Reviews of Savute Safari Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
D&DS never fail to impress
As we have come to expect from D&DS their service is excellent, really friendly and welcoming team and nothing is too much trouble when it comes to looking after guests.
Excellent location, well laid out, frontline room, good size, well appointed, overlooking the waterhole where elephants and other wild life, gather throughout the day and night.
Plenty of game including the well documented (BBC + others) Savute Marsh lion pride which has developed hunting skills to bring down elephant.
Savute Safari Lodge review
On arrival, it was disappointing to see that the Savuti Channel had run dry as this had been the principal reason for choosing this camp. However, this was soon mitigated somewhat when, on arriving for dinner, the two waterholes installed in the channel in front of the dining area of the camp were hosting something like 50 elephants.
Throughout this and the subsequent two evenings/nights, probably 300-400 elephants would appear (no doubt having traveled significant distances in the very dry spring conditions) and argue amongst themselves, especially the matriarchs shepherding the young, to try to secure the dwindling resources at the waterholes.
Savute showed another angle of the safari experience to the 'newbies' in our party, that of those camps that are located within the national parks of Botswana. The 'old lags' found the necessary restrictions, (no night drives, no off-roading while tracking) somewhat frustrating, especially when members of the Marsh pride were on the hunt. Again however, this was made up by the camp's in-house leopard stalking guinea fowl on our lodge's roof!
The staff at Savute were without exception charming and efficient and the rooms and food excellent. Setch and his team provided all the requirements for a wonderful three days, albeit in a slightly more cloistered environment.
Dry and hot Savute
The lodge is located inside Chobe National Park so you don't have to leave the park overnight but game drives have to be returned to the lodge at sunset (06:30 pm) and off-road driving is not permitted! After desiccation of the Savute Channel this area is very dry and very hot in late September (up to 40 °C!!!) - almost hostile to animals and human beings.
The lodge has 12 comfortable and spacious chalets - all facing a dry river bed. There used to be 3 artificial waterholes but during our stay only 1 was still running (in front of chalet #5). Fortunately we stayed in #5 & #6 and had a perfect view: during our whole stay we saw elephants every time at the waterhole: at noon just 1-3, at evening/night up to 40-50 and a continual coming and going and lot of action!!! Around the lodge are many different species of birds, lots of dwarf mongooses and a large spotted genet visiting at dinner time!
There is also nice pool perfect for cooling down during the siesta and watching the passing elephants. The food was good and varied. The management and staff was very friendly and helpful but all in all it was more professional and not with that personal touch we had in other lodges.
Our guide Coca was good and tried to show us as much as possible: so our vehicle mostly was the first leaving the lodge and thereby in two cases we were lucky to see lions close-by before other vehicles came or before the lions moved (and because of being in a National Park it was not permitted to follow them off-road!!). In addition to the lions and many, many elephants we've seen one leopard, a pack of (resting) wild dogs, some hyenas, rare roan antelopes, some giraffes, buffaloes, wildebeests and ..... all in all not too many animals but more than you would expect in that hostile area!
Leopard catching fish in dried up channel
Landscape here was a complete contrast as it was very dry. The wildlife was varied with outstanding views of a leopard coming to the area of the channel that retained a little moisture and fishing out barely alive catfish. As birdwatchers we enjoyed the different species found here.
Our guide, Baba, was the most charismatic of all we had met. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of flora and fauna even to the point of knowing in advance which page in the bird guide the latest sighting was on! Bruce enjoyed reading Baba's plant guide books and we learnt more from him about the culture and lifestyle of the delta residents than from anyone else.
The camp was extremely well managed and the staff always interacted fully with visitors at the communal dinners. The manager Setch led by example, always taking an active part in making our stay an enjoyable social experience.
The food in all the camps was of a good quality and here it was on a par with Machaba in being excellent.
Savute Safari Lodge
We were amazed that every one of the management staff remembered our names right from our first meeting, this was impressive since there were 24 people staying at the camp.
We loved the singing before each evening meal. Metal was an excellent guide, adding to our previous knowledge gained in the last two camps. They tried very hard with my dietary needs (gluten free, dairy free) but there was never any food for me at coffee time or with sundowners.
