Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge
What We Love
- Jetsetter 2014 Best of the Best Winner: Best Hotel For Communing With Nature
- Rate includes all meals and drinks (including premium spirits and wines), two game drives a day, return flight transfers from Maun, national park fees and more
- The luxe tents feature four-poster beds and decks strung with hammocks
- Open-air meals of southern African dishes around a roaring bonfire
- No need to bring a camera, just a memory card; the staff can arrange photography equipment (for a fee)
What To Know
- Minibars come stocked with preferred beverages (selected prior to arrival)
- Most journeys involve an overnight stay in Johannesburg, a flight to Maun and a short flight to Savute Elephant Lodge
- Children eight and over are welcome at the lodge
- The small plane to the camp allows only soft bags, and there’s a 44-pound weight limit per person
- Wake-up calls are before sunrise, between 5 and 6 a.m.
- Pair with a stay at one of Belmond’s neighboring safari camps, Khwai River Lodge or Eagle Island Lodge
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
In northern Botswana’s wild Chobe Desert, a miracle occurred in 2010. After nearly 30 years of lying barren, the Savute Channel started flowing again. Located in the center of this thriving African wilderness is Savute Elephant Camp, where 12 megaluxe canvas and thatch tents with decks offer views of the herds of animals who come to drink from the channel. The life-giving liquid has turned the once arid area into active wetlands, attracting animals from miles around. The watering hole, which guests can see from almost every point in the camp, is truly spectacular: Elephants, warthogs and a seemingly endless variety of other beasts and fowl gather in harmony to quench their thirst.
Bed and Bath
A night under canvas here is more akin to sleeping in a five-star hotel than in your average tent (more glamping than camping). Outside, the wilds of Africa abound, but inside it’s Old World colonial luxury: four-poster beds draped in mosquito netting, elegant his-and-hers vanities, open-air decks with hammocks and vintage-style fans. The minibars can even be stocked with your favorite drinks prior to arrival.
Days are filled with game drives and birdwatching. Nights are for indulging in multicourse meals served in the serenely stylish dining room. The camp has its own traditional boma, a fortlike meeting place around a roaring fire, where guests can swap safari experiences and marvel at the stars that sparkle in the vast African sky. There’s also a 65-foot pool for post-safari dips and a small shop stocked with safari wear and local arts and crafts.
In the Area
The rate includes two game drives per day, during which you can expect to see a huge range of creatures, from big cats to rhinos, antelopes, and buffaloes. The Gubatsa Hills shelter leopards, klipspringers and rock paintings of early man’s wildlife sightings. Adopt a wattled crane, one of the most endangered species in southern Africa, through the Savute’s conservation program, or sign up for a massage at Khwai River Lodge’s spa — and be sure to ask for Tumi, who is legendary throughout northern Botswana.
How to Get There
Although this was certainly not our first safari experience and we had stayed at several, excellent &Beyond properties previously, I must admit I was a little concerned when our travel agent suggested two nights in a tent, without electricity and running water, in Botswana, in October, when temperatures can be extreme! However, I am so glad that I agreed to the suggestion, as the overall experience, 'under canvas' within Chobe National Park, was memorable, with two nights probably being the optimal length of stay and ideally at the start of your trip to Botswana. The camp itself is less than 2 hours drive from (the relatively new) Kasane airport, including a good stretch driving within the Park. The camp consists of six or so comfortable tents, with battery generated torch-lamp lighting, hot water bucket showers, a large wash jug and bowl and a flushing toilet. Igobe, the camp manager and his team really make you feel welcome from the moment you arrive and do a great job at looking after and feeding you, with communal meals eaten in front of an atmospheric fire, looking up at the stars! The camp does relocate and move around the Park every few days, so do check (if you can) where you might be camping, as we thought a location overlooking the Chobe river would have been ideal, rather than the bush site that we experienced. Chobe National Park itself is a wonderful place to visit and a 'must do', is to take a boat along the Chobe river, which is teeming with birds, herds of elephants and hippos. It is a great way to experience the park, in addition to the animal drives (I hate the term 'game drives'!) on land and if you can, take the Pangolin photo (river) safari, where you are taught how to optimally use a 600mm zoom, with an 8GB SD card to use and take home. The wildlife in the park is good and, in addition to numerous elephants, different antelopes, hippos and giraffe, we saw a couple of leopards but sadly no lions. Overall it was fun and memorable experience at Chobe Under Canvas, that we would very much recommend.
As most reviewers have mention their wonderful experience with andbeyond - I will not dwell on it. We had use &Beyond on our previous trip to Kenya/Tanzania. We booked directly and work with Karen Richards about a year ago on this trip and it exceeded our expectations. We had 7 nights at 3 camps (Chobe, Nxabega and Sandibe).
Chobe under canvas:- camping in the wild with the wild (no wifi, no laundry, limited electricity- no hairdryers for the ladies and full of animal noises and some mosquitoes/bugs). If you not game to pay to ‘suffer’ - then skip this place but you be missing the wildlife and lifetime experience this place can offer. If you serve in the military, bring back fond memories except the flush toilet.
The game drive start from the time you are pick or met at Kasane Airport and it takes about 2 hrs to get to the campsite. Expect lots of dust during the drives and be prepared. Safari is tough and hard work, u wake up at 6am each day and travel distance to explore and ‘hunt’ for new sightings.
Our highlight during our stay was tracking and seeing a pride of 6 adults lions with 4 cubs crossing in front of our vehicle.
Very exclusive and very intimate safari and very down to earth camping but with the added luxury - warm bed, hot water, proper meals etc.
The camp manager, Igobe and his team of 7 people has done a great job of first class hospitality, superior meals, and attending to guests daily needs. Innocent our guide, is a photographic buff himself and that helps in great spotting and photo shoots.
The 3hrs photographic boat trip was fun even for the novice like us... just point and shoot with a high end Canon camera provided with an instructor.
The Chobe river is beaming with wildlife and colourful birds and you see most of the the Big 5 (except for the rhino n leopard).
Overall, great n fun experience and do it when you young below 70yrs and stay for at least 2 nights if not more.
My wife and I loved our two-night stay with Chobe Under Canvas. Highlights include our guide, Innocent, who was incredibly knowledgeable about all things Chobe; the quality of care from everyone at the camp; the comfort of the canvas tents (the bed was as comfortable as at home); and the photography boat tour. We look forward to returning to Botswana, and to trying other andBeyond properties in Africa. Thank you!
We had a memorable two night stay which started badly when there was no one to pick us up at Kasane airport for over an hour and a lot of phone calls, then the vehicle broke down on our way through the park to our camp and we had another 45 minutes wait while another vehicle was called to rescue us, but once we got to the camp everything from the accommodation to the freshly prepared food was excellent. The tent was extremely comfortable and there was always plenty of hot water. There was even a proper flushing toilet! The staff were excellent and our guide KD was very knowledgeable and keen to make sure we had a great trip. We also had a wonderful photographic cruise on the river. Hopefully we will be back again some day.
If you want to visit Chobe Park then this is the place to stay! You are right in the middle of the wildlife and have a better chance early in the morning and late afternoon to observe and find the animals without too many other cars around. The camp itself is simply amazing! From the luxurious tents to the wonderful food but most of all the people who run it and work there. We were so well taken care of and felt safe even with the roar of lions and the grunting of hippos at night. A true Africa experience! A special thanks to our guide Innocent who led us to fantastic pictures and to Igobe, our camp manager who was an endless source of knowledge about life in Botswana. We will never forget all the laughter we shared and so many memorable moments!
Everything simply comes together in this place and you will love every minute spend there!
We know we will be back for sure!