Kichaka Expeditions is an exclusively private mobile camp located in Tanzania's Ruaha National Park.
Kichaka Expeditions: Our full report
Kichaka Expeditions is a private mobile camp which opened in 2013 in a section of Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park far from any of the existing camps. Kichaka was set up by Andrew ‘Moli’ Molinaro and his partner Noelle Herzog, with the aim of focusing on walking safaris – and giving visitors a really wild bush experience during which they could explore one of Tanzania’s most remote areas.
By way of background, previous to this Moli and his partner Noelle spent over 6 years working at Jongomero Camp. There he gained a reputation for leading first-class walking safaris and also fell in love with Ruaha. He still spends what little free time he has training up the TANAPA rangers, who help to protect the park. Another of Moli’s offbeat jobs has been consulting for Disney, in the USA, for their Animal Kingdom. He was given the opportunity to be the ‘voice of Africa;’ and he still returns periodically to the USA to update his voiceovers!
Moli and Noelle loved walking and wanted to explore the vast wilderness of Ruaha, much of which is still unmapped. A private mobile camp was the obvious answer for flexibility and quality of operation, so in 2013 Kichaka Expeditions was born.
The main reason for visiting Kichaka are the activities, and specifically the excellent guided walking safaris led by Moli through untouched areas on the east side of Ruaha National Park. He shares his encyclopedic knowledge of Ruaha’s flora and fauna with guests, and, if asked, will also include lessons on bushcraft skills, tracking, fire-lighting and the basics of bush survival. On our last visit here, in November 2013, we got close to several big game species during the walks with Moli: we tracked and found a male leopard, and shadowed a large heard of elephant for nearly an hour – all on foot!
Other activities at Kichaka include game drives, which become more important during the wet season, when the game disperses more and it’s sometimes just too hot to walk. On clear nights there’s a computerized telescope for stargazing (astronomy is another passion for Moli), whilst you may also find a set of night vision goggles to look through.
Accommodation at Kichaka Expeditions comprises of three metal-framed tents set under shady trees. Each has a covered veranda at the front and slightly separate (about 3m in the open air) bathroom at the side, complete with a sink, a bucket shower and a short-drop toilet. Each tent has two comfortable beds, with proper mattresses; these can be made into two twin beds or one double. The camp moves periodically, depending on which areas Moli and Noelle decide to explore next!
Kichaka’s main area is really just another tent; it’s similar in construction to the tents but its sides are all open. Under here you’ll find a dining table, some comfortable chairs and a coffee table. This is definitely a no-frills camp; it’s back-to-basics in many ways.
The camp is currently booked exclusively for a minimum of two people and a maximum of six. This creates an intimate experience; it is guaranteed that there will be no other guests at camp. It is a fantastic option if you are travelling as a couple, a family or a small group of friends – as you get the whole place to yourself.
The food at camp is surprisingly good, given the very basic kitchen. They use a mixture of local dishes and international favorites all cooked on the camp’s gas burner, barbeque and coal oven. Despite the limited cooking facilities, and the difficulty to get hold of ingredients, Noelle somehow manages to produce incredible meals. These are served out in the bush, often under the African night sky – see below for more details.
Based here, Kichaka Expeditions also has three smaller tents for fly-camping. These can be used for ad-hoc fly-camping expeditions from the main camp, which are organized when you’re there. These tents are fairly basic, in order to be transported between areas, although they’re still quite big – each is an unusually tall dome tent, about 4m x 4m (I’m six-foot tall, and I still couldn’t reach the tent’s apex with my outstretched fingers!). If/when used, the team of staff move this fly-camp to a new location, so that guests are able to stay close to the game and explore wild, untouched areas of Ruaha.
Our view of KichakaKichaka is one Tanzania’s most remote and exciting new camps. Moli is a first-class walking guide with great knowledge and Noelle is a pleasure to be around; to have their passion for Africa all to ourselves during Kichaka’s first season was a real privilege. That said, we’re mindful that Kichaka is a simple camp at heart: the bathroom is slightly separate and it is focuses purely on walking – so it won’t suite everyone. However, we love it and are particularly enthused about the ad-hoc fly-camping.
Ideal length of stay: We would recommend a stay of at least three nights – and preferably four or five if you’d like to do some fly-camping.
Directions: Two and a half hour flight from Dar es Salaam and then a three-hour game drive to camp.
Owner: Andrew Molinaro and Noelle Herzog
Staff: Andrew Molinaro and Noelle Herzog
Food & drink
Food quality: There can be a maximum of 6 people at the camp at any one time, and so a huge amount of time and care is put into each individual meal. The quality and variety of the food at Kichaka is very good.
Breakfast will usually be served before the morning walk, and this will consist of a selection of fruit, cereals and toast followed by a full English for those who want it. This will usually be served in the main tent at camp.
Lunch tends to be quite light, consisting of a variety of salads, and some meat or fish cooked on the BBQ or on one of their gas stoves. It can be served anywhere in the bush and the staff will often set up a nice spot for lunch while the guests are walking. After lunch you will have the option to be driven back to camp or continue walking. During our most recent visit in November 2013 we enjoyed sesame seed fried Nile perch, a green bean salad, potato salad and tomato and mozzarella. For dessert we had fresh mango.
Dinner is usually three courses and is often served out under the stars. The starter could be anything from beach prawns with garlic and parsley to aubergine, beef and pesto stacks (both were excellent!). On the last time that we visited, for main course we had fillet of beef, asparagus wrapped in bacon, mash potato and peppercorn sauce on one night and turmeric Zanzibar fish curry served with naan and rice on another. Dessert was a delicious chocolate pot on one occasion; and cashew nut meringue served with a passion-fruit coulis on another.
There is a ‘set menu’ due to the remoteness of the camp; vegetarian, gluten free and lactose free menus are all available with prior notice. (In fact, with advanced notice, Noelle is very flexible about the menu.)
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Yes
Walking safaris: Kichaka offers one of the most unique, exclusive and remote walking experiences in Africa. The camp’s owner, Moli, is an extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide. He leads all of these walking safaris and is more adept than most at actively tracking big game.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: The camp will accept any one over the age of 10.
Property’s age restrictions: You have to be at least aged 16 to go on walks.
Special activities & services: Child minding and kids meals can be arranged.
Equipment: The camp doesn’t provide any cots, high-chairs or special equipment for children.
Generally recommended for children: We would not recommend this camp to anyone under the age of 16 because to get the most out of Kichaka you would need to go on safari walks.
Notes: The camp moves between very wild areas and is not fenced. We therefore recommend that only mature teenagers with an understanding of Africa consider visiting Kichaka. All children should be supervised at all times.
Power supply: Solar Power
Power supply notes: There is no electricity in the tents. Batteries can be charged in the main area.
Communications: There is sporadic mobile phone reception. There is a satellite phone in case of emergencies.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio here – it is about as remote as you can get!
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: The solar heated water is dug from the river and is fine to wash with, however guests should not drink it. Bottled water is supplied.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: First Aid Kits are carried by all the members of staff both on vehicles and in camp. The staff are all fully-qualified first aiders but in an emergency a medical evacuation would need to be arranged from one of the local airstrips.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There is an air horn provided in every tent and there will always be a member of staff close by in case of an emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers on all of the vehicles.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: This is a complimentary service and usually takes around 24 hours.
Money: There are no credit card facilities at the Lodge. However it is all-inclusive and so you should not need to pay for anything once you are there. You should however remember to bring some cash (US$ or Tanzanian shillings) in order to tip the staff at the end of your stay.