Savute Safari Lodge review
The lodge was highly efficient and pleasurable.
All the staff were friendly and warm, making every effort to make our stay enjoyable.
We had 2 days private guiding with Chief, who worked very hard to maximize the range of animals we were able to see. The encounters with the Savuti pride of lions encircling a herd of buffalo, the mother leopard returning to her 2 month old cubs on Leopard Rock, and finally the discovery of the airport pride of lions on our departure were highlights.
Leopards and Elephants at Savuti
Nice lodge in a good location on the edge of the Savuti channel. The staff are welcoming and friendly.
The camp is in Chobe National Park, so there are more vehicles than on a private concession, so the guide worked hard and skilfully to get us into good positions to see lion, leopard and cubs, elephants and many antelope.
Good sightings of elephant at the water hole in front of the camp. Great sightings of large herds of elephants drinking and bathing.
Very comfortable lodge in Savuti.
The lodge was very comfortable with great service but felt more like a hotel than the intimate safari camps we are used to.
Our expectations of large elephant numbers were not met due to weather conditions allowing them to be widely dispersed. Our guide struggled to understand at times and did not fully engage with information having to be extracted from him.
We did see lots of lions and a leopard also,
Exceeded expectations although some flaws
Slightly conflicted perspective on Savute Safari Lodge but turned out to be great overall.
We booked this trip at the very last minute (two days prior to leaving) afetr deciding on a whim to take another look at the (rapidly drying out) Savute Channel. This lodge wouldn't have been our choice as I much prefer smaller less mainstream lodges and Savute Safari Lodge is neither of these things with 24 beds and what seemed to be quite a lot of larger groups staying. But it was all we could find for the days we were there.
However, notwithstanding our misgivings, it was a great choice. The staff were charming, Gwis, our guide was absolutely excellent as was Action, the manager who clearly led a very well run camp. The chalets were not your standard fantasy Africa lodging (they had rather ugly tiled bathroom, sliding glass patio doors, built in wardrobes etc) but they were actually very comfortable and practical which more than compensated for the optics
Savute channel / marsh continue to be fascinating and we saw excellent game (leopard, lion kill, 1000s of zebra, huge eles and so on) so Savute as good as ever and we were very happy with the guiding as mentioned above. And since you're in a public area, it's not as if by choosing one camp over another, the experience would be radically different, at least not where it matters out in the bush.
Mixed experience at Savute Safari Lodge
Started off badly, guide who met us (2 Germans and myself) acknowledged the Germans and ignored me. By day 3, I had been passed through 3 guides treated like an inconvenient parcel – I made it very clear I was unimpressed by this treatment and will not recommend the company, Desert and Delta Safaris, or the Lodge to friends and colleagues. I assume it was bad luck that I arrived as a single traveller at that particular time and hopefully others will not suffer my fate. The poor treatment was very surprising as at the previous 3 camps I had been welcomed and treated like any other guest.
The lodge itself and the rooms are excellent and the wildlife around the re-flowing channel varied and interesting. Just a pity about the management and unfriendly staff.
Expert Africa comments
We are very sorry to hear that this travellers time at Savute Safari Lodge was so disappointing. It is a camp that we here at Expert Africa have always thought of as having one of the friendliest teams so we were very eager to find out what went wrong.
Desert & Delta were extremely apologetic that this guest did not feel welcome at the camp. They explained that it was certainly not normal practice to move guests between guides, and they have let the camp know that this is not acceptable. The camp explained that the movement between guides was in order to try and give this traveller a better experience. Desert & Delta acknowledged that this intention obviously did not come across. The original guide spoke to management as he was worried that this traveller had been put in a vehicle with avid birders, and he thought she would have a better time with guests who were interested in a broader game viewing experience, this meant a further change in guide on the second third day in order to allow this guests viewing experience not to be interrupted when the guide dropped off clients at the airstrip.
They acknowledge that the camp staff obviously didn’t go about this in the right way and a lack of communication between the staff with the guest lead her to feel like an 'inconvenient parcel'. For this they are extremely apologetic. Clear communication with guests is something that the operators are constantly working on and continual training is undertaken to improve this for future travellers.