Reviews of Savuti Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Savuti- A Preview of Paradise?
After many visits to the Okavango with Expert Africa this was our first visit to the Kwando/Linyanti area. We chose Savuti as it met our usual requirements of small, Wilderness Safaris Classic. The publicity photos do it little justice as most are taken of the camp looking in whereas the major impact on arrival is from the camp looking out. The site is simply stunning now that the Savute Channel is flowing again.
We were warned that the changed environment and expanse of mopane forest somewhat limits the game viewing but that overlooked the skills of our guide Ace. He worked tirelessly to seek out all that there was and provided us with great sightings of big game, small game, birds and insects galore.
Our room was huge and, perched on the edge of the channel, had a view to die for. The staff are a delight and the management, courtesy of Abbie and Small Ben served up a continual stream of surprise dinners and lunches. The traditional evening in the boma was an absolute triumph of fantastic song and dance. We were extremely lucky in that our guide was an 'extra' while we were there so we effectively had a private vehicle for the full 4 days. This was the Wilderness Classic experience in spades and reinforced our view that their formula is spot on as a balanced safari holiday experience. They 'know how to do it'.
Two areas slightly worried us. The first was a curious absence of management at dinner. In most other Wilderness camps it is normal for at least one of the managers to dine with the guests but I do not think that either Abbie or Ben dined with us on any of our 4 nights. Had they joined us our second gripe might have been avoided? This was a depressing repeat of the tough, almost uncuttable meat we experienced with Wilderness last year. As we report later and as we know from previous experience with Wilderness, this need not happen. Someone in the Wilderness chain of command really must address this issue and soon. We hope that our fellow guests, who also experienced this, make the effort to complain. I certainly did on my camp questionnaire before we left.
However, none of these criticisms should put others off Savuti. It is a gem and the staff really make it work. Given decent meat it would be right up there with the very best.
Expert Africa comments
While these travellers had a great stay at Savuti, they found the meat tough and difficult to cut. We contacted the camp who were very sorry to hear this, especially as they told Expert Africa that they tenderise the steaks before grilling them. However, they discovered that they did forget to set the table with steak knives. They assured Expert Africa that their meat supplier has been contacted and they will be keeping an eye on the meat supply to ensure that the cuts are of high grade.
Elephants everywhere at Savuti
Again a long way to the furthest room - with no indication of this in brochures. Our room was pleasant and spacious, right on the channel, with elephants in front and crossing at all times of day.
A lot of wildlife, including a cheetah, wild dogs hunting and killing eland, and ground hornbills.
The boat ride was a bit nerve-racking - very close to a herd of elephants crossing the channel with a big, rampant, bull in charge, but followed by a good sundowner with a pod of hippos.
Very enjoyable last couple of drives with private vehicle and guide Ace.
Very nice souvenir shop.
Savuti Camp review
Beautiful camp. Excellent staff.
Carlton was our guide and he was amazing. He is truly passionate about wildlife and will go the extra mile to get the best picture and make sure you get the most out of your time. We were very lucky to see many leopards at this camp. We saw 4 in one day!
We were also lucky enough to see a wild dog on a kill. It was interesting to contrast the different behaviors of the wild dog pack here and the pack at Lagoon.
Another excellent camp, with a beautiful position overlooking the Savuti Channel. Staff and facilities were top class, and guiding and wildlife viewing brilliant. We saw a wide range of animals, including leopard, buffalo and wild dog.
Mornings were very cold, but we were well provided for with hot water bottles and ponchos
First class safari experience
Excellent high end camp
The nicest accommodations of the 4 stops during my trip. Very nice rooms including electricity in the rooms and a great view of the Savuti Channel from each room. I could see elephants across the channel regularly. Had one elephant stop by to have lunch next to my front porch (within 5-10 feet) one afternoon. Went on a nice late afternoon boat trip and got to check out some hippos. Click here if you are interested in viewing a quick tour of my room.
The staff was great and very friendly. I spent 3 nights at each of my camps except this one. I was only at Savuti for 2 nights, but wished I could had stayed one more. I don't feel I gave it enough time to do it justice. Still, I got to see many lions, hippos, zebra, wild dogs, giraffe and LOTS of elephants! I got to see lions feeding on a small dead elephant. That was quite interesting. One afternoon, a herd of elephants wandered into camp and I was able to get quite close to them for some great pictures. The elephants were pretty mellow in this area as long as you kept a reasonable distance from them (10-20 feet).
