Shinde Camp

Shinde Camp: Our full report

Rooms
9 tented chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (93%) From 87 reviews
Children
Best for 12+, or 7+ for Young Explorers
Open
1 March to 5 January

STOP PRESS Shinde is undergoing a complete rebuild from 6th January and will reopen on the 1 June 2020 in its new guise. We understand that it will retaining an authentic classic safari style yet provide luxury with a touch of historical charm. It will have eight guest tents, including one family unit sleeping a maximum of 5 people. Watch this space (or give us a call) for further updates. Shinde, meaning "tree squirrel" in Setswana, is situated on the edge of an area of deep water and lagoons in the heart of the Okavango Delta. It's a well-established camp in a private reserve just to the north of the Moremi Game Reserve. Its wide open floodplains sit alongside some very pretty waterways, allowing for a mixture of both land and water activities.

When we arrived at Shinde on our most recent trip in November 2019, we were met by singing staff with enormous smiles and a very warm welcome. And this was our experience throughout our stay, when the staff were always willing to please.

Although Shinde is due for a full renovation in 2020, the camp is still looking in good shape. The main area has a wonderful tree-house feel, with a thick canopy of ebony, mangosteen and water-fig trees sheltering a split-level series of polished teak platforms. Linked together by staircases and ramps. These house the reception, lounge and dining room. An unusual 'wagon-style' canvas roof lends an airy feel and an atmosphere of relaxed opulence.

At the front of camp you'll find an open reception area, where armchairs overlook a semi-circular deck with a firepit and comfortable canvas chairs. Afternoon tea and pre-dinner drinks are usually served here, and guests are welcome to help themselves from the fridge, which is discreetly hidden behind a screen. A glass cabinet forms a small curio "shop", stocked with local crafts, including baskets made by Shinde's staff. Behind a second screen is a small desk with a laptop which guests can use to access the internet.

A gradual ramp leads up to the lounge area, tastefully decorated in soft shades of grey, beige and pale blue. There is plenty of comfortable seating, a bookshelf with a good selection of bird, mammal and reptile books, a few board games and a display of baskets. At night, guests may make use of the very retro spotlight to view any animals visiting the camp.

Continuing up the ramp brings you to the dining room, where the views over the permanent waters of the Delta are spectacular. From here, steps descend to a series of reasonably secluded decks, where you can sit quietly in a deckchair and enjoy the views over the Delta.

Paths of sand lead away from Shinde's main area to the tented chalets, and the swimming pool. Set on a low rise, this has fantastic views over the floodplains in front of camp. Alongside sunbeds and large umbrellas are fresh towels and a coolbox stocked with ice-cold soft drinks and beers. Although you should always proceed with caution, don't be alarmed if an elephant ambles past the pool to browse on the nearby trees and shrubs.

Shinde has eight tented chalets, all raised on wooden decks and quite traditional in design. Five look out towards the open plains, which are often filled with grazing antelope. A sixth (the honeymoon suite) and the three tents belonging to the Shinde Enclave all face in the opposite direction, overlooking the papyrus waterways.

We would describe these spacious chalets as smart and comfortable. At the front of each is a shaded porch with two chairs and a small table. A sliding door with a mesh window leads inside to the bedroom, which is beautifully decorated. A large mosquito net hangs over either twin or double beds and a ceiling fan provides welcome relief from the heat in the summer months. Temperature control is aided by large mesh windows, with drop-down canvas blinds to help retain the warmth during the cold winter nights, and eyelet curtains to allow a breeze through during the summer.

Polished teak floors are dotted with rugs, toning bed linens are white and grey with soft-coloured cushions, and white blinds are shut each night, while dark wooden furniture, leather trunks and leather-bound bedside tables all complement the elegant feel.

Small touches make the chalets feel quite homely: a jar of cookies baked by the chef; a decanter of sherry laid out for the evening; a couple of comfortable armchairs; magazines, postcards and bird and animal checklists. There is a flask of ice water and two glasses, too, while tea and coffee will be brought to your room with your early morning wake-up call, and at other times on request.

A wooden door to the side of the beds leads to a very spacious en-suite bathroom with twin porcelain basins beneath a large mirror, a walk-in shower with a glass screen, and a flushing toilet. Complimentary Charlotte Rhys products are provided, as are bathrobes and slippers, and rather unusually each tent has its own hairdryer.

Three of the tents form the discrete Shinde Enclave, which comes with its own private area under thatch, as well as a kitchen and guide, but guests here may also use the camp's other facilities. The enclave's small lounge and dining area has steps down to an outside deck with a firepit and camp chairs. When water levels permit, mokoro (traditional dug-out canoe) activities can set out from here. This is an excellent option for families or parties of guests who are seeking a degree of privacy, and can also be combined with Ker & Downey's Young Explorers programme.

Activities at Shinde include day and night 4WD game drives – when we have been treated in the dry season (between June and October) to some outstanding wildlife sightings – along with guided walks. Although motorboat trips and mokoro excursions are subject to water levels, Shinde can generally offer these throughout the year – and they offer some excellent birding opportunities.

