Selinda Camp

Selinda Camp: Our full report

Rooms
9 tented chalets (incl. 1 family unit)
Traveller's rating
Excellent (95%) From 53 reviews
Children
Best for 12+
Open
All year

The upmarket Selinda Camp is situated in the 1,350km 2 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 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. The family chalet has two bedrooms, separated by a large central bathroom. Each bedroom has its own entrance but the rear bedroom doesn’t benefit from a verandah or any view to speak of.

In front of the beds in each of Selinda’s chalets are two very comfortable 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 two dumbbells for those wanting a small workout! A small menu of spa treatments including aromatherapy and Swedish massages is also available at an additional cost.

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 centerpiece 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. Short guided walks can also be arranged, and between May and September, depending on water levels, the camp offers boat trips on the surrounding waterways. With the Selinda Adventure 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 Adventure Trail.

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 2015, the rains were late and elephant in particular were still numerous. There was also a good array of more common game - zebra, wildebeest and tsessebe.

On a previous visit, 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… on our most recent trips, we’ve found our guides to be enthusiastic and more then willing to share their vast knowledge. They also have experience with photographers and understand the importance other considerations beyond just viewing the animals such as positioning the vehicle for the best viewing angle etc.

Our view

We 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.

Geographics

Location: Kwando-Linyanti area, Botswana

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 Okavango delta, and occasionally used as a start and/or end point for the Selinda Adventure Trail.

Directions: Selinda Camp is accessible only by light aircraft; it's roughly a 45-minute flight from either Maun or Kasane. The camp is about an hour's drive from Selinda airstrip, depending on wildlife sightings on the way. When the floodwaters are high, this transfer is a combination of a short drive followed by a boat transfer into camp.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Great Plains Conservation

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: When we last visited Selinda Camp in November 2015, the food was memorable.

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, we enjoyed a selection of creative dishes including a shredded turkey meat dish, a vegetarian daal, and a variety of salads including couscous, beetroot, mangetout and raddish as well as fresh bread, cheeses and fruit. The option of a cooked breakfast was also available.

Before the afternoon activity, for afternoon tea we were served a delicious banana cake, vegetable samosas, homemade cookies and fruit, alongside a ginger and lemon lemonade and rooibos iced tea.

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 and fennel soup followed by ostrich curry with mashed potato and vegetables. The dessert was an inviting sticky date pudding.

With advance notice, the camp can cater to vegetarians, vegans 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

Special interests

Birdwatching: Many bird species can be viewed from Selinda’s location on the spillway, from cranes and herons to kingfishers and cormorants. Keen birders may wish to take up the ‘111’ challenge with their guide. This fun challenge normally takes place over two days but we gave it a good shot on our one night stay and counted 78 species!

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

Children

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.

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: Combination of power

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. The system is capable of accommodating the low-wattage hairdryers that are provided in the rooms.

Communications: The camp has internet, but there is no cellphone reception. 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. Please note that it is only possible to fly out of camp during daylight hours as the bush airstrips do not have any lighting at night.

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.

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 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.