Savute Safari Lodge is situated in the Chobe National Park in Botswana.
Savute Safari Lodge: Our full report
Perched on the banks of the Savuti Channel within Chobe National Park, Savute Safari Lodge offers a great location from which to explore the nearby Savuti Marshes. Comfortable without being luxurious, the camp enjoys views over the water, which attracts vast numbers of elephant to drink in the afternoons and evenings.
The main area of Savute Safari Lodge houses a lounge area, library and bar which all provide great locations in which to relax during the day or discuss sightings in the evening over a few drinks and some nibbles. Savute Safari Lodge is one of the original safari camps in this region (it used to be called Lloyd’s Camp) and as a result its design is a little more dated than some modern camps. For example, this is one of the few camps in northern Botswana where glass sliding doors are a prominent feature, with canvas or mesh-gauze favored by most designers these days. There’s also a swimming pool with a number of deckchairs around the water’s edge; very welcoming when it gets hot (and it gets really hot in Savuti around September–October).
A short way along the bank of the channel is one of Savute Safari Lodge’s most entertaining features – an al fresco dining area at eye-level with the elephants that come down in the evenings to drink. On our last visit in October 2012 we found it a remarkable experience to sit under the stars, enjoying some great food and a glass of wine, while only 20-or-so metres away hundreds of elephants jostled for space along the water’s edge, against a backdrop of a far-off lightning storm. Truly memorable.
When the weather cools or the rains arrive and meals on the viewing deck aren’t possible, brunch and dinner are taken in the dining area adjacent to the lounge and bar. For after-dinner entertainment there’s a firepit which is kept lit until the last guests retire for the night.
Accommodation at Savute Safari Lodge consists of 12 thatched chalets, all raised up on stilts along the tree line on the banks of the channel. Each chalet is large, with a shaded private deck and a couple of chairs at the front, perfect for escaping the heat of the day while keeping an eye on the water’s edge for animals that come down for a drink. Glass sliding doors in both the bedroom and bathroom take advantage of the panoramic views, and help to regulate the temperature – they can be closed in the chillier winter months or kept open later in the year to allow a breeze to pass through the tent. Each has a separate gauze screen, which keeps the insects out.
Inside the chalets you’ll find large twin beds with a mosquito net. A couple of comfortable chairs around a coffee table provide a cool spot to relax under the cooling breeze of a free-standing fan. There’s also ample storage space for clothes and luggage; a vanity unit and desk; and a coffee- and tea-making station.
The fully tiled en-suite bathroom is reached through a doorway off the main bedroom. Complimentary toiletries are set alongside his and hers washbasins beneath a large mirror, and there’s an open, walk-in shower. Each bathroom has a flush loo.
Activities at Savute Safari Lodge revolve around 4WD game drives in open vehicles, for the most part on and around the Savuti Marsh and along the Savuti Channel. Note, however, that night drives, walking and driving off-road are not allowed within Chobe National Park. In October 2012, there were lots of elephants around camp, and the game viewing at the Savuti Marsh was spectacular. During our three-day stay we saw numerous leopard, a large lion pride, a pack of wild dog, many elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra and other plains game as well as pelicans and flamingoes. However, the game between camp and the marsh itself (about a 20-minute drive) was quite sparse.
In addition to game viewing, visitors to Savute Safari Lodge also have the chance to visit the ancient San rock paintings at Gubatsa Hills.
Savute Safari Lodge has a down-to-earth feel about it and attracts an eclectic mix of guests who enjoy great hospitality, friendly staff and some excellent guiding all in a top game-viewing region. That said, game viewing is inside the national park so can be a little less exclusive than in the private reserves, but on our last visit we were impressed with the guide’s knowledge of the area and how they managed to avoid the ‘crowds’.
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 Safari Lodge is normally reached by a short light-aircraft flight from either Maun or Kasane – or one of the other safari camps in northern Botswana.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Desert and Delta Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On our last visit to Savute Safari Lodge the food was of a very high standard.
Our brunch was a selection of the usual eggs, bacon, sausage, tomato, mushroom and hash browns, as well as cereals and fruit salad.
For afternoon tea you can expect a savory and a sweet offering – we were served chicken satay wraps and a strawberry cheesecake.
Dinner was very nice without being spectacularly imaginative. A starter of pumpkin soup with fresh bread was followed by a main course of roast chicken with lots of vegetables and a very tasty tomato salsa. Dessert was crème brûlée with custard.
Dining style: Group Meals
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.
Further dining info: No
Attitude towards children: Savute Safari Lodge does not accept children under 6. Families with children aged 6–11 will be required to book private activities at an additional cost. Children aged 12–15 must share accommodation with a parent.
Property’s age restrictions: No Children under 6.
Special activities & services: None
Generally recommended for children: Savute Safari Lodge doesn’t accept very young children under the age of 6, and requires a private vehicle for 6-11 years olds, which doesn’t suit everyone. That said, the laid back feel here means that for those travelling with teenagers Savute Safari lodge could be a great option.
Notes: The camp has a thin electric wire running around its perimeter but this does little to keep anything smaller than an elephant out and so large game passes through frequently. Therefore children will need to be constantly and closely supervised by their parents.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: There are no telephone, fax, email or internet facilities at Savute Safari Lodge, and no cellphone coverage. However, the managers are in constant two-way radio contact with the Maun Operations Office through whom important messages can be relayed.
TV & radio: None
Water supply: Borehole
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: 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 ‘fog-horn’ 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: Included
Money: There are no currency exchange facilities at the lodge. Rand, Pula, US Dollars and Sterling are all accepted.
Accepted payment on location: MasterCard and Visa credit cards are accepted; Diners and Amex are not. Cash in the form of South African rand, GB sterling, US dollars, euros and Botswana pula is accepted.