Savute Elephant Lodge has far reaching views over the mysterious Savute Channel.
Savute Elephant Camp: Our full report
One of the most luxurious lodges in northern Botswana, Savute Elephant Camp is situated within the Chobe National Park, on the banks of the now-flowing Savuti Channel – close to the north end of the Savuti Marsh. The camp is positioned to take advantage of great views across the channel as elephants come down to drink in the late afternoon
Together with its sister camps Eagle Island Lodge and Khwai River Lodge Savute Elephant Camp has perhaps more modern comforts than any other lodge in this region. (Note that ‘Savute’ is often spelled ‘Savuti’, which – looking back at the history – we at Expert Africa view 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. Evening meals are sometimes served in the ‘boma’, or traditional meeting place, where the chef will cook on an open fire. It is also possible to have private dining organised on your own private deck. On our last visit in October 2012 we were really impressed by the friendly staff and efficient service.
Savute Elephant Camp also offers a reference library of books, videos and audio-visual material. There is WiFi 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 a veranda surrounds the large swimming pool, which itself overlooks the Savuti Channel – a bonus in some ways, although when the Savuti Channel is low (particularly around October time) it’s hard not to feel guilty wallowing in the pool whilst stressed elephants argue over precious gulps of muddy water below.
Accommodation consists of 12 luxury tented rooms ('tents' is far too flimsy a word for the guest accommodation at Elephant Camp!). These are built on large, raised wooden platforms about 18m long and 6m across, with great views over the Savuti Channel below. Large, private decks kitted out with sala beds, a couple of chairs and a table make a great spot for viewing wildlife.
Inside each tent, you’ll be met with polished wooden floors and solid, stylish furnishings, including comfortable chairs and a writing desk. The two adjacent three-quarter size beds are under a walk-in mosquito net, with plenty of space around. Over the bed an air-conditioning unit augments the large ceiling fan which, like the room’s lights, can be used day and night. There's even a radiator to help take the chill out of the enormous room on winter nights, when the temperature at Savuti will often drop below freezing!
Each tent also has a minibar, as well as an internal phone so that you can order drinks – or inform your guide that you are ready to be collected for dinner (guests walking to the main area from their tents at night must be accompanied by a guide or manager).
On the reverse side of the wooden headboard is a space for luggage, a wardrobe, and an in-room safe. Hardwood surrounds define the bathroom, which has twin basins, several large mirrors and – through polished hardwood doors – separate rooms for a large shower and a flush toilet. Outside there is also a vast outdoors shower.
Activities at Savuti Elephant Camp concentrate on 4WD game drives during the day (though note that night drives, walking and driving off-road are not allowed in Chobe National Park). In addition, it is possible to organise a visit to see Bushman paintings, which we think is well worth considering.
Our viewWith a friendly and helpful team, and substantial, luxurious rooms featuring air conditioning, satellite TV and WiFi, Savute Elephant Camp can make a great choice for those who like their creature comforts. The nearby ‘Savuti Marsh’ area offers fantastic game viewing, albeit within the strict rules governing drives in the national park. However, safari purists are likely to feel that the camp’s construction and comforts detract from their connection with the surrounding natural environment, and hence their safari experience.
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.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Belmond Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we last visited Savute Elephant Camp in October 2012 the food was delicious and of a very high quality, with plenty of variety.
Unusually for a safari lodge the options are presented on a menu.
For brunch these included:
- a traditional cooked breakfast of eggs to order, bacon, pork sausage, baked beans 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
There was even a tapas option with a selection of vegetable, pork, beef, chicken and fish dishes. Dessert was either baklava or fruit salad.
We were fortunate enough to be in camp for the traditional boma dinner, all cooked on an open fire and a barbecue. This included Botswanan dishes 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!
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.
Further dining info: Dinner can be requested on your own private deck in front of your tent.
Attitude towards children: Children of 8 years and older are welcome at Savute Elephant Camp. Younger children are not accommodated. Children aged 8–12 years are advised to share accommodation with an adult and take private game activities.
Property’s age restrictions: No children under 8 years of age.
Special activities & services: None
Generally recommended for children: No children under 8 years of age.
Notes: 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 no cellphone reception, either, but free WiFi is available throughout the main area.
TV & radio: A TV kept discretely in the main area receives a number of satellite channels.
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. Please note that it is only possible to fly out of camp during daylight hours as the bush airstrips do not have any lighting at night.
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.
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.