Okavango Explorers Camp: Our full report
On the banks of the Selinda Spillway, Okavango Explorers Camp opened in July 2022, and is the most recent ...... addition to the Great Plains’ Explorers group of camps. Located in the private 1,350km² Selinda Reserve, it’s a classic safari camp in style, albeit a relatively luxurious one, and permanently sited.
Envisaged as a stylish, early explorer tented camp, it’s a relaxed, unpretentious camp run by an experienced team. It is certainly more modest in scope than its sister camp, Selinda Camp, and much more basic than the opulent Zarafa Camp, which are both on the same reserve, but it is nonetheless a great spot. With large, open tents revealing dark-wood furniture, crisp white bed linen and rich, soft furnishings from Zanzibar, the details in the décor create a decadent feel – exactly what we would expect from the owners. It is a good option for those seeking a wilderness experience, in a traditional tented camp, but still with high expectations of quality.
The main area of Okavango Explorers is an open-sided tent. In one is a communal dining table and bar; in the other, a comfortable lounge. The mix of dark wood, campaign furniture and Arabian rugs gives a distinctly explorer feel, and makes for a lovely, social hub in this small camp. Meals are taken either in the dining area, under the stars or occasionally, surrounded by lanterns with your feet in the clear water.
With just six Meru-style tents, Okavango Explorers remains a very intimate camp. The tents are spacious, and all can be made up as doubles or twins. The beds are very comfortable, with high-quality cotton sheets and some of the biggest and softest pillows we have come across. An antique- style fan stands in the corner, along with a writing desk that blends in with the campaign-style furniture in the rest of the room and some attractive storage trunks. Drinking water and mosquito spray are provided, and electric lighting comes courtesy of solar power. Outside some of the tents, directors’ chairs provide the perfect spot for morning coffee or holiday reading.
The canvas-walled open-air bathroom at the back of each tent has a flush toilet and a 200-litre bucket shower; with more than enough water, and hot water brought in the mornings and evenings, it is as good as any hotel shower!
Activities at Okavango Explorers Camp include both day and night game drives, but there is also a strong focus here is on walking and canoeing (water levels permitting). Walking is best between the end of May and October, when there is good visability in the bush as the grasses have died back. Canoeing takes place on the seasonally flooded Selinda Spillway, usually between May and September, when water levels are sufficiently high.
Over the years, animal densities have greatly improved in this area. We’ve seen good populations of the region's common game species: zebra, impala, and giraffe, as well as elephant and buffalo. We also had some great sightings of some rarer species such as the roan antelope. A past highlight in the exact location of this camp was witnessing two wild dog kills in as many days.
So whilst the game here still doesn't rival the densities found in Mombo, Moremi, or the camps beside the Kwando River further east, you’ll still find plenty of varied sightings for a good safari. And for us at Expert Africa, and for most of our travellers, one of the camp's great attractions is the opportunity to get out on foot and do some fantastic walking led by experienced walking guides.
A morning spent walking through the woodland on the edge of the Spillway is delightful. It’s an opportunity to learn about the smaller and less conspicuous flora and fauna with attentive, knowledgeable guides. It’s always wonderful to learn how the guides unravel the multitude of tracks– aardvark, porcupine, hyena, and lion to mention a few – and to learn about the traditional medicinal values of the plants.
When the Selinda Spillway is flowing it is possible to do canoe trips, from camp as well as a spot of fishing. However, later on in the dry season, typically from September, water levels drop and water activities are then suspended.
Okavango Explorers Camp is a great choice for a traditional tented camp experience, and its location beside the Selinda Spillway is lovely. It is very comfortable, feels very remote and its focus on walking safaris and canoeing trips makes it different to most other places in the Delta. Thus it will work really well for those who want to be active, as well as enjoying the occasional promising game drive from a vehicle.
Country manager: Botswana
- Kwando-Linyanti area, Botswana
- Ideal length of stay
- Three or four nights at Okavango Explorers works well. The activities focus on walking and canoeing (water levels permitting) in the Selinda Reserve, so a stay here combines very well with time at Selinda Camp, or Zarafa Camp, in the same reserve – both of which put more emphasis on 4WD safaris – or Duba Explorers Camp, in a wonderfully watery area of the Okavango Delta.
- Okavango Explorers Camp is accessed by light aircraft from either Kasane (50-minute flight) or Maun (45-minute flight), depending on where you stop along the way; it is then a drive from the airstrip to the camp, depending on what you see en route.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- As a new camp in the Okavango Delta (Open June 2022), we have not yet had a chance to sample the food and drink but we would expect the food to be much like the meals at sister camps, Selinda and Zarafa: light, healthy and delicious.
The camp can cater for most dietary requirements as long as they are informed in advance.
One of the advantages of staying at Great Plains' camps is that the chefs have complete freedom to create their own menus. As a result, you can stay at different Great Plains' camps for over a week, yet not repeat a meal. Meals will likely be:
Breakfast included a choice of muesli, toast with a selection of jams, cheese, yoghurt, scones and fresh fruit along with tea/coffee/smoothie. Alternatively, breakfast can be packed for you to savour on a break during your morning activity
Brunch is served on your return from the morning activity. In sister camps we enjoyed delicious choice of lamb burgers, roast butternut and feta salad, quinoa salad with avocado, a big green salad, fresh bread rolls, a cheese platter and fresh fruit.
