Reviews of Kwihala Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
fantastic safari at Kwihala
I had heard good reports of Kwihala and my visit exceeded all expectations.
The camp is extremely well run and everything is geared up to the comfort of guests including the superbly appointed tents, amazing catering, attentive friendly staff and fantastic guiding.
Steve is not only a top guide but extremely good company. His knowledge of wildlife and birds is encyclopaedic (even to a lifelong nature fanatic and birdwatcher). Every game drive seemed like a fresh adventure for him too, which makes it all the more enjoyable. Brilliant bush breakfasts and sundowners enhance the ultimate wilderness experience. The night drive takes you into a whole new world in which the same landscape is inhabited by completely new participants.
Dinner with Sandie (manager) Steve and Festo (guides) and other guests was always entertaining. The food was plentiful varied and unbelievably delicious.
The camp is in a great setting and the game plentiful and varied.
The whole experience was unforgettable. Asilia, Sandie, guides and all the camp staff are to be congratulated on doing the safari experience to such an amazingly high standard.
Kwihala Camp review
This was our third and final camp. We stayed five nights and really didn't want to leave! Ruaha at this time of year is truly magical: lush and varied landscapes giving up their wonderful wildlife secrets and a true feeling of isolation. We saw huge numbers of elephants - on a couple of occasions more than 100 at