Selinda Camp: Our full report
The high-quality Selinda Camp has a beautiful location within the 1,300km2 Selinda Reserve in northern Botswana.There’s long been a camp here with a focus on big game safaris. Rebuilt and upgraded in 2019, the latest version of Selinda offers luxury accommodation and a high standard of service, from the camp beautifully built on the banks of the Selinda Spillway.
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 animals a long way off. It's the perfect environment for following predators like wild dogs on hunting sorties.
Selinda Camp shares the reserve with its sister camps, the relatively simple Selinda Explorers, and the opulent Zarafa Camp. It overlooks the Selinda – or Magwegqana – Spillway; a vital ancient watercourse linking the Okavango Delta to the Kwando–Linyanti River drainage system. Although previously dry for decades, the spillway has flowed annually since a particularly good rainy season in 2006.
None of the Expert Africa team have seen the new incarnation of Selinda Camp as yet, but here’s what we know about it.
The main area at Selinda Camp is spread across one vast, open-plan central platform with panoramic views across the surrounding channels and floodplains. Constructed of wood and overlapping, multi-height A-frame thatch roofs, it has a lovely viewing deck, dining space and relaxing lounge area, with plenty of comfy sofas. The décor and design are influenced by a variety of Botswana cultures – European, Mokololo and Bayei – with the overall theme paying homage to the elements of Water, Air, Earth and Fire.
The camp also features a well-stocked curio shop and a submerged wine cellar, where a large stock of everything from house wines to premium champagnes are kept cool. Guests are encouraged to select wines they would prefer with dinner and Selinda also occasionally holds wine tastings. There’s also a spa offering massage treatments between activities, and a hide overlooking the spillway that’s particularly good for bird watching.
Reached along a sandy and well-lit path, Selinda Camp's three tented rooms are constructed of dark wood, with canvas walls under canvas-and-thatch roofs. Steps lead up to a large veranda made of salvaged wood and set with sofas, loungers and a plunge pool, all situated to make the most of the views.
Grand carved double doors open up into the bedroom. Large beds under a mosquito net canopy (with inbuilt ultrasound repellent device), leather chairs, beautiful throw rugs and bronze light fittings combine to create a feeling of opulence. Large ceiling to floor netted windows in the canvas walls offer views over the floodplains and let in plenty of light and breeze. Each room has a fan for use on hotter days and a solar powered air-conditioning system over the bed.
Double doors lead into an equally lavish en-suite bathroom with twin basins, indoor shower, toilet, and large bath with a view. Each tent also has an outdoor shower. Soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and hairdryers are provided.
Extra services in each room include Swarovski or Leica 8x42 binoculars, the complimentary use of a Canon 5D Mark IV Camera with selection of 100-400mm and 24-105mm lens for every guest, exercise bike, yoga mat and light weights.
In addition to the three tented rooms, there is the two-bedroom Selinda Suite. Similar in décor and design, the suite offers exclusive accommodation for up to four guests, including a private vehicle, private guide, chef and butler. The bedrooms are divided by a lounge and dining area leading onto a deck with a small pool.
Activities at Selinda Camp focus on morning and evening game drives, but full day drives can be arranged on request. The safari vehicles are built with photographers in mind and feature fold-down windscreens, raised roofs, photographic bars and multi-plug invertors. Boat trips are offered on the spillway when water levels allow, and rod/reel fishing is possible from March to December. Guided walks can also be arranged – it’s best to advise in advance if this is of particular interest.
One of the current Expert Africa team first visited Selinda Camp in 1992, and since then we've returned regularly. We've usually had fantastic game sightings from June until about November, but with the first rains, usually around November, the game disperses. During the rainy season (November–March), animals tend to be much harder to find – 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. That said, a little luck can be had at any time of the year. In mid-November 2016, for example, we were treated to some phenomenal game viewing. The first morning was spent tracking a female leopard and her cub for an hour and a half, resulting in us find the cub resting up a tree in a hamerkop nest. We then stumbled across two male lions on an elephant carcass from the night before, and the following day we watched them join a pride of 14 feeding on a hippopotamus carcass!
On a previous trip, in April 2016, we enjoyed a catch-and-release fishing excursion. Assisted by our guide, we had successful catches of redbelly tilapia, catfish and bream. For those looking for a different activity on safari, or just wanting to be out of a vehicle for half a day, we highly recommend the fishing activity at Selinda when water levels allow.
We know Selinda well, and it's long been one of our favourites. Game sightings in the rainy season can be hit or miss, perhaps more so in this area than in other parts of Botswana, but they improve substantially as the dry season progresses. The camp's quality has always been high, but the recent upgrade now matches high service levels, delicious food and excellent guiding with luxurious rooms.
Country manager: Botswana
- 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.
