Sustainable Tourism at Selinda Camp, Botswana

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Sustainable Tourism at Selinda Camp, Botswana

Sustainable Tourism at its best at Great Plains Conservation Selinda Camp, Botswana.

Selinda Camp pool, Great Plains Conservation, Botswana

It’s early November and I’m at Selinda Camp, just north of the Okavango Delta, Botswana. The rains haven’t arrived yet – although clouds are gathering. October is suicide month, where a good day is only 38°C, but November……well, we all prayed for rain.

The rain came. We could see a vertical swarm of droplets shifting in the wind and heading our way. It arrived, wet the surface with a cursory nod to what may come later in the month, then left. Even so, antelopes and elephants headed away from the permanent water sources to nibble on green shoots eager to emerge at the mere hint of rain.

Skip the Game Drive and See What Turns Up!

It was 45°C outside and I really needed to be in a swimming pool! Selinda Camp has a beautiful one and I wallowed like a hippo while watching the very same in the lagoon in front of me. I had skipped the game drive and was amply rewarded.

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I sat on the stoep of my thatched tented bedroom and watched at least 50 elephants, backlit from the setting sun, walk right past my motionless body. They had waded through water and sported a black high water mark on their dusty bodies. The smaller ones black from complete submersion.  Some stopped to munch on trees around my room and ran off startled when they suddenly noticed me not 3-metres away. I heard them during the night too, padding quietly around camp stripping the trees of any remaining nutritional leaves. Times were tough and they were thin.

But even at its driest there are still hippo pools along the Selinda Slipway running in front of Selinda Camp. And with scarce water to drink, it becomes a magnet, especially for elephant.

Why, after visiting more than 200 safari lodges, do I never tire of it? The same reason why Willem Bakhuys Roozeboom, Manager at nearby (even more upmarket) Zarafa Camp, uses his quarterly leave to go where else but on safari!

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If you’re hooked, you’re hooked! And I’m rather hooked on the kind of sustainable tourism offered by Great Plains Conservation right now. Amongst other safari lodges in Botswana and Kenya, they run Selinda Camp, Zarafa, Zarafa Dhow Suites, Selinda Explorers Camp and Adventure Trails here in Selinda Reserve, just north of the Okavango Delta.

Make your Holiday Spend Matter

If ever you want to make sure your holiday spend goes into real sustainable tourism then go on safari with Great Plains Conservation. That’s what conscious travellers Wyatt and Celsea from San Francisco did. They’ve got solar and recycling in their California home and asked their tour operator to find them environmentally friendly accommodation for their once-in-a-lifetime African trip. I met this enlightened young couple at Selinda Camp and hold them up as an example how we should all travel…with a heightened awareness of things that matter most to our planet.

And that’s why I was here; brought by Fair Trade Tourism South Africa to see safari lodges in Botswana that meet their vigorous standards. Selinda Camp hold the highest Botswana Ecotourism Certification and that benchmark of sustainable tourism is good enough for Fair Trade Tourism to recognise this accreditation.

Celsea & Wyatt being interviewed on film at Selinda Camp about their sustainable tourism choices

The basis on which Great Plains Conservation exists is to provide wilderness experiences that have minimum impact on wildlife and the environment and maximum return to local communities. This is done through employment, training and community outreach where it’s needed most.  I’ve already revealed in other blog posts that I have a bit of hero worship of founders Dereck and Beverly Joubert, and why not? They are the well-worn, khaki-clad poster couple for how to live a bush life and make a difference to the world. They do this as National Geographic Explorers in Residence, making poignant wildlife documentaries and feature films that impart important conservation messages. All the while clocking up a few Emmys and other accolades, like a Botswana Presidential Order of Merit.

Botswana President –  Environmental Warrior

In a country where people that I interviewed were genuine in the praise of their Government and seem to adore their conservation-minded PresidentSeretse Khama Ian Khama, getting this honour from him is a real tribute.

elephants at Selinda Camp, Botswana

What’s most important to you out of the following and will you choose your next safari accordingly?  Please leave your answer in the comment box…….

  1. Environmentally-friendly policies e.g. solar power, waste recycling, water saving
  2. Ethical wildlife encounters
  3. Staff empowerment
  4. Local community benefits
  5. Exposure to local cultures
  6. Sustainable Tourism Certification

Fact File on Selinda Camp:

  • Getting there: 45 mins flight in a small aircraft from Maun (wonderful views over the Okavango Delta on the way)
  • After landing it’s a 45 minute game drive to camp or at high water a combination of drive and boat trip to camp.
  • Wildlife experiences: known for rare and elusive wild dog, as well as lots of elephants, hippos red lechwe, impala, lion and leopard.
  • Rooms: 9 timber, thatch and canvas suites with king-size bed, drinks cabinet, huge bathroom with bath & shower.
  • Main Lodge; elemental Africa with a colonial twist and fabulous swimming pool from where you can watch animals
  • Food & Wine: all dietary preferences met: healthy salads, vegetarian, low-carb, etc. Atmospheric wine cellar, most are included in your package price, so go and choose what you fancy with dinner or let them pair the wine and food for you.
  • Company policies: recycle all waste, solar power being installed at Selinda Camp, staff and local community upliftment
  • Staff: You won’t want to leave after meeting the friendly, happy staff and expert guides
  • Region: on the banks of the Botswana’s Selinda Spillway – an ancient waterway which flows in two directions, linking the far-reaches of the Okavango Delta in the south with the Linyanti wetlands to the west.
  • Something not many people know: elephants in this area have small tusks, often chipped, because there are not enough minerals in the water to grow large tusks. Most herds have at least one tuskless female.
  • For more Information: email info@greatplainsconservation.com and visit their website:  http://greatplainsconservation.com/

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Game viewing in the Selinda courtesy of Great Plains Conservation

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