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Selinda Canoe Trail Tour

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Overview Weaving through the landscape of Botswanas northern sector is not only the famous Okavango River but also an equally vital but lesser-known lifeline called the Selinda Spillway. Banished to obscurity by decades of dry, . .
Country: Zimbabwe
City: Harare
Duration: 4 Day(s) - 3 Night(s)
Tour Category: Adventure Tours
Departure Date: Thu 01 Jan '99
Package Itinerary


Weaving through the landscape of Botswana’s northern sector is not only the famous Okavango River but also an equally vital but lesser-known lifeline called the Selinda Spillway. Banished to obscurity by decades of dry, the Spillway came back to life during the high rains of 2009. Since then, its beauty has been renewed after three decades, enabling adventurers like those of us at Great Plains Conservation, the rare opportunity of canoeing its waters. Since 2009, the Selinda Canoe Trail has been the consummate favorite among those seeking a first in pristine wilderness.

The trail begins downstream from Selinda Camp, northeast of the Okavango Delta, in the 320,000-acre Selinda Reserve. We follow the Spillway east as it meanders through the Reserve, passing through riverine forests, floodplains, and open savannah. We begin each day at the break of dawn in our 18-foot Canadian canoes. Whilst paddling, we encounter wildlife along the Spillway's banks and disembark our canoes to enjoy walks, looking for tracks and signs.

After brunch and a bit of a siesta at midday, we continue onward through the afternoon and arrive at our campsite before dark. The Selinda Canoe Trail replicates the safari experiences of old as we navigate this rarely visited region, and fly camping along the way. We complete the 45-kilometer journey close to the convergence of the Linyanti and Kwando waterways.

All equipment is carried by canoe, so the camp is rustic by nature. The 9ft x 9ft dome tents are furnished with comfortable bedrolls and quality linen and towels and accommodate two guests. For every two tents, there is a safari ‘bucket’ shower and a ‘short drop’ loo. Our trail chef cooks tasty delicious meals over the fire. Guests gather around the fire, chairs for all, and watch the culinary magic with a cool drink to celebrate the day’s achievement.

The Selinda Canoe Trail’s season is during northern Botswana’s dry months when the game migrates to the Spillway. The area is well known for elephants, buffalo, sable, roan, and African wild dogs but could very well come across cheetahs, lions, leopards, and a variety of other species. Bear in mind that the mode of safari is by foot and canoe, so wildlife is mostly seen close to the shore of the Spillway or on walks nearby.

The guaranteed set departures are for a maximum of eight guests and operate from mid-April to early October each year based on water levels.

At the end of the three-day canoe trail, guests are transferred to the Selinda airstrip at around midday for departure. Ideally, guests may elect to stay on for an additional night at either Zarafa or Selinda Camps.

Brief Itinerary

Days 1, 2 & 3: Game drive transfer from Selinda airstrip to starting point on the spillway, paddling downstream, overnighting in true wilderness areas for 3 nights.

Day 4: Transfer by road to Selinda airstrip for onward arrangements


The Selinda Canoe Trail: The guaranteed set departures are for a maximum of eight guests and operate from mid-April to early October each year based on water levels

A night spent at Selinda or Zarafa camps before or after the Trail is highly recommended.

Day 1: Canoe Trail Begins

The trail begins at Selinda Airfield in the mid-afternoon, with a transfer 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 we are ready to stop, just before sunset, at a suitable site on the banks of the Spillway.

Day 2: Full Day of Paddling

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.

Day 3: Full-Day Excursion

An early breakfast once again, as the camp is taken down before we continue along the watercourse by canoe for another full-day excursion and set up camp for the last night of this trail.

Day 4: Canoe Safari Ends

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.

Trail Exploration Includes:

Accommodation on a per person sharing basis, all meals from lunch on Day 1 to the end of the scheduled safari, a reasonable amount of soft drinks, mineral water, fruit juice, house wine and beer as well as local spirits such as gin and Amarula on camping days (excluding premium imported brands), National Park fees and activities as specified in the detailed itinerary.

Trail Exploration Excludes:

Flights, visas, compulsory comprehensive insurance, laundry, all relevant entry and departure Government taxes, all personal purchases (including curios, spirit liquors, etc.), gratuities, optional extra activities, pre and post-safari tours, and meals or accommodation, any new Government taxes, levies, fuel or industry increases which are beyond our control.


1. Please note that various policies apply to each safari in terms of age limits, the number of guests required/accommodated, arrival/departure times, luggage allowance, additional overnights required, etc. Please ensure that you are aware of these when booking a safari or contact us for further details.

2. If a single guest is willing to share and we can match with another guest of the same gender, the single supplement will not be charged. However, if there is no suitable match, the single supplement surcharge will apply.

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