Zarafa Camp is an intimate, four room exquisite tented camp located on the 320,000 acre Selinda Reserve in northern Botswana, an area linking the Okavango Delta and the Chobe / Savute corridors. Its villa, the Dhow Suites, consist of two tents and private main area and operates entirely independently of main camp. Few camps rival the location of this little gem, Botswana’s first and only Relais & Chateaux property. Overlooking the crystal waters Zibadianja Lagoon, the source of the famous Savute Channel, every area of camp has a magnificent view. The lagoon is also the water source for a tremendous population of wildlife – dry season sightings boast buffalo and elephant by the hundreds.
Zarafa Camp and Dhow Suites are the brainchild of the founders of Great Plains Conservation, who pooled their collective experience on safari to create what they deemed to be the best and most environmentally innovative camp. As a consequence, Zarafa may in fact be the “greenest” luxury safari camp on the continent. Only recycled hardwoods and canvas were used in the construction and all the camp’s electricity comes from its solar farm while ‘bio gas’ plants recycle waste into usable cooking gas.
The Zarafa Camp guest tents, 1000 sq. ft in extent, are under beige, flowing canvas, with canopy ceilings and completely open (yet netted) sides. Entering through the heavy wood Lamu door transports guests to a lavish space of deep reds, browns, brass and copper, evoking richness and beauty. Each tent has a full lounge with desk, gas fireplace for winter and even WWII crank phone for drink orders! The large bedroom is connected to an open layout bathroom with impressive copper claw foot bath, indoor shower, separate loo and double basins. Decking around the tent leads to the private plunge pool and full-body outdoor shower, all with views of pristine Botswana wilderness. Under an impressive canopy of African ebony trees, the camp has a sizable main lounge, with adjacent library and dining area. A curio shop and ‘jungle gym’ satiate those who need retail therapy or a good work out. In-room massage is also available. Zarafa has succeeded in successfully in retaining a clearly African feel, while balancing that delicate relationship between personal and informal and romance and adventure. Zarafa Camp has no equal in terms of its environmental credentials and its careful appointments.
Zarafa’s Villa: The Dhow Suites
Fashioned of the same sentiment as Zarafa’s main camp, the Dhow Suites are the ultimate private retreat in northern Botswana. Operating entirely exclusively and catering to just four to six guests, the Suites are hosted separately from main camp with private chef and staff. At 2200 sq feet (210 m2) in extent, with an oversized verandah, the two suites retain an indoor/outdoor ambiance of palatial proportions. The main area is two stories of expansive verandah with a pool on the lower level and the dining and fire area upstairs for views across the lagoon.
While the inspiration remains 1920s exploration, the influence of the East African coast is more prevalent. As Zarafa, the camp’s namesake giraffe, was journeying to France, it was obvious she’d need transport down the Nile. What better than an East African dhow with a hole cut through the upper deck for her long neck. And so it’s a full circle, which brings us the Zarafa Dhow Suites. Anticipated to open in May 2014.
Selinda Reserve, at the crossroads of some of northern Botswana’s most prolific wildlife areas, boasts staggering wildlife populations year-round. Home to some of the classic species, such as leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo, Red lechwe, zebra and giraffe, it is also a refuge for some of the more uncommon species such as African wild dog (which usually den each dry season near camp), cheetah, roan and sable. And for birders, it will not disappoint. Our nearby African skimmer colony is a highlight, as are the antics of the Black egret on the shores of Zibadianja Lagoon. From camp, hippos are visible in the Lagoon and elephant wander through regularly. Night noises will either lull you to sleep or wake you from a deep slumber. It is an exciting area, and guests are in the heart of a wilderness wonderland.
Zarafa Camp luxury tents
Zarafa Camp is designed with exclusivity and privacy at its core. Each tent is positioned on the forest’s edge, rimming the shores of the floodplains and far from a neighbour. The 1,000 square foot ‘marquis style’ canvas tents are expansive and open-air without exposing guests to the elements. Each of the three “rooms” of the tent is decorated with custom-made furniture, handcrafted from recycled ancient hardwoods. The raised decks, constructed of recycled African railroad sleepers, form the tent’s foundation.