Afternoon tea, before the afternoon activity, includes both savoury and sweet snacks.
Dinner is served shortly after your return to camp in the evening, often served under the stars with the camp manager and guide.
- Dining style
- Group Meals
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Drinks included
- All drinks that are stocked in camp, including premium brand spirits and sparkling wine.
Guests are given a water bottle that is filled up for them before activities etc. Bottled water is available on request.
- Family holidays
- Children aged 10 and over are welcome on safari with special activities organised through the ‘Young Explorers’ club, and the camp is small enough to be taken over in its entirety by a family of 10-12 for a completely private family safari.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- Located on the banks of the seasonal Selinda Spillway the camp offers a great mix of waterbirds and woodland species, with plenty of raptors always around in this very wild area.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Walking safaris
- Okavango Explorers is a small, tented camp in a great area for wildlife and birds, which offers reliably good walking safaris at a relaxed pace with good guides. It’s one of Botswana’s better camps for walking safaris.
- See ideas for Walking safaris
- Wildlife safaris
- Located in a good game area that’s exceedingly wild, with wild dogs and other large predators known to hunt in the area and elephants congregating in large numbers during the dry season.
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- Attitude towards children
- Children aged ten years and older are welcomed by Okavango Explorers Camp.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Minimum age 10 years.
- Special activities & services
- Okavango Explorers Camp has guides who are great with children and can offer alternative and slightly tailored activities such as fishing or short canoe trips. The camp also offers the 'Young Explorers' programme, which includes child-friendly activities such as animal tracking, plaster casting tracks, and making traditional bows and arrows.
They can offer child-minding from one of their housekeeping team, but not someone specially trained in childcare.
- Generally recommended for children
- Yes – but it's really best for older children who are also sensible and careful, ideally at least 12 years old. This is primarily due to Okavango Explorer's focus on walking, which is a much more adult activity.
- Children will need to be be supervised at all times by their parents/guardians, as predators wander freely through camp, which is also surrounded by water. This is a genuinely wild and remote area.
- Power supply notes
- Each tent has an individual solar panel to power lights. However. there is also a small generator used as a battery-charging station in the main area.
- There is no cellphone reception or internet, but a satellite phone and radio are in place for emergencies only.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- Okavango Explorers has a ‘reverse osmosis’ machine for filtering drinking water from the borehole. Guests are given a water bottle that is filled up for them before activities etc. Bottled water is available on request.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- Senior staff and guides have medical first-aid training. The nearest medical facility is in Maun and the camp has links to a flying- doctor service.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers in each tent.
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- Okavango Explorers does not have a laundry service. Washing powder is provided in the tents for items to be hand washed.
- There is no currency exchange here. There are safes in the tents for small valuables.
- Accepted payment on location
- If you wish to tip, which is optional, then bring cash with you. Cash is accepted in any major currency and the camp has an old-fashioned swipe card machine for Visa and MasterCard, but not Amex.
Other lodges in Kwando-Linyanti area
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Within the vast Kwando Reserve, renowned for its wild dogs, Lagoon Camp offers excellent game viewing that focuses on predators.
With enthusiastic guides and trackers, Lebala – in a vast private reserve – is particularly well-placed for seeking wild dogs.
In an attractive area that is particularly rich in game between June and November, the luxurious Selinda Camp caters particularly well for photographers.
DumaTau, in the private Linyanti Reserve, offers game drives, seasonal boat cruises and walks. Wildlife safaris here are quite seasonal, and are at their best during the height of the dry season, between June and October.
Linyanti Bush Camp
An increasingly rare find in Botswana, Linyanti Bush Camp blends relative simplicity with numerous activities and very good guiding.
For years the Savuti Channel ran dry, but it's now flowing again and this newly refurbished, 7-room lodge has pride of place to witness the spectacle.
Selinda Explorers Camp
The luxurious, traditional tented Selinda Explorers Camp offers a mix of walking, canoeing and game drives led by really top notch guides in a game-rich area.
Zarafa is an exclusive camp overlooking the scenic Zibadianja Lagoon within the Selinda Reserve, a particularly game-rich area between June and early November.
Motswiri is a super little camp with just five tents, each overlooking the Selinda Spillway. Come especially for walking, birdwatching, canoeing and horseriding safaris.
King’s Pool is a top-end luxury safari camp with a price tag to match; the game viewing can be very good during the dry season.
Independently owned and run, the small Linyanti Ebony sits on the same site as Linyanti Bush Camp, with similarly high standards of guiding, and a strong emphasis on the wildlife experience.
Selinda Adventure Trail
The Selinda Adventure Trail offers a novel and tranquil way to travel through part of Botswana's pristine wilderness whilst staying in comfortable fly-camps and led by a knowledgeable guide.
A simple and remote satellite camp, Little Motswiri focuses on non-motorised activities, particularly walking and horseriding. It enables guests to explore 120,000 acres of private wilderness around the Selinda Spillway.
Tip-top guiding. In tune with the habitat. Down-to-earth, authentic camp comfort. A place of wilderness safari harmony.
Footsteps across Linyanti
Footsteps Across the Linyanti is the only true mobile walking safari we know of in Botswana. Explore a wild and remote wilderness on foot with a knowledgeable guide.