Reviews of Kwara Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Kwara Camp review
We spent the longest time here (4 nights versus 2 nights at each of the other two camps). This camp is probably a bit older and it shows particularly against Lagoon. I think if we hadn't seen the others we may have thought this was excellent too!
The staff were extremely friendly and not put out by elephants constantly damaging the camp in the night.
Guide and tracker probably also the best, but that may be because we spent most time with them and forged the strongest relationship. All the guides asked what we wanted to get out of the game drives.
Excellent adventures in Kwara
Although perhaps not as luxurious as the previous camp we had been in (Lagoon), Kwara sure did not lack for hospitality or service! This time our guide was T.J. and tracker (H?)Orace. I must admit that we were worried we might be disappointed after having such a fantastic time at Lagoon, but we quickly realized that although very different, Kwara camp had just as much to offer.
The tents were smaller but warm and clean and comfortable, and this also went for the main buildings. None of really mattered though because it was the staff who worked there that made it an experience not to be forgotten. As I mentioned with Lagoon, it was my boyfriend's birthday on the day we switched camps, so our first night at dinner he was treated to a birthday cake and both the English birthday song and a very enthusiastic traditional song of celebration. This really set the tone for the rest of our stay.
I can't say enough about the knowledge of our guide! While Spencer in lagoon camp satisfied our thirst for action, T.J. satisfied our thirst for knowledge. Although still very willing to follow the excitement, T.J. was able to point out smaller things that we might not have otherwise have noticed. Examples include: a missing tail on a giraffe due to lion attack, and one with an injured eye from a dispute with another giraffe, as well as a baby elephant with a missing trunk. He was also able to spot and identify many birds, and if he didn't know something, he'd find out. Since we were a crowd just as interested in the small things as the big game, T.J. made for an excellent guide! Not to mention (H)Orace, our tracker who was also fantastic. I jokingly asked him to find a leopard for us while he was waiting for us to return from our evening boat ride, and when we had returned, he lead us to a baby leopard up in a tree. It was a really memorable moment on our last night at Kwara. We were quite late for dinner that night from enjoying the leopard, which seemed to be quite alright with the staff as well. They are really very accommodating when it comes to meal times!
Overall we had such an excellent stay, I don't have enough words. As someone who had never been to Africa before, both Kwara and Lagoon camps absolutely exceeded my expectations in every way!
Not the optimal
My husband and I stayed at Kwara for four nights and were a bit disappointed. We realize Botswana is an expensive destination so we expected nicer facilities and better service than in Zambian camps but it was not the case. The toilet & sink were outdated, there was a recurring problem with hot water supply to our tent. We complained to the staff once & they tried fixing it but unsuccessfully so we just had to make do. Then another couple from another tent who were a bit more demanding complained so the staff took it more seriously and on the last day of our stay it was fixed. We understand that we are in the bush and getting hot water can be difficult but they advertise that their heating system supplies hot water at any time of day except it didin't work.
Secondly, both my husband and I found that quantity of food was a little scarce, particularly at lunch time. A few times we would have to limit our portions seeing that if we took the food in quantities we wanted, there would be very little left for others (i.e. taking the last sausage on the grill without knowing if they have extra). As a side note, my appetite is not gargantuan but rather moderate. Breakfast options were rather limited too.
The most disappointing experience were the activities. We were hoping that we could have at least a couple boat rides (the reason we went to Okavango was that we wanted to see the area being on the water). Well, as it turned out, we could not choose the activities: we were told what we would be doing each day. We only had one boat ride & by the time we go back all five of us (including three fellow tourists from UK) were rather glad it was over. The guide (Hobbs) was assigned to take us for a boat tour but we understand he normally works at Little Kwara so I guess he didn't really care. He showed up late. There was another guide (Wilson) who was driving the boat and he was obviously on a learning curve which is totally ok as long as you don't practice with tourists on board. We crashed into a dead tree one our way back. Luckily, nobody was injured but I had to assume "brace position" as airlines call it which saved me from scratches and bruises. We laugh at it now in hindsight but strictly speaking, it shows lack of operational skills on management's side, it's not just the guide's fault.
We had one short mokoro trip on the morning before we departed - better than nothing... The morning safaris were good. There was one guide, Master, whom we only had for one day, and he did great job tracking cheetahs on our first morning at Kwara. Then he had a death in the family and we were reassigned to another guide, George. He was good too but something tells us our experience with Master would've been better.
The night drives were totally useless. As soon as the sun would go down and it would get dark, both the guide and the spotter would head back to camp without any serious attempts to make it a memorable experience for their guests. I understand that wild life is called wild for a reason & not one guide will guarantee anything... However, it seemed our guides were slacking off during night drives but again, we picked up on it only because we had good night drives in Zambia before (good not only in terms of what we saw at night but mostly in terms of effort which went into finding the creatures of the night). Other guests at Kwara would probably be ok with night drives there thinking that it's normal not to see any nocturnal creatures except the usual game which you see during the daylight (i.e. Impalas, zebras, hippos, elephants etc).
Expert Africa comments
Kwara Camp was sorry to receive the feedback from these guests and understood that their experience fell below their expectations. The camp has taken this feedback very seriously and is now doing what they can to learn from it.
