Botswana: Savute

Our next stop was the Savute Safari Lodge, along the banks of the Savuti Channel in western Chobe National Park. This was our first experience with not being allowed to walk unescorted at night — because of lions and other animals wandering through camp in the dark.

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Waterholes in the Savuti Channel

The Savuti Channel has been dry since sometime in the 1980s when the land shifted, cutting off the water that used to flow. Now, animals congregate to drink at springs and man-made waterholes, usually fed by pump-driven wells. The Savute Safari Lodge has a series of elephant-packed artificial waterholes in the channel beside the camp, so guests can watch all the action from the safety of camp, only a few hundred yards away.

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The elephants would hog these waterholes, scaring off all the other thirsty animals who tried to come and drink. The warthogs seemed to be satisfied with playing in the damp mud when they couldn't get to water.

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Safari

We were especially impressed with our guide, Kenneth, who was very knowledgeable and forthcoming in answering all our questions. He was amazing in his ability to spot and interpret tracks, using them to tell us what happened, when, and following them to lead us to lions and other animals.

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A traffic jam, after everyone heard by radio where the lions were. We sat there listening to the lions roaring to one another from within the mopane forest.

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Out on safari: steenbok, wild cat (looks just like a housecat), kilspringer, cheetah, ostrich, kudu, kori bustard (the largest flying bird), and mongoose.

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The trees are all very "sculpted" up to the maximum reach height of giraffes and elephants.

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More lions! We had these to ourselves this time. A male and two females.

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Sundowner

Sunset under a baobob tree. Every evening we would stop for a "sundowner" — drinks at sunset.

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This waterhole had a dead elephant which fed lots of vultures and a carrion-eating marabou stork.

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A brave little jackal tried to approach the water guarded by (living) elephants.

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Elephant grave, and an elephant path. Animals stick to the same paths between waterholes.

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Steenbok, Elephant, Kori Bustard, Impala, Guinea Fowl, Dove, Owl, Mongoose, Lilac breasted Roller, Secretary Bird, Bradfield's Hornbill, Kudu.

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Impalas can drink until the elephants arrive.

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Lions in the dry channel. Do not get out of your car!

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Baobob Grove

One day our guide Kenneth took us to see a grove of maybe 14 baobab trees, protected from elephant damage by rocks.

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We knocked down a few baobob seed pods, and Kenneth showed us how to make yogurt using the astringent white powder inside. It tasted pretty good, actually!

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A waterhole full of elephants is a popular spot for watching the sunset.

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Savute from the air.

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