Selinda Explorers is designed along the lines of a traditional tented camp.
Selinda Explorers Camp: Our full report
On the banks of the Selinda Spillway, Selinda Explorers Camp is the most recent addition to the private 1,350km2 Selinda Reserve, having opened in August 2012. Although it is very like a classic mobile camp in style, albeit a relatively luxurious one, it is in fact permanent. Originally available on an exclusive-use basis only, it has since mid 2014 been bookable on an individual basis.
Selinda Explorers Camp was envisaged as a fancy version of a classic early explorer-style tented camp. 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. Yet with soft furnishings from Zanzibar and the East, and a slightly Middle Eastern vibe, the details are in the décor and – while it’s supposedly a ‘simple’ tented camp – it feels as stylish as many of the permanent camps in Botswana – exactly what we would expect from the owners. Thus it is a good option for those seeking more of a wilderness experience, but still with high expectations.
The main area of Selinda Explorers comprises two open-sided semi-permanent tents. In one is a simple dining area and bar; in the other, a more lavishly decorated lounge, with huge floor cushions, Zanzibari chests and brass lamps. The mix of dark wood and leather campaign furniture with Arabian accessories results in a colonial explorer feel. Meals are taken either in the dining area or under the stars.
With just four Meru-style tents, Selinda 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. A slightly separate changing area has upright trunks adapted to provide drawers and hanging space. Here you will also find twin brass sinks, with jugs of water for washing. Drinking water and mosquito spray are provided, and electric lighting comes courtesy of solar power. Outside each tent, a hammock is strung up in the shade, providing the perfect spot for an afternoon siesta.
The canvas-walled open-air bathroom at the back of each tent has a ‘garden’ like feel resulting from bare sand floors and the use of natural materials. A wooden walkway allows you to cross from the flush toilet to the shower without walking on the sand. In the centre is 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 Selinda Explorers Camp include both day and night game drives, but there is also a strong focus here is on walking and canoeing. Walking is best between the end of May and October, when there is good visability in the bush as the grasses have died back and the Mopane trees are bare. Canoeing takes place on the seasonally flooded Selinda Spillway, usually between May and September, when water levels are sufficiently high.
Separated from the tent by a zip-screen door, the open-air bathrooms were upgraded in 2015. Now reed-screened with hardwood floors, each has a flush toilet, and a proper bucket shower has replaced the original bucket shower.
On our most recent visit in April 2016, we noticed that the canvas of the tents' main walls and fly sheets was very dated with stains and holes. We understand from the managers that there are plans to replace this at the end of the season, between December 2016 and February 2017.
Activities at Selinda Explorers Camp include both day and night game drive, but the main focus here is on walking and canoeing. During our visit we were unable to go canoeing, but we did enjoy some productive game drives in the Selinda Reserve, and the quality of the guides was excellent: some of the best we had in Botswana.
At the time of our visit, the wildlife was impressive. Two prides of lion - the Wakupa Pride (consisting of four females, two with cubs) and the Selinda Pride (six females with 10 cubs among them), both dominated by two adult males - wanter between the unfenced border of the Selinda Reserve and the Kwara Concession. There are two packs of wild dogs in this area, too. The Selinda Pack, consisting of 14 dogs, was denning in the Selinda Reserve, and there are hopes that the Explorers Pack, with five dogs and two pregnant females, would den in the reserve. The reserve also boasts ten resident leopards. From the end of April through December, Cape buffalo migrate into the area, leading to epic predator-prey encounters with lion. The June-July zebra migration from the Savute and Chobe area can bring up to a thousand zebra into the reserve, and guests can expect huge herds of elephant in the winter season (between about November and April).
Among our sightings were an adult female lion from the Wakupa Pride with her three young cubs playing by the road. We also saw an enormous herd of elephant along a permanent channel of the Selinda Spillway during out sundowners, which provided an amazing background for photography!
Our birding experience here was not the best, however, we did see saddle-billed stork, African fish eagle, red-billed spurfowl, and lilac-breasted roller.
Our viewSelinda 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, 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.
Ideal length of stay: Three or four nights at Selinda Explorers is fine. Because the activities focus on walking and canoeing, 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.
Directions: Selinda Explorers Camp is accessed by light aircraft from either Kasane (50-minute flight) or Maun (45-minute flight); it is then a 50-minute drive from the airstrip to the camp, depending on what you see en route.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Great Plains Conservation
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: We enjoyed some very creative, delicious meals at Selinda Explorers when we stayed there in April 2016. Much like the food at Selinda and Zarafa camps it felt light and healthy yet at the same time was very satisfying and filling. 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.
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. We were offered a 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; we were treated to a delightful coffee cake.
Dinner is served shortly after your return to camp in the evening. We ate under the stars with our guide and camp manager and enjoyed a lovely grilled kudu fillet with grilled vegetables and lightly seasoned couscous.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and spirits, plus a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne, imported wines and spirits will cost extra and must be requested well in advance. Guests are given a water bottle that is filled up for them before activities etc. Bottled water is available on request.
Further dining info: There is no room service at Selinda Explorers Camp.
Birdwatching: Selinda Explorers Camp offers an honorary "membership" into the "111 Club", an honour bestowed upon guests who spot 111 or more birds during their stay at camp.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Walking safaris: Selinda Explorers is a small, smart tented camp in a first-class area for big game; it offers walking and canoeing – and is an excellent camp for walking safaris in Botswana.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children aged ten years and older are welcomed by Selinda Explorers Camp.
Property’s age restrictions: Minimum age ten years.
Special activities & services: Selinda 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 child care.
Equipment: Selinda Explorers can provide triple rooms for families.
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 Selinda Explorer’s focus on walking, which is a much more adult activity.
Notes: Children must be supervised at all times by their parents/guardians, as predators wander freely through camp, which is also surrounded by water.
Power supply: Solar Power
Power supply notes: Each tent has individual solar panel to power lights. However there is also a small generator used as a battery charging station in the main area.
Communications: There is no cellphone reception or internet, but a satellite phone and radio are in place for emergencies only.
TV & radio: None
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: Selinda Explorers has a reverse osmosis machine for cleaning 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: Yes
Medical care: All 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: A limited laundry service is available, weather permitting. Items are hand washed and line dried.
Money: There is no currency exchange here. There are safes in the tents.
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.