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“Amazing luxury safari camp experience”

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Great Plains Conservation Zarafa Camp
Certificate of Excellence
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
19 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Amazing luxury safari camp experience”
Reviewed August 20, 2012

What an incredible experience. This was one of 4 safari camps that we stayed at between Botswana and South Africa, and it was by far one of the best. The camp is run by an unbelievably warm staff (headed by the wonderful Willem and Nienke), the accommodations are luxurious, and the food was delicious. Our guide, Foster, was very experienced and took very good care of us. We felt that the safari experience was authentic, and that the staff took conservation efforts very seriously - the number one thing we learned at Zarafa while on safari was how to treat these amazing, beautiful, and thoroughly wild animals with the respect the deserve.
It was one of the most magical experiences I have had anywhere on all of my travels. Between the warmth of the staff, the luxury of the accommodations, the deliciousness of the food, and the beauty of the natural surroundings... we could not have been happier! One of the first places I have been where I would have changed absolutely nothing about the experience. Bravo Zarafa!!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
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2 Thank katieL87
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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138 reviews from our community

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English first
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed August 12, 2012

Zarafa was the first stop on our Botswana/South Africa trip and it was perfection. My family took over all four tents and were spoiled by the great staff, food, guides, tents, and managers. The food was perfect - we loved being able to eat dinner with our hosts each night and talk about our day.

Willem and Nienke run the camp and are warm, easy going, great people. Hopefully they stick around for a while, because they set the tone at Zarafa and make you feel so welcome. Foster, our guide, was equally kind and drove us on the most memorable day of game viewing we had on our trip, complete with 2 leopards, 3 lions, hordes of elephants, and even a honey badger. He had a very dry sense of humor, which we loved (e.g. "Foster, what are the signs that an elephant might charge you?" "when he starts running at you"). He seemed as curious about our home cities and backgrounds as we were about Botswana and the animals.

The tents are outstanding, certainly my favorites from the trip. They are huge, but still every detail is well done. Every other member of the staff was sweet and fun, service was perfect. I wish I could spent a month at this place!

This is the perfect camp to start or end your safari trip.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
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3 Thank Patrick O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paget Parish, Bermuda
Level Contributor
43 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed July 24, 2012

Wow - Zarafa is truly amazing! Each of the 4 "tents" are 1000 sq ft - with a bedroom and a sitting room. The decor mimics a safari in days gone by - even down to copper baths and sinks and a beautiful gas fire for chilly evenings and mornings! You can lie in bed and look out across the plains and water - listening to the baboons pattering on the roof and watching the elephants. They deliver a tray of coffee/tea each morning before you head out and there is a bar in the room with spirits etc. Infact all the drinks are complimentary so you can have a bottle of wine while you get ready for dinner. Willem and Nienke were the camp managers and they were fabulous - so attentive! On our last night they even organised dinner for us in a private location with lanterns lighting our dinner....very magical. We saw lots at Zarafa - elephants (even in the camp), zebra, giraffes, hippos, baboons, wildebeast. We had a very memorable sunset cruise on their pontoon watching the hippos and drinking champagne while we watched a stunning sunset. Food was excellent too. I would recommend Zarafa 100% for decadence and indulgence.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
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2 Thank Kampbda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
12 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed June 23, 2012

"We are living in tents" my wife queried, a bit shaken by the concept. A crack in the plastic smile becommig more apparent. Fast forward three months, arriving at Zafara. She turns to me, "I didn't know the Four Seasons had an annex". Beyond my expectations, in every way. Zarafa having only fout tents is samll and intimate. Greeted by the director David and his charming wife Alice, we were made to feel right at home. The food and beverages were forever flowing, the staff looked disappointed if we weren't eating (I did my best to accomodate). David, an accomplished photographer, saw me struggeling with a new camera and jumped in to give me a tutorial. A few lessons in camp and an excursion into the bush latter, the improvement was remarkable. My wife, slack Jaw expression intact, roaming through the living room, on to the bedroom, the bed "it should have two zip codes" her words. The copper bath tub put her right over the top. As this was our third camp, each having a unique appeal, Zarafa was the height of luxury and hospitality. The game drives were so full of sightings, lepord, lion, elephant, cape buffalo, cheetah, hippos, alligator, Red Lechwe, Impalla, and an Owl the guide said was remarkable. And then the pontoon boat on the delta. Luxurious, relaxing and a perfect platform to photograph from.One last thing, driving around in the Land Rovers going through submerged roads, over trees and brush I kept saying "I gotta get one of these things". My wife pointed out, there are no submerged roads and fallen trees ON LONG ISLAND. But David let me fulfill my safari fantacy by letting me drive it on the way to the air strip. (I hope this dosen't cause him any problems). I could go on but you get the idea. To sum up, David and Alice would be reason enough to make the trip, throw in an impecable staff, magnificent food and wine, and guides that knew EVERYTHING. For me it was well worth the price. And my wife who had trepidations will confess it was a trip of a life time, and would go again.

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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Jay P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Antwerp, Belgium
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed May 13, 2012

Zarafa Camp is an amazing camp.The tents are very luxurious, clean and spacious.The surroundings are beautiful with a lot of wildlife during our gamedrives such as elephants, leopards, birds, lions, hippo, ... On a certain day we watched the lions eating a huge buffalo.

The team in Zarafa does everything for you, really everything.I had an incredible birthday last year full of surprises in the bush, an unique boat trip and also this year was full of unexpected experiences. The food is so nice and healthy with a lot of vegetables, fresh fruit and an amazing choice. We even had a breakfast in the bush ... spectacular.

