Part 8: Ghoha Hills Savuti
April 20, 2015
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From Abu and the lush environment of the Okavango Delta, we would now venture into a very different yet equally intriguing area of Northern Botswana – the near legendary Savuti. The Savuti Channel and Savuti Marsh – also spelled Savute – plus the adjacent Linyanti area stretching all the way to the border of Namibia – have for many decades been a popular and reliable safari destination. The area is well known for its abundance of elephants, particularly in the dry season when sometimes hundreds of them congregate around water.
From Abu we flew via Pom Pom (15 minutes) to Savuti Airstrip, another 35 minutes away, where our guide Bee met us and a young Australian couple Abigail and Ben. They had just been married for 6 days and it was fun to observe their reactions and impressions, with so much of what they were seeing and experiencing being completely new to them. They were a cute couple who was clearly having the time of their life on this, their first Africa trip. They had already spent some time in the Okavango Delta and Moremi.
It was about an hour’s drive to Ghoha Hills Savuti Camp, along a sandy road about 12 miles (20 kilimeters) from the Savuti Airstrip, in the direction of Kasane.
The main lodge at Ghoha Hills has a spectacular setting and very pleasant, soothing surroundings, literally about as far away from everything as you can be in this modern world.
From inside the lodge one has an amazing view over the plains, as far as the eye can see. The lodge is spacious with a large dining room and adjacent lounge/library area as well as an outdoor verandah where a new outdoor breakfast deck will soon be added.
There is free WIFI available inside the main lodge – I tried it a couple of times and it worked well. A note of caution: there are lots of step going up to the lodge – 23 – and down to the fireplace – 14 – which may be tricky to negotiate for less mobile visitors.
Our room was nicely appointed with lots of space and a very comfortable bed; we slept soundly both nights there. The room had a good mosquito next, adequate lighting and a high degree of privacy.
The staff at Ghoha Hills was terrific. From an enthusiastic singing and dancing performance on arrival, to the friendly greeting on return to the lodge after an activity, the staff could not have been more welcoming. They clearly enjoy having people around. Their pre-dinner ‘concert’ was likewise very entertaining and one of the best we had seen in a long time in Botswana. Lots of enthusiasm, plenty of smiles and laughter and a refreshing ‘joi de vivre’!
Food and drinks were excellent all round. We were treated to tasty, well-prepared food – and beautifully presented. Clearly all dietary preferences can be catered for, portions are ample and everything was fresh.
Our guide Bee worked very hard to find good sightings for us and we saw a good variety of mammals and birds that included elephant, impala, buffalo, lions, giraffe, kudu and roan (first ones for the trip) as well as zebra and other plains game.
The full day drive to the Savuti Marsh ended up being overly long – 9 hours out and back. Too much for all but the hardiest of safari afficionados. We thought that leaving the lodge earlier would have been better, in order to get to the marsh when the light was still good for photography. As it turned out we got there when the light was already very harsh, so while the wildlife was ample my photographs of the lions which we saw as well as the many elephants, were below par.
The overall experience at Ghoha Hills was excellent and we really enjoyed the people, the setting, the warmth and genuine desire to please demonstrated by managers Abraham and Nanette and their staff, who went out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable.
We do have some reservations about the property though because of the relative scarcity of wildlife in the lodge’s immediate environment, which necessitates a time-consuming outing to the Savuti Marsh to see the animals. We were told that a similar outing could be made to the Linyanti area. We did not have time to do this ourselves but guests who were at Ghoha at the same time as us, did go on the Linyanti drive and they did not see much in the way of big game.
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