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Zarafa Camp

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"It is not often I will single out a camp for special praise, but Zarafa is a property that does everything right. Superlative guiding and an exclusive safari experience (there are only four exceptional suites here) see Zarafa as one of the very best camps in Africa. Expensive for sure, but well worth it."


Zarafa is owned and run by Great Plains. This company prides itself on its conservation model of tourism, which involves making a lasting and sustainable difference to iconic wilderness areas worldwide. It was the first property in Botswana to be listed by Relais & Châteaux. Accommodation is booked on a full-board basis, including all meals, a selection of alcoholic and soft drinks, all wildlife-viewing activities, and a laundry service. The camp is open all year round. There’s a minimum age requirement of 8 years.


The camp is accessed via approximately 1 hour’s road transfer from Selinda’s airstrip. It has a lovely location within the eastern region of the reserve, overlooking the Zibadianja Lagoon. This is the source of the famous Savute Channel.


Zarafa has just four marquee-style guest tents. These are spaced along the banks of the lagoon and raised fairly high off the ground on old railway sleepers. A flight of steps leads up onto the back deck and to the back door, which opens into some very spacious interiors! There are lots of windows, and the overall design recalls the super-luxurious camps of the late nineteenth century. Furnishings include doors reclaimed from Zanzibar and wooden items made out of trees brought down in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. The bedroom features a double bed with mosquito netting, bedside chests and lanterns, an overhead fan, and a sturdy storage trunk. In the lounge, you’ll find plush leather seating, occasional tables, and a telescope for wildlife watching. The en-suite facilities consist of separate flush toilet, twin washbasins beneath an immense ornate mirror, rainfall shower, and deep copper claw-foot bathtub. There’s an outdoor shower too, set up on the front deck. And the deck also boasts a private plunge pool, where you can cool off and enjoy amazing views over the lagoon! Each room has a Canon camera that is available for guests to use for the duration of their stay - they even give you the SD card to take home!

The communal spaces at Zarafa are also reminiscent of the camps of a glamorous yesteryear. The lounge resembles the living areas of the guest tents, on a larger scale. Again, leather seating features, alongside explorer’s chests put to use as coffee tables and also a telescope. Persian rugs adorn the timber floors, and many surfaces are strewn with intriguing artefacts in addition to some reading material. In the adjacent dining area, a chunky table and some safari chairs are set up in readiness for delicious meals, and an enticing range of beverages is available from the camp’s well-stocked bar. There’s also a bush boutique, selling clothes and books as well as curios. An outdoor gym provides opportunities to keep fit while marveling at vistas over the reserve! Anyone in need of a little pampering can request an in-room massage or have a treatment in the small spa that overlooks part of the lagoon. Finally, the camp has a very generously proportioned deck, flowing out from the lounge and dining areas. This includes a fire-pit, the perfect place to get to know your fellow travellers and share stories of your time on safari!


Zarafa offers a great range of activities. Please note, any party including a child or children aged 12 years and under must book a private vehicle for game drives. However, every family made up of four or more persons is provided with a vehicle at no extra cost. And there’s a minimum age requirement for walks – 12 years.

  • Expertly guided game drives

    - The Selinda Reserve covers almost 130,000 hectares of sprawling savanna, palm woodlands, and scenic waterways. Zarafa’s vehicle safaris, which take place during early mornings and late afternoons, are ideal for exploring vast swathes of the area. You can look out for four of the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo! Smaller predators in residence include cheetah, hyena, jackals, and wild dog, while sightings of other herbivores such as hippo, giraffe, zebra, red lechwe, roan, and sable are common. In fact, the camp is named after a giraffe given to Charles X of France by the Viceroy of Egypt! The date was 1926 and the word Zarafa means ‘the beloved one’ in Arabic. As well as all these mammals, the reserve boasts over three hundred bird species, not least an entire colony of African skimmer.
  • Guided walks

    - This activity is usually available on request. Walks tend to start out from camp during the early morning. Also accompanied by a knowledgeable and experienced guide, they’re an amazing opportunity for close observation of the smaller lives of Selinda – the plants, insects, and birdlife. In addition to the skimmer colony, the reserve is home to the likes of fish eagle, slaty egret, and double-banded sandgrouse.
  •  Lagoon cruises (season dependent)

    - Aboard the camp’s own HMS Zib, safarists can enjoy spotting the wildlife of the Zibadianja Lagoon, source of the Savute Channel. Cruises showcase Selinda’s elephants, hippos, and vibrant waterbirds! If you are particularly interested in this activity, please contact a member of the YZ team to discuss the best time to visit Zarafa.

*This property is unfenced and located in a wildlife area, so large and potentially dangerous animals do pass through. If you opt to stay here, always be alert when walking around the camp and request for a member of staff to escort you if you have any concerns. Any guest is escorted after dark as a matter of course.

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