Alica and David are managing the camp and do an incredible job! Nothing was too much trouble and they are always around to look after you.

David has a very good wine knowledge, always interesting to discover new flavours. Congratulations and see you soon! Karin - Belgium

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Karin V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DC-USA
Level Contributor
81 reviews
55 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
Reviewed May 6, 2012

We were met at the landing strip by our guide, who handed us a bag containing some fruit, a bottle of water, and a plastic-wrapped sandwich labeled "Ostrich Burger." Things didn't get much better in the food department. After a bouncy (even for Botswana) 45-minute ride, we reached the camp. It was the most opulent tented camp we have ever stayed at in our three trips to Africa. The main tent was beautifully furnished with antiques (or very good copies), and oriental rugs. Our tent was also very posh, with a nice view of the Delta and a rather sad plunge pool. Needless to say, Zarafa is very expensive, which made our culinary experience maddeningly disappointing. Our first night, the main course (some form of lamb) was so bony as to be inedible, and the dinner the following night was barely an improvement.

The culinary experience was particularly unfortunate, as it upstaged the superb service provided by the camp's managers. They really liked what they were doing, and it showed. They were extremely generous with their time, and struck a perfect balance between being helpful and hovering, which is a lot more difficult than it might seem. The highlight of the visit to Zarafa, was an almost over-the-top, Sundowner they arranged on our last night. It was cleverly staged, and elaborately provisioned in a beautiful venue.

The game-viewing was OK, but not as good as any of the other places we stayed on this trip.

In sum, we very much liked the people at Zarafa, but their attitude and skills could not make up for the unfortunate food, and unspectacular game viewing.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
10 Thank Harrydog44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Herts
Level Contributor
15 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed April 15, 2012

We visited five camps during our trip to Botswana and all of them were brilliant in different ways. This was our third trip to the area and we had done our research!

Some camps had great game viewing, some had great accommodation, some had great guides, some had great food / wine and some had that happy buzz which only seems to come when all the staff are really happy and working well as a team together.

Zarafa Camp for us was the highlight as it was the only camp that managed to excel in all these areas.

The game viewing was exceptional with a pride 14 lions on the way back from the airstrip. We also saw leopard, cheetah, wild dogs, bushbabies, roan and sable antelope, crocodiles. This is in addition to wonderful bird life and all the "normal" game such as impala, elephant (100s of them), giraffe etc.

Of course what game you see can be partly down to luck, but our guide Foster was brilliant and seemed to have a 6th sense as to what was happening in a given area as well as amazing eyesight. No matter how hard we tried he always spotted animals before us (whilst at the same time, driving, tracking and explaining about the bush and the animals). He was quiet, calm but bursting with knowledge and our kids were enthralled (OK so were the adults).

The camp itself is very luxurious with tents that are spectacular (indoor and outdoor showers, copper bath, private bar, private pool etc). The attention to detail was second to none.

The food and drink was a step up from the other camps even when dinner was served in the bush by lamplight. Their "breakfast to go" innovation is a great idea. It allows you to get up and go straight on a game drive so maximizing those precious few hours in the morning before the sun gets too strong for the best viewing / photography.

The staff were well trained and well managed by the camp managers (Dave and Alice) who are great hosts. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff and they all seem genuinely happy and needed only the smallest excuse to burst into singing and dancing.

Most camps have boats so you can experience the magic of the setting African sun over water (with a well chosen glass of wine) but the Zarafa boat is a unique gem in that it is as luxurious as the rest of the camp with comfy sofas and a well stocked bar.

I have struggled to find anything negative to say in this review - OK it was a bit more expensive than some of the other camps, but in this case you do get what you pay for.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
8 Thank ADT123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Great Plains Conservation Zarafa Camp

Property: Great Plains Conservation Zarafa Camp
Address: Selinda Reserve | Selinda Reserve, Botswana
Location: Botswana > North-West District > Okavango Delta
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #19 of 71 Specialty Lodging in Okavango Delta
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Zarafa evokes a sense of luxurious old-style safari with spaciousness and 21st-century eco-consciousness. About Zarafa CampEach of Zarafa's four sumptuous tents with generous veranda is positioned under cool, shady trees, fronting onto the idyllic Zibadianja Lagoon. The spacious bedroom has a lounge, en-suite bathroom with copper bath, indoor as well as outdoor shower, copper heater for cosy winters as well as its own private pool for summer. The main area, similarly furnished, evokes traditional safari ambiance. Lounge and dining facilities may be enjoyed under canvas or on the full-length shaded deck. The camp is run completely on solar heating and power.Environment and WildlifeThe Selinda Concession is dominated by a vast grassy floodplain interspersed with slightly elevated palm islands and aromatic sage bushes. Resident wildlife includes red lechwe, kudu, tsessebe, giraffe, warthog and steenbok. Top predators are lion and spotted hyaena, as well as cheetah, wild dog, side-striped jackal, serval and even aardwolf. Elephant, buffalo, wildebeest and zebra are other herbivores seen throughout the year, complemented with varied bird life.Experiencing Zarafa CampDay and night game drives in custom-built 4x4 vehiclesGuided nature walks (on request)Canoeing and house boat for private dining, evening or day trips into the lagoon and onto the riverCatch-and-release fishing (seasonal) ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Zarafa Camp Hotel Okavango Delta
Great Plains Conservation Zarafa Camp Botswana/Okavango Delta

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