Back from Botswana

Regular travel to the African continent allows me to ensure that the destinations, experiences and properties we recommend remain as special as they were when we initially discovered them – as well as learning about what is new and worthwhile since my last visit.

Last month saw me travel to Botswana’s Okavango Delta for an extensive recce that covered multiple destinations, lodges and very exciting new experiences. I’ve shared my thoughts on the four properties I stayed at below.

Botswana Great Plains Selinda Camp

Selinda Camp

Part of Great Plains’ Reserve Collection, Selinda Camp is a four-suite property located in the Delta’s Selinda Reserve.

Open-air public areas that are the definition of safari lodge chic face the water, while behind lie the wildlife-rich plains of the reserve. A pervading sense of calm and privacy permeates throughout the camp, and nowhere more so than the two-bedroom suite; a perfect solution for families and friends travelling together. Light and airy bedrooms – open to the elements – give onto a multi-tiered private terrace that descends into the vast plains below, with views stretching for miles. Enjoy dips in your private plunge pool and dinners around the fire pit as you sit under the stars, in addition to a covered dining room, living room and bar.

We were very impressed with the food; made with fresh and healthy ingredients, the portions were delightful; a welcome respite from the large options often found on safari. Throughout our stay we were treated to special sundowners – G&Ts facing the African sun setting over a riverbed – and bush breakfasts on the edge of a waterhole teeming with life, all without another human soul in sight.

Wildlife sightings here are well worth writing home about; pride of lions engage in stand-offs with herds of buffalo; families of elephants graze with feeding infants; hippos contort on land and water and leopards rest in Jackalberry trees to escape the sun. The knowledge and know-how of Great Plains guides is unparalleled, there is the feeling that here you are in the safest of hands.

Exclusivity is another serious bonus here; there are only four small camps in this 130,000 hectare conservation area (the others being Great Plains’ Zarafa Camp, Selinda Explorers Camp and Okavango Explorers Camp), which makes sightings of other vehicles rare and gives you a true sense of space.

Sitatunga Great Plains Botswana

Sitatunga Private Island

Newly opened early this year, this private island camp offers something completely new in the Delta; a place to rest, recharge and recalibrate between safaris… in a setting immersed in nature and imbued with peace and tranquillity.

Arrivals set the tone for the rest of your stay; either by helicopter or exhilarating boat ride through papyrus-lined waterways teeming with birds and wildlife. Facing a revitalizing body of water, the soundtrack at Sitatunga is as good as its view; wake up to hundreds of species contributing to a natural orchestra of birdsong and fall asleep to the sound of leaves swaying and elephants braying.

Currently the property is made up of just three suites, in addition to a spacious and airy open-air ‘main area.’ The two-bedroom suite – complete with a large deck and private pool – is an ideal option for either families or groups of friends. Large and comfortable communal areas have been thoughtfully designed to make travellers of all ages feel welcome.

The small team of staff steals the show with their charm and goodwill. Whether organising candle-lit bush dinners, twilight birding adventures or Mokoro boat rides at sunset through the Delta’s atmospheric channels, their presence adds a tangible extra to your stay.

This is the place to connect with loved ones and, most importantly, take time to breathe in between the busy sunrise-to-sunset schedules of more traditional safari destinations. Come here to meditate, take in the magic of your surroundings and be in the moment. The experience is a slow one, but this makes it so special.

Xigera Botswana


Luxury, for us, is choosing places that feel spacious even during busy periods, navigating other travellers, venturing off the well-trodden routes and exploring destinations outside of peak travel months. The creative vision of Toni Tollman, founder of the Red Carnation hotel group, Xigera is a unique property that leads the Okavango Delta in terms of luxury.

Incredibly comfortable and spoiling, this is somewhere that feels as if every need has been anticipated and well thought through before being met; the amount of care and attention will not fail to impress even the most jaded luxury traveller.

Suites so spacious they feel like private apartments have the option of remaining open to the elements or closed with AC, something that is rare to find on safari and which ensures everyone’s tastes are catered for (it is also the only safari lodge in the Okavango Delta with AC throughout its suites). Well laid out and incredibly cosy, rooms instantly feel like your home in the bush.

A focus on and commitment to African design is where Xigera stands out; 75 African designers have created pieces for the property, with their backgrounds and creations compiled in the Xigera Design Safari book, a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary African art and craftsmanship. We enjoyed discovering new pieces in every space we explored and felt it contributed to a strong sense of place and connection with the continent.

A lasting memory was the Chef’s Counter experience, a five-course private tasting menu that took place at the bar. As Chef Reginald chatted to us, he prepared the food before cooking it on a charcoal grill in front of our eyes. At the same time, the attentive sommelier served us wine from the Tollman family’s South African estate, Bouchard Finlayson. Genuinely one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life, this was an especially impressive feat given the remoteness in the heart of the Okavango Delta.

Okavango Delta Botswana Helicopter

Beagles Expedition Camp

Then onto something totally different, my four final days in the Delta were with Beagles Expeditions. Created and run by a husband and wife team (Simone and Marleen Byron), our four-day adventure took place within a private 30,000-hectare area of the southern tip of the Okavango’s Abu Concession.

Our itinerary included two nights at two different exclusive-use camps along the Kweene River. Days were spent as close to nature as it gets; observing a pack of wild dogs around the camps water hole, game drives through the concession, walking through plains that connected the two camps, sunrise scenic helicopter flights, packed lunches made with fresh ingredients enjoyed under shady trees followed by well-earned siestas.

Today’s ultimate luxury, the entire time spent with Beagles was alone; we did not come across a single other vehicle or traveller – giving us the impression that the landscape, and its inhabitants, were all for us.

This is an experience for those looking to get up close and personal with nature; spending the entire day outdoors before nights under canvas. Paired-back and expedition-like, it makes for a great contrast from some of the Delta’s more spoiling safari camps. It was the perfect way to end our trip; a full dose of the great outdoors and all its splendour before returning to urban life.

Great Plains Botswana Selinda Camp

Photo credits: Thanks to Beagles Expeditions, Great Plains Conservation and Xigera. 

If this has inspired you to travel to Botswana, or if you have any questions about my trip, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at [email protected] – it will be a pleasure to hear from you.