Bush dog

Selinda, a ten years' love story

224 posts in this topic

After some hesitations, I decided to post this topic in the historic trip reports, mainly because the actual Selinda, at least with regard to the philosophy of the owners, the lodging and the natural surroundings, is quite different from the one that I knew. So, it will probably not give any relevant information to those who want to go there now ? Besides, as a general rule, I never take information, given in trip reports, for gospel truth, it only has, for me, a good indicative value. For example, I went to Selinda in May 2004 and the sightings were great. In 2005, I came back at the same period of the year, as it was May, and it was totally different with mediocre sightings.

 

It’s interesting to see how this segment of the eco-tourism industry underwent a fast evolution, mainly under the pressure of the tour operators and travel agents whose clients’ main concern was and always is Security.

 

I had the privilege to go 9 times to Selinda during different periods (May, July, September & November). The best years were the first four (1998 to 2001). If you ask me if I feel a great nostalgia for this period and this place, my answer will be a massive yes. Brian Graham’s Selinda still remains far above any other, even great, place I’ve been to in Africa. Yet, I do have similar feelings for Barranco, Alto in the Pantanal :

 

http://safaritalk.net/topic/13219-barranco-alto-and-pantanal-a-yearly-appointment/

 

To build this topic, I scanned more than 500 slides, of the 7 first trips, that I am now processing.

 

I had to call 8 to 17 years souvenirs to mind So, if someone feels the need to add information or to correct something that might be wrong, please do not hesitate to invite yourself to this topic. I particularly think of you, Geoff, you that have been there several times during about the same period.

 

The lease of the Selinda concession was conceded to Linyanti Explorations in 1995. Two camps were built, Selinda and Zibalianja as well as two fly-camps, Mokoba and Tshwene, for their walking activities. Linyanti Explorations was created in 1976 by one of the pioneers of the safari industry in Botswana, Brian Graham, followed close behind by the opening of Chobe Chilwero. He sold Chilwero in 1999 and his company in 2005 to the Joubert, associated as it was to some other investors.

 

 

Brian Graham had always practised a policy based on a deep respect of environment ; traditional tented camps with a capacity limited to 12 persons, comfortable but without useless sumptuousness and perfectly integrated into the vegetation, attracting a regular clientele of safari-goers, of which some were coming more than one time a year.

As far back as the end of the last century, as I already said, under the pressure of tour operators, some « improvements » were brought to the main camp tents, so as to give them a less traditional nature, like replacing the entrance zips by a door, building a thatched roof above the tent or paving the bathroom, but always in the respect of the initial policy. A simple electric fence, that was erected at night only, was added, mainly to keep the elephants away. At Zibalianja, the only change they made was to add 1 more tent to the 3 initial ones.

 

 

The main camp in 1998. The bar/lounge/dining room building is on the right.

 

post-48450-0-02139400-1424609964_thumb.jpg

 

The palisaded out of doors bathroom in 1998.

 

post-48450-0-79364000-1424609974_thumb.jpg

 

One of the fly camps, visited by an elephant.

 

post-48450-0-42592400-1424610005_thumb.jpg

 

The new owners, though they told me, when I met them in May 2005, that they would, to a great extent, keep the camps like they were, decided to bring strategic changes to the main camp ; the capacity was increased to 16 persons and the tents completely converted to make a luxurious camp of it.

 

As nothing had yet been done at the main camp, I came back in November 2005. Apart from an excellent sighting on the first game drive, the rest of the week was more than mediocre. Nevertheless and as Zibalianja was still existing in its original layout, I went there in May 2007 and also to Motswiri, where hunting had been banned. Motswiri had 3 tents and was very similar to Zibalianja. Those 9 days were again a great disappointment in terms of sightings at the 2 locations. Concerning Motswiri, it was not a surprise as hunting had recently been stopped. Yet, I enjoyed the remoteness of the place and the simplicity of the camp.

 

Then the new owners decided to dismantle Zibalianja and to create Zarafa. This was the coup de grâce, and together with the decrease of good sightings and the environment natural changes, it made an end to the love story. I have never been there since and will probably not, just because I will always have in mind, in this particular place, those great days of an age that has gone. I am sure that actually there is more professionalism in the management of the camps, that the food is better, and so on,…… but it just became a place like many others in Botswana and elsewhere, where everything is irreproachable but where there are no more any originality, spell, inspiration and moving spirit. It was far from perfection but it was great !!!

 

During all those years, I had the opportunity to meet great guides. I cannot mention them all. So, here are the best :

- Ian Mc Coll, nicknamed the « Lion Man » who managed Zibalianja in the first years,

- Alan Williams, who managed the main camp in 1998,

- Mompati Aaron, Paul Moloseng and Barberton (BB) Mundu.

If someone knows what those guys are actually doing, please let me know.

