Our time was up in Moremi Game Reserve (read more about the spectacular wildlife of Moremi Game Reserve) and so we packed up the vehicle and headed north to continue our Botswana self-drive safari.
However, faced with a river through which we were unwilling to wade to test whether the vehicle would make it, lest we got eaten, we were forced instead to head back to the south gate of Moremi and then back north on a dry route, adding a considerable amount of time to our trip. The drive over the infamous sand ridge was long and dusty to say the least, but eventually we arrived into the parched land of Savuti and found our campsite – Savuti Camp (read more about Savuti Camp).
Located next to the Savuti Channel, that has only started flowing again in the last few years, the spot is perfect, although, with a leopard around camp at night we suggest taking the car to the ablution block to wash away the memories of the sand ridge. As we set up camp we were soon greeted by the local residents – four types of hornbill, flocking around us. Not the prettiest bird, but certainly charismatic.
Driving north out of the Savuti Camp we encountered a dry and desolate landscape. A few animals braved the dust blowing around parched waterholes. But driving back southwards we arrived at the fringes of the Savuti Marsh, an oasis in this arid environment. Huge in scale, the marsh that is fed by the Savuti Channel, an overflow from the Okavango Delta flood waters, teemed with life. Antelope of many descriptions mixed amongst elephants, giraffe and a huge array of birdlife.
On our second morning we were chatting to a couple of South African families who had seen wild dog on the other side of a seemingly uncross-able mass of water and mud. But they had heard that a vehicle had made it through what is technically a road the day before and between us we all decided to give it a go. Driving through thick mud and ever-deepening channels of water we crossed in convoy. At various points we got out to investigate the way ahead – by this time we were in the middle of the Marsh and turning around was not an option. Eventually we made it to the other side and were rewarded with three wild dogs recently fattened by a kill, the remains of which lay near by.
Throughout the day the dogs were far from restful. Between lying in the cooling mud at the edge of the Marsh they would become alert to even the most feint sounds from the bush around them, they would urinate, defecate, scent mark, greet, play and drink.
For seven hours we watched them until the peace was broken by a small herd of elephant, forcing the dogs to move on. An amazing experience.
On our final morning in Savuti we made our way to where the channel spills out onto the Marsh. Through binoculars we could see two large male lions feeding on a kill. Being so distant the other game drive vehicles in the area soon lost interest, but we decided to wait it out. After some two hours one of the males moved away from the kill, and towards the muddy waters, where we could not follow. But a few minutes later he turned tail and made a bee-line straight for us. Other vehicles rushed back to the scene, but our patience paid off as, with the whole Marsh to choose from, the lion walked within 5 metres of the car and passed us to a tiny patch of shade. His pal remained on the kill and too far away. Leaving Savuti we crossed the sand ridge again, towards Linyanti.
Getaway Adventures offers an 11-day self-drive Botswana safari trip with for R7020 a person for March 2013. Click here for more information on the trip and to book.