Savuti Camp overlooks the Savuti Channel - bone dry for decades, it started flowing again in 2008
Savuti Camp: Our full report
Savuti Camp is about 30km due west of the Savuti Marsh, and the famous Savuti area of Chobe National Park. It stands in the private Linyanti Reserve, which covers 1,250km² and has within it three private camps. In the north, beside the Linyanti River, the environment is like the Chobe riverfront: open floodplains beside the water, an adjacent band of riverine forest, and then dense (mostly mopane) forests stretching away south.
The last time we updated this write-up, all of the talk regarding Savuti Camp was of “dry river beds" and a camp "situated away from any flowing rivers". These days this couldn't be further from the truth as the legendary Savuti Channel is now flowing once more. Where previously there was a waterhole in front of camp there is now a wide, flowing channel. This has altered the entire dynamic of the area as the animals are able to disperse out over a wider area with a more readily available supply of water to support them. As a result the Savuti, which has gained a name for large prides of lion in the past, is seeing an increase in numbers of other predators as the lion prides follow the game and their density decreases. As the competition for resources decreases populations of leopard, cheetah and hyena have now slowly started to increase.
Savuti Camp was totally rebuilt in 2007 (just before the channel filled again) and on our last visit, in December 2010 we were very impressed by the new layout of the camp. The main lodge building is now a large, open-sided, wooden structure crowned by a beautiful high thatched ceiling, and decorated with traditional Botswana basketwork and other local artefacts. A large lounge area features comfortable chairs and sofas, and a good library. The dining area, with a bar, has been turned around so that each guest has a view of the channel while they eat and a decked swimming pool, elevated above the water, offers great views.
A sizeable viewing deck overlooks a permanent waterhole (where breakfast is usually served), and where there’s a small, shaded swimming pool and sunloungers. There is also a firepit where fires are lit in the morning and evening. Wildlife can often be seen coming down to the water to drink and elephants often cross from one bank to the next not far from the main area.
All seven tented chalets (including one family tent) face onto the Savuti Channel, and provide a very private setting from where to enjoy some great views. Each tent has a deck at the front allowing comfortable viewing of the goings-on along the water way.
Around the camp you can expect a fairly steady stream of elephant herds throughout the day and night as they move towards the water to drink.
Activities at Savuti Camp revolve around 4WD game drives up and down the Savuti Channel and then into the surrounding mopane woodlands (although generally this vegetation is less productive for game-viewing). Note that Savuti Camp is in a private reserve, and so it conducts night drives, its vehicles are allowed to drive off the road, and qualified guides are allowed to lead walking safaris with clients. Do not confuse this area with the area around Savuti Marsh, within Chobe National Park– which operates very differently.
Guests spending three nights at either Savuti or its sister-camp, DumaTau, have the exciting option of pre-arranging a night sleeping out in one of the game-hides. These are elevated wooden structures with a tin roof overlooking a water-hole or part of the channel. Guests are driven to the hide where a bed, complete with mosquito net, is set up and dinner can be served. A guide sleeps nearby for added security.
Our viewSavuti Camp is a very appealing little camp; the wildlife is plentiful and varied, the natural history of the area fascinating, and great guiding ensures that all of it can be enjoyed through a variety of activities. All of which is complimented by great food, friendly staff and very comfortable rooms and communal areas on your return to camp.
Ideal length of stay: In the past we've recommended a stay of 2 nights at Savuti camp. With the water now flowing however there are more activities to partake in and the game is a little bit more spread out. Therefore we'd recommend a 3 night stay here to ensure you get the most out of your visit.
Directions: Fly in to Savuti Airstrip, which its towards the north end of the Savuti Channel. It is then about a 30 minute road transfer, depending upon what you see on the way…
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Wilderness Safaris
Staff: Managers: Helena, Warren and Cheri Guides: Goodman, Lets, Kane, Grant
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On our last visit in December 2010, we found that the meals were of a very good standard.
Mealtimes follow the usual safari-camp format, with a light breakfast served at around 6am before your morning game drive, brunch served at around 11am on your return, tea at 4pm before your evening activity, and then a three-course meal at dinner time, usually at about 8pm.
Breakfast: you can pick and choose your breakfast – a selection of cereals, fruit, yoghurt, and muffins.
Brunch: Served buffet-style, with soup, various salads, cold meats, fresh bread and savory dishes such as quiche on offer. On our last visit we enjoyed a brunch of spicy chick-pea dhal, beetroot salad, springbok kebabs and salad all with the option of eggs, bacon and sausage too.
Tea: at tea time you will be tempted by delicious snacks such as shortbread and homemade sausage rolls. Iced tea or coffee and freshly made lemonade are also on offer, as well as hot drinks.
Dinner: a very sociable three-course affair as everyone eats together. On our last visit we were treated to mushroom soup for starters, a main course of roast chicken, vegetables, potato wedges, salad parcels (lettuce wrapped around sweet potato) and for dessert a very tasty crème brûlée.
The camp can cater to vegetarians and any other special dietary requirements if notice is given.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Yes, drinks are included, except for champagne and premium brand spirits.
Birdwatching: With the arrival of the water Savuti has seen an increase in birdlife. Of particular note to birdwatchers in Botswana is the presence of two ospreys in the area that have migrated from Northern Europe.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Botswana
Photography holidays: Two guides at Savuti (Grant and Kani) are both highly talented photographers in their own right (they were featured in the December / January 2010/11 issue of National Geographic). For keen photographers, being guided by two experts will be a real draw to Savuti.See more ideas for Photography holidays in Botswana
Attitude towards children: Children who are 6 years old and above are welcome, although families bringing children who are between the ages of 6 and 12 must hire a private vehicle.
Equipment: No special equipment is provided.
Generally recommended for children: Yes, as Savuti is one of the few Botswana camps which has a family room. Parents must supervise children at all times however. This is a dangerous game area, there are no fences and there are high walkways around camp.
Notes: Special meals can be prepared for children. Note that parents must keep all children under close and constant supervision – as this is a camp through which dangerous game can wander at any time.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: Consider yourself out of contact here, although the main office can be contacted via radio in an emergency.
TV & radio: No, this is the bush!
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: Camp managers and guides are first-aid trained, and a comprehensive medical kit is kept on site. Guests can be flown out to the nearest doctor in Maun in the event of an emergency. Wilderness Safaris also have their own nurse based out in camps in the bush, who is on call to give advice if a guest falls ill. 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: Alarms are provided in the rooms for sounding in the event of an emergency. Guests are also escorted to and from their rooms after dark.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are kept on the balconies of all rooms and in the main areas.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Included
Money: You can pay for any curios with Visa or MasterCard. There is no additional charge made for this. All rooms are equipped with electronic safes.
Accepted payment on location: US$, GB£, Rand, Euros and Botswana Pula are all accepted on location.