Reviews of Chada Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Well worth the journey
Getting to Chada Katavi involves a three hour plus light aircraft flight across Tanzania from Arusha (or Ruaha) but is well worth the effort. We were impressed by the camp, expertly run by Mark and Kristen who are great hosts and really nice people, and really enjoyed our stay there.
The sheer distance, time and cost involved getting there means that visitor numbers are low (for now - that appears to be changing as word gets out about Katavi) so we seldom saw other vehicles as we explored a small corner of this enormous park, expertly guided by Mark, Paul and Gabriel.
The fly-camping trip to a section known as Paradise was particularly worthwhile (indeed we would strongly recommend either a day or overnight trip there for anyone staying four nights or longer); and it was good to be able to do a couple of decent walks during our total four night stay.
Mammals are plentiful - especially hippos crowded into diminishing pools as the dry season bites - and we were very impressed by the bird life.
Very remote and quiet camp
We did something which seems to be pretty unusual - visit Mahale first and then Katavi. When we got to Katavi at first; I thought that was going to have been a mistake. It was so dry and burnt after Mahale! However while it turned into a running joke with our guide Philip, that I would start everything with "when we were at Mahale....", and while I think I probably would advise people to do it the other way round if possible (also because doing it this way means a lot more flying and more cost), we did really enjoy our stay in this unique environment.
Chada camp was nice. Obviously our room/tent was less luxurious than the ones we had in the previous two camps, but we expected that and were very happy with it. It was good to have a change and a spell in a more traditional camp.
The only problems with the tent at Chada were (a) it was very, very hot and so almost impossible to go into the tent in the afternoon for a siesta; and (b) there were bees living in the drop shower which made having a shower in daylight extremely hazardous! We only tried it once.
We soon found that the camp was no stranger to large visitors. Elephants were common sights. One came to try to get the dregs of the water from our shower and gave us a bit of excitement; another reason for being a little wary of using the shower! We also had giraffes and at night there were numerous passing hyena.
Our guide, as I have said was Philip. We really enjoyed being with him. He had a great sense of humour and was very knowledgeable and intent on ensuring that we had a good time. We were lucky to be sharing the safari vehicle with a South African who was also a guide (and who was doing a tour of Tanzania for work purposes) so we did not miss much with two pairs of eagle eyes in the vehicle!
I think it would be fair to say that the concentration of animals in Katavi was not as high as some places, although we did see a lot - but the great thing was when you did see something you did not end up with lots of other safari vehicles converging on it - as did tend to happen at Sayari. We spent quite a bit of time watching the poor hippos packed in to disappearing pools and the crocs.
We also tried very hard to see lions hunting successfully but while we watched a few attempts, none was successful. One day we drove to an area called "Paradise" which was quite a distance from the camp and had it all to ourselves. There we saw large herds of buffallo which were impressive. We also went on an enjoyable walking safari.
We went fly camping. That is something I would definitely recommend. It was amazing how they managed to take every comfort-pretty much-with us-and the food was great. While the main camp was not exactly in a metropolis(!), in fly camping you do really feel out in the middle of the bush. However there was one thing which rankles a bit with us. We were asked when we arrived on which of the 4 nights we wished to go fly camping. I think we were the only guests that had booked it (although our safari-vehicle- companions ended up coming and one of the other guests who was a Nomad manager from another camp). We decided on the 3rd night of the 4. However having planned with our guide what we were going to do that night etc, -which was to go to the Paradise area - we were then asked if we would mind changing it to the last night. While we did not mind which night it was, we were looking forward to it - thinking it would be a bit of a highlight - and did not want the morning to be rushed. We suspected it would be rushed if we had to get back to the airport. But we were assured that it would not be rushed as we would camp in the direction of the airport. So we agreed.
