PART 4: Savuti & Kings Pool

Photography and report by Jason Duplessis & Sara Frankovic

High resolution photos available on Flickr! (Wildlife) (Birds) (Camps & Scenery)

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Savuti

Since we were already in the Linyanti area, it was a quite short flight over to the Dumatau airstrip on our way to Savuti. As many of you may know, the Savuti channel is now full of water year round after subterranean earthquakes in 2010. The density of the bush has changed since then and has made it quite thick and difficult to spot game while driving in certain areas.

Savuti Camp itself was lovely. The main area is split into multiple levels with a pool down below, then the bar area above that continuing into the library/sitting area and dining room. One of the other guests mentioned how remarkable the structure was and how intricate the engineering of it all must have been. We actually just sat for a moment admiring the structure.

Photo courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

Once again we were placed in the room farthest from the main area at camp, but the walk wasn’t too far at Savuti. It’s quite interesting moving along the boardwalk, always with a chance to see game below. The rooms are again somewhat standard for a Wilderness Safaris Classic camp. But when I say standard, I am by no means talking down the luxury and quality of the rooms. Wilderness Safaris rooms are the standard at which we measure other company’s rooms!

We had some breathtaking sightings of carmine bee eaters whizzing around the vehicle and snatching insects right before our eyes. They do this at quite a few camps but I had never seen so many at once. I believe there were upwards of a dozen birds circling our vehicle at some point. We tried and tried, but really only captured a couple images worth keeping. I would suggest either putting the camera down and just enjoying the moment, or using a small point and shoot camera/camcorder to record video.

We tried and tried, but couldn’t find any real predators. One hyena at a two week old elephant carcass was all that we could find. There were lion and leopard tracks everywhere, but the bush really was dense. At one point, we saw fresh leopard tracks go directly into a small wooded area surrounded by roads, but none of us could spot the leopard.

I’d also like to give kudos to Sara for capturing one of my favorite moments while on this safari. We were driving down a road with quite thick mopane bush on either side when a couple elephants started crossing in front of us. One young male was lagging behind and made it just to the middle of the road before stopping. I stopped to enjoy the moment while Sara kept her camera out. This young bull ended up so close ot us he nearly touched the vehicle’s hood with his trunk. Imagine the fright Sara had when she put her camera down and an elephant was 5 feet away!

This shot was captured with an entry level Nikon camera and a stock 55-200 lens. In fact, many of the photos in this report were taken by the same camera. With a good eye for photography and some inexpensive (but high quality) equipment you can really capture something spectacular.

Guests that we book here will generally stay for 3 nights and as our luck would have it, the third day would have been one of the best sightings yet. By then we had moved on to Kings Pool camp, but Lyndon’s trip reportmentions what was seen right near Savuti camp the next day!

One thing I have to mention about Savuti is about the roads. I mentioned in my introduction that we never got stuck due to water or mud, but we did get stuck at Savuti because of sand. It wasn’t just because we were bogged down though, one of the drive members actually broke while we were on our way back to camp! Luckily they are very aware of the difficulty that comes with driving on sand and had another vehicle out to pick us up in 15 minutes. I actually got to sit in the driver’s seat and attempt to spin the wheels while our guide checked what was wrong! All in all, many of the roads are fine, others are overgrown with bushes (Elephants will thin out the bushes as the floods come in). But the road from Savuti to the airstrip has some very deep sand. When it’s very dry and fine, it can be quite difficult to traverse.

Wilderness Safaris’ Kings Pool Camp, Linyanti

After just our second two night stay during this safari, we would be off for our last Wilderness Safaris camp, Kings Pool. After a short morning activity and a full mid-morning breakfast we drove back to the Dumatau airstrip and transferred to a Kings Pool vehicle. In Wilderness Safaris’ Linyanti concession there are two classic camps, Dumatau and Savuti, along with the premier camp Kings Pool. They are all somewhere between 30-45 minutes away from the airstrip. The drive to Kings Pool would be 45 minutes, but the roads really were some of the best we had been on during our trip. The vehicle was absolutely flying, and comparing it to trudging through sand we really did travel a long distance during that 45 minute transfer.

Kings Pool would be our only premier camp during this trip and I am so glad that it was saved until the end. The camp is set beautifully on the Kings Pool Lagoon with a very large deck for dining and a lower C shaped campfire setting. Premier camps offer plenty beyond the traditional game drives and Kings Pool is no different. Game drives, night drives, nature walks, hides, cruises, fishing, birding and massages are all available. Certain ones like massages do come at an extra cost. Unfortunately, certain times in the green season are breeding times for the fish in Botswana and fishing is not permitted. We could have fished at quite a few of our camps but our trip fell within that breeding season and we could not do any fishing. Please ask us if you are interested in fishing and we will advise on the best possible times to travel.

The rooms are astoundingly large with double showers, a bathtub, private deck with a plunge pool and a great view of the water. We arrived in time for our siesta and after a somewhat lengthy walk to yet another ‘honeymoon suite’, we immediately cooled ourselves down in the plunge pool. About half an hour later I could hear elephants rumbling in the bushes behind us and we were treated to a small herd crossing just in front of our chalet. Unfortunately we were in the pool and couldn’t get any photos.

Our first activity was a sunset cruise. On the way we were lucky enough to see a herd of about 30 elephants crossing the water. It’s always fun seeing elephants in water, they just seem so happy.

The cruise itself was enjoyable. Snacks were served and we each had a few drinks. Sara even requested a margarita which was wonderful. We didn’t see much outside of a gorgeous sunset and a few hippo and birds but once again the quiet moments sometimes make for the best photography.

As this was Sara and my last night on safari together, we decided to skip the morning activity and sleep in. We really wanted to extend our stay at this immaculate camp, but Sara settled for a massage and a leisurely morning with me. We did happen to miss some amazing wild dog sightings, but in the end we were happy with our choice.

If you have the option to end your safari at a premier camp I fully recommend it.

Continue to Part 5

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