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Chapter 11: Them Dang Elephants is Hanging Around Out Front Again, Ma!




Moremi's "moat monster:" a small croc hangs around just outside
the gates of Moremi

Although I was getting quite used to Moremi, the next day, Tuesday was our last day there, and we were moving on to another camp, Savuti. We did one last game drive with Cal, then drove back to the airstrip, and squeezed back into the teensy planes. After another short hop northeast over the Okavango Delta, we came down at the airstrip outside the Savuti Safari Lodge, located deep inside Chobe National Park.




Flying to Savuti

A bush plane flies across the Okavango

Savuti was a completely different experience. The first thing you notice is the traffic. There are several other safari camps in the vicinity, and even some public camp grounds, so you encounter quite a few other vehicles, particularly when the word spreads via radio of some particularly interesting animal sighting. On the road from the airstrip to the camp, we joined five or six other jeeps vying for a look at some lions by the side of the road, not the last time we'd encounter such a traffic jam. Savuti is in a much drier part of the delta, so there are much larger areas of open, dry land, fewer waterholes, the roads are considerably dustier, and it tends to get a little warmer in the afternoon.

If I hadn't experienced Moremi, I'd probably be going on right now about what a great place Savuti was. The facilities there were considerably swankier, the rooms are permanent buildings and much more luxurious, the food was very good, the staff was professional...but overall, it just lacked the soul of Moremi. Johan and Lianne, the managers, were professional and courteous, but just not as open and social as David and Charlotte had been. The stay at Savuti was like staying at a nice, if slightly sterile hotel, the stay at Moremi was more like visiting a good friend.


Plush in the bush: our room at Savuti

The rooms there are all glass along one side, and most of them overlook a mostly-dry river channel that runs the length of the camp. Elephants were almost always present in the channel, mucking around in the few wet spots remaining, so you could sit out on the deck in front of your room or by the camp's boma or swimming pool and watch them splashing around or shooing off the other animals that sometimes came in and tried to get to the water. An electrified fence along the near bank of the channel kept the elephants out of camp, but they didn't seem to care about our proximity otherwise.


Our watering hole and theirs: elephants congregate by the swimming pool at Savuti


Some kudu oh-so-nonchalantly sidle up to the waterhole...

and get chased off by a hosing from a piqued elephant.


Edward sets up a well-stocked tea break
Photo by Pam Bloxham

The guide we wound up with this time was Edward, who bore a slight resemblance to Arsinio Hall. On all the game drives at Moremi and Savuiti, there would be coolers with drinks and snacks, and usually a stop somewhere safe where we could get out and have a light snack. At Savuti, they even went so far as to bring along china dishes and glasses.

The bar at Savuti wasn't as well-stocked, and the bartender wasn't as knowledgeable as DJ back at Moremi. Nonetheless, drinks and dinner were quite nice. The next morning, we had been told the wake-up guy would be around at 6, but he never showed up. It was light enough, though, so we walked the short distance to the boma without much worry.



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