Admittedly we were not pressurised to agree but we did get the impression that for some reason it would be awkward for them if we did not, as they needed the vehicles that would transport the equipment etc somewhere else. However what we feared happened. Our guide was obviously tense on the last morning about getting packed up to go. We had a very short walk but it felt very time pressured. Then at breakfast we felt we had to hurry. So I am afraid while we enjoyed the experience, we felt that it was a bit spoiled by this.
The food was really good at Chada as well and the staff were very friendly again. The managers were great raconteurs, of an evening particularly! Because it was such a small camp, similar to Greystoke, it was easy to get know everyone and felt like a house party.
The tstese flies were a big problem here. They were appalling. We got very badly bitten as did some of the other guests. We had to constantly fan ourselves while in the vehicle but it did not work. We were particularly badly bitten on the ankles, even with socks on. I think this may have been the worst time of year for them but I think you should probably warn people. We met a few people on our trip who said they would not go to Katavi for that reason.
I should also mention that as far as we were aware at none of our first four destinations did we get troubled by mosquitos, or even see one. Again that is no doubt a seasonal thing.
Chada Camp review
The co-managers were very attentive and personable.
The staff was uniformly friendly and on top of everything.
Our driver/guide Frederick was excellent.
A top-notch experience.
Chada Camp review
Great camp, great guide. Three nights fly camping was everything it should be. Lucky enough to get a guide to ourselves for most of the time - which meant we could spend hours at some good spot just sitting watching animals come out of the bush and "birding". Four hours sitting by the river watching lions mate, pied kingfishers fish, and crowned cranes wander.
Did not leave one fly camp site (Paradise) until well after midday - just sat watching hippos, a variety of waders and herons, and eagles fighting. Three hours at a waterhole watching two elephants drink slowly from the only clean water supply whilst everyone else (including playful young elephants) waited patiently or drank from the muddy pool shared with giraffe, zebra and mud bathing warthogs.
Apparently Nomad will guarantee a guide to yourselves for a supplement - why isn't EA mentioning this?
Fantastic camp to explore wild Katavi
Katavi was probably the highlight of our safari - great game and untouched by tourism and modernity, it truly feels like a world away from modern life. The concentration of hippos, crocs and buffalo was truly incredible and the varied, untamed landscape of plains and woodland serve as a great backdrop.
Chada blends in perfectly into this landscape as highlighted by the frequent camp visits of all kinds of wildlife and we really got the feeling of being immersed in this wilderness.
One can see how much thought has gone into every little detail of this remote outpost, from the tents to the library tent and the comfortable 4-seater vehicles. Food was great, service flawless and camp managers Nicola and Peter made you feel very welcome every step of the way and their personal attention only added to the experience.
Regarding the much written about Tse-Tse flies - we felt that they were a distraction during the afternoon activities, but not really a major issue - and the camp itself is free of them.
Chada Camp review
Very friendly management.
Our guide was a bit staid but he was very conscientious. The vehicle was the best we experienced.
The tsetse flies were appalling! I got a few bites in Ruaha but in Katavi I was eaten alive!
Food was excellent.
The tents were good but it was frustrating the number of zips you had to negotiate to get to the loo at night. The zips did not always close properly. The tents were well spread out.
It was disappointing that you always had to set off for a game drive in the same direction. The safari breakfasts were good but it was sometimes a challenge to find some shade without tsetse flies.
It was nice to have a drink with your guide in the evening before dinner.
Chada Camp review
A proper Safari Camp run by proper Safari people. The tents are clean and spacious and the beds could sleep four adults comfortably. The camp staff were very friendly and the mangement team were great, making sure that everyone was included and all requested were dealt with. You add to this a top quality guides (Silvarnus is a top guide) and some great game viewing, it's starting to be a good place to stay.
The fly camping experience should not be missed, you are out in the wilds with all the comforts of the main camp.
As with everything in life there are some downsides, it took me 5 hours in a 14 seater plane with 4 stop off's to get to the camp and there are several other camps being developed in Chada, which means there is a an increased density of vehicles, so go now while it remains one of the unspoilt locations of East Africa. I would highly recommend this camp.
