Selinda Explorers Camp – Private Safari by Safari Architects
My guests and I had been waiting for this trip for the last 6 months! After a lot of banter and excitement, the day had finally arrived when we would be leaving for our Selinda adventure. Both myself and Brad were leading the trip, and there were 6 guests (Sean, Brett, Jamie, Adam, Dylan and Jonesy) along with our pilot Nic. We met very early at Lanseria where our Pilatus PC-12 aircraft was awaiting to speed us off. On arrival in Maun, a quick trip through customs, and we were off to fly over one of the last true wild expanses of land, the Okavango Delta.
The “team” with the Pilatus Pc-12 The interior of the PC-12
Nic did a superb job, and we were treated with breath-taking vistas of this unique and magical place. The Selinda concession is North East of the Okavango, and this is where we were heading. There is a Spillway that flows in this area, connecting it to the Linyanti, and this is where we were going to call home for the next few days.
The Selinda Spillway from the air The Selinda airstrip on arrival
As we landed, our guests were super keen for a game drive, so we took an extended route to the camp to see what we could find. Kane, our master guide and friend, took us meandering through a wilderness that cannot be described but experienced. We sat with elephants wallowing and drinking and were mesmerised by the Carmine bee-eaters that fly alongside the vehicle snapping up flushed insects. Spirits were very high! Kane mentioned that a mother leopard and cub were found earlier in the morning, so we headed over there to see if we could find them. True enough, they were there, and although lying up in a thicket, it was a great experience to sit with these two incredible leopards.
An elephant herd playing in the mud A leopard cub hiding in a thicket
Once at the camp, we settled in and had lunch, and prepared for our afternoon adventures. We really wanted to spoil our guests, and a great experience in the Selinda concession is to head out on the pontoon at the Zibidianja lagoon. It was quite a drive, so we headed there pretty steadily passing numerous elephant herds, general game and some great birds. Just before the pontoon jetty, Kane mentioned that we were making one little detour, and as we rounded the corner there were the four massive lionesses of the Selinda pride. They were some of the most beautiful lionesses I have ever seen, and also the largest! The pontoon experience was real highlight. A bull elephant swam across the lagoon as we started, which was extremely special. Having a gin and tonic on a couch, water all around and an amazing sunset in one of the wildest areas in the world is something I will never forget!
Elephant swimming The pontoon
The next morning we were up at sunrise. Kane suggested we do a proper bush walk, and we were all up for it! Walking along the meandering Spillway in the company of hippos, elephants and a myriad of bird-life is definitely a way I can spend a morning. We waded and walked for about 3 hours, and this culminated in a great elephant herd sighting on foot. What we didn’t know is that at the pan that we followed the elephants to, there was a bush breakfast set up there as well. We sneaked past the herd, put our feet up and relaxed on cushions, all the while the elephants were drinking at the pan in front of us. Even a large Bull elephant in Mustsh joined the party and put on quite a show.
Elephants on a walk Bush breakfast with elephants
That afternoon, the canoes were left a few kilometers downstream of the camp in the Spillway. The plan was to walk to the canoes, canoe upstream for a few kms, then play a football match against the lodge staff. Now there was a bit of competition, firstly it was a race in the canoes, then the Lions, Elephants and giraffes would do battle on the beach football pitch. The lodge staff there were so enthusiastic, it was with great pleasure that after a few penalty shootouts, a winner was decided. Well done the Lions! We then watched the sunset sitting in the Spillway with a well-deserved drink in hand.
Canoeing the Spillway Sun-downers in the Spillway after football
Selinda is quite well known for its wild dog packs, and with this in mind we decided to a drive the next morning. After a few hours, and not much luck, we stopped for a coffee break which some of us thought a good time for a quick power nap. We must have looked like a pride of lions sleeping in the shade of the vehicle! The bush is a magical and fickle beast, and if you bide your time and be patient, she will reward you. This happened on the way home!!! We found fresh wild dog tracks, and we were on. After a bit if tracking, we still had no luck, but we forgot about Kane. In a nonchalant manner, he worked his magic, and true enough 10 minutes later, 14 wild dogs were seen. It was a mind blowing experience.
Male wild dog Inquisitive wild dog
Still abuzz from the wild dog sighting, not 10 minutes later we found a young male leopard sleeping in a tree. He was a skittish male, and didn’t stick around but it was an incredible sighting. The spillway had risen slightly, and as a result that afternoon we canoed down the spillway to a larger lagoon where about 40 hippos make their home. The hippos were great value, and they sang and danced all afternoon for us. The staff at Selinda Explorers Camp are truly incredible! They will go out of their way to make your stay unforgettable. This was proven again when on the paddle back, we saw some lights and a fire on the Spillway bank. We were all a little confused, but all was revealed when we paddled in! Dinner under the stars, on the banks of the Selinda Spillway. Wow!!! That night sitting around the fire, I think a little piece of everyone’s soul bonded to that incredible place.
On our last morning we thought it best to walk again in this incredible concession. We walked in an area with no roads for thousands of hectares. The raw wilderness really was something special. What made it even better was an appearance of a male leopard. I have been lucky enough to have seen many leopards on safari, but this fleeting glimpse was right up there with one of my best experiences. It was literally a few seconds but the essence of what a leopard is was really displayed. It was like a spotted ghost that allowed us glimpse of its beauty, before it vanished into a myriad of shadows and rosettes.
Crossing the spillway Shadows and spots
Unfortunately all good things come to end and after a hearty breakfast we left. It was hard to say goodbye to our new friends, and to leave such an amazing place. We will all return and our guests have started to plan their next adventure. Thank you to Great Plains and the team at Selinda Explorers camp, it was really special!