Savute Under Canvas: Our full report
Savute Under Canvas offers an authentic mobile-camping experience, without forgoing many of the comforts ...... of a semi-permanent tented camp. The camp utilises a number of different private campsites in the Savuti area of Botswana’s 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 on the same lines along the Chobe Riverfront.
Savute Under Canvas has five Meru-style tents, accommodating up to ten guests. These traditional walk-in safari tents are constructed of green canvas with mesh windows and a zippered entrance. A canvas flysheet gives added shade, and shelters the front of the tent, where a couple of camp chairs provide a place to relax and enjoy the surrounding bush.
Each tent is furnished with twin beds (or a double) with quality bedding: some of the most comfortable beds we have slept in! There are sisal mats on the floor, and bedside tables with battery-powered hurricane lamps. You’ll also find a luggage trunk, a hanging rail and canvas hanging shelving with linen dressing gowns, insect repellent and spray, and a laundry bag. There are no cooling fans or plug points in the tents but guests can charge batteries in the safari vehicles.
Towards the back of the tent, a rolled-up canvas partition leads through to the en-suite bathroom. Though there’s no running water, there is a gravity-flush toilet and a bucket shower that is filled with warm water on your return to camp each evening, or on request. Atop a wooden washstand are a standing mirror, a hurricane lamp, water glasses, a metal handbasin and a metal jug, which is replenished with water for washing hands and brushing teeth. Towels, soap, shampoo, body wash and body lotion are provided.
Central to 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 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.
On our most recent visit, in October 2016, we found the guiding at Savute Under Canvas to be the best of our entire trip. Activities here focus on morning and afternoon game drives, between sunrise and sunset. National-park regulations do not permit night drives, guided walks or off-roading, but we did enjoy a short walk up Tsonxhwaa Hill to view ancient San Bushman rock paintings.
Game 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. Each vehicles has a canvas roof for shade and three rows of three seats, with no more than six guests per vehicle so that everyone gets a clear outer view. Note, however, that the national park is shared with 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 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. During our game drives, we saw two very active packs of wild dog, a pride of seven lions (including a massive male – one of the biggest we’ve ever seen!), giraffe, leopard, tsessebe, and elephant. Indeed, the area is well-known for its elephant population, particularly during the dry season when large herds can be seen dotted across the expansive Savuti Marshes, along with plenty of plains game. 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.
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, and you can expect good game viewing, with the highest concentration of wildlife. It’s more economical than many of Botswana’s permanent safari camps, too, particularly during the peak season from June to October. Although national-park restrictions preclude night drives, guided walks and off-roading, and you can get crowding of vehicles at noteworthy sightings, 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!
- 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.
- Savute Under Canvas is reached by light aircraft into Savuti airstrip: roughly a 50-minute flight from Maun or 35 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
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- The food at Savute Under Canvas was very good during our last stay in October 2016, with everything prepared in the camp’s basic mobile 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 also be made to order.
For lunch on our most recent visit we enjoyed kudu steaks, couscous and sultana salad, coleslaw, green salad, freshly baked corn bread and a cheeseboard.
Afternoon tea was a delicious banana cake (beautifully baked in a firepit!) and fresh fruit, served with iced tea.
For dinner we enjoyed an exceptionally tasty green salad with tomato, onion and olives for a starter, which was served with fresh, warm bread. Our main course was spicy grilled chicken with a delicious, savoury peanut sauce, couscous and coleslaw.
- 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.
- See ideas for Birdwatching
- Attitude towards children
- Children aged 12 years and over are welcome at Savute Under Canvas.
- Property’s age restrictions
- No children under 12
- Special activities & services
- No equipment for children is provided.
- Generally recommended for children
- We would recommend Savute Under Canvas only 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, we don’t feel it is suitable for younger children.
- Due to the presence of potentially dangerous wildlife around this unfenced camp, children must be under parental supervision at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Savute Under Canvas
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Savute Under Canvas have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- Hurricane lamps run from solar batteries. Guests may use the plugs in the 4WD safari vehicles to charge cameras, laptops, or tablets from a 220-volt inverter system; just bring your own three round-pin adaptor (the plugs are like those in South Africa or the old-style UK ones).
- Guests should consider themselves out of contact while at Savute Under Canvas.. There is no internet or cellphone reception, although there is a satellite phone to contact Maun in an emergency.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Transported in
- Water supply notes
- Water is collected from the National Park gate office; about 30 to 60 minutes drive away.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- 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, 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.
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is included, but they do not wash smalls. Washing powder is provided on request for this purpose.
- There are no safes in the tents, and currency exchange is not possible.
- 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 facilities. Tips can be made in US dollars, Botswana pula or South African rand.
Other lodges in Chobe National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.