Welcome to the Selinda Canoe Trail

The Selinda Canoe Trail is a 4-day and 3-night adventure along the Selinda Spillway – the waterway linking Botswana’s Okavango Delta and Linyanti and Kwando water systems.

This is the ideal setting for Botswana’s leading canoeing and walking safari, hosting a mere eight guests on each departure.

The Trail hearkens back to the spirit of safaris of old, when days were spent on impromptu exploration and each night was spent camping along the banks of a river.

Today, this experience can be enjoyed on the Selinda Canoe Trail.
The high rains of the 2009 wet season resulted in epic floodwaters. For the first time in nearly three decades the Selinda Spillway flowed in full, connecting these two ancient waterways.

Then, the ample rains of the first half of 2010 and 2011 ensured that the Selinda Spillway continued to flow.

The headwaters met again in early May 2010, three months earlier than in 2009, and even earlier the following year in March 2011.

2012 is set to be just as bountiful with earlier departure dates announced.

The Trail begins roughly 45 kilometers downstream from Selinda Camp, northeast of the Okavango Delta. We explore the Selinda Spillway eastward following this meandering route through the 320,000-acre Selinda Reserve.

We complete the journey close to the convergence of the Linyanti and Kwando waterways.

The 4 day / 3 night safari consists of a combined two full days and two half-days of relatively easy paddling and three nights in impromptu fly camps along the way.
Our stops are not pre-arranged. We begin each day with the break of dawn. 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 afternoon and arrive at our campsite before dark.

This area is well known for elephant, buffalo, sable, roan, wild dog and it is possible to encounter predators and a variety of other species en route. The Spillway is also a birding paradise but has relatively few hippos or crocodiles, making for a relaxing journey.

The Selinda Canoe Trail ends at Selinda Camp mid morning on the 4th day, where after you can be transferred to Selinda Reserve airstrip for your connecting charter aircraft.

Ideally though one should consider extending your Selinda Reserve experience by staying at either Selinda or Zarafa Camps.


Experience and Wildlife

The Selinda Spillway runs through a remote part of northern Botswana, a place where one will be completely removed from the modern world. The canoes coast steadily through the waters, allowing us to explore the Reserve in utter peace.
Setting out at dawn, when predators are active, our guides are as keen as the travellers to discover the riches of each day in Selinda Reserve.
Usually, once the sun is high and strong, we rest with a midday siesta with lunch on the shady banks of the Selinda Spillway. Then, as the sun begins to wane again, we’re off for the afternoon, arriving at our campsite by early evening.
But nothing is regimented. Regimens don’t suit Selinda, which is why we all love being out here in the first place and especially on the Selinda Canoe Trail.

Our stable, wide bottom 18-foot Canadian canoes provide the ideal transport for this adventure. Each canoe accommodates two travellers, who are responsible for their own paddling.

The majority of the paddle is with a gentle current, but the experience does require reasonable fitness.

Your guide will navigate the waters, and provide assistance throughout. Snacks and beverages are available throughout the day for sustenance.

An integral component of the Selinda Canoe Trail is the ability to hop out of your canoe on any whim and begin walking. Your fully qualified guide will track spoor and unveil stories of the bush.

Selinda Canoe Trail


Selinda Reserve is famous for elephant and lion, wild dog and hippo, buffalo and giraffe. Some days the banks of the Spillway are frequented by large herds of elephant, often crossing right in front of the canoes.

Other times, we will encounter herds of buffalo coming down for a drink and a quick exit from stalking predators. Hippos and crocodiles are sighted but their density in the Spillway is minimal.

Because the Spillway provides the life sustaining resource of water to the wildlife in the dry months, many antelope species will cross our path. Throughout the Trail, birding is a prevalent activity with the calls of African fisheagles as the background score.

Predators have been regularly sighted as well but of course it is a lucky sighting from canoe. It’s never guaranteed, but always a possibility. This is wild Africa, unpredictable and magical, where each day is different, thank goodness.

This is a safari: enjoy the adventure and the effect of Africa on your soul. Traditionally a gin and tonic, glass of wine, or a refreshing soft drink while watching the sunset gives a moment to contemplate the grandeur of the African wild.

