Reviews of Little Kwara
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Little Kwara review
An excellent safari experience.
At one occation we followed lion tracks for more than 1,5h over open plains, high grass, through bushes and sandy patches. Finally we spotted 5 lions resting. How on earth did the guides manage to find them? Amazing!
Little Kwara is a diamond
Arriving at the airstrip in a little 6 seater plane to find you are the only guest in camp, albeit only for a day, makes you feel a bit special. Picked up from the airstrip by my guide Dutch and tracker Kenny, a quick checkin at the bar which is fused with the open sided eating area. This is wood and canvas but plush dark wooden floors give it the feel of opulence of african adventures of old. My room has a double facing large sliding doors which open to reveal a few hippo and red lechwe. Out on the balcony and the afternoon heat is too much to be able to sit out but the view from the bed is amazing. The outside shower looks great and having tested even at 5am it's never too cold to stand outside naked.
Off for the first game drive and the first 15 minutes I am wondering what I am doing here, not a single animal. Then the first impala and a few zebra, then an owl, giraffe, jackal and hippo. We haven't been out long and we come across two of the seven lion brothers and drive up so close I worry about driving over their tails. Engine off and I am sure I can hear them breathing. Over walks a female, giving a low grunt to announce her arrival to the two males. The sun low in the sky and this is the golden hour for photographers as the evening sun cascades from the lions mane to accentuate the majestic beast in all his glory. It's then off for a sun downer at the local hippo pool and a glass of red watching these great lumbering beasts at a distance the nervous might find a bit unnerving but I enjoyed. The sun sets and the drive back to the lodge is an adventure on its own. Serval and a wild cat then what I like to call a kalahari kangaroo and we arrive back just in time for the heavens to open with a lightning show the like of which takes your breath away. Day one is over.
Day two and I am still the only guest so Dutch asks if I want to try and find the cheetahs. My enthusiasm gets the better of me and I say yes please. The game drive vehicles are open topped which is great as the eagles and hawks fly on the thermals 30 feet above you which is an amazing sight but you have to be aware of the heat. Hat on and factor 40 suntan lotion applied every hour and we find the tracks of the cheetahs about 11am. Kenny jumps off the front seat every few hundred meters to check the tracks and we soon spot 3 male cheetahs under a tree, as we approach they mark the tree and move off into the bush, lost forever, or so I thought. Now when you are told that the vehicles go off road you don't quite realise what off road really means, we drive though what appears to be impenetrable bush following the cheetahs as they mark the boundary of their territory. Finally we enter the open marsh lands of the delta and the trio split ready to hunt some red lechwe so we hold back and allow them to hunt. They get close but sadly no kill today.
We head back for the camp at about 2:30pm and I think the day could not get any better when we stumble upon a small herd of elephant doing what elephants do - feeding. We pull up about 10 feet away from a 40 year old female who is digging up a root with her feet. I take a few pictures then put the camera down as she starts to move off then she turns towards the vehicle and very slowly moves towards me. She seems to cover that 10 feet in what feels like an eternity and gets closer and closer, and closer and closer, and closer until she is less than a foot away from the vehicle. Dutch turns on the engine and she stops so close I could have touched her were I not frozen with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. She slowly turns left and ambles off as I turn to Dutch and Kenny with a tear in my eye and mouth "wow".
Not every day is like this, when I was joined by a great Canadian couple and told them how good it was our next game drive we saw very little, but that's what safaris are all about and the next morning we had a great drive.
The food was superb and meals were great fun with conversation both from other guests and the guides. Room service was amazing, having left all my clothes on the floor the first night I arrived back on the second day to find everything laundered including socks and pants, on day two the same despite me leaving them folded on the chair. After a morning drive I was asked if I wanted a drink in the room, a glass of red please, "why not take the bottle" came the reply.
I know good game drives normally bump up the perception of a camp but I have seen more wildlife in Kenya and Tanzania. What they offer is the chance to get close and spend time watching these animals. It's not for those easily bored and I would not recommend for those with young children but I would return in a heartbeat.
Little Kwara review
We generally had a good time here with good game sightings and service. Our guide was due for leave and it showed, but as I have provided Kwando with feedback will not pursue that issue here
. All radio conversations between the 2 Kwara camps guides were in Setswana, which I understand is contrary to company policy, and some guides speed unnecessarily ( e.g to view resting cheetahs and for lunch} to the extent that one of our car companions complained.. Hobbs and probably other guides were not involved in this, but some guide retraining/supervision is needed at the Kwara camps. In hindsight I should have raised this issue with Lizzie but did not.
