Selinda covers a long swathe of 1,350km2, including a large section of the Magwegqana Spillway, the often-dry waterway that links the Okavango to the Linyanti Swamps.
Most of its camps are in the far east of the concession, in a very open area where small tree-islands stand amidst large dry plains. The eastern side of the concession is largely thick mopane forest; Motswiri Camp is a seasonal camp used for hunting here.
Getting there and away
The vast majority of visitors fly into the Selinda Reserve. It's certainly the easiest and quickest way, taking only about an hour from Maun or Kasane, and very easily organised by the camp or your tour operator. There's an airstrip situated halfway between the Selinda and Zibalianja camps, less than 5km from either of them.
However, it is possible to drive here. So for the sake of completeness, I'll include directions. Note that these tracks are generally used much less than even the sand tracks through Chobe or Moremi, so unless you are highly self-sufficient and bush-wise you would be much, much wiser to fly. With little or zero passing traffic, you would face a major problem in the event of a breakdown, or an argument with an aggressive elephant.Driving from Chobe's Linyanti Campsite
From northern Chobe, the Selinda Reserve is easiest to approach coming from the Linyanti Campsite, driving through the south side of the Linyanti Reserve on what's known as the 'transit route'. However you intend to arrive, you must book in advance, and make sure that the Selinda team know exactly when you're arriving, and by which route you intend to approach.
Firstly, to get to the Linyanti Campsite in Chobe you must either come about 40km from Savuti or a similar distance along the cut-line of the Chobe Forest Reserve from near the Ghoha Entrance Gate. The latter is rarely used, and most people would want to stop for a few days at Savuti anyhow.
From the Linyanti Campsite in Chobe, take the only track westwards and after 4km you'll reach the edge of the Chobe National Park, with a clear signpost from 'Linyanti Investments' directing you left, away from the river, to Maun, Kwara, Kwando – and Selinda. You are now driving along the cut-line that marks the edge of the Chobe National Park. This will lead you south for about 7km, before a right turn branches off, which you should follow. This is now the transit route – sometimes signposted as 'Transit Route A' – and it continues roughly west, parallel to the river, for a further 22km. The scenery here is almost exclusively mopane woodlands.
About 10km after leaving Chobe's cut-line, you'll pass a crossroads. Then for the next 12km there are various small right turns which you must ignore – they all lead up to the Linyanti's camps (Linyanti Tented Camp and King's Pool) and most are marked clearly with 'No through road' signs.
This transit route is designed to allow vehicles to cross this private concession whilst causing the minimum of disturbance to the guests. Note that if you drive off the transit route, you'll be an unwelcome intruder on a private concession!
About 22km after you leave Chobe's cut-line, the road forks and you keep right, heading between north and east. (A left turn would take you to Linyanti's Savuti Camp.) About 11km later you'll reach a crossroads where you take a left onto a deep sand road. Here again there are various right turns from the road (to Duma Tau Camp) that you should ignore.
Continue for about 10km until you reach the old, rickety bridge (GPS: SAVBRI) made of poles. This spans the start of the Savuti Channel, just south of Zibadianja Lagoon, and is the concession boundary. If it's dry then you might prefer to just drive across the channel on land to the left of the bridge, rather than across the poles themselves.
On the far side of the channel, turn right. (The alternative track, heading left, would lead along the channel to Linyanti's Savuti Camp.) You'll find a sign saying Selinda Concession, and the road bends to the left. It's quite striking how different the landscape is; on the left is mixed forest, and soon on the right are open plains with the odd palm island and lots of game around. To reach Selinda's HQ keep heading left, and you'll find it on the left in a forest island within a few kilometres. From there they'll direct you to your pre-arranged camp. Driving to the Khwai River area
It's about 100km to North Gate from Zibalianja Camp, taking perhaps four hours in the dry season. If you drive south through Selinda, then all the tracks will converge into one, and then cross the TFC (Tsetse Fly Control) cut-line about 9km due south of Zibalianja Camp.
This point is noted as OKAV16. You'll see a wide variety of signs at this intersection, including one denoting 'military zone 1999 – no hunting beyond this point'. Another, referring to the road northwest, indicates the village of Beetsha, confirming that (believe it or not) this is the main road up to the east side of the Okavango's Panhandle area. If you were heading north from here then, rather more cheerfully, you'd read one saying 'Welcome to Selinda,' as well as others indicating Kwando and Linyanti.
From here turn left along the cut line, heading about 10° south of east. Generally you'll find this is a good and very straight track, though there are a few patches of deep sand. As you might expect, it's all mopane woodlands here with less and less variation in the vegetation as you travel. Typical of such an environment, the area is dotted with small pans, and where the track crosses them it can become very muddy in the wet season.
After 30km of very straight road, you'll reach OKAV22 where you'll take a right turn heading south and slightly east. If you had continued straight here, you would cross the Magwikwe Sand Ridge and then meet the sand ridge road at a T-junction, west of Savuti Marsh. This track into Chobe is not used frequently; I'm unsure of its condition.
Heading south and east from OKAV22, the road isn't as straight as the cut-line, but makes its way through large areas of mostly stunted mopane. This is NG18, a concession designated for 'community utilisation of the wildlife by the Khwai Community'.
Passing through NG18 fairly swiftly, in the middle of a hot day in late September we spotted a few kudu, impala and steenbok, and hyena spoor on the track – so there is a fair amount of game around here.
Towards the south side of NG18 the land opens up a little and you'll pass more open areas of grassland and low bushes. A little over 35km after OKAV22 you'll reach an old airfield at OKAV23 which is a large, flat grassy area that seems disused now.
After this the road continues south, though the mopane changes from rather low, stunted trees to some of the most impressive continuous stands of cathedral mopane that you'll see anywhere. Only as you approach the main game area around Khwai itself do you start to find this broken down more by elephant damage, and interspersed with open areas.
Finally, about 6km south of the airstrip you'll reach a junction (GPS: OKAV24) with the main road from Moremi to Chobe. It's still marked by one of the park's old green concrete pillars that function as signs: left (northeast) 27km to Chobe and right 14km (southwest) to Moremi. Seronga, on the east of the Panhandle, is signposted back north.
Approaching this sign from Moremi can be quite confusing. The Selinda road, described above, is apparently marked as 'Chobe'. It's not unknown for careless self-drivers to make the mistake of taking this road, thinking it leads to Savuti. One party, who were lost for several days having done this, eventually turned up at Zibalianja Camp, desperately seeking help. They'd been lost for several days, frequently stuck in the sand, and didn't want to continue. They just wanted the nightmare to end and to leave as fast as they could. So with the right directions in hand, they abandoned their brand new trailer and quit Botswana.