Savute Under Canvas

Savute Under Canvas: Our full report

Rooms
5 Meru-style tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (96%) From 11 reviews
Children
Best for 16+
Open
1 February to 31 December

Savute Under Canvas offers an authentic mobile-camping experience, without forgoing many of the comforts of a semi-permanent tented camp. Located in the interesting Savuti area, with it’s wide open marsh, rocky hills, and woodlands, you can expect good game viewing here with large numbers or elephant and good predator sightings in particular.

Savute Under Canvas has five Meru-style tents, accommodating up to ten guests. The traditional safari tents are constructed of green canvas with mesh windows and a zippered entrance. A canvas flysheet gives added shade, and shelters a porch at the front of the tent, where a couple of camp chairs provide a place to relax and enjoy the surrounding bush.

Each walk-in tent is comfortably furnished with a double or twin beds made up with quality bedding (some of the most comfortable beds we have slept in!), sisal floor mats and bedside tables with battery-powered hurricane lamps. There's a luggage trunk, a hanging rail and canvas hanging shelving where you'll find linen dressing gowns, insect repellent and bug spray, and a laundry bag. There are no cooling fans or plug points in the tents, but the mesh windows offer good airflow and guests can charge batteries from a 220 volt inverter system in the safari vehicles; just bring your own three round-pin adaptor (the plugs are like those in South Africa or the old-style UK ones). The battery-powered hurricane lamps don’t give off much light – just enough to find your way around at night. We’d recommend bringing a torch with you if you stay here, though one can also be supplied to you by the camp.

Towards the back of the tent, a canvas doorway leads through to the en-suite bathroom. There's no running water and so the sink is a metal hand basin and metal jug filled with water (warm water in the mornings), and regularly replenished. There is a gravity-flush toilet that flushes like a normal toilet, and a bucket shower that is filled with warm water on return to camp each evening, or on request throughout the day. In addition to the hand basin atop a wooden washstand are a standing mirror, a hurricane lamp, a jug of filtered water and water glasses. Towels, soap, shampoo, body wash and body lotion are provided.

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, a cool box with a choice of cool drinks, and a side-table stocked with 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, between sunrise and sunset. National park regulations do not permit night drives, guided walks or off-roading. The drives are conducted in open-sided 4WD vehicles, and cover the network of sandy roads that crisscross the Savuti corner of Chobe National Park, with regular stops for wildlife viewing along the way. The vehicles have a canvas roof for shade and three rows of three seats, with a maximum of six guests per vehicle to afford everyone a clear outer view. The national park is shared with other mobile camp and lodge vehicles, as well as self-drivers, so you can expect to encounter some other vehicles, particularly at significant sightings and during peak season.

The wildlife in this region is varied, with game viewing reaching its peak in the dry season, from June to October. Around April and May a small zebra and wildebeest migration passes through here, and during the wet season from December 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 to be particularly good here – enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The scenery is varied, and the game viewing very good. On our visits we have been fortunate to witness wild dogs on a hunt, a lion steal an impala kill from a leopard, large lion prides and numerous hyena. 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. For those wishing to see the large herds of elephants and larger densities of plains game that fill the marsh area, we would recommend visits later in the dry season.

Savuti is also one of the few areas in Botswana where you can find Bushman rock paintings. If seeing this appeals to you, speak to your guide about the possibility of visiting a site in one of the hills.

The camp utilises a number of different private campsites in the Savuti area of Chobe National Park, moving every five days in accordance with national park regulations. Savute Under Canvas also has a sister camp, Chobe Under Canvas, which operates along the same lines along the Chobe Riverfront.

Our view

Savute 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 more economical than many of Botswana's permanent safari camps, particularly during the peak season from June to October. You can expect good game viewing, with a high concentration of wildlife at that time in particular. Conversely, national park restrictions preclude night drives, guided walks and off-roading, and you can get a little crowding of vehicles at noteworthy sightings. However we think Savute Under Canvas is a terrific option for those wanting something a bit different from Botswana's luxury and permanent accommodation – we loved it!

Geographics

Location: Chobe National Park, Botswana

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 the 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 is reached by light aircraft into Savute airstrip: roughly a 50 minute flight from Maun or 40 minutes from Kasane. It's then a drive of around 30 minutes to an hour, 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: We have always found the food at Savute Under Canvas to be 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 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 be made to order on your last day if you have a more relaxed start.

For lunch on one visit we enjoyed kudu steaks, couscous and sultana salad, coleslaw, green salad, freshly baked corn bread and a cheeseboard. On another we enjoyed pizza, green salad, pork steaks, relish and fresh rolls.

Afternoon tea was a delicious banana cake on one visit and a moist carrot cake on another, both beautifully baked in Dutch oven over the fire, and fresh fruit, served with a choice of iced or hot coffee or tea.

For dinner we enjoyed an exceptionally tasty coconut and corn soup, served with fresh homemade bread. Our main course was traditional seswa (slow cooked pounded beef), pap (thick cornmeal porridge), tomato salsa, roast sweet potato and spinach. Dessert was stewed pear in a red-wine sauce.

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.

Special interests

Birdwatching: The Savuti Marshes are renowned for birdlife densities, particularly from mid-December to March, when flocks of yellow-billed storks, African spoonbills and pink-backed pelicans make this a great time for birdwatching in Botswana. Year round birds range from raptors such as tawny eagle and woodland species such as pearl-spotted owlet to largely ground-dwelling species such as kori bustard.

See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana

Children

Attitude towards children: Children aged 12 years and over are welcome at Savute Under Canvas.

Property’s age restrictions: Triple and family tents are not possible so children under the age of 19 will need to share with an adult – two people to each tent.

Notes: Due to the presence of potentially dangerous wildlife around this unfenced camp, children must be under parental supervision at all times.

Infrastructure

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.

TV & radio: No

Water supply: Transported in

Water supply notes: Water is collected from the Savuti National Park gate office; about 30 to 60 minutes drive away.

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. 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: Savute Under Canvas is unfenced within a big-game area, so guests are escorted to their tents after dark. Air horns are provided in the tents to attract attention in case of emergency.

Fire safety: The safari vehicles are fitted with a fire extinguisher and park regulations limit the size of the campfire.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: Laundry is included, however underwear cannot be washed for cultural reasons. Washing powder is provided on request should guests wish to hand wash any items.

Money: There are no safes in the tents.

Accepted payment on location: 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, Botswana pula or South African rand.

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