Lizzie and her staff ( particularly Cassie) provided a welcoming and happy camp environment, and we had an excellent tracker in Kenny
This was the only camp which did nor provide the specific tent which we had requested, but tent 4 was perfectly satisfactory so we did not raise the issue. You should be interested, however, in the fact that our vehicle companions, a couple from the U.S who had been married for 30 odd years, and had only booked in August, were allocated the honeymoon tent.
Safari at Little Kwara Camp
Again the Kwando staff were very friendly and welcoming. They made our stay an exceptional experience.
The guide (Hobbs) and tracker (Chester) were excellent, being very knowledgeable and going out of their way to ensure we saw cheetahs. We also saw lots of lions, elephants etc as well as many bird species. Being a photographer the guide always placed the vehicle in the best position for the really special photos. He also lent me his lens to get a good picture of a Bateleur Eagle - much appreciated.
Safari vehicles were comfortable but six people in two tiers is extremely restrictive, especially for photographers with big lens. The middle seats are particularly problematic. We were very lucky and only suffered this situation twice in eight safaris but this was purely because of special circumstances at the camp while we were there. Kwando should think very seriously about this situation if they pride themselves on the true safari experience. The guide did his best to enable everyone got a view of wildlife whenever possible.
The camp setting was very nice and the room was comfortable but not to the same standard as Lagoon Camp. The food was plentiful and enjoyable.
I would be reluctant to visit this camp again (specially at high season prices) with the prospect of being cramped in the current vehicles. This is a shame because the staff, guides, trackers and wildlife all deserve a return visit.
After two 25-minute long wrenching Cessna-hops, we gracefully landed on the Kwara airstrip where Dutch (guide/driver) and Chester (tracker) greeted us. We were escorted to our tent by Lizzie, the manager on duty. The 5 canvas tents are all on wooden stilts and overlook the savanna. Although the view from our tent at Camp Lagoon was more appealing, the tents at Little Kwara were more to our liking as they were smaller, with a lower ceiling and therefore comfier. They are all equipped with a nice bathroom, including an outdoor shower. Unlike in Camp Lagoon, they are strangely enough devoid of any ceiling fan. Given that the temperatures rose to as high as 43C° during the "siesta", such an equipment could have assuaged our daily discomfort. All meals, equally tasty each day, were taken communally with the guides at a big table. We were treated to a typically Botswanan dinner on Monday consisting, among other things, of pap (maize meal) and seswaa (grounded beef meat). Delicious !!!
As is the case at all Kwando camps, guests are accompanied by the same guide and tracker throughout the whole stay. Dutch happened to be Paul's cousin, our guide at Camp Lagoon. Dutch's driving skills are second to none. Guides at Little Kwara drive faster than at Camp Lagoon, most probably because more uniform roads ensured a less jouncy ride. Dutch and Chester were equally good at tracking animals. We saw a flurry of lions, most notably a pride of 4 male lions feeding on a dead elephant cub, and a pride of 3 lions which we photographed by one of the wooden bridges. The apex was reached when we finally spotted the coalition (yes, that's the word) of 3 cheetah brothers dozing off in the shade of a mopane tree in the middle of a big prairie. Once again, we were thankful to the close "radio" cooperation between the 3-4 cars driving in the concession for this unforgettable sighting.
We were under the impression that there were fewer antelopes, buffaloes and elephants at Little Kwara than at Camp Lagoon. I recently read that the Kwando concession has more resident elephants than in the whole of South Africa, hence the inevitable impression. On the other hand, lions were plentiful at Little Kwara, which explains why we did not see a single leopard there. The most memorable moment was undoubtedly when we spotted a big lion just after sunset in the middle of the prairie. It started roaring crescendo and we could feel the vibrations passing through our bodies. Each night was punctuated by roaring sounds, some closer than others ... lions are not a rare sighting in the camp.