- The late André Maertens and last but not least the best of the best, Kanawe Ntema who finished his career in Kwando, last year.

 

 

My first visit to the Selinda was in July 1998 and my second, in September 1999. Hunting had been banned from that part of the concession in 1995. The lions (males), that had survived to hunting, had moved away. It gave the opportunity to 3 young males to be in power. They mated with the resident females and had cubs. The Selinda pride was born. But all this was too good to be true. Five big males arrived from the north, killed one of the three and assumed power. When I came back for the third time in July 2000, there were 24 lions in the pride. Selinda was really at that time the kingdom of lions. The subjects of the pictures for the first four years will mainly be lions, lionesses and lion’s cubs. They were present on every game drives.

 

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@Bushdog, thanks for taking us down nostalgia lane with you. A question on the Zarafa concession ( as opposed to the ultra luxurious camp that GPC has created). I have heard good things about the concession in recent years and that the animals are back with excellent sightings, compared to the early post hunting days. Obviously the clientele is very different at Zarafa ( similar to Mombo) today and the camp is evidently one of the most luxurious in Botswana. While there have been many discussions on Mombo, both in th "old" days when it was much more affordable, and today, very little discussion on Zarafa and its predecessor camp prior to your post. Has anyone here been to Zarafa in the last few years?

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@@Bush dog Thank you for starting this report. How things must have changed - and how many safari goers yearn for the simpler more rustic bush camps?

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1998

 

In honor where honor, let’s start with the lions.

 

The following pictures, as far as my memory is correct, show some of the invaders and their relation with the resident females.

 

post-48450-0-06772700-1424614053_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-06267500-1424614072_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-44259000-1424614083_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-79280200-1424614105_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-85390600-1424614117_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-53102100-1424614128_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-58960100-1424614139_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-22272000-1424614151_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-07679600-1424614165_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-69012800-1424614174_thumb.jpg

 

 

To be continued

 

 

 

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@@Bush dog

 

Another appreciative reader here. I love the look of the old tented camp; thanks for bringing a bit of the spell you felt to share with us.

 

We see here changes here in the same vein appearing in some of our more remote and laid back beach towns that were so uniquely eccentric; keeping the Range Rovers/Lexus Suv's at bay; full of 1969 VW rusting, but still running vans. Now the condos are up; the Mcmansions built; the coffee shops gone corporate.

 

 

I think to find what you once had is to totally go mobile on safari. The camps are smartly outfitted for sure.

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Thank you so much for raising this.We had a wonderful time there in 2003! Following wild dogs on a hunt was a definite life highlight.We also walked between camps and to have the delight of the guiding team of Steve and Joseph leading us up,tree by tree to within 60 yards of a herd of elephants,watching and then moving away all without them knowing was one of the best times of our lives!We have just had to get the photo album out!

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@@Towlersonsafari

We have just had to get the photo album out! And scan the photos for a trip report...


There, fixed it for you...

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@@graceland

 

I went a few times mobile on safari and once on a self driving one. It's indeed very similar!

Thanks a lot for your comments.

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Thank you Bush Dog for going to the effort of all this scanning and reminiscing, we will all benefit from these memories. The camps look brilliant.

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Oh Wow!!, this is going to be a trip down memory lane...

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@@Bush dog thanks for taking the time to scan your slides and share your memories - the lions are very handsome. I will enjoy following your walk down memory lane.

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@@Bush dog thank you for sharing your memories. i can understand your desire for the old rustic camps. however, it can be argued that the increased luxuriousness of the current camps and increased costs associated with it benefit conservation by bringing in top dollars that were lost with the end of big-game hunting

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@@Shrivant

 

Thanks for your comments.

 

When I was in Selinda, I asked them if they had to pay for the lease of the concession. The answer was that it was free of charge. Their only obligations were to keep the environment as it stand, to build a lodge or tented camp that can be dismantled and to produce, every two years, to the Wildlife Department, a report including a succession of information concerning, amongst others, rainfalls, wildlife census, tse tse flies traps, and so on......

So if the laws are still the same, increase in luxuriousness is mainly profitable to the shareholders of the companies that own those camps!

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@@Treepol

@@twaffle

 

Thanks a lot for your comments!

It takes, indeed, some time to scan and process slides. But as I am now retired from professional life, this is not the time that I miss to do it.

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1998

 

Continued

 

The following lion is, again as far as my memory is correct, one of the 3 losers. One can see that its left eye is injured and that it looks anxious.

 

post-48450-0-33940900-1424688054_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-19389300-1424688066_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-54429200-1424688079_thumb.jpg

 

One of the dethroned kings, perhaps taking the path of exile.