My one small complaint about Savuti was that they did not use a tracker on game drives as all my other camps did. Now, our guide seemed to be very good at spotting game and even small animals while driving, but I have to think we might have missed some things that we wouldn't have missed had they used a tracker. I don't know if this is the norm though. Maybe they were just understaffed when I was there.
One of the highlights of Savuti was a walking safari. It was about a 3 mile hike for 1.5 hours. Our guide, Silas, was very knowledgeable. We heard lions roaring for much of our walk. He said it was nothing to worry about until at one point, he stopped, told us to get behind a fallen tree and sure enough a lion wandered by about 3 minutes later. Luckily, it was far enough away that it paid us no attention.
All in all, a very good experience. If you prefer nicer accommodations, this is an especially good choice. Click here for pictures and short videos of my trip (from 4 different camps). I hope this review is helpful for you.
Expert Africa comments
Just for information: neither the team at Savuti Camp, nor its sister-camps in the Wilderness group, have used of trackers in Botswana for over 10 years and they have no plans to reinstate them.
A Great Introduction to Safari Life
Our first camp experience was a very positive introduction to the safari experience. We cannot say enough about our guide, Goodman, who operated very expertly without a tracker and took time to explain both the flora and fauna patiently. He took very good care of us in every aspect and we used him as our basis for judging later guides.
The management team of Beatrice and Aaron worked well together and the whole operation ran very smoothly. The camp had a slightly more formal atmosphere than subsequent camps which might be attributable to the fact that the management team was temporary.
Savuti Camp review
It was great to see the channel now full of water - which made for excellent game viewing.
Excellent guides - especially Ace - who had a great sense of humour.
Camp staff very friendly and accommodating
Wild Dogs in Savuti
We had a delightful stay at Savuti and it set the standard for the rest of our trip. The staff were extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Our guide, Lazi, was first rate and because we had hired a private vehicle we were able to do what we had intended. The highlight was undoubtedly seeing the pack of 19 wild dogs close up. The boat trip on the channel proved to be a wonderful way of viewing the elephants and provided some excellent photo opportunities. All in all we saw the animals we had expected. The dogs were a real bonus.
The management were very helpful indeed and eager to ensure we got the most out of our holiday. I must thank Grant Atkinson for all his tips on photography even though he was not our guide.
Great accommodation and best game viewing
Excellent accommodation, service and hospitality. Initially we and our car mates were unhappy with our guide who appeared uncommunicative and opinionated. After a word with Warren, the manager, the situation improved significantly.
This guide is highly regarded by management and by previous guests judging by comments in the visitors book, so we obviously struck him on an off day.
Game viewing was excellent, and included wild dog, cheetah, leopard and a small herd of sable
An amazing transformation
It was wonderful to see Savuti transformed by the water in the channel. It is now such a pretty area and it was so interesting to see how quickly waterbased flora and fauna have moved into the area. It was so strange to sit on our deck watching hippos, herons and fish eagles instead of herds of plains animals.
There are still vast numbers of elephant in the area with lots of young. A new phenomenon is the large number of hippos now basking in the river. Some of the best hippo viewing we have ever had.
However, compared with our previous visit we felt that the game viewing was not as good. Whether this was just bad luck for the days we were there, a one-off result of the game being more dispersed as the result of the number of waterholes resulting from good, and late, rains or a longer term effect of the flowing channel. it is difficult to say. Also it is possible that herds of other types of animal will increase over time as a result of the flowing channel (e.g. lechwe, roan antelope, reed and water buck, buffalo etc.).
Dinner in the bush was quite a highlight, something we have never done before in 5 visits to Botswana.
Expert Africa comments
The team at Savuti wrote back to us about this feedback, commenting:
“Thanks very much for passing on this feedback; it’s quite likely that the game has dispersed due to the amount of water in the area. However this should have some great positives! Previously, during the dry season, the game used to concentrate around the water hole in front of camp as this was the only water hole for miles. Whilst this provided for tremendous game viewing, it did mean there was a level of stress amongst the game as well as resulting in limited grazing in the surrounding area. However, now that the Savuti Channel has water (after more than 20 years of it being dry), the game no longer needs to concentrate in the one small area - the result being the game is less stressed and the surrounding vegetation is getting an opportunity to recover.
To clarify though, on average we think that the game viewing out of Savuti Camp is as good as it always has been (much of the game has still followed its normal migratory patterns) but its more a matter of the game not being concentrated in the one small area. The elephants are back in the Linyanti in good numbers and, as is the case elsewhere, the predators have retained their territories. Further, as a result of the increased water and less concentrated grazing, the herbivore populations have also benefited.
We’re really pleased that guests now have the added experience of seeing the Savuti Channel with water as well as great game viewing.”