactions. Cash payments may be made in GB pounds, US dollars, Euros, South African rand and Botswana Pula.