A Trails Exploration – 3 nights / 4 days canoeing down the Selinda Spillway
The high waters flowing through northern Botswana in 2009 and 2010 caused the Selinda Spillway to flow in a way that it has not done for nearly three decades. This has enabled adventurers the opportunity to experience a rare first – the Selinda Canoe Trail. The Selinda Canoe Trail replicates the safari experiences of old as we navigate along the Selinda Spillway over four days, camping along the banks of the river at the end of the day, wherever we find ourselves.
The distance from one end of the Canoe Trail to the other is roughly 28 miles; along this route we can well expect to come across many species of wildlife. The area is well known for elephant, buffalo, roan antelope, and wild dog. Other possible sightings include cheetah, lion, leopard and variety of other species. It is also a birder’s paradise with some 300 species to be seen. The canoe trail starts at the Selinda Airfield where all participants meet at around midday. We then drive in 4×4 Landcruisers for nearly three hours westward till we reach our starting point. This 3-night safari comprises roughly 2 full days and 2 half-days (the first afternoon and the last morning) of paddling to cover the distance. All 3 nights will be spent in fly camps along the way at no particular pre-arranged site.
The days are spent paddling along the Spillway with stoppages whenever there is something of interest to be seen along the banks. Each canoe has two guests, their bed rolls and bags. Participants paddle their own canoes each day. No previous paddling or canoeing experience is needed as tuition will be given – but participants must be strong enough to paddle their own canoes. Please note that guests are not expected to put up tents or help with the cooking and camp chores as our staff will handle all these chores.
Comfortable dome tents are provided as they are comfortable and large enough for two people – yet are compact enough to fit onto the canoes. For safety and space reasons, we have a maximum 44 lbs limit on luggage. Please ensure this is packed in a soft bag. Please remember that you will have to paddle your own canoes with your own luggage and bed rolls. The lighter your canoe is, the easier it is to propel your canoe forward. As the dress code on this safari is so informal, we recommend that you take the minimum possible on the canoe safari. Additional luggage can be collected off you at the Selinda Airfield and stored for you, for your return.
Each canoeing day begins in the early morning after a hearty breakfast and when the Spillway is at its most peaceful. After an early coffee and snack, we will set off for the day’s adventure. Walking is part of the experience. If there happens to be activity that warrants investigation, we stop on the banks and take a short walk into the bush. Brunch is taken around midmorning and light snacks are available throughout the day for sustenance until dinner. At night, the deep silence is punctuated by nocturnal sounds, from peeping frogs to roaring lion or the hyaena’s whooping call. The atmosphere is magical and the highlight of any African safari.
At the end of the trail, guests are transferred to the Selinda Airstrip in the late morning for onward departures or ideally they may elect to stay on for an additional night at either Zarafa or Selinda camps. Trails Explorations bring the guest closer to nature. Such camps are specifically outfitted to create that sense of wilderness with a clear emphasis on essential camp comforts and maximum wilderness experience.
The trail begins at Selinda airfield in the mid-afternoon, followed by a three hour road transfer in 4×4 vehicles from the airstrip to the starting point of the actual canoe trail. Once the guide has briefed the group, the trail starts with a short late afternoon canoe experience before arriving at the evening’s first camp As there is a minimal distance to be covered on the first day and also due to the fact that all the equipment is carried with the group, we paddle until just before sunset at a suitable site on the banks of the Spillway.
The dome-tented camp will be pre-erected and we enjoy a well-deserved sundowner around the campfire before dinner, followed by a good night’s sleep.
After an early wake-up call, tea or coffee and light breakfast while the camp is being dismantled, we head out on the canoes for a full day of paddling, with lunch en route and the possibility of stretching our legs if we come across something worth investigating on foot. Tonight we camp in another suitable location as we gradually make our way down the Spillway.
An early breakfast once again, as camp is taken down, before we continue along the water course by canoe for another full-day excursion and set up camp for the last night of this trail.
We head out after breakfast, aiming to finish at around 10h00-10h30. At this point we are met by the vehicle and transferred by road to the Selinda Airstrip, where we bid farewell to the safari.
- An additional night or two is recommended at either Selinda or Zarafa Camp, after the trail.
- Flashlights/ torches: Please ensure that a minimum 2-D cell flashlight is brought on safari, with spare batteries. Head lamps are also useful. Please note that Wilderness Explorations do not supply flashlights.
- Camera battery charging facilities: Unfortunately due to the remoteness and nature of this trail, there will be no charging facilities available, so please charge your batteries at the camp you are staying a, the night before your canoeing safari starts.
- Dietary requirements and special occasions: Due to remote locality of Explorations camps, please ensure that full dietary requirements and special occasions are advised at the time of your booking confirmation.
- Walking trails equipment required: As this is a canoe / walking safari, please ensure that the required equipment is brought. Please ensure also that our pre departure documentation is perused where all advice for equipment is advised.
- Arrival Day: Please note that it is not possible to book on this safari if you are flying up to the Okavango on Air Botswana on the morning that the canoeing safari starts. You will need to have at least one (preferably two nights) at a safari camp prior to the start of the canoeing safari.