Post and pics by Shane Doyle, one of Africa Bespoke’s Safari Photography gurus
I was recently commissioned by Great Plains Conservation to head out to Botswana and take photographs in the Selinda concession at 3 of the luxurious camps. These being: Zarafa Camp, Selinda Camp and Duba Plains. The ten days there included a few nights in the semi-wild town of Kasane, a small town bordering Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.
Always a great feeling to get off a flight from Johannesburg, land in Kasane and step off the plane to be greeted by pachyderms roaming the roads. Buffalo, elephants, various antelope species, hyena and on the odd occasion lion, make their way through the town and the surrounds.
Another short hop with a little 4 seater and a bumpy and slippery landing onto a waterlogged clay air strip bordering the Selinda concession. A little scary to say the least with the light aircraft fish-tailing on landing down the runway, coming to a stop off the side of the strip. Hats off to the bush pilot.
With roads aflood, I knew this was going to be time spent more on the waterways in the delta than on the roads. This proved to be true. At least it gave me the opportunity to observe and photograph a few birds that were new to my checklist, namely, the long clawed lapwing, slaty egret, black heron, and the blue-cheeked bee-eaters. Jacanas, fish eagles, red-billed spurfowls were all aplenty, together with herds of lechwe and hippo roaming the waterways and grassy wetlands.
Although the camps were empty as a result of closure due to staff training, I managed to get a few marketable images for the lodges. The camps are all super luxurious, with Zarafa being a real treat to visit. Every attention to detail possible. A true colonial touch, with superb touch to finishes and really huge bedrooms. And just perfectly situated overlooking the Zip Lagoon.
Having limited opportunities for lodge photography, I got stuck into the fun and motivational days for the staff. General mucking in was good for the soul and really enjoyable. Certainly a pleasant surprise to see an eco-tourism operation of that magnitude giving up precious revenue to train and motivate and educate their staff in a range of different fields. Good for them. Seems like it was something well received and can only keep them a notch above the rest in terms of service offered and developing the right knowledge base for the industry.
Wine and food training, Aids awareness, first aid, fire, photographic training (a course that I ran for the guides), and a few fun days as well which included football matches, volleyball, obstacle courses, team theme songs, beauty pageants, braais and wonderful team building to top it all.
So, a great time in the swamps, detours to different airfields on departure, lion and buffalo interactions on the famous Duba island and memories to take with me forever.
Hope to make this an annual event! Enjoy the photos.
Zarafa Camp, located in the 320,000-acre Selinda Reserve is synonymous with exclusivity and perfection. The spirit behind Zarafa Camp comes from Colin Bell, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, who together designed Zarafa to incorporate all the components of what they envisioned as the ‘perfect’ safari camp. Positioned in the extreme eastern side of the Reserve, its location is in prime wildlife territory. Each of the camp’s four immense tented suites are raised up on wooden decking and shaded by a canopy of African ebony and Red ivory trees, each with uninterrupted views.
Selinda Camp rests on the banks of the eastern Selinda Spillway in the 320,00-acre Selinda Reserve of northern Botswana. This prime location is deep within rich wildlife territory. Completely rebuilt in 2007, Selinda Camp is a relaxed, yet luxurious tented safari camp and has established itself as one of the gems in the region with a harmonious blend of a classic tented bush camp interwoven with contemporary amenities.
DUBA PLAINS CAMP
Duba Plains Camp, located in the northern reaches of Botswana’s famed Okavango Delta and just north of the Moremi Game Reserve, is a private 77,000-acre reserve. Inaccessible for most of the year by any means other than aircraft, it is this remoteness that solidifies Duba Plains as the soul of ‘wild Africa’. Duba offers just 12 guests an idyllic all-round Okavango experience throughout the year, with vast, seasonally inundated floodplains, which are home to huge herds of buffalo being a highlight.
Read more about the Selinda area on our website.