Savute Under Canvas has the perfect balance between comfort and camping.
Savute Under Canvas: Our full report
Situated in the Savuti area of Chobe National Park, Savute Under Canvas aims to offer an authentic mobile-camping experience, without forgoing many of the comforts of a semi-permanent tented camp. In accordance with national park regulations, the camp moves every five days between private campsites in the region.
Like its counterpart Chobe Under Canvas in the Chobe Riverfront area, Savute Under Canvas has five Meru-style tents accommodating up to ten guests. These traditional safari tents are constructed of green canvas with mesh windows and a zippered entrance, all beneath a double canvas roof to aid with cooling. Camp chairs beside the entrance provide a place to sit and enjoy the surrounding bush.
Each roomy, walk-in tent at Savute Under Canvas is comfortably furnished with sisal floor mats, twin beds (or a double), quality bedding, and bedside tables with battery-powered hurricane lamps. For storing belongings there’s a large luggage rack, a hanging rail and canvas shelving where you’ll find linen dressing gowns, insect repellent and spray, a laundry bag and a goody box with wildlife checklists and a backgammon set. There are no fans or plug points in the tents but guests can charge batteries from a 220-volt inverter system in the safari vehicles; just bring your own three round-pin adaptor (as used in South Africa plugs, or like the old-style UK-plugs).
Towards the back of the tent, a rolled-up canvas partition leads to the en-suite bathroom. Though there’s no running water, there’s a gravity-flush toilet and a bucket shower that is filled with warm water each evening, or on request. Atop a wooden washstand are a standing mirror, a hurricane lamp, water glasses, a metal handbasin and a jug. The latter is also replenished with water for washing hands and brushing teeth. Towels, soap, shampoo, body wash and body lotion are provided.
These ‘Under Canvas’ tents are about as comfortable as anyone can make a small, mobile camp – but guests need to realize that such a camp will never compete with the comfort of the larger, more luxurious rooms at fixed lodges and camps.
The central main area of Savute Under Canvas is a simple open-sided mess tent with dining tables and chairs, a tea and coffee station, a bar table with a good selection of standard spirits, and a side-table stocked with board games, wildlife magazines and reference books. Most evening meals are served under the stars, weather permitting, and a nearby campfire provides a social spot for pre- or post-dinner drinks.
Activities focus on morning and afternoon game drives with excellent guides across the network of sandy roads that crisscross the Savuti area of Chobe National Park. National park regulations do not permit night drives, guided walks or off-roading. The open-sided vehicles have a canvas roof for shade and three rows of three seats, with a maximum of 6 guests per vehicle to afford everyone a clear view. The area is open to other mobile camp and lodge vehicles, as well as self-drivers, so you can expect to encounter a number of other vehicles, particularly at significant sightings during peak season.
The wildlife in this region is varied, with game viewing reaching its peak in the dry season from about April to October. Around April and May a small zebra and wildebeest migration passes through here, and during the wet season (about November to March) there’s a notable congregation of birdlife around the Savuti Marsh area, including flocks of storks, spoonbills and pink-backed pelicans. We have found the guiding at Savute Under Canvas to be of a very high standard and on our most recent visit in June 2012 we were fortunate to witness wild dogs on a hunt and a lion steal an impala kill from a leopard. This area is also well known for its elephant population, particularly during the dry season when large herds can be seen dotted across the expansive Savuti Marshes.
Our viewSavute Under Canvas suits those seeking an adventurous, yet very comfortable, mobile-camping experience. The service, food and guiding are typically excellent, run by an experienced and hospitable team. It’s less costly than many of Botswana’s permanent camps, particularly during the peak season from June to October. Conversely, national park restrictions preclude night drives, guided walks or off-roading, and in high season you can expect crowding of vehicles at noteworthy sightings. Thus we recommend that you start your trip here, before moving on to the more remote wildlife areas where you will encounter fewer visitors.
Ideal length of stay: We recommend a stay of two nights at Savute Under Canvas, although you might consider three nights during the dry season when game densities are at their highest. The camp combines particularly well with its sister camp, Chobe Under Canvas, and also often forms part of a trip with Sandibe Safari Lodge, Nxabega Safari Camp, Xaranna Okavango Lodge or Xudum Delta Lodge – which are all owned by the same company, &Beyond.
Directions: Savute Under Canvas can be reached by light aircraft; roughly a 50 minute flight from Maun or 35 minutes from Kasane. It’s then approximately a one hour drive from Savute airstrip, depending on the camp’s location at the time and wildlife sightings on the way.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Savute Under Canvas is generally very good, particularly considering that it’s prepared in a simple mobile camp kitchen and cooked over an open fire. Special dietary requirements need to be advised in advance as supplies are driven or flown in from Maun or Kasane.
A light buffet breakfast of cereals, fruit, yoghurt, toast and spreads, along with tea and coffee, is served prior to the early morning game drive. Cooked breakfast can also be made to order.
For lunch on our most recent visit we enjoyed a vegetarian curry, beef wrap, green salad and freshly baked bread roll.
Afternoon tea was a delicious banana cake and fresh fruit, served with iced tea.
Weather permitting, an ambient candlelit dinner is served under the stars. To start we had a tasty creamy mushroom soup and a wholemeal bread roll. This was followed by fragrant lamb curry with basmati rice, mixed vegetables, poppadoms and side-dishes of cucumber raita (yoghurt), sweet chutney, and diced tomato and onion. The dessert of fruit pie and cream rounded the meal off nicely.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: All beverages stocked in camp are included (bottled water, soft drinks, local beers, spirits and a limited selection of generally South African wines). Champagne and premium or imported wines and spirits cost extra and must be requested in advance.
Birdwatching: Savute Under Canvas is a good choice for birdwatching in Botswana. The wet season sees yellow-billed storks, African spoonbills and pink-backed pelicans congregate at Savuti Marsh, whilst year-round there’s a wide variety of bird species, from raptors such as tawny eagle to the ground-dwelling kori bustard.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children aged 12 years and over are welcome at Savute Under Canvas.
Special activities & services: No special activities or services are provided for children.
Equipment: No equipment for children is provided.
Generally recommended for children: We would recommend Savute Under Canvas for older children aged around 16 years or more, who have a keen interest in wildlife. As the camp has no swimming pool or family tent and it’s open to big-game passing through, we don’t feel it is suitable for younger children.
Notes: Due to the presence of potentially dangerous wildlife around this unfenced camp, children must be under parents’ supervision at all times.
Power supply: None
Communications: There is no internet or cellphone reception at Savute Under Canvas. Guests should consider themselves out of contact whilst here. There is a satellite phone to contact Maun in an emergency.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: A first-aid kit is kept in camp and the camp manager and guides are first-aid trained. In an emergency, medical evacuation to Maun can be arranged.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Savute Under Canvas is unfenced within a big-game area; hence guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. Alarms are provided in the rooms for use in case of an emergency.
Fire safety: The safari vehicles are fitted with a fire extinguisher and park regulations limit the size of the campfire.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included, but they do not wash underwear. Washing powder is provided on request for this purpose.
Money: There are no safes in the tents. Everything is included in your stay at Savute Under Canvas, other than premium or imported beverages which need to be ordered in advance. Hence no payments are required at the camp and there are no credit-card or money-exchanging facilities. Tips can be made in US dollars, Botswanan pula or South African rand.