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Reviewed 2 November 2014

My wife and I stayed at Saile Tented Camp on our fifth trip to beautiful Botswana via Ker and Downey's Footsteps program. We had visited Footsteps Across the Delta four times: our original guide, Peter Brandon, suggested we visit a different area. As they say in the Delta, games drives in vehicles are like watching TV; when you walk, you are reading the book. You will see more animals and at closer range in the vehicle but you will learn so much about the ecology, wildlife, and local culture on foot. As Ker and Downey tries to ensure that you are the only guests on a walking safari, you also have more time to get to know your guide. We generally start our Safaris with a walking camp which always enriches the later experiences when we are in the vehicles.

I should emphasise that Saile Tented Camp is not roughing it. Of course, there is no electricity, wifi and the like but that, for me, is a great luxury. The incredible food, prepared on an open fire by the incredibly talented chef, Jigga, is imaginative and delicious. Bucket showers in the open are more refreshing than anything you will experience in the spa-like facilities in the finest hotel room. Three tents is the right size, especially if there are no other guests.

We arrived at Saile to a delightful choral welcome. I'm a professional recording producer and would have been thrilled to make an album with this camp's staff. (The Saile Choir later serenaded us one memorable evening before dinner.) We met our guides - Opie from Ker and Downey's Footsteps program and Isaiah from Saile (and Linyanti Bush Camp.) After a brief orientation, we were shown our comfortable tent overlooking a vast expanse of blue and green: water, sky, and woodlands. As we walked to our tent, my wife and heard the plaintive, iconic call of the African Fish Eagle: we knew we were home.

On a waking safari, the knowledge, passion, and competence of the guides are even more essential qualities than on game drives. We were fortunate with both Opie and Isaiah who quickly understood that we were not in Botswana to fill in a check list but were thrilled, happy simply to be there and see what we could see. They both had the old Botswana guide culture of respect for the wildlife and doing nothing to change the animals behaviour. Very important and very important to us. The wildlife on our walks was more sparse than we were used to but again, we learned so much about the ecology of the mopane woodland, tracking, botany and the birds, who were prolific. On one walk, we saw the fresh poo of Cape Buffalo and made a detour to avoid the big, sometimes aggressive animals. We were fortunate to see a large herd of buffalo from a safe distance as the sun set. Another evening, walking back to camp, a pair of elephants across the water were lit up by the last rays of the sun. Seeing giraffe on foot is always a special experience as one can get rather close as they look curiously at those strange tiny predators below them.

The first evening, my wife heard the sound of something foraging just outside the tent. Moments later, in the full moonlight, she saw the gleaming white tusks of an elephant as he looked intently at her through the mesh of the tent window! After a while, he moved to my side of the tent and also looked in. Extraordinary.

In our several trips to Botswana, we had only encountered one dangerous snake: a boomslang who slithered down a tree as we were waiting at an airstrip. We had never seen a Black Mamba and did not particularly want to! As we walked, this time with only Opie, we were alerted by a very nervous squirrel that something was amiss. Opie quickly spotted the tail of a snake. As it emerged, he announced, "We are in luck. It is a black mamba. Look at the smile." My wife doesn't like being around snakes and stood stock-still, perhaps relieved as Opie assured her it wouldn't come down the tree, which it immediately proceeded to do before standing up to its full height - about two meters - before deciding it had somewhere else to be. We made a detour and walked in a different direction to avoid another encounter but it was fascinating. The detour was fortuitous as well: we saw two juvenile honey badgers drinking at a small stream and watched a herd of elephants make their way down to the river. During the siesta hours, we watched elephants, waterbucks, and baboons all wander near the camp. As we were driving back to the airstrip on our last morning, Isaiah heard from another vehicle that a pride of lions was spotted along the river. We turned back and spent as much time as we could with a beautiful group of lions setting up a hunt.

As I've said elsewhere, one generally goes to Botswana for the wildlife but comes back for the extraordinary people who live and work in this paradise. There are no people more gracious than the Botswanans who chose to work in the Safari camps. Saile is not exception. It exemplifies gracious hospitality without any show. We were honoured that Lebo who seemed to have a variety of jobs - all perfectly done -spent time speaking with us. Her genuine kindness and personal generosity was very special to us.

