Part 6: Savuti Campsite, Savuti

Southeast of the Linyanti lies a place that has truly captured my heart. Much drier than the Linyanti in May, the Savuti is part of the Chobe National Park and its landscape features dramatic rocky hills, ancient baobab trees, mopane forest, scrub and savanna. How’s that for diverse? It’s also wild like nothing we’d encountered yet. Plus there were no mosquitoes.

Sunset over Savuti
Another day passes in the Savuti.

We left Linyanti Bush Camp shortly after breakfast and it took ages backtracking down the thick sand road to Ngoma Gate. On the very last stretch, which was wide enough for just one car, I pulled over to let someone pass and in a panic I’d get stuck by stopping, I didn’t give way to an oncoming army truck. As the truck was less nimble than our Ford Ranger, I had to hit the brake and promptly got stuck.

At once, six army men jumped out of the truck and helped me push my vehicle back out of the rut. Botswana Army, thank you and hats off to you for dedicating your lives to the protection of your wildlife.

While I was paying my debt for being an inconsiderate driver by getting stuck, another two self-driving tourists were racking up their bad karma account. Flying past my car, a truck and six men on the narrow sand road, they overtook us dangerously and honked their horns. We would see them half an hour later changing a flat tyre, in the lion-rich Savuti.

The Savuti is part sand, and part marsh, with the marshy area harbouring the best game. However, it’s also the most treacherous for driving, with roads turning easily to mud and trails made of deep, deep sand. For visitors able to hack these conditions, you’re rewarded with animal sightings all to yourself. With so many lion, leopard, giraffe and big bull elephant in the park, you’re in for a treat. The bird life is also spectacular and there are many amazing small species including honey badger.

A Savuti lioness enjoys the afternoon heat.

We would again see our inconsiderate mates bogged in ankle deep mud in Savuti, choosing the muddy path when there was clearly a good, sandy B-line road.

Savuti Black Cotton Soil
Notice the perfectly good sand road to the left of the vehicle? These guys chose not to use it.

The SKL campsite located beside Savuti Gate is pretty decent, with a central ablution block that is surrounded by a high concrete wall so it looks like a prison. Why? Because the Savuti elephants quickly discovered that they could reach inside the windows and turn on the showers for water to drink. Windows just got smashed and it didn’t matter if someone was inside washing up. Also, the ellies were a bit inconsiderate and didn’t ever turn off the water so a wall was built.

Our site, CK07, was under a camel thorn tree and fairly secluded. It had its own firepit, a braai and tap. I searched all over for the faucet only to find it inside a concrete bunker, no doubt constructed to deter thirsty elephants. By sundown, we had a crackling fire and dinner on the stove, so all we had to do was sit and wait for the rice to cook.

When darkness fell, a camp staff member came round with a torch to tell us an elephant had been through the site. He flashed his light around to show us the tracks and the beam fell upon a large puff adder, the second most deadly African snake. We tried to hustle it back into the scrub but it seemed intent on crossing back through our campsite. Eventually it retreated into the bush.

Puff Adder
An unexpected night-time visitor and Africa’s second-deadliest snake.

We sat down contentedly to dinner and while we were tucking in beside the fire, I spotted the adder right behind Wayn’s chair so we jumped up and moved quickly away. Our torch revealed tracks showing that it had crossed beneath our feet before either of us saw it and then come right back again, behind us. Very soon after that, we packed up everything and made the decision to go straight to bed, with no trips to the bathroom that night!


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