Kwihala Camp is a semi-permanent tented camp.
Kwihala Camp: Our full report
Kwihala is a mobile operation set up in Ruaha National Park in 2006. In early 2014 it was announced that it is being taken over from June onwards by a well known company who run a number of operations in northern Tanzania. We have no doubt the excellent standards which Kwihala has enjoyed will continue despite this change.
There is nothing permanent about this camp; you won’t find any cement or stone, and when it moves sites there should be no evidence that it was ever here. Despite this, the camp is very stylish, offering a high level of luxury and comfort without losing any of the sense that you’re in the wilderness. The food and service at Kwihala are excellent and the whole camp runs very smoothly.
The natural-coloured tents at Kwihala blend into the surrounding vegetation, and the furniture and decorations are elegant in keeping with their surroundings. The main lounge/dining area is a wonderful open-sided tent which faces the bush. Although the bare groundsheets are still visible, billowing white materials, interesting metallic wall hangings and stylish furniture lend an elegant and romantic feel. Watch out for the long guy ropes though, as they can be easy to trip on in the evenings!
Pottery, vases and bowls are dotted around the tent all featuring the signature Kwihala baobab. Comfy sofas invite you to relax and browse through the selection of coffee-table books, and there’s a small bookshelf with interesting artefacts collected from the surrounding area, such as quartz sling-shot balls and ground snail shells.
Just outside the main tent, under a shaded roof, a number of directors’ chairs with small tables look out over the bush. A little campfire area just in front is where guests gather in the evening for drinks before dinner.
The large, cream, walk-in tents at Kwihala continue the theme; combining simple practical furniture, such as a beautifully made wooden dressing table, with a stylish flair. White cotton curtains hang from a lovely iron rail adorned with African beads. Handmade tea and coffee cups of blue pottery are from Nairobi also sporting the camp’s signature baobab symbol. Even the bedspread has a large embroidered baobab on it. Everything matches, yet it isn’t gaudy.
In front of each tent is a small shaded veranda, overlooking the bush and furnished with comfortable director’s chairs.
A set of curtains at the side of the tent leads to an en-suite bathroom. Here you will find a large wooden surface with a beautiful sink in the camp’s hallmark blue pottery, and a matching soap dispenser. On the other side of the bathroom is a bucket shower – which looks and operates exactly like a normal shower! A tank outside your tent will be filled with plenty of warm water on request. There is also a flush chemical toilet – and though it has quite a chemical smell because all of the waste goes into a tank buried beneath the ground, it is very clean.
Kiwhala’s location at the time of writing (in April 2014) is in the heart of the bush. Animals regularly wander through the camp, and the sounds of the bush are all around as you sleep.
The guiding is excellent. In addition to a permanently resident guide, Festo, Kwihala works with a handful of top freelance professional guides in rotation. Each guides their own private safaris around Africa, but each comes to the camp for several months at a time, to guide from the camp. They’re all at the top of their game – highly trained and passionate – and have very extensive wildlife experience, in Ruaha and elsewhere.
Add to this the camp’s small size, and you have a safari in which there is plenty of scope for guests to explore what really interests them – be it birds, fauna or animals.
Our viewKwihala combines a simple charm with high standards and the feel of a very elegant bushcamp. Aside from the comforts, and service, it is Kwihala’s excellent guiding in this fairly remote park which are the real draws here.
Ideal length of stay: At least four days to really explore Ruaha National Park
Directions: By far the easiest way to access Kwihala is to fly into Ruaha from Dar es Salaam, which takes around three hours, and then drive for 45 minutes to the camp. By road, Kwihala is about nine hours' drive from Dar es Salaam, whilst the nearest town, Iringa, is around three hours away.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: All of the meals at Kwihala are served on beautiful matching blue pottery plates embossed with a baobab tree. When we stayed in November 2013 the food was well prepared and focused on plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and salads. Timings of meals are usually quite flexible to fit around the guests, and the day’s activities.
Breakfast at Kwihala usually consists of an assortment of fresh fruit, yoghurt, pancakes and a cooked breakfast. Guests who leave early on a morning game drive will instead have a simple breakfast of fruits, muffins and cereals out in the bush, laid out on the bonnet of the vehicle.
Lunch is usually something light but filling – such as salads and a sandwich as well as a fruit dessert. During our visit we had chicken escalope with fresh salad, followed by fruit salad for dessert.
Dinner is either in the dining tent or – on clear nights – set out under the stars with only kerosene lamps for lighting. Your three courses are introduced by the chef before dinner and then served to the table. When we stayed, we started with beef pie, followed by sweet and sour chicken, rounded off with carrot cake.
Dining style: Group Meals
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are not included in the rates at Kwihala.
Further dining info: There is no room service as such, though you can have tea and coffee brought to your room.
Solo Travel: Kwihala is located in the game-rich Ruaha National Park and great for solo travellers. Holidays here include amazing walking (and 4WD) safaris with top-notch guides, social evening gatherings around the campfire and pleasingly low single supplements.See more ideas for Solo Travel in Tanzania
Birdwatching: Ruaha National Park has an extraordinary diversity of birds – with over 520 different species recorded. Mid-November to March is a great time for keen birdwatchers to visit this park, and the knowledgeable guides are a real asset.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Children of 6 years and above are welcome at Kwihala Camp.
Special activities & services: There are no special activities or services offered for children.
Equipment: There is no special equipment for younger children at Kwihala Camp, as you need to be over the age of seven to stay here.
Generally recommended for children: Kwihala Camp is a remote camp and wildlife does walk through camp –so we would only recommend it for older children.
Notes: Parents should note that children are their own responsibility for the duration of their stay.
Communications: The camp has a satellite phone for emergencies and there is generally good mobile reception. There are no communication facilities for guest use.
TV & radio: There is no TV or Radio at Kwihala.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is first-aid equipment in camp and in all of the vehicles. For emergencies, Kwihala is linked to the flying doctor service.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Kwihala camp has a safe in the main office where you can store valuables. Guests are escorted to and from their rooms at night and there are whistles in the tents in case of an emergency.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all of the vehicles at Kwihala.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included – but all the clothes are rigorously hand washed so it is not suitable for delicate items.
Money: The camp prefers payment for any extras in US dollars, Tanzanian shillings, English pounds or euros cash. They are unable to accept travellers’ cheques or credit cards.