Savute Elephant Camp is situated next to the Savute Channel.
Savute Elephant Camp: Our full report
Savute Elephant Camp is the most luxurious lodge situated in this region and together with its sister camps Eagle Island Lodge and Khwai River Lodge has perhaps more modern comforts than any other lodge in northern Botswana. As the name suggests, Elephant Camp is positioned to take advantage of great views across the flowing Savuti Channel as the elephants come down to drink in the late afternoon (Note that ‘Savute’ is often spelled as ‘Savuti’ – and looking back at the history, we at Expert Africa view ‘Savuti’ as probably more correct!).
The main area at Savute Elephant Camp has a huge canvas roof with open sides. It includes a bar, a lounge, and a dining area. On our last visit to Elephant Camp in October 2012 we were really impressed by the friendly staff and efficient service. A short distance away from the main area Savute Elephant Camp offers the chance of dining in a ‘boma’, a traditional meeting place where the chef will cook your meal on an open fire. On nights when the boma isn’t operational meals are taken in the main dining area but it is also possible to have private dining organised at your tent on your own private deck.
The main area also offers a reference library of books, videos and audio-visual facilities. There is Wi-Fi throughout and there is also satellite TV available, although this is discretely hidden away when not in use. Additionally, there is a curio shop with local arts and crafts for sale.
In front of the central area of Savute Elephant Camp you will find a veranda surrounding the large swimming pool, which itself overlooks the Savuti Channel. Sometimes, when the Savuti Channel is low (particularly around October time) one could feel a little guilty wallowing in the pool whilst stressed elephants argue over precious gulps of muddy water below.
Accommodation consists of 12 luxury tents which are built on a large, raised platform of wooden decking about 18m long and 6m across. All of the tents have great views over the water below. Although, 'tents' is really far too flimsy a word for the guest accommodation at Elephant Camp.
Inside, the tents are fully furnished with polished wooden floors and comfortable chairs. There’s a writing desk, some solid stylish furnishings and a mini bar. The two adjacent three-quarter size beds are under a walk-in mosquito net, with plenty of walking space around. Outside are large, private decks furnished with sala beds and a couple of chairs and a table. All ideal for viewing wildlife as you overlook the Savuti Channel from quite a height.
Above the head of the bed, facing over it, is an air-conditioning unit. This augments the large ceiling fan in the centre of the room, which can be used all day and night as can the room's lights. Savuti will often drop below freezing on winter nights, so if you get cold then there's a radiator to help take the chill out of the enormous room!
Each tent also has its own phone which (although unable to get an outside line) enables guests to ring reception should they wish to order anything from the bar and which is also used to inform your guide that you are ready to be collected for dinner in the evenings (guests walking to the main area from their tents at night must be accompanied by a guide or manager).
Set at the back of the rooms, on the reverse side of the wooden headboard is a space for luggage, a wardrobe with a clothes rail, and an in-room safe. The bathroom has twin basins, several large mirrors and myriad hardwood surrounds. Through polished hardwood doors you'll find separate rooms for a large shower and the flush toilet. Outside there is also a vast outdoors shower.
Activities at Savuti Elephant Camp concentrate on 4WD game drives during the day (Note that night drives, walking and driving off-road are not allowed in Chobe National Park). Quite a unique feature for lodges in Northern Botswana is the opportunity to arrange visits to local bushman paintings on request, which is something well worth considering in our opinion.
Savute Elephant Camp is one of the more opulent lodges in Northern Botswana. Whilst features like a phone and air-conditioning in the rooms and satellite television and Wi-Fi in the main area undoubtedly help many guests feel more at ease some may also feel it detracts from the safari experience. So, this won’t be a camp to everyone’s taste but for those who do prefer a few more creature comforts whilst on safari, the nearby Savuti Marshes offer fantastic game viewing and the friendly and helpful team running Savute Elephant Camp make this a great option.
Ideal length of stay: A stay of 2-3 nights would be typical, in combination with some of the other safari camps in northern Botswana.
Directions: Savute Elephant Camp is normally reached by a short light-aircraft flight from either Maun or Kasane – or one of the other safari camps in northern Botswana.
Owner: Orient-Express Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we last visited Savute Elephant Camp in October 2012 the food was really of a very high quality indeed, there was plenty of variety and it all tasted delicious. Unusually for a safari lodge the options are presented on a menu and for brunch these included either:
- a traditional breakfast of eggs to order, bacon, pork sausage, baked bean and fried tomatoes with toast
- omelette with a choice of fillings including ham, cheese, tomato, onion, mushrooms or peppadews
- English muffins with smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and dill sauce
Dessert was then either baklava or fruit salad.
On the evening we visited camp we were fortunate enough to be there for the traditional boma dinner, all cooked on an open fire and a barbecue. This included local Botswana cuisine such as papa (maize meal – the local staple food), seswa (shredded beef) and morogo (similar to spinach) as well as more regional braai fare – steaks and boerewors (beef sausage). This was all accompanied by delicious salads. Eating in the boma was a really sociable experience too where everyone sat around and chatted about the days’ events.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and spirits and a limited selection of (usually) South African red and white wines are included. Champagne and imported wines and spirits will cost extra and may need to be requested in advance.
Attitude towards children: Children of 8 years and older are welcome at the camp.
Generally recommended for children: No children under 8 years of age.
Notes: Children aged between 8-12 years are advised to share accommodation with an adult and take private game activities. All children will need to be constantly and closely supervised by their parents.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: While there are phones in each of the rooms, these are for internal use only and there is no outside line. There is however Wi-Fi throughout the whole of the main area which is free for guests. There is no mobile reception in the area.
TV & radio: There is a TV kept discretely in the main area of the camp which receives a number of satellite channels.
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: There are trained first-aiders on site and for serious incidents there’s a medical air-evacuation system in place.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Guests are escorted to and from their rooms after dark as dangerous wildlife is known to wander through the camp. A thorough safety briefing is given on arrival. A telephone in each tent is available to summon help in case of a medical emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers around camp and fire assembly points are identified to guests on induction to the camp when they first arrive.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is included.
Money: No exchange facilities are offered at Savute Elephant Camp. There are small safes in all the rooms, as well as a larger one in the office if required.