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Savutei National Park

One of the underrated safari destinations in Botswana, Savute National Park is part of the renowned Chobe National Park. Located in the western corner of Chobe National Park, Savute has many attractions, including the Savute Channel and Savute Marsh. It has a thriving concentration of elephants and is home to other common game animals. Its extraordinary birdlife also attracts a lot of bird enthusiasts.

We’ll learn more about the wildlife shortly. Before that, let’s focus on the history of the Savute Channel – one of the key attractions of Savute National Park.

The‌ ‌History‌ ‌of‌ Savute Channel: Savute National Park

The Savute Channel is an essential part of Savute National Park. However, its nature is unpredictable due to the tectonic movements and it’s hard to predict when the dry or wet season will start or how long they will last. We’ll share a brief known history of its long dry and wet periods.

  • 1851: David Livingstone, a British explorer, witnessed the water flowing strongly through the Savute Channel.
  • 1874:Two decades later, Frederick Courtney Selous, another British Explorer, saw the same strong water flow.
  • 1958: According to Mike Myers, the channel was dry for around 75 years before it started flooding again in 1958. The flood opened the mouth of the Savute Channel at Zibadaianjia Lagoon and caused the water to flow into the channel. The Savute Channel flourished for the next 24-25 years.
  • 1979: Wildlife blogger and photographer Mike Myers visited the region and saw the Savute Channel flow into the marsh.
  • 1981: According to Travel Author Mike Main, the year marked the beginning of the dry period for the Savute Channel. This dry period lasted for 26-27 years.
  • 2008: Water again started flowing into the Savute Channel.
  • 2010: It took two more years for the channel to reach its peak and flow into the Savute marsh.

Wildlife In Savute National Park

The fascinating history of the Savute Channel flooding and drying up for decades has affected the park’s wildlife.

Savute’s high concentration of majestic elephants is the primary wildlife attraction and visitors can spot elephants throughout the year. Savute also has an ample population of game animals such as zebras, kudu, impala, giraffe, and buffaloes.

Amongst the predators, lions, cheetahs, and hyenas are present in the park. In the dry season, the park’s wildlife races toward the remaining water sources. With the predators and herbivores migrating to the marsh, visitors might be lucky to see a hunt in progress.

During the wet season, the park is home to over 300 species of birds. Savute Marsh, in particular, is a hotspot for birds that flock to the park to raise their young, while Savute National Park is home to the annual zebra migration between northern Botswana and Savute.

Savute National Park Premier Attractions

Savute Marsh

The Savute Marsh is located in the western stretch of Chobe National Park in the Savute National Park section. It’s one of the key attractions of the Savute National Park and is a remnant of a large inland lake whose water supply was affected by tectonic movements. Today, Savute Marsh gets its supply from the unpredictable Savute Channel.

Visitors will notice dead trees lining the banks, which gradually dried up during the long dry periods of the Savute Channel. It is also an excellent spot for wildlife viewing, look out for impalas, zebras, elephants, wildebeest, black and white rhinos, kudu, and warthogs, as well as superb bird watching.

The Mababe Depression

It is believed that the Savute region was once part of the Makgadikgadi Lake. The Mababe Depression is a gigantic depression located in the Savute region. Depending on when you visit, the surface of the depression may either be bare or covered with thorny bushes. Visitors on a self-drive adventure should be careful when driving in the region, as your vehicles may get stuck in the mud. To avoid this scenario, it is best to visit here in the dry season.

Magwikhwe Sand Ridge

Magwikhwe Sand Ridge is a shoreline of an ancient lake, Makgadikgadi Lake, that once occupied northern Botswana. It is located on the western edge of the Savutie National Park and is 20 metres high and 100 kilometres long. The region was once submerged beneath the ancient inland lake.

Gubatsa Hill

The Gubatsa Hills were created by volcanic movement millions of years ago. They are 90 metres high and easily identified, creating a dramatic view against the flat landscape of Savute National Park.

When To Visit Savuti National Park

The best time to visit Savuti National Park is during Botswana’s dry season, from April to October. During the dry season, the park’s vegetation dries out or is consumed by the wildlife and this thinning vegetation makes it easier to see the wildlife.

During the dry season, Savute’s remaining water sources are excellent spots for wildlife viewing. The thirsty creatures congregate around the waterways, including rivers and waterholes, making these a good place to see what wildlife you can spot taking a drink during these months.

However, if your goal is to go birdwatching in Savute, the best time to visit would be from November to March, the wet season, when the rains rejuvenate the vegetation, attracting migrating birds to its bounty.

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