Savuti

Zebras in Savuti Game Reserve
Zebras in Savuti Game Reserve

Savuti, or Savute, is a true wilderness in the southwest section of Chobe National Park. Read our guide to discover more.

Location

Savuti is part of Chobe National Park in northern Botswana. It’s 200 km north of Maun and 170 km southwest from Kasane.

Tips for Savuti

  • There’s only one campsite in Savuti and it can fill up – book well in advance.
  • The Tracks4Africa Botswana Map* is very useful.
  • Fuel up and get groceries at Maun to the south or Kasane in the north beforehand. There’s only a small tuck shop at the campsite – you can get beer, crisps and firewood.
  • You can rent an equipped 4×4* from nearby Maun or Kasane.
  • Prepare for hot days in summer, and chilly nights in winter.
  • Check out our guide to nearby Moremi Game Reserve or Maun.
  • Find the best books to read while in Botswana.
  • We stopped at Savuti towards the end of our two-month Botswanan road trip which you can read more about in my book*.
Sunset in Savuti park, Botswana

Savuti is a very wild and sandy area of Chobe National Park. It’s far from anywhere, the stars are amazing and the landscape is extremely diverse. You can read more about our time in this park in the travel adventure book I wrote, No Footprints in the Night: On Safari in Botswana*.

We saw a pride of lions, herds of elephants, many antelope, a huge concentration of zebras, plenty of giraffes, buffaloes and many birds. We also had a puff adder slither into our campsite one evening while we were eating dinner.

Information and Itinerary

There is no fuel or facilities in Savuti. Stock up everything you need beforehand, either in Maun to the south (200 km on the most direct route), or Kasane to the northeast (170 kilometres). If you haven’t paid for your camping or park fees already, make sure to bring cash.

Gate Opening Hours

Gate opening hours in Savuti are from 6 am to 6:30 pm Apr-Sep (winter) and 5:30 am to 7 pm Oct-Mar (summer). You should be back in your campsite out of these hours. Occasionally, staff don’t arrive at the gates on time.

Kudu in Botswana

Itinerary

We camped for two nights at Savuti Campsite. On the first day we spent the early morning in Khwai, before setting off on the 5-hour drive to the campsite. We had a rest in camp before a late-afternoon safari.

The second day, we went on game drives in the morning and afternoon. On our third and final day, we went on an early morning game drive, had breakfast back at camp, and then set off on the drive north to Mwandi View, a lodge and campsite near Chobe Riverfront.

There are not that many tracks in Savuti, so not lots of options for different game drives. I think two nights in the park was a good amount, though of course we could have spent another night or two. I would have liked to visit nearby Linyanti Marshes for two nights, but the campsite there was not available when we visited.

Best time of year to visit Savuti

There’s good game viewing all year around, but it can be very hot and very wet in some seasons. The best time to visit Savuti is probably the dry season, May-August. The tracks are dry and animals concentrate at the waterholes in the park. It is not that warm during the days, but can be very cold at night.

In September and October, it’s still dry but becomes very hot and dusty in the area. However, the dryness does concentrate the animals even further towards the waterholes. In November and December the rains start to fall, the grass becomes green and more birds start to visit the park. The tracks normally remain good.

Later in the rainy season, in January and February, the rain can be very heavy and the animals have dispersed from the waterholes. March and April can be good times, seeing fewer tourists and still plenty of wildlife but not much rain.

How to get to Savuti

Lions in Savuti Park
Lions in Savuti Park

How to get to Savuti from Maun and the South

From Maun, the most direct route takes 3 hours to Mababe Gate, but most self-drivers spend a few days in Moremi and Khwai before continuing on to Savuti. From Mababe Gate, it’s 70 km to the centre of the park and the campsite. This takes between 3-5 hours depending on the road, which is quite sandy. Ask at Mababe Gate whether to take the Sand Ridge Road or the Marsh Road.

  1. Direct Route: Maun to Savuti via Mababe Village

The most direct drive from Maun to Savuti goes via the village of Mababe, then onwards to Mababe Gate, and is about 130 km and 3 hours to the gate. Past Mababe Village, don’t take the first road, a straight cutline to Mababe Gate, but the next road on the right. The turning is about 4 km northwest of the village and signed.

  1. Longer Route: Maun to Savuti via Moremi and Khwai.

Many self-drivers travelling to Savuti spend some nights in Moremi and/or Khwai before heading north to Savuti. To drive through Moremi you need to pay park fees even if you don’t stay overnight within the park. After Khwai Village, stay on the main good dirt track which swings north, northeast and then back southeast. The best road to Mababe Gate is not the first, but the second track on the left, 4 km before Mababe Village. The turning is well-signed.

