Reviews of Savute Safari Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
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.
Savute Safari Lodge review
Wonderful welcome at our first 'proper' lodge, and this continued throughout the stay.
Wonderful guide in Baba, who was very informative about the flora and fauna. Baba was very experienced in his work and his expertise enabled us to see so many birds and animals, including many types of antelope, packs of wild dogs, large herds of elephant and buffalo, giraffe, and many others as well. Never seen so many animals together in one place before, and one sundowner was within a huge herd of buffalo!
Saw many lion families, all close to our Jeep. The highlight of the trip, tho one that left us very emotional and sad, was to see a group of lionesses stalk and attack two buffalo, one of which got away. The other didn't but it was bellowing for some while after the lions began eating it alive. It lived for some 35/40 minutes after it had been brought down. Not something that I would like to see again, but an experience that will not be forgotten.
Take your guide's advice on walking the lodge paths, as one morning when Baba arrived to take us to early tea and muffin, we were shown leopard tracks on the paths that we used! Obviously Baba was very happy in his job and he managed to get his love of flora and fauna across to us all. An excellent first lodge.
A Wonderful Waterhole at Sociable Savute
Savute Safari Lodge is a very sociable place to stay. The staff that we met there were without fail friendly and efficient, and there were some real characters amongst them. There is a wonderful waterhole adjacent to the eating area where animals come in large numbers to drink the pumped water, preferring it to the water in the Savute channel. Be warned though, it is all too easy to spend hours after your excellent evening meal, sitting around the camp fire watching the wildlife perform at the waterhole whilst exchanging tales with fellow guests and staff, and then you remember that you should have had an early night to be ready for the next morning's game drive.
The chalet that we had was clean and comfortable, with remarkably crisp white bedlinen. There was a pleasant view from the chalet over the Savute Channel. We saw elephant, kudu and impala and a wide variety of birds, including pied kingfishers, whilst relaxing on our verandah.
We were able to recharge our camera batteries in the chalet.
Game drives are taken in the adjacent Chobe National Park, which is renowned for it's large herds of elephant and buffalo. We saw them both in their thousands, which was very impressive. We also had good sightings of lion, wild dog, and hippo, but the leopards remained elusive. The National Park imposes some constraints on the game drives, the most significant of which are :
a) You have to leave the park before closing time (18:30)
b) Off-road driving is not allowed.
The first of these constraints meant that interesting late sightings had to be abandoned and were followed by a "Ferrari safari" mad dash to get to the camp gates on time. The second of these constraints meant that, even with binoculars and telephoto lenses, many sightings were not as good as they could have been. We knew about the constraints before we booked Savute, but we still found them a bit frustrating. That said, we still managed to witness our fair share of drama on the game drives, and our guide (Issa) did an excellent job of being there when the predators left their kill to cross the road right by our vehicle to get to the nearest water.