There is a harmony to Zarafa. Perhaps it is the camp’s intimate size, the calming waters of the lagoon or the genuine nature of the staff, but whatever the case, it is a treasure. The privacy of the Selinda Reserve offers us the ultimate in flexibility. The options to explore the area by foot, pontoon boat or game drive vehicle open up endless opportunities for extraordinary sightings.
In keeping with the tradition of rising early to catch the morning light and the emerging activity, we usually depart camp at daybreak. At the peak of our dry winter months, we have counted at least 8,500 elephants in the Reserve – on par with populations found in Chobe National Park. Their antics are a joy to watch and photograph, especially when they are frolicking in the Lagoon and Spillway.
As is expected in a reserve of this size, wildlife varies from area to area in response to changes in vegetation and hydrology. Zarafa, due to its location close to Zibadianja Lagoon, has impressive pods of hippo and crocodiles that are a regular sighting. Water birds abound with frequent sightings of the amusing Black egret and stately Saddle-billed stork. Pied kingfishers dive for small fish while African fish eagles call in the distance. The whole scene is quintessentially Botswana.
Selinda Reserve is known for a few ‘specials’. African wild dogs have denned near camp for the last three seasons (2008, 2009 & 2010). Given this species plight, it is a true blessing to have fairly common sightings.The Selinda lions, affectionately known as the ‘surfing lions’ for their penchant for hunting hippo, are legendary. Their skill at hunting such large prey under trying conditions is unrivaled.
The open plains dotted throughout the Reserve provide ideal habitat for cheetah, and we’ve recently added two rescued young males to the population (from a rescue relocation operation near Ghanzi). Botswana is renowned for its leopard sightings, and Zarafa is no exception. A few residents often come through camp on their nightly prowls.
As the sun rises high in the sky and temperatures follow, we retreat to Zarafa Camp for a well-earned brunch and siesta. This is of course, only if we so chose. If we are tracking a sighting or witness to an extraordinary event, then we will stay in the bush to watch it unfold. Brunch can wait!
And finally, as the sun lowers again and the light softens we depart for our afternoon exploration and continue past nightfall in search of nocturnal species such as civet, genet, and possibly even aardvark.