We stayed at 3 different camps in Botswana – Savute Safari Lodge, Leroo LeTau and Camp Okavango Delta – all run by Desert & Delta Safaris.
Our first camp was Savute Safari Lodge which turned out to be my favourite camp because I loved the landscape and the animals here more than anywhere else.
The accomodation at Savute…
The camp itself has 12 rooms – all separate little villas – in the middle of the national park. The area is enclosed by electric fences which made us feel safer as we watched the wild elephants drink from the watering hole just metres away from the balcony of our room. But we were told that the cats – and I mean lions, leopards and cheetahs – dig under the fence to get to the other watering hole. That is – the swimming pool…. Which meant that guests should not leave their rooms after dark without a guide. There was also no wifi or phone service in the area, and just one computer in the main building with a slow broadband connection. Each room had a fog horn which could be used for emergencies. So if the guide forgets to collect you for dinner (which happened to us once at Camp Okavango) you have to patiently wait for them to remember (which they did after about half an hour!) or you could sound the fog horn (we decided to wait patiently…).
I enjoyed Savute so much because I loved watching animal behaviour and the beautiful open – almost harsh-looking – landscape. I loved sitting in the back of a bumpy jeep (ladies, wear a sports bra!) and looking out at the vast open sky, the dry yellow marshy grass and the occasional baobab tree (which looks like an upside down tree with its roots in the sky). My mind was at peace – far, far away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney.
It was the dry season when we visited so there were only a few watering holes which gave us lots of animal viewing, but also high drama as the different animals tried to quell their thirst without getting attacked. Elephants dominated the area and hung around in big packs around the watering hole. Our guide stopped our jeep pretty close to a herd and one elephant started a mock charge towards us to scare us away from their precious water. It was unnerving but exciting at the same time.
We also saw a leopard sleeping in the shade. And just as we were about to leave the park, we pulled up near a lion and lioness hanging out in the sunset. An elephant soon lumbered past and the lions just watched lazily instead of trying to attack.
We were pretty scared being so close to the big game, considering it was our first time on safari – but in hindsight I realise that I didn’t need to be scared at all. Especially as we were in the car – I’m sure it would have been a different story had I gotten out of the car and started running….!!
At Savute we were incredibly spoiled and saw giraffes, elephants, lions, lion cubs, leopards, cheetahs and baby hyenas as well as plenty of groups of innocent impalas (a type of deer), jackals and wildebeest. It was simply amazing.
The landscape and climate…
The landscape at Savute was simple, almost harsh, yet stunning. On early morning game drives I gazed at wide open spaces with an expanse of marshy grass against bright blue skies with streams of sunlight beaming through the clouds. In the evenings as we drove back to camp, we were spoiled with views of the vast sky turning shades of pink and orange as the bright yellow sun moved towards the horizon before disappearing. Seeing the lions and elephants against the sunset was a ‘pinch me’ moment. I also enjoyed our ‘sundowners’ where our knowledgeable guide would stop the vehicle as the sun started setting during our afternoon game drives, fold open a little table and carefully lay out drinks and snacks for us.
The climate is interesting – very cold in the mornings, very hot during the middle of the day and cool again at night time. I recommend layers and a beanie for morning game drives, and changing into shorts and a T-shirt for the afternoon game drive but taking a coat for the drive back to the camp once evening has fallen.
If you’re going to Botswana, I highly recommend this camp as a must-do on your list, especially with Desert and Delta Safaris and organized with our specialist travel agent, Bench Africa. I can’t wait to go back!