The general managers of Kwando Safaris visited their camps, including Kwara Camp, soon afterward receiving this feedback to work through things with the teams and to do any training/updating where it would be useful. One of the things they planned to work on is their communication, both amongst the team and with the guests. For example, the camp managers at Kwara explained that for meals they cook two of each dish, but only bring out one to the table at a time. Therefore there would be enough food for all guests to have their fill, but currently the guests are not being made aware of that and so they may be holding back on their servings.
Another point raised that both the camp and Expert Africa have learnt from is that if the camp is fully booked, flexibility over the daily choice of activities may not be possible as there might not be enough guides/vehicles available. However, Kwando Safaris assures us that if the management team are aware of the guests interests either before they travel, or once they arrive into camp, then they will be able to ensure that the guests are able to do each activity that interests them at least once during their stay.
The camp agreed that on one occasion they unfortunately had to put 7 passengers on a vehicle this was due to them being a guide short because Master had to return to Maun unexpectedly. This is not their usual practice, and they do try to keep to a maximum of 6 passengers per vehicle wherever possible. The Kwando Safaris team will also be working on their night drive and boating experiences.
Kwara Camp review
Kwara is one of the more established camps in the delta. The location is in a prime spot with access to water. Kwara is more rustic in it's accommodations with a more camping feeling.
With the ability to off road the guides are able to track game and offer the best photo opportunities. The highlight of the camp was our chance to see three cheetah brothers beginning there sunset hunt.
An amazing introduction to Africa
Kwara was our first camp. We loved our whole experience there. The staff were so friendly and happy and obviously enjoyed their work. They really couldn't do enough for us. As for the food, delicious!
We saw so much wildlife, elephants in camp, at night munching right next to our tent and then watching it amble off with the moonlight providing a backdrop of the grass plains stretching out behind him. Our first night drive we encountered a big male leopard, precious seconds viewing before he slinked mysteriously away. Another highlight was the den of wild dogs and we got some great sightings. Our guide and tracker, Bate and Master, were two of the best. They were brilliant and actively tracked the wildlife with a passion, providing us details and information that enhanced our appreciation for these experiences.
Yes the accommodation was slightly tired and probably ready for renovation but we liked the rustic aspect of it and in no way did that detract from our experience at Kwara. Thank you.
Authentic Feeling Bush Camp
Kwara was our favorite camp for a true "Bush" atmosphere without actually having to pitch a tent! The tents are not luxurious but we weren't looking for that, they have a great real bush feel but the beds are very large and very comfortable and bathroom facilities are fine. I enjoyed the outside shower.
Sleeping with the storm flaps up across the front of the tent was a great experience (there is a gauze sliding panel so no worries about insects etc). We could see silhouettes of Elephant and Hippo and heard Impala grazing just outside our tent it was magical!!! Kwando camps are all staffed by local people, Kwara's Manager was Hilda who has risen through the ranks from Waitress and is doing a fine job, a lovely lady. Food and drinks are excellent at Kwara all home cooking not Gourmet but very tasty and 4 meals a day you won't be hungry! Sundowners out in the bush are great fun.
Our personal team of guide, Tom and tracker, Justice were fabulous. Their combined skills of tracking and knowledge of wildlife was at times astonishing. They successfully tracked Lion (several times), Cheetah and Wild Dogs (twice) the tracking was a fascinating experience and thrilling, speeding across wild country in hot pursuit of our goals. We saw many other animals including, Porcupine, Sitatunga, Red Lechwe, Steenbok amongst all the usual animals you might expect to see. Tom has a particularly good knowledge of birds and in 3 days we saw 76 different types.
We were sad to leave Kwara we really got into the rhythm of an African Safari here and could have done everything we did again and again. Thanks to everyone at Kwara,
Kwara Camp review
great views from rooms, excellent guides and game drives
particularly enjoyed the chance for the night drives and the water trip
Kwara Camp review
We had a great guide (Dutch) and tracker (KB) and that's all we needed. The area is great for game as there is always something going on.
The atmosphere in camp was very relaxed and friendly and even though the tents are a little dated the camp serves it's purpose just fine. We actually quite like the fact that you're still staying in something that looks like a tent as opposed to some of the other 'tented' camps.
Kwara Camp review
Kwara is getting a little old compared to the other Kwando camps we stayed in, Nxai Pan, Lagoon, and Lebala. However, it was still a great experience.
Our guide Tom and tracker KB worked hard to bring us a great wildlife adventure.
Top guides, no game to be found
Our guide at Kwara was highly knowledgeable and a wonderful companion, but in 3 days of game drives, including a 7 hour drive where we were met with a delicious bush lunch -- we saw almost no game apart from the hippos that were at Kwara's front door, occasional elephants and the omnipresent impala and two jackals.
Our accommodations were excellent, the food satisfactory and to our liking, and the opportunity to enjoy non-vehicle activities was a plus -- our mokoro trip and hike were great and informative, as were the double-decker motorized launch trips, which gave us a unique awareness and appreciation of the delta, its waterways, bird life and vegetation.
But because our prime motive for visiting expensive Botswana camps like Kwara was to see game, fundamentally we were disappointed and wouldn't recommend Kwara -- at this time of year -- to visitors. We were told by our guide that the normally resident prides of lions had moved away from the reserve. A bad fire had scorched a sizeable area of the reserve just a week before our visit.