Selinda Camp is situated in the Selinda Concession in the far north of Botswana .
Selinda Camp: Our full report
The upmarket Selinda Camp is situated in the 1,350km² Selinda Reserve in northern Botswana, which incorporates game-rich floodplains, the Zibalianja Lagoon and the Selinda Spillway. There’s long been a camp here and its focus has always been big game safaris in the dry country of the Spillway. Now it’s part-owned by famous photographers, and so has a strong accent on the art of photography.
The Selinda Spillway – or Magwegqana Spillway, as it’s often known – is a vital ancient watercourse linking the Okavango Delta to the Kwando–Linyanti River drainage system. Although dry for decades, the Spillway has flowed annually since a particularly good rainy season in 2008.
Now partly owned by renowned film-makers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, the Selinda Reserve has been made famous in their films for National Geographic. 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.
The main area at Selinda Camp is spread across 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, combining west African carvings, a heavy Zanzibar-style door frame and objects made from old mekoro. Many of these objects feature paintings by the late Keith Joubert – artist and brother to Dereck.
The furniture comprises a mixture of dark leather sofas and stained teak tables and chairs. Unusual semi-circular tables in the dining area are pushed together in the evenings to form a large circular dining table, which we thought was a very sociable way to dine.
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 newly built pool, built on a deck leading off the main area and overlooking the spillway. There are comfortable sunloungers surrounding the pool for relaxing in between activities.
A short, sandy path from the main area leads to a large and 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. Also in the gallery you’ll find a coffee machine, a small library of reference books and a computer to download photos or possibly watch one of the Jouberts’ films.
Sought after during the heat of the day is the camp's submerged wine cellar, which keeps a large stock of everything from house wines to premium champagnes cool. Guests are encouraged to select wines they would prefer with dinner and Selinda also occasionally holds wine tastings.
Reached by a sandy and well-lit path, Selinda Camp's nine tented chalets are constructed of dark wood, with canvas walls under a canvas-and-thatch roof. Steps lead up to a deck with two chairs and a table, and picturesque views over the floodplain.
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, which offsets the dark wood of the furniture and wooden floor. Each room is dominated by a double or twin bed under a large walk-in mosquito net, with a fan above that gives a fairly good airflow through the netting. One of the chalets has two bedrooms, so works well for families.
In front of the beds in each of Selinda’s chalets are two very comfortable rattan chairs, and a desk topped with miniature decanters of port and sherry and both filtered water and ice. There’s a tea and coffee caddy, too, with a hot water Thermos bought to the room nightly or on request. Plug sockets enable guests to charge cameras and other electrical equipment; mosquito repellent and bug spray are provided; and mosquito coils are lit nightly by the staff.
More personal touches come in the form of beaded decoration on the mosquito nets, watercolor paints and paper, reference books, Swarovski binoculars and even a yoga mat and resistance band for those wanting a small workout!
Somewhat hidden behind the bed by a partition are a washstand with twin washbasins and a long mirror, a sturdy wrought-iron luggage rack and a large teak wardrobe with ample storage space. 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. In one corner is an open, powerful shower; in the other – and open to the rest of the room - is a 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. The bathroom almost feels as though it is open to the air, as the slated wooden walls only reach to just above head height where the gap between the wood and the thatched roof if filled only with a mesh screening.
Activities at Selinda concentrate on morning and evening game drives, as well as fishing (in season) and boat trips on the surrounding waterways. Short guided walks can also be arranged. With the Selinda Canoe Trail operating in the same concession, many guests choose to spend a couple of nights at Selinda Camp at the beginning or end of their canoe adventure.
One of the current Expert Africa team first visited Selinda Camp in 1992, and since then we've come back regularly, and generally had fantastic game sightings from June until about November. However, with the first rains, usually around November, the game disperses; it’s then generally much harder to find during the rainy season (November–March). On our last visit, in November 2013, we had a good array of more common game and the highlights were a lovely sighting of a leopard that was guarding its kill up a tree; a small herd of the uncommon roan antelope; and the many newly-dropped young such as tsessebe, impala and even a newly born elephant.