How to get to Savuti from Kasane and the North

Kachikau Village is 93 km along a tarred road from Kasane, and from there it’s 40 sandy kilometres to Goha Gate, the northern entrance to Savuti. From the gate it’s another 30 still sandy kilometres to the centre of Savuti park.

Road Conditions in Savuti

We drove 225 km in total in Savuti, from the main road south of Mababe Gate in Khwai to the village of Kachikau on the northern side of Savuti. We stopped off here on the long drive between Maun and Kasane, filling up fully our fuel tank and jerry cans in Maun.

All the tracks in the park are very sandy, much more so than in the Central Kalahari or the other desert parts of Botswana. Make sure you let the air out of your tires. If coming from the south you should have already done this. Coming from the north, the tar ends in Kachikau Village so deflate your tires here. A few places by the side of the road will reinflate your tires here for a small fee if you don’t have your own compressor. The tar continues 93 km to Kasane, or 45 km to the nearest entrance to Chobe Riverfront.

Sandy Tracks

The sandiest part was actually outside of the park, between Goha North Gate and Kachikau Village. Here the track is quite wide and has lots of undulating ups and downs. This was the sandiest bit of driving we found in Botswana, and the only time we used our low range – we were going up one of the very sandy inclines and just came to a halt. After changing into low range we powered upwards from a standstill to the top (in our trusty Defender).

The sand is not a problem if you’re not pulling and have a decent vehicle with low range. We saw one car pulling a trailer stuck in the sand on the Sand Ridge Road about 50 km north of Mababe Gate. This was quite sandy, but definitely not as bad as the undulating sandy road near Kachikau Village. Luckily, the main roads through Savuti are all regularly driven so help will arrive if you do get stuck and can’t self-rescue.

Long grass covering the tracks and hiding lions in Savuti Marsh area
Long grass covers the tracks and hides the lions in the marsh area
A rare nice, firm track
Sandy track between Savuti and Kachikau Village
Very sandy track between Savuti and Kachikau Village

Botswana Overlanding Book

I captured our many adventures in a travel book, check it out on Amazon*.

South Africa was kicking us out so we had to make a plan. ‘What about Botswana?’ A few days before we overstayed our visas, we hit the road in our trusty Defender and sped north from Cape Town.

Self-Drive Safaris in Savuti

Bushman Paintings in Savuti
Waterhole in Botswana
Baobab Island in Savuti, Chobe, Botswana

From Savuti Campsite there are basically two options for self-drives – head north of south. To the south is Savuti Marsh, while to the north is a grassy plains area with waterholes. In between there are some notable rocky hills – a favourite haunt of leopards, and you can drive along the banks or within the channel of the Savuti River.

Savuti Marsh can be wet or dry depending on the year and the seasons. The routes near the marsh can be slightly overgrown with long grass, and we almost ran over a pride of lions sleeping on the track because they were so disguised. The routes here are also quite confusing – there are many tracks which change with the years, becoming overgrown or disused as time goes on.

To the south before the marsh and near the river channel are some Bushman Paintings. You can visit these but you must walk about 100 metres from the safety of your car up some rocks. I was terrified and found a handy stick by the signpost (I assume left by a previous visitor after use for the same purpose). For some reason I felt way more confident with this flimsy, skinny metre-long bit of wood. The paintings were nice – of an eland and an elephant – and there were good views from the rocks.

There are many waterholes in Savuti. Those to the north are greener and wetter. In this area we saw herds of elephants, zebras, giraffes and many birds. To the south the waterholes are surrounded by drier scrubland. We saw a huge concentration of zebras at one of the waterholes, more antelope, and a couple of grumpy buffaloes.

Viewpoints

To the northeast of the campsite is a viewpoint at the top of Quarry Hill. We drove to the base of the hill, but reached a bit where the road gets suddenly steep. And I mean, REALLY steep. I couldn’t possibly imagine driving up that almost vertical cliff face, so we didn’t make it to the top. On Tracks4Africa* this is just marked as ‘steep stony climbing’, but you have to be brave to attempt it.

Not far north of Quarry Hill is the Baobab Gallery. This is a collection of scenic baobabs clustered together on a small rocky outcrop.

Savuti Entrance Fee and Camping Rates

We ended up booking all our campsites in Botswana via Botswana Footprints. They were very professional and their booking fee was surprisingly low.

Contact Details for Savuti Campsite and the National Park

Park fees: Significantly increased in 2022. Now P30/205/270 for citizens/residents & SADC/ international per person per day + vehicle fees per day of P30/115 and trailer fees of 15/60 for local/international. Children 8-15 half price and under 8 free.

Contact Details: Contact SKL Camps to book Savuti Campsite, the only campground in Savuti. Contact the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) to pay conservation fees in advance and receive a voucher, or pay in cash at the park gates.

