Sustainable Tourism at its best at Great Plains Conservation Selinda Camp, 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.
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!
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.
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 President – Seretse Khama Ian Khama, getting this honour from him is a real tribute.
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…….
Fact File on Selinda Camp:
Game viewing in the Selinda courtesy of Great Plains Conservation