Zarafa Camp is situated in northern Botswana.

Zarafa Camp | Selinda Reserve Luxury Botswana Safari Lodge

The Selinda Reserve, where Zarafa Camp is situated, is the Grand Central Station of northern Botswana, where large herds of animals travelling between the Okavango Delta and Chobe/Savute corridors come together. This luxury Botswanan safari lodge takes intimacy and exclusivity to a new level, and is especially geared towards photographers.

The place

The drive into Zarafa Camp from the airstrip gives us a taste of the sheer scale of this landscape. As it’s largely flat, we have the liberating sensation of feeling as though we can see for kilometres. We drive around the edge of the Zibadianja Lagoon – beautiful but impossible to pronounce! Red lechwe run through the shallows with their curious rocking-horse motion. Nothing is chasing them: this is pure exuberance. Closer to our luxury Botswanan safari lodge, a herd of elephant lingers in front of us, the matriarch momentarily unsure of which way to go. Our guide has no such doubts. His love for this vast, wild area is immediately apparent, and it’s infectious. Arriving, we stroll beneath towering African ebony trees to get a closer look at a large bull elephant using a corner of the raised deck to scratch his flank.

The drive into Zarafa Camp from the airstrip gives us a taste of the sheer scale of this landscape. As it’s largely flat, we have the liberating sensation of feeling as though we can see for kilometres.

We drive around the edge of the Zibadianja Lagoon – beautiful but impossible to pronounce! Red lechwe run through the shallows with their curious rocking-horse motion. Nothing is chasing them: this is pure exuberance. Closer to our luxury Botswanan safari lodge, a herd of elephant lingers in front of us, the matriarch momentarily unsure of which way to go.

Our guide has no such doubts. His love for this vast, wild area is immediately apparent, and it’s infectious. Arriving, we stroll beneath towering African ebony trees to get a closer look at a large bull elephant using a corner of the raised deck to scratch his flank.

The room

Our room is kitted out in vintage-explorer style, with heavy copper and wooden furniture perfectly balanced by the canopy roof and billowing white mosquito nets. I can see my face in the burnished metal of the deep tub – which, entirely appropriately – has claw feet. We feel as though we’ve stepped back in time to a more elegant era – my partner jokingly picks up the receiver of an old phone on the writing table, cranks the handle, and requests a gin and tonic. Minutes later, two arrive on a tray borne by a smiling waitress. Well, why not! Although we needn’t have worried, as we also discover that the mini bar has been stocked with all our favourites. Even more impressive than the room service, is the array of professional quality wildlife-viewing equipment at our disposal. A Canon camera body and lenses, and a pair of exceptional Swarovski binoculars. The modern technology doesn’t seem in the slightest bit incongruous, and raising the binos to my eyes I find I can indeed see forever – with astonishing clarity.

Our room is kitted out in vintage-explorer style, with heavy copper and wooden furniture perfectly balanced by the canopy roof and billowing white mosquito nets. I can see my face in the burnished metal of the deep tub – which, entirely appropriately – has claw feet.

We feel as though we’ve stepped back in time to a more elegant era – my partner jokingly picks up the receiver of an old phone on the writing table, cranks the handle, and requests a gin and tonic. Minutes later, two arrive on a tray borne by a smiling waitress. Well, why not! Although we needn’t have worried, as we also discover that the mini bar has been stocked with all our favourites.

Even more impressive than the room service, is the array of professional quality wildlife-viewing equipment at our disposal. A Canon camera body and lenses, and a pair of exceptional Swarovski binoculars. The modern technology doesn’t seem in the slightest bit incongruous, and raising the binos to my eyes I find I can indeed see forever – with astonishing clarity.

What sets it apart

It’s no surprise to learn that the people behind Zarafa Camp are award-winning wildlife photographers and filmmakers. Every aspect of the lodge, from its location in a remote yet busy wildlife rendezvous point, to the choosing of its name (Zarafa means ‘the beloved one’ in Arabic and derives from a wonderfully romantic story about a giraffe) is informed by a lifetime of appreciation of Botswana’s wild places. For us, the two most wonderful aspects of a luxury safari holiday are living in the moment during our time on game drives and in our luxury lodge; and then being able to relive these experiences with friends and family when we return home.With an artist’s heart and a scientist’s mind, each guest room at Zarafa Camp has been equipped with carefully chosen top-rate photographic gear – enabling us to capture incredible wildlife action. On our last evening, as we sit around the campfire, our guide excuses himself: as we watch the leadwood glow, he has gone to burn us a DVD of the highlights of our game drives.  

It’s no surprise to learn that the people behind Zarafa Camp are award-winning wildlife photographers and filmmakers. Every aspect of the lodge, from its location in a remote yet busy wildlife rendezvous point, to the choosing of its name (Zarafa means ‘the beloved one’ in Arabic and derives from a wonderfully romantic story about a giraffe) is informed by a lifetime of appreciation of Botswana’s wild places.

For us, the two most wonderful aspects of a luxury safari holiday are living in the moment during our time on game drives and in our luxury lodge; and then being able to relive these experiences with friends and family when we return home.

With an artist’s heart and a scientist’s mind, each guest room at Zarafa Camp has been equipped with carefully chosen top-rate photographic gear – enabling us to capture incredible wildlife action. On our last evening, as we sit around the campfire, our guide excuses himself: as we watch the leadwood glow, he has gone to burn us a DVD of the highlights of our game drives.

 

At a glance

  • An intimate, exclusive camp with just four tented rooms (including one honeymoon tented room), each with private plunge pools.
  • Private reserve, individual dining available, room service, customised mini-bar, in-room yoga equipment, professional camera and binoculars per tent, flexible schedules and private vehicles available (additional cost).
  • Game drives, night drives, seasonal fishing and fly-fishing, pontoon boating, seasonal power boating, stargazing, spa treatments (additional cost) and gym.
  • Children from eight are welcome (or younger if the camp is booked exclusively), but must be 12 for bush walks. Families with children under 15 must book a private vehicle. Kids’ programme on offer.

  • An intimate, exclusive camp with just four tented rooms (including one honeymoon tented room), each with private plunge pools.
  • Private reserve, individual dining available, room service, customised mini-bar, in-room yoga equipment, professional camera and binoculars per tent, flexible schedules and private vehicles available (additional cost).
  • Game drives, night drives, seasonal fishing and fly-fishing, pontoon boating, seasonal power boating, stargazing, spa treatments (additional cost) and gym.
  • Children from eight are welcome (or younger if the camp is booked exclusively), but must be 12 for bush walks. Families with children under 15 must book a private vehicle. Kids’ programme on offer.

Prices

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

When to Go

This is peak safari season – and, from end July, peak flood season. The in-creeping waters, which fall as rain in Angola in the previous summer – bring new life to northern Botswana. Confusingly, you’ll see much more water in this cooler, drier season. Fresh early mornings and evenings pair with warm days for a pleasant winter climate, and the encroaching waters reduce the land available, concentrating the wildlife. Animals are also easier to spot, as the vegetation recedes due to lack of rain. Water-based activities complement the more conventional game drives and guided walks, especially when the water depth peaks.

Botswana’s summer or green season is traditionally quieter, meaning you’re even more likely to have pristine swathes of wilderness to yourself. As the heat builds up, so too do the clouds, resulting in short but sharp afternoon electric storms. The bush bursts into life almost overnight: plants grow rapidly, many baby animals are born (and many are taken by predators) and migratory birds arrive en masse. As the flood recedes, floodplains become accessible again, expanding the reach of game drives. It’s a busy time for the wildlife, and a beautiful time to visit.

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