The fresh air, canoeing and walking will incite an appetite and there’s no going hungry here. After all the excitement, a good night’s rest is guaranteed!

Camp Access

The Selinda Canoe Trail is only accessible by seat-in plane air transfers or private charters. On arrival at the airfield, the road transfer to the start of the Selinda Canoe Trail is approximately three hours, offering a very good game drive experience.

The Selinda Canoe Trail uses Selinda Reserve’s (Category B) airfield. It is licensed for aircraft up to a King Air, Pilatus PC-12 and Cessna Caravan. The coordinates are S18″33.95′; E23″30.73′.

Flying times from Maun to the Selinda Airfield is 45 minutes. Kasane to Selinda Airfield is a 50-minute flight.  These times vary somewhat depending on the type of aircraft being used; those listed are for a Cessna Caravan


Selinda Canoe TRail

Accommodation & Facilities

18-foot Canadian canoes with two cushioned seats (with backs) are your transportation. Four team members, consisting of a cook, two camp hands and a guide, will host each Selinda Canoe Trail departure.

The team will accompany the Trail in their own canoes, and carry the majority of the gear. The day’s snacks, drinks and personal gear will be distributed amongst the travellers’ canoes.

The team has been carefully selected to give you a truly memorable experience.

On arrival in camp in the late afternoon, the team will set up each dome tent. The dome tents are practical as well as comfortable and safe.

The zipper entry opens wide for easy access and maneuverability as well as good airflow. Inside, there are two thick foam bedrolls (on the ground) with quality linen and towels.

Ablution facilities consist of bucket showers (hot water supplied in the evenings) and ‘long drop’ lavatories with a raised seat. Each is surrounded by a canvas tent and placed at a distance to provide privacy.

Relax by the fire while watching the chef craft dinner by open fire. The cuisine is hearty, fresh and well prepared. Beer, wine, and a limited selection of soft drinks are supplied.

Water is filtered directly from the Selinda Spillway, and is completely safe to drink. Special requests for bottled water, champagne and premium liquors can be supplied for additional cost and should be arranged well in advance. You are also free to bring your own drinks of any variety.

Note: Should you be concerned about fitness, there is the possibility of three travellers in one canoe. Please let us know in advance if this is required.


Laundry is not available, unless done by the traveller.


Electricity is not available as this is a camping safari. Hurricane lanterns are placed around camp for light. A powerful flashlight is required.


18-foot Canadian canoes with two or three cushioned seats (with backs). Single paddles and life jackets are supplied. Our guide will carry a rifle for safety while canoeing and walking.


Most importantly, our guides are of the most experienced caliber. They are extremely well versed in the nuances of safety as it pertains to water and land activities. Life jackets are supplied. Our guide will carry a rifle for safety while canoeing and walking.

Full medical coverage and insurance (including emergency evacuation and repatriation) is required for participation in the Selinda Canoe Trail. Our team carries a comprehensive first aid medical bag, and maintains radio communications with our base station in the event of an emergency.

It is imperative that we are informed in advance of a traveller’s medical conditions or allergies. All dietary requirements are catered for if we are notified in advance.


Luggage space is limited and restricted only to the space available among the canoes. Please carry personal gear in a soft bag or backpack (preferably waterproof, like a dry bag used for rafting or sailing). If a traveller arrives with a suitcase and/or a large bag, which cannot be accommodated on the canoe, we will supply a small soft daypack for essentials. The remaining luggage must be left behind and will be returned at the end of the Selinda Canoe Trail.

The following items are all that is required for the Selinda Canoe Trail:

Long-sleeved shirt/s
Long trousers
Walking shoes (broken in, and sturdy)
Sandals (preferably of the outdoor variety – Teva, Chaco, Merrell, Hi-Tec)
Flashlight or headlamp (powerful) with charged batteries and spares
Binoculars and camera equipment – remember there are no charging facilities on the canoe trail so bring spare batteries
Soap, shampoo, conditioner (biodegradable)
Sunscreen (preferably waterproof)
Mosquito Repellant
Personal toiletries
Waterproof bag or Pelican case for camera equipment
For the cooler months of June, July and August:

Stocking cap/beanie
Long underwear
Wind-proof jacket