Upon entry is a large lounge appointed with a leather sofa, armchairs, personal bar and writing desk. Adjoining the lounge is the main bedroom and dressing area, where the overhead fans and seductive mosquito nets set the ambiance. Exiting the bedroom, a beautiful copper gas fireplace is strategically placed between the bathroom and the bedroom to allay the chill of the winter months. The main bathroom is comprised of a copper bath and shower, double sinks and private toilet. Off the bathroom, the raised walkway leads to the outdoor shower, complete with wrap around showerheads! The private verandah, running the length of the front of the tent, offers a private plunge pool, outdoor lounge and sweeping view of Zibadianja Lagoon’s waters.
In keeping with the style of the guest tents, Zarafa’s main lounge is also under ‘marquis style’ canvas. The emphasis of the architecture is on bringing the outside in. A grand African ebony tree provides shade while the breeze off the lagoon cools the air. Furnished in the same ‘campaign’ style furniture, the lounge evokes a traditional safari ambiance with dark woods and rich leathers. This style continues in the private library, home to a collection of prized works on Africa. After a day’s exploits in the Reserve, tales and stories are exchanged around the fire pit on the edge of the main verandah, with stargazing above.
Meals are generally table d’hôte and include a light breakfast at dawn, a hearty brunch on return from the morning activity, afternoon tea and snacks before the afternoon activity, rounded off with a sumptuous dinner in the evening. Special meals and requirements can be catered for on request. All local soft drinks, wines, spirits and beers are included in the tariff.
A small boutique shop stocks locally made goods and quality African artifacts. There is a small ‘jungle’ gym with rowing machine, treadmill, free weights and yoga equipment. In-room massage is available (at additional cost).
Each tent comes with its own Canon professional camera including a Canon 5D body and 35-135 mm and 100-400mm zoom lenses for use during a stay. Photos are then burned to a DVD as a souvenir at the end of your stay.
Zarafa’s Villa: The Dhow Suites
The Zarafa Dhow Suites is an intimate, two room exquisite tented villa located on the 320,000 acre Selinda Reserve in northern Botswana, an area linking the Okavango Delta and the Chobe/Savute corridors. Few properties rival the location of this little gem built entirely under canvas, as one of the largest tents ever built on the continent. The Suites are located adjacent to Zarafa Camp, Botswana’s first and only Relais & Chateaux property. Overlooking the crystal waters of Zibadianja Lagoon, the source of the famous Savute Channel, every area of camp has a magnificent view. The lagoon is also the water source for a tremendous population of wildlife – dry season sightings boast buffalo and elephant by the hundreds.
Zarafa Camp is the brainchild of the founders of Great Plains Conservation, who pooled their collective experience on safari to create what they deemed to be the best and most environmentally innovative camp. Zarafa means “the beloved one” or “the lovely one” in Arabic. The name comes from a giraffe, which was presented to Charles X of France in 1826 by the Viceroy of Egypt. She travelled from Africa in a traditional Dhow boat, and it was on this journey that she was given her name reflecting her true elegance and splendor.
The villa, 210 square metre (2,260 sq ft) in extent, is under beige, flowing canvas, with canopy ceilings and completely open (yet netted) sides. Entering through the heavy wood Lamu door transports guests to a lavish space of deep reds, browns, brass and copper, evoking richness and beauty. Central to the Dhow Suites are a full lounge and dining area fitted dining table, coffee table with cappuccino machines and a full-length leather couch and chairs.
Two large bedrooms are connected to either side of the main area designed with an open layout bathroom with impressive copper claw foot bath, indoor shower, separate loo and double basins and even an open fire, with copper flu, to heat the room in winter.
A large decking area fronts onto the suites with a 5 x 2.5 metre swimming pool, exercise bike and full-body outdoor showers for each room, all with views of pristine Botswana wilderness.
The adjoining main camp has a curio shop for those who need retail therapy and an in-room massage is also available.
The Dhow Suites successfully retain a clearly African feel, while balancing that delicate relationship between personal and informal and romance and adventure. There is no equal in terms of its environmental credentials and its careful appointments.
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- Special InterestsWildlife, Birding, Nature, Relaxation, Adventure, Big 5, Birding, Flora, Star Gazing, Fishing, Wine
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- By Pure Botswana
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