Department of Wildlife and National Parks: Botswana Parks and Reserves Reservation Office, +267 397 1405 or +267 318 0774, [email protected] Office hours 07:30-16:3, closed weekends.

SKL Camps: +267 686 53 65/6, [email protected], [email protected] Try contacting them on Facebook or their website.

Camping Rates for Savuti Campsite

CitizenResidentSADCInternational
P110P170P275$60
Prices are per person per night.

Accommodation in Savuti

Savuti Campsite

There is only one campsite in Savuti (map↑), managed by SKL Camps. It’s very expensive (especially for international visitors), but there’s no other option within the park. The campsite is variously called Savuti Campsite, Savuti Rest Camp, or Savuti Public Camp or Paradise Campsite (though this last refers to one specific site within the campground). This shouldn’t be confused with Camp Savuti, a lodge adjacent to the campground. There’s a little tuck shop at the campground where you can buy cold beer and firewood.

There are 14 sites at Savuti Campsite, spread around a central ablutions block. The ablutions are in a bunker, for elephant protection, and are generally clean, with hot showers and flush toilets. The campsites are cleaned and raked most days which is nice. A downside is that music from the nearby lodges can sometimes be heard in the evenings.

Site Details

Each site has a water tap, fireplace and grill area. Most sites are centred on a large shade tree, though some of these have fallen down, resulting in very sunny sites. The sites are also all quite sandy and none are very large – three cars would be slightly cramped.

Sites 1-4 plus Paradise Campsite overlook the Savuti Channel (normally dry). Of the other sites, 6 is large and quite secluded, but far from the ablutions. 5 is also a nice site on the edge of the campsite. We stayed in Site 8 which was away from the river, but was relatively private and had a large shade tree in the middle.

Paradise Campsite, Savuti

Paradise campsite is the name of one of the sites in Savuti Campground. It’s the best site in Savuti Campsite, with views over the riverbed (often dry), shade and relative seclusion. Paradise Camp is in the far left corner of the campground.

Savuti Campsite 8
Campsite 8
Cooking at our Campsite in Savuti
Cooking at our Campsite
An puff adder visits our campsite in Savuti
An puff adder visits our campsite

Luxury Safari Lodges in Savuti

All the lodges within Chobe are expensive. The cheapest is Camp Savuti, adjacent to Savuti Campsite and both managed by SKL Camps. Being next to the campsite, it lacks the remote feel of the other lodges in the park. Savute Safari Lodge and Savuti Elephant Lodge are both also near the centre of Savuti, but very luxurious. Ghoha Hills is much further to the north.

Camp Savuti SKL (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*): A lodge run by SKL, just next to the campsite. There are 5 luxury tents with private deck overlooking the (dry) Savuti Channel. $600-755 per person per night. It’s the cheapest of the lodges, but just next to the campsite and staff lodgings so it doesn’t feel that remote.

Ghoha Hills Savuti (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*): A luxury lodge in the north of Savuti, on a hillside with great views.

Savute Safari Lodge (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*): A luxury lodge overlooking the Savuti Channel (sometimes dry).

Savuti Elephant Lodge (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*): A very luxurious lodge, part of the Belmond group, also overlooking the Savuti Channel (sometimes dry).

Elephant and bird in Botswana

Accommodation bordering Savuti

Thobolo’s Bush Lodge (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*): A great lodge with a campsite overlooking a large pan full of water visited by herds of elephants, buffaloes and more. Camping $40 per person per night.

Moae Camp (Website): A small, basic, local-run camp in the middle of the wilderness. Campsites $20, basic fixed tents with ensuite and kitchenettes $70.

I hope you enjoyed our guide to Savuti (Chobe) in Botswana. If so, check out nearby Khwai or Moremi Game Reserve, or our overall Guide to Botswana.


Savuti was a stop in Botswana on our two-month road trip. Find out more by reading the travel book I wrote, No Footprints in the Night: On Safari in Botswana*.

FAQS

What is the speed limit in Savuti?

The speed limit in Savuti is 40 km/h.

How far is Savuti from Maun?

The southern Mababe Gate to Savuti is 130 km and about 3 hours from Maun, while the centre of the Savuti area is about 200 km and 6-7 hours from Maun.

What are the gate hours for Savuti?

Gate opening hours in Savuti are from 6 am to 6:30 pm Apr-Sep (winter) and 5:30 am to 7 pm Oct-Mar (summer).

Where is Savuti?

Savuti is the southwestern section of Chobe National Park in northern Botswana, about halfway between Maun and Kasane.

When is the best time to visit Savuti?

The best time to visit is the dry season in May-Aug for the high concentration of game. It’s very hot Sep-Oct, but still lots of game. There’s often heavy rain Jan-Feb. Nov-Dec and Mar-Apr can also be good times.

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