One of the three Belmond safaris in Botswana, Savute truly is the elephant capital of the world! What did we think? Read on..
Located in the Chobe National Park in northern Botswana, Savute Elephant Lodge is a 45 minute flight from Maun International Airport followed by a 20 minutes drive from the airstrip to the lodge. This is as far as it gets between all three lodges, and it's well worth the trip. The flight from Maun to Savute is stunning, overlooking the Okavango Delta, and landing in Savute is the perfect way to start a safari trip, flying twice over the airstrip to ensure no animals are on the tarmac.
Affluent couples and families from around the world looking to relax and wind down. There were quite a few Americans during my stay, if I had to pinpoint one nationality, but it's diverse. Belmond Safaris are quite pricey (and rightfully so), as is travel to and in Boswana in general so this is important to keep in mind.
Style and Character
Rustic, authentic, luxurious and classy. It sounds contradicting, but Belmond got it just right. Walking into the camp you feel like you are literally in the middle of the nature, with no visible barriers or fences. You can immediately see the river beyond the lodge where the animals congregate around the water, and all rooms come with the same view. The colours are earthy and natural, the furniture is classic, and overall there is a very harmonious atmosphere.
Where do I begin? The service was impeccable. We received the warmest welcome from the staff who put on an arrival show for us and continued to wow us throughout our stay. They were all extremely professional, personable and friendly and we enjoyed getting to know them. The lodge managers, Magda and Natie, were so kind and knowledgeable and it was great spending time with them in the evenings.
Rooms and Suites
The lodge has 12 tented luxury rooms, all air-conditioned, spacious, and super comfortable. Each room has a four-poster bed with mosquito netting (the staff takes care of pulling the netting down every night for you), huge bathroom, and outdoor shower (!). The shower pressure was a bit low, but that's the only hiccup I experienced during my stay. Considering one should pack lightly when going on safari, there was more than enough closet space, equipped with robes, slippers, and more. There is an outdoor terrace with a hammock and lounge chairs, overlooking the river. 5/5 for the rooms.
Food and Drink
All-inclusive meal plans can often be a bit off-putting, but not here. The food and wine selection were superb and I truly enjoyed all meals. Breakfast was a buffet of cereals, fruit, yogurt, eggs, etc. (to be honest, you eat so early before heading out on game drives that it's not the most memorable meal in any event). Lunches were a nice selection of salads, meat, and other fresh dishes. The most memorable meal though was on our first evening at the traditional Boma. We had a BBQ which was delicious, but the best part was the local teens who came to perform throughout dinner in their local Setswana language.
Features, Wellness, and Amenities
The lodge has a great pool which was ideal for cooling off in the afternoon between game drives, which is in fact the best feature of the lodge. Chobe National Park had just had a massive rainfall a few weeks prior to our arrival which left the surroundings lush and green. On the one hand this made us work harder to find the animals since they were spread around more than usual, but on the other hand what we did spot was fantastic. From Kalahari lions who had recently been transported to Chobe, to wildebeest, jackals, eagles, buffalo, giraffes, and of course elephants (over 100,000 to be precise). Our guide Watch was so knowledgeable and we felt very privileged to have him with us.
I would not hesitate recommending a trip here, combined with the other two Belmond lodges. It's expensive, but well worth the price.
Looking forward to returning!