- Selinda Camp is accessed by light aircraft from either Kasane (50-minute flight) or Maun (45-minute flight); it is then a 40-minute drive from the airstrip to the camp depending on what you see en route. During high-water season, the transfer from the airstrip is made via vehicle and boat.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- When we last stayed at Selinda Camp in November 2016, the food was excellent and with its recent upgrade we expect it might now be even better. With advance notice, the camp can cater to vegetarians and most special dietary requests.
Meals follow the usual safari-camp format, but with a very healthy and tasty twist. There is limited gluten used in the cooking and very little sugar too.
Start your day with an early breakfast before your morning game drive. We had the option of homemade granola to which you could add various 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, a selection of fresh salads, cornbread and chicken satay skewers was served. All were tasty and very fresh but not too filling.
Our afternoon tea was delicious. Along with fresh cheese and tomato pizza slices, there were doughnut sticks served with dipping chocolate.
At dinner, guests are offered a choice of two main meat courses and a vegetarian option, which they select before departing on the afternoon activity. We enjoyed a tasty cold cucumber-based soup followed by a lovely tender piece of lamb off the bone. Other guests seemed to really enjoy the duck breast option. While I did not have dessert, colleagues on previous visits relished a yummy chocolate mousse made with avocado (which I'm assured was much tastier than it sounds).
- Selinda Camp's location on the Selinda Spillway is an excellent place for birdwatching. Many waterbird species, like cranes, herons, kingfishers and cormorants, can be viewed here and eagle and vulture populations are healthy.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Photography holidays
- Part-owned by renowned film-makers and photographers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, Selinda Camp is a great spot for photography in Botswana. The guides position vehicles to find the best angles and light, some will even give a little instruction if asked.
- See ideas for Photography holidays
- Private villas & houses
- A satellite of the main camp the Selinda Suite is a luxurious exclusive use two-bedroom villa offering guests their own private vehicle, safari guide, chef and hosting team.
- See ideas for Private villas & houses
- One of our favourite camps, Selinda’s rooms and common areas are beautifully designed, with the sumptuous en-suite bathtubs particularly worth a mention. Fabulous food, excellent guides and a team who go the extra mile combine to make this a good fit for a luxury safari.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- Children over 8 years are welcome at Selinda Camp. Younger children may be accepted if the whole camp is reserved for one private party.
- Property’s age restrictions
- The minimum age to stay at Selinda is eight years old. Children aged 8-11 are welcome on game drives, but only children aged 12 and older are able to join walking safaris.
- Special activities & services
- Selinda 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.
The camp aims to be flexible with children's mealtimes and can offer child-friendly meals.
They can offer child-minding from one of their housekeeping team, but not someone specially trained in childcare.
- No special equipment is provided but Selinda has a two-bedroom Suite suitable for a family, 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.
- Selinda Camp is very open with dangerous wildlife walking through the camp, so children will need constant and close supervision by adults.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Selinda Camp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Selinda Camp have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- The camp uses generator and solar power. The generator is run for three hours in the morning and three in the evening, when guests are out on activities. There is a plan to upgrade to solar power, but a timetable had not been established at the time of writing.
Each room has a series of plug points: a UK-style square three pin, the large round three pin, or the European two pin; those with other plugs should bring their own adaptors. There is a hairdryer in each room for guests to use.
- WiFi is available in the rooms, but there is no cellphone reception, direct fax or phone access. Swift radio contact can be made with Maun if there is an emergency and there is also a satellite phone for emergency use.
- TV & radio
- No radio or television.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- All the rooms have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers, and flushing toilets.
Solid waste reduction using biogas digesters
Located in Northern Botswana on a 320,000-acre private reserve, Selinda Camp was completely rebuilt in 2007 with the promise to lower its impact on the environment as much as possible. Apart from using natural, locally-sourced materials for its thatch roofing and wooden decks, and relying entirely on solar energy, the owners claim that if the camp is packed up there would be no trace of its existence in less than half a year. Perhaps the most noticeable results come from the camp’s initiatives to reduce and recycle solid waste.
In Selinda Camp, nothing is burnt or buried on the land, and all solid waste is separately disposed and transported to Maun, the “tourism capital” of Botswana, for recycling. Moreover, five different biogas digesters built by the camp’s staff out of locally available materials recycle food waste into methane, which is further used for cooking through the biogas facility and the biogas units. ‘The Selinda system was sized to accommodate the kitchen waste from a maximum of 16 guests eating 4 meals a day. ’
Although these environmentally friendly measures have increased the recycling of solid waste by an impressive 25%, the management team is constantly seeking ways to potentially improve biogas production and usage by, for example, training staff to better sort organic waste, or encourage kitchen staff to use all of the biogas every day so that there is not a buildup of unused gas in the system.
See more great sustainability projects in Botswana
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- All camp managers and guides are first-aid trained and a comprehensive first-aid kit is kept at camp. In an emergency the camp can contact a flying-doctor service.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- Because of northern Botswana’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 to attract attention in case of an emergency.
- Fire safety
- There are extinguishers on the verandas of all rooms.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- A full laundry service is included, including smalls. Washing powder is also provided in the rooms.
- 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.
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