 

post-48450-0-60519700-1424688088_thumb.jpg

 

1998 was a great year for elephants, as well as 1999. On a lot of pictures of other species, one can see elephant dungs. I remember quite well that each time we stopped for sundowners, at the border of the concession, where the channel connects the Zibalianja lagoon, we were always surrounded with several herds, it was magic. There were so many of them that they queued to have access to the water. Why ? The area was obviously dryer than nowadays. So, perhaps Zibalianja lagoon was the major water source for miles around and there was a lot of water in it, in 1998, more than all the years after.

 

post-48450-0-50604900-1424688104_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-23282200-1424688114_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-29705200-1424688123_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-01337200-1424688137_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-11121900-1424688150_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-61260200-1424688164_thumb.jpg

 

To be continued

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@@Bush dog. Carry on! Great start to this and please don't underestimate how interesting it all is.

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@@pault

 

Thanks a lot for your support!

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1998

 

Continued

 

The sunsets at the lagoon were gorgeous. There was always a fire, somewhere, even far away, from which the smoke made them hazy and blazing.

 

post-48450-0-53615800-1424710934_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-81820800-1424710943_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-18732500-1424710962_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-45407300-1424710973_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-79762400-1424710983_thumb.jpg

 

One morning, I was awakened just before sunrise by an indistinct commotion mixing yapping, agony cries of an antelope and roaring. Within the following minutes, a vehicle from the camp was stopping just outside my tent and the driver was asking me to immediately dress, which I did, and to jump in the vehicle. Some wild dogs had killed an impala just in the middle of the camp, and almost all the occupants, guests and staff, were obliged to stay in their tent, because two lionesses had stolen their prey. My tent, being the most distant from the action, I had the chance to be authorized to get out of it, and to reach the vehicle secure, in order to be present and indirectly participate to all necessary actions aiming to drive the lionesses away from the camp, which took a certain time. It needed, indeed, two attempts because after being taken out a first time, the two lionesses came straight away back with a third one. All things considered, I did not see the wild dogs at all in 1998. I remember that the kill had been made just behind the palisade of a bathroom. The guest of the concerned tent was standing on the lavatory pan, filming the whole action, while his wife was shouting at him, in vain, arguing that he was completely crazy and that his behaviour was foolish.

 

The above-mentioned lionesses.

 

post-48450-0-37039300-1424710998_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-29741800-1424711010_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-74266600-1424711021_thumb.jpgpost-48450-0-68208300-1424711035_thumb.jpg

 

To be continued

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Thank you Mike Bailey. I too had a years'-long love affair with Selinda/Zibalianja, and will enjoy following this-- even though I generally avoid dwelling on good times that end sadly.

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@@AKR1 yes. We were first at Selinda in Sept.2007. The only predators that we saw were lions. Early September 2010 we were at Zarafa. When we arrived, both my husband and I were asking ourselves if we were crazy to be spending so much money and what if the game viewing was not good. As I have mentioned in previous posts we had the best afternoon/evening drives that we have ever had. Four nights following the dogs hunting. We also had cheetah and leopard sightings. The water levels were very high and still rising. The delta and the spillway were connected. So, of course we had to return in 2013 expecting to follow the dogs. We were one week later and the dogs were still at the den site with puppies and we could not go there. We did see the adults every day, but also had wonderful times with a leopard and her daughter, and the two cheetah brothers. The game viewing was wonderful. No time for the copper bath tub and the plunge pool was much too cold.

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@@Bush dog..loving your remembrance of Selinda.

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@@AKR1 yes. We were first at Selinda in Sept.2007. The only predators that we saw were lions. Early September 2010 we were at Zarafa. When we arrived, both my husband and I were asking ourselves if we were crazy to be spending so much money and what if the game viewing was not good. As I have mentioned in previous posts we had the best afternoon/evening drives that we have ever had. Four nights following the dogs hunting. We also had cheetah and leopard sightings. The water levels were very high and still rising. The delta and the spillway were connected. So, of course we had to return in 2013 expecting to follow the dogs. We were one week later and the dogs were still at the den site with puppies and we could not go there. We did see the adults every day, but also had wonderful times with a leopard and her daughter, and the two cheetah brothers. The game viewing was wonderful. No time for the copper bath tub and the plunge pool was much too cold.

 

Great time for you @marg; I had to relate as I just returned from a GP camp and wondered myself how anyone really has the time to use all the amenities with the game so abundant --you'd not want to stay in the tent.

 

I guess if at the end of a long safari, one could use one day of "chilling" to try it out. But for me, it was get up and out and go! I did love the huge shower head though.

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@@enstein

 

I'm glad to read that there are other Selinda/Zibalianja fans among the Stalkers!

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@@marg

 

On my last visit in 2007, I saw some lions but also wild dogs.

Nevertheless, I'm glad to read that wildlife activities are again at the top!

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@@graceland

 

I love the huge shower head too!

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