I can't recommend Saile and Footsteps Across the Linyanti highly enough. An unforgettable experience. Thanks to Lebo, Opie, Isaiah, Jigga, Stella and everyone who made our stay so special.

  • Stayed: October 2014, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Finem50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 November 2013

Wow, this really is camping in the wild. We love camping in our tent so are experienced campers but if you aren't a camper this might not be the place for you to stay. Things are a lot more primitive here than other tented camps in Botswana and for us this enhanced the experience. This camp is set in the middle of nowhere. Our family of 4 were the only guests here and were treated like "royals". There was no power or solar power and the food was cooked on an open fire. The food was amazing considering the lack of equipment & a kitchen. The fire created a smoky smell in everything we did & we came away with a Smokey aroma in our clothes. Water was heated on the fire & tipped into buckets for an outdoor shower. This was truly a remarkable experience but may not be suited to everyone's desires. We feel very lucky to have stayed here as it was the most unique experience we had in the wildlife.

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled with family
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Thank Alipa50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Gemma H, Public Relations Manager at Linyanti Bush Camp, responded to this reviewResponded yesterday

Thank you for this lovely feedback.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 September 2013

My husband, teenage son, and I recently spent two nights at Saile Camp. We were the only guests at this very remote camp which seems to accept no more than five guests at a time. The Camp is sited on a ridge above the Linyanti river. We saw elephants, baboons, warthogs, cape buffalo, giraffes, waterbucks, and many species of birds from the front porch of our tent. We also saw these animals as well as zebras, wildebeasts, and impala on game drives. The highlight was the many, many elephants on game drives and a boat ride. It is amazing to see these huge animals at close range swimming and taking dust baths. The best part of all of these sitings is that we and our guide, Foster, were the only people around.

Saile Camp is a special place but it's definitely not for everyone. The tents are very nice and extremely clean (it's a mystery how Sulu is able to banish all signs of dust in dry Botswana) but there is no electricity and the bucket shower takes some getting used to. Further, it is simultaneously wonderful and unnerving to be the only guests at such a remote location. All of the staffs' efforts are focused on you. That's a little strange unless you were raised with staff attending to your every need. That said, the staff are wonderful. Very warm and caring. The chef, Alfred, is a genius. He is able to whip up very tasty and interesting food, including fresh baked bread, using only an open fire. Foster, our guide, was very knowledgable. We very much enjoyed our walking safari with him.

If you are seeking a true bush experience during your visit to Botswana, Saile Camp is worth a look.

Room Tip: All of tents have an amazing view of the Linyanti river.
  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank CCSusan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 November 2012

We spent 2 nights at Saile Camp, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was real bush camping but with 5 star attention from Dennis and his team. Our greeting on arrival by the staff singing for us was lovely, then a nice refreshing wash cloth and a cold drink. Each day we would be surprised by a new way of having our fresh towels presented on our beds. Showers were in the attached outside ensuite via a large canvas camp shower which was filled with perfect temperature water heated by the staff and delivered exactly at the time we requested it. The flush toilet was located in a seperate enclosed section of the tent. The camp is not fenced, so after a lovely dinner and a couple of drinks around the fire, we were escorted to our tents each night by Dennis or one of the team, and slept very safely and soundly in comfortable beds. Each morning we were woken to a cheerful "Good morning" as fresh, warm water was brought to our canvas hand basins just outside our front door. Then over to the main tent for breakfast before going off on the first of our game drives for the day. Dennis ensured we saw everything that was available, and took us "bush bashing" to track down (and find) two adult male lions. Such an exciting drive with a great end result. All our meals were first class, and the team were so polite and friendly. We had afternoon game drives each day with sundowners on the way home. Dennis was a wealth of information about the animals and terrain, and such good company. We were very sad to leave, but hope to return some day. Thank you Dennis and your team for making our short stay so memorable. Mick will always remember the "bloody warthogs" :)

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank Sandy F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 September 2012

This was just what we were looking for in our trip! We felt always well taken care of. The staff were generous and gracious. Our guide, Dennis was an amazing wealth of knowledge and so much fun to be with. And he found the lions for us!

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled with friends
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1  Thank carolyn n
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Gemma H, Public Relations Manager at Linyanti Bush Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 2 days ago

We are so happy you were able to see the King of Africa, lions. Thank you for this lovely review we do appreciate you taking the time to provide us with this valuable feedback.

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