The game is stunning, including wild dogs (this is a rare treat in this part of the world), more lion, hippo and elephant than you can shake a stick at, so be prepared for a great adventure, I stayed for 7 nights and this wasnot really long enough as there is so much to see.
Face to face with the Chada pride
Chada is a small tented camp in the Katavi NP. Don't be fooled by the 'tented' description - everything in the camp, the personal attention, the food etc., is top quality, even in the absence of running water. The limited numbers mean that you have the freedom to do as you please. You discuss and agree with your guide when and where you want to drive or walk.
The guides are superb, with detailed knowledge of the park and the animals and a real passion for them. The animals are plentiful, even in and around the camp. We spotted giraffes, elephants and monkeys in the camp, as well as lions and buffalo within walking distance.
The drives are tailored to your own preferences, and are likely to get you some great close-up views of all of the big 5 (except the shy leopards, who are around, but difficult to spot). Even so, the highlights were the walks, especially coming face to face with some lions. Meeting lions and hyenas on foot gives you an entirely new appreciation of your position on the food chain. An experience not to be missed.
We would have no hesitation in recommending Chada to anyone.
By chance we were the only guests here for the three days. The whole experience was wonderful with expert guides and great staff and managers. This was the most memorable experiance of our lives.
At Katavi, by some fluke of the booking system, we found ourselves the only people staying there for the three days. At first we thought this might be a problem but in fact it was a total privilege. We were treated to the undivided assistance of Silvanus Mbise who proved to be a truly wonderful guide and more than that, companion for our time at the camp. The other staff and Richard and Anna, as the camp managers, were also without fault. We were made to feel really welcome the whole time we were there despite the fact that it was Richard's last three days in charge and he undoubtedly had other things to be arranged.
The tented accommodation was better than we had expected and one got used to the fact that water was in short supply here and having a shower whilst being watched by a monkey was a new experience!
We have to mention the food: how your chef managed to produce food that would be appreciated in a good restaurant anywhere in the middle of Katavi was inexplicable.
The range and extent of the wildlife that we were shown was awe inspiring and I will never forget Silvanus's tracking of a leopard from a kill-site to the animal lying on a tree branch just above our heads. He managed to get the Landcruiser into areas that I don't think I could have got a bicycle!
All-in-all Katavi was an absolutely unforgettable superb experience due, in no small part, to your great staff and managers.
Walking at Chada
We all ended up loving Chada after a dicey start when it became clear that our request for a walking safari had been transmitted/interpreted as fly camping by jeep. After the problem became evident itwas amazing to see how everyone threw themselves into the task of 'making it happen' even though it was evidently not something that had been done before (at least not in the way we envisaged it) and entailed a complete up-ending of the entire camp routine and bringing in a support manager while Richard was with us walking.
Eventually we ende up with three memorable days walking which will stay with us for a long time.
It's clear that Chada is a great area for walking and that with the right support anything from a few days to a couple of weeks could be achieved. Many people I talked to who visited Chada some time ago remember it for the walking. I really recommend that this should be undertaken as part of the normal activities offered from now on and that the infrastructure should be revised to accommodate this.
Either that or the website needs changing to avoid major misunderstanding! Well done to Richard and Anna for coping with us!
Expert Africa comments
Expert Africa sent these travellers to Chada Camp with the clear understanding that they'd be doing a fly-camp with walking safaris. We've sent many travellers to Chada for this type of trip over the years, and several of our team have done these trips themselves. However, on their arrival, it transpired that Chada's fly-camps had changed: apparently they couldn't deliver as much walking as expected.
These travellers immediately contacted us directly. Then after discussions between Expert Africa and Chada's owners, we solved the problem together, and ensured that these travellers were able to do as much walking that they had wanted to do. We're pleased that it all worked out so well in the end!
This tale really just underlines the necessity for our travellers to contact Expert Africa immediately if any issues occur with their trip, as then we can then often work to resolve the problem swiftly, and with the minimum of upset.