The camp also offers fishing in the company of skilled guides, with the possibility of catching bream, catfish and African pike, as well as tigerfish in November and December. Shinde generally operates a catch-and-release policy, although if the fish are of a suitable size then the chefs will prepare and cook them for you. Do note, however, that no fishing is offered in January and February, which is the breeding season.

Some guests choose to combine time at Shinde with a couple of days at their specialist walking camp, Footsteps across the Delta, which is reached from here by 4WD vehicle.

Our view

Shinde is quite a traditional safari camp with something of a tree-house feel to the main area. The tented chalets are spacious and beautifully decorated and we like this camp for its mix of both water- and land-based activities, its very warm welcome and its team of experienced guides – although big-game viewing can be a little sporadic between November and May. Shinde works very well in combination with dry-area camps in both the Delta and the Kwando–Linyanti/Chobe areas.

Geographics

Location: Okavango Delta Safari Reserves, Botswana

Ideal length of stay: We would recommend a stay of three nights at Shinde, as there is the opportunity to do both land- and water-based activities here. Note that when Shinde is combined in an itinerary with one of its sister camps – Kanana, Footsteps or Okuti – then there's usually a discount in the total cost, which we'll naturally factor into any quote.

Directions: The flight from Maun to Shinde airstrip takes approximately 25 minutes. It is then a five-minute drive to camp.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Ker & Downey Botswana

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: We've always found the food at Shinde to be excellent, and our last visit in November 2019 was no exception.

Breakfast is served early, before the morning activity, and is a substantial meal with a full cooked option available, in addition to toast, muffins, a choice of cereal and fruit.

A buffet lunch is offered after the morning activity. Most recently we had chicken kebabs, peppers stuffed with tasty couscous, lentil and feta salad, mangetout and sprout salad and fresh garden salad, followed by a cheese platter and fruit.

Afternoon tea, just before the afternoon activity, usually includes a savoury snack and something sweet. During our visits we've enjoyed delicious cheese and herb scones, frittatas, tomato and cheese parcels and freshly baked cakes, along with iced tea and coffee, lime juice, tea and coffee.

Dinner is announced upon returning from the afternoon activity. Each course is served to the table. On our last visit a delicious tomato soup was followed by lamb shanks, mashed potatoes, green beans, roasted butternut squash and spiced chickpeas. Dessert was a decadent chocolate mousse.

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 and a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne and imported wines and spirits will cost extra and may need to be requested in advance. Clean, cold drinking water is always available and each chalet is also provided with glasses and a flask of filtered drinking water.

Further dining info: Private dinners can be arranged on your deck for a special occasion.

Special interests

Family holidays: A family chalet, specialist family friendly guiding programme and a more relaxed child policy than most of Botswana's safari camps make Shinde a wonderful camp for your family safari to Botswana.

See more ideas for Family holidays in Botswana

Private villas & houses: While still part of the main camp Shinde Enclave has its own private main area including a bar, lounge, dining room, mini library, outside fire deck and sun lounger area making it a perfect private get away in the Okavango Delta.

See more ideas for Private villas & houses in Botswana

Children

Attitude towards children: Shinde accepts children from the age of seven year, throughout the year. The new Shinde will have one family tent with two bedrooms and a shared en-suite bathroom and will sleep a maximum of five people.

Property’s age restrictions: Usually seven years. Children younger than seven years may be accepted at Shinde Enclave on an exclusive-use basis, or by special arrangement, and then only if the entire camp is reserved for exclusive use.

Special activities & services: If arranged in advance, guests at the Shinde Enclave can take part in Ker & Downey's Young Explorers programme. They will be allocated one of the company's phenomenal specialist family guides who are enthusiastic and passionate about their work and sharing their knowledge of the wilderness, and who have a lot of experience guiding families with children. For details, see Footsteps across the Delta.

Notes: The main area is raised, in some parts very high off the ground, with only simple handrails to prevent a fall. The decks can become very slippery when wet and both the camp and the pool are largely unfenced. Children will need constant supervision from their parents or guardians.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Power supply notes: The generator charges large batteries, which in turn power the lights when the generator is turned off. Each room has a strip of multi-national charging points, which means an adaptor is unlikely to be required.

Communications: There is no cellphone reception or WiFi at Shinde, but they do have a laptop that guests can use to access the internet. The connection can be slow so this is best only used to send emails. The camp is in radio contact with Ker & Downey 's head office in Maun, with the camp's guides on activities and with other Ker & Downey camps.

TV & radio: There is no radio or TV at Shinde.

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: All the tented chalets have plumbed hot and cold running water for showers as well as flush toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Managers are first-aid trained, as are the guides. The closest doctor is in Maun (about a 25-minute flight) and the camp has 24-hour radio contact with a medical evacuation nurse in case of need. 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: The camp is surrounded by an electric elephant fence to keep these animals away from the camp interior – although all other animals can pass through freely. Guests are escorted to and from their chalets when it is dark. There is an air horn in each chalet to attract attention in case of emergency.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all the chalets and common areas.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included and, as long as weather permits, items are usually returned the same day. A pot of washing powder is provided in each bathroom should guests wish to handwash any delicates themselves.

Money: Each chalet has a small safe. No exchange facilities are offered at Shinde.

Accepted payment on location: Mastercard and Visa are accepted; Diners and Amex are not. Cash payments may be made in South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula.

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