One of our most entertaining sights was watching two lionesses as they chased a buffalo that they had been stalking rather ineptly. We quickly lost sight of them in the bush, but two minutes later they ran back towards us with the buffalo in hot pursuit. Their luck wasn’t in that day, as half an hour later an impala that they had cornered in a river bend managed to escape as well!
In terms of guiding … in the past it has sometimes been uninspiring. However, on our most recent trip, in November 2013, our guide was enthusiastic and more then willing to share his vast knowledge. The consensus of all the guests staying at the camp was that their guides were also very good.
Our viewWe know Selinda well, and it’s long been one of our favourites. Game sightings in the rainy season can be hit or miss, but they improve substantially as the dry season progresses – a pattern that’s followed by most Botswana camps, although it’s probably more marked in the Selinda Reserve, and the wider Kwando-Linyanti area. The camp’s quality, service levels and food are all currently high – and the guiding is currently excellent. Hence Selinda continues to be one of our favourites that we’re happy to recommend.
Ideal length of stay: A stay of three or four nights is typical at Selinda. The camp is usually combined with a camp in the Okavnago delta, and occasionally used as a start and/or end point for the Selinda Canoe Trail.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Great Plains Conservation
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we last visited Selinda Camp in November 2013, the food was excellent.
Meals follow the usual safari-camp format, with an early breakfast around the fire before your morning game drive. We had the option of a homemade granola to which you could add a selection of seeds, almond flakes and other nuts, together with plain yoghurt, freshly baked muffins, a fresh fruit platter, cheese and biscuits, pancakes and maple syrup, toast, porridge, tea and coffee, and a very yummy freshly made smoothie!
For brunch, on previous trips we have enjoyed a selection of fishcakes served with a variety of salads including a pasta and three-bean salad, fresh bread, with the option of a cooked breakfast.
Before the afternoon activity, we were served a delicious apple cake for afternoon tea, alongside a selection of savoury snacks.
At dinner, guests are offered a choice of two main courses which they select before departing on the afternoon activity. During our stay we were treated to a tasty tomato soup followed by roast beef with pepper sauce and vegetables. The dessert was a yummy chocolate mousse.
With advance notice, the camp can cater to vegetarians and most 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
Birdwatching: Many bird species can be viewed from Selinda’s location on the spillway, from cranes and herons to kingfishers and cormorants. We have sighted some great predator species while bird watching at Selinda, such as a black shouldered kite and an African fish eagle pursuing a monitor lizard!See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Photography holidays: There is an emphasis at Selinda on photography, perhaps inevitable considering the camp is partly owned by Dereck and Beverly Joubert, renowned film-makers and photographers. The guides are good at positioning vehicles, finding good angles and light, and some will give a little instruction if asked!See more ideas for Photography holidays in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children over six years are welcome at Selinda Camp, but families with children aged 6-12 must book a private vehicle. Younger children may be accepted if the whole camp is reserved for one private party.
Equipment: No special equipment is provided but Selinda has a two-bedroom family chalet, and activities specifically geared towards children can be arranged. The camp aims to be flexible with children’s mealtimes, with cooking child-friendly meals.
Generally recommended for children: We recommend Selinda only for older children who are genuinely interested in wildlife.
Notes: Selinda Camp is very open with dangerous wildlife walking through the camp, so children will need constant and close supervision by adults.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: Wherever possible the generators run while guests are out on game drives. Each room has a series of plug points, but you should bring your own adaptor: either a UK-style square three pin, or the large round three pin, or the European two pin. Hairdryers draw to much power and cannot be used.
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!
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: All the chalets have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers as well as flush toilets. Each room is provided with glasses and a flask of filtered drinking water that is replenished daily. Although plastic bottles of water are available, guests are encouraged to top up from the filtered water in the camp’s main area. We don’t recommend that travellers drink from the tap.
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 chalets to attract attention in case of an emergency.
Fire safety: There are extinguishers on the verandas of all chalets.
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 chalets.
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.