We did the boat safari one afternoon after high tea. This was a nice change to the usual herky-jerky ride. We had a paramount sundowner at the heronry together with hundreds of noisy nesting birds. Unlike most guests, we chose to stand on the roof of the flat-bottom boat to get a better sense of the Okavango Delta's shape and features. I regret not being able to spend more time in the Hippos Pool because one of the older female guests felt uncomfortable in the presence of a rather small group of hippos. Once we had reveled in the majesty of the African sunset while sipping a perfectly prepared Gin & Tonic, the guides decided to return to the pier before it was pitch-dark. We were in for a special treat with the boat hastily slicing through the bugs-loaded air. One piece of advice: close your mouth and use your sunglasses.
The day at Little Kwara is organized in the same way as at Camp Lagoon with an earlier return to the lodge after the morning safari. Here too, free access to the bar was the rule and all sorts of beverages could be had at will. The only drawback at the camp, a minor one though, is that some of the clothes that were returned to us smelled like fire. We could live with that.
In conclusion, once again an impeccable stay at a Kwando lodge. "You gotta like the Kwando spirit". My feeling is that to get a sense of completeness and wholeness, one should ideally combine Camp Lagoon with Little Kwara as one location offers what the other one does not propose.
This and Desert Rhino were the joint winners out of our four locations.
Lizzie, Kessie and Evida (we may have spelt this one incorrectly) and Tabona (affectionately known as T-bone) were a joy and couldn't do enough for us. Our guide, George, was excellent (again just the teeniest bit bossy but this probably goes with the job) and Mike, the tracker, was first class (even spotting a perfectly camouflaged chameleon in the dark) and most charming.
This camp provided the best range of varied activities - a river trip to see the nesting storks, a mokoro trip which even included a short walk (hurray) and, of course, spectacular game drives. The highlight of these was probably the cheetahs but it was all wonderful. As in all our trips to Africa, we were leopard-failed but this gives us an excuse to go back.
Little Kwara safari
our guide Dutch was very good
boat safari on delta was excellent, Heron Island highly recommended
viewing: lots of hippos and elephants
people are nice and friendly
the food, cook and menu is terrible . Trying to copy european food and dishes . Do not offer any game food as in other lodges eg Ostrich, Kudu etc .
the accomodation rooms and facilities are 1 star at 4 star prices , to basic for us and we would not recommend for people who are used to high standard camps
no internet, phone acess etc , which may be an issue for business people who need acess
first night we had huge spider and coackroach in our room, need to spray rooms better in evening
game viewing is pretty poor its is a large concession with limited amount of animals except elephats and hippos , we had 2 night drives without any viewing , which never happened to us in 15 years safari.
boat safari on delta are restricted as they share a boat with other lodges , this is an issue , as i would like to do a boat safari any time i would like to , they restrict it to one trip during 3 night stay , other people complained as well
the pool is 2x 4 m and has no real sun loungers to lie down , so you are restricted to your tent
the tent we had for 3 people i would not recommend for 3 people , is far to small
showers, problems with hot water . staff would not listen to this problem with guests.
Overall, i would not recommend this camp.
Expert Africa comments
Expert Africa comments: Whilst we were pleased that these guests felt their guide, Dutch, was very good, that they enjoyed their boat safari on the Okavango Delta, and that they found the people at Little Kwara Camp to be nice and friendly, we were sorry that they commented their stay overall was average.
At the time of booking their safari there was no availability at the top-end safari camps which would have suited their preferences better. They couldnt travel at a different time so Little Kwara was settled on because it offered the location and activities they wanted. We were disappointed to hear that they didnt enjoy their stay at Little Kwara as much as wed hoped, despite it not being their first choice.
As part of their feedback these guests commented that Little Kwara doesnt offer game meat on their menu. It is very unusual to find a dish including game meat in Botswana. Unlike Namibia and South Africa, there are very few game farms in Botswana and so game meat is not readily available to buy. Instead, Botswana produces very good beef, so that, along with other more standard meats such as chicken, are readily available and often served at the countrys safari camps.
They also commented that Little Kwaras boat is shared and so might not always be available. Little Kwara only has one boat for this activity. So if, as a guest, you are very interested in doing more than one boat excursion during your stay please let us know. We will make the Little Kwara team aware of that and they can plan their activity logistics accordingly so that they might offer you a boat safari more than once during your visit.
A truly wonderful experience at Little Kwara
Little Kwara was our second safari camp (and also our second Kwando Safaris camp). After leaving Kwando Lagoon Camp, we were not sure how things could get better as we had such a fabulous time there. Well, Little Kwara (LK) managed it. The 3 days there were truly the best 3 days holiday of my life, and my travel companions (sister and 12 year old niece) are in complete agreement. It was not just that the wildlife viewing was incredible, it was the whole camp setup, the staff, the food and drinks, the other guests... really, everything was beyond compare.
