Botswana is my favourite safari destination and I was thrilled to be back in the country renowned for its incredible birdlife, lush landscape and rich floodplains. It’s quite unlike any other safari destination — it’s somehow just more magical. Its remote location adds to the feeling of being alone in the wilderness — there is just so much space, there are no other vehicles and the game is so unusual and remarkable. I think the guides here are simply amazing, not just informative but passionate, interactive and inspiring too.
Our first stop was the intimate four tent Zarafa Camp located in the 320,000-acre Selinda Reserve in northern Botswana. Conceived by Great Plains, the conservation story and innovation behind this camp is outstanding and guests are made very aware of its environmental commitments. Being the country’s first and only Relais & Chateaux property, I knew this was going to be special!
Linking the Okavango Delta and the Chobe/Savute corridors, the camp’s position overlooking the Zibadianja Lagoon is incredible and offers amazing wildlife viewing. Such a diverse range of animals and birdlife are drawn to the water source — I couldn’t believe how many elephants I saw! The birdlife here is an obvious highlight — I saw a White Kingfisher and rare Coqui Francolin — so a treasure-trove for birding enthusiasts and keen photographers. For me, Zarafa Camp is perfect for an intimate honeymoon since it boasts an exclusive feel, is tranquil and remote, serves gourmet cuisine and offers both land and water wildlife sightings. Guests can explore a landscape of both forest and plains, see rich flora and fauna, try fishing, taste wine, star-gaze and relax amongst nature — and enjoy a truly magical safari experience.
Remaining within the Selinda Reserve, our next stay was at the slightly larger Selinda Camp, located along the eastern backs of the Selinda Spillway, close to the confluence of the Linyanti, Savute and Kwando Rivers. Renowned for herds of elephants and packs of African wild dogs, this area has a unique landscape. When not on a game drive, the large decks from the canvas tents, with thatched roofing, provide superb views over the river by day, and during the evening the large walk-in wine cellar, art gallery and curio shop, plus fire pit area, make for a relaxing end to the day.
Our next stay was in the heart of the Okavango Delta at the totally re-built Duba Plains Camp. This 77,000-acre private concession has just five bespoke tents and a separate two-bedroom tented suite. Sitting on a raised deck with views out over the surrounding floodplain, I could see Pelicans from the deck of my classically styled tent and I loved the 1920’s-inspired interiors. The tents here are large, with a private verandah, private plunge pool and outdoor covered sala. An additional benefit for guests at all three camps, is that they you can loan cameras, lenses and Swarovski binoculars and go out in a specially-adapted photographic boat. There’s really no excuse for not capturing the fantastic scenery and wildlife!
Being at water-level, having the opportunity to take a helicopter over the verdant landscape, the friendly staff, talented chef and passion for conservation are what makes this camp extra special. I couldn’t believe that around Duba Plains Camp there was sand! The Okavango delta region is more renowned for its floodplains and bushveld, so to discover sand there was quite a surprise! The stand-out highlights for me, were going out in the boat, seeing lots of elephants, with their young, and seeing a pack of wild dogs bouncing and squeaking chasing a tessbe close to the 4x4 vehicle. Botswana remains my favourite safari destination and I will urge my clients to experience this exceptional place for themselves. Botswana leaves guests feeling special — you just feel so privileged to have access to these incredibly wild areas and to witness such diverse wildlife.
To book your luxury Botswana safari, or to find out more about combining the camps in one sensational safari trip, please contact Hayley Groves.