Famous as the stage upon which lion prides compete with hyena clans for food and territory, Savuti has long been the destination of choice for safari aficionados. A remote area of the Chobe National Park, it has earned its international reputation for raw, dramatic game viewing thanks to its open landscapes, abundant wildlife and full cast of predators.
Usually accessed by air, Savuti - also spelled Savute - nicely complements Botswana's other iconic destinations - the Chobe River and sprawling Okavango Delta wetlands. Its open woodlands provide habitat for large antelope and buffalo herds, preyed on by big cats and wild dogs, while permanent waterholes ensure elephants remain in Savuti all year.
But it's the clear waters of the Savuti Channel, now flowing after nearly 30 years, that makes a Savuti safari so rewarding. Its banks crowded with animals and birds, the river winds its way south from the Linyanti Swamps to flood the famous Savuti Marsh, a landscape of ghostly dead trees and now teeming with wildlife.
Game viewing is excellent throughout the year but the dry winter season is the best time to visit Savuti for the most comfortable experience: the climate is dry and mild though bitterly cold at night from May to August. September and October see Savuti at its hottest, driest and most desperate but game drives often result in spectacular sightings.
Lying in ambush at water sources, Savuti's lions are notorious for their ability to pull down Africa's biggest mammals - buffalo, giraffe and even elephants.
Lasting around five months, the summer rains begin in November. This is when to go to Savuti for some of the most unpredictable but extraordinary game viewing in Southern Africa. Countless migrant birds arrive, spearheaded by dazzling carmine bee-eaters, hundreds of baby impala are born, and thousands of migrating zebra pass through on their way to Chobe's trackless south for fresh grazing. Go in the early summer months (rain can be very heavy in January and February) and expect anything to happen.
A Savuti safari is easy enough to experience: there are several excellent lodges in the area (many of which are exceptionally luxurious) and you'll enjoy morning and afternoon game drives led by expert local guides. Specialist mobile safari operators usually include Savuti on their itinerary - it's simply too good to leave out - and you'll enjoy exclusive campsites and a deluxe camping experience.
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