Starting with the camp itself. We were expecting it to be similar to Lagoon, and in many ways it was, but there were enough differences to make it just that little bit different. It felt that Kwando camps were not clones of each and were individual, which we really liked. We also felt that LK was slightly more relaxed than Lagoon - one wasn't better than the other, it was just different. The bar area in particular in LK was really relaxing (I fell asleep there several times during siesta!) with a fantastic view. An elephant came into the camp several times which was really exciting.
As with Lagoon, the food was excellent and plentiful. We are not adventurous with our food so the choices were good, although the staff were happy to provide local specialities where requested. As we had one room with an extra bed, we were more cramped than Lagoon, however we were hardly in our lodge so it was not a problem. Again, like Lagoon, the rooms were beautifully appointed with lovely furnishings and fittings.
The game viewing was outstanding in LK. We saw lions several times and lost count of the number of other species we saw. My personal favourites were the night game drives, as the smell of flowers and grasses was released (especially jasmine) and we saw some nocturnal animals that I was really not expecting to see. We also very much enjoyed the mokoro and walking safaris, and the boat safari - all the activities were so different that we felt we had packed 2 weeks holiday into 3 days.
What makes LK stand out for me is the quality of the staff. Like Lagoon, they came across as genuinely friendly and keen to ensure we had a fantastic holiday. They were absolutely wonderful with Kirsty (12 year old) - one of them taught her a card trick and the others very kindly allowed her to show it to them all - I have some great photos of this!
All the above factors were going to ensure this was a wonderful experience, but what turned it into a life changing experience was the guide and tracker, Hobbs and Chester. Their attitudes, abilities to track, knowledge, skills, enthusiasm and the fact that they are genuinely all round lovely people made this an experience that will be hard to match.
Wonderful animal sightings at Little Kwara
Our wildlife experience at Little Kwara was generally excellent with just one small disappointment that we will mention last as it did not affect our overall enjoyment.
We had hoped to see cheetahs, in particular, at Little Kwara and so we very pleased to come across three sleepy cheetah brothers on our first afternoon. Overall, there was a very good variety of wildlife: highlights, apart from the cheetahs, being close encounters with lions at day and night, following a pack of wild dogs and the motorboat trip to the storks roosting area. Guides were excellent - we had Dutch most of the time who was very informative.
The tented accommodation on stilts was very comfortable, clean and spacious with a welcome outdoor shower (in the heat of the day especially).
Food and service was very good.
The only disappointment was that we were unable to fit in a Mokoro trip. The reason was that a scheduled motorboat trip to the heronry had to be delayed from our last afternoon to the following morning when we had expected to do the Mokoro. This was due to a problem with the Little Kwara boat and the need to arrange to borrow one from Kwara). However, although early morning on the water was cold we probably had more daylight than if we had gone on an afternoon trip. The heronry (actually large numbers of storks and ibises) was wonderful and not something we would have wanted to have missed.
Overall, an excellent experience at Little Kwara.
The best camp of our whole trip
This was our favorite camp because of its combination of first class tracking, wild life, intimacy with nature, small size, lovely rooms and really friendly service.
Right in the Okavanga Delta and on an island, Little Kwara offers real intimacy with nature and the local wild life. We had Elephants right outside our room and heard lions prowling around quite close to our tent during the night. We saw a hug variety of game within a few minutes of leaving the camp. No mosquitoes when we were there.
Excellent - spacious, comfortable, cool with fans and 24/7 electricity, good hot water, inside and outside showers and a bath, plenty of storage space, safe and a huge bed.
The camp is very well run in a quiet efficient way and all the staff are very friendly and really care about making your stay as pleasant and memorable as possible. Guiding and tracking first class.
Plentiful and good if not quite four star. Can get a bit repetitive.
Great. The huge plus point about this camp is that the drivers and guides will always go "off road" to find game. We saw a huge amount - Lions, three Cheetah brothers, Leopard, Elephant, Hippos, Giraffe, Wildebeast, Buffalo, Crocs and large and small birds. The boat ride to the Rookery is not to missed. We also enjoyed the the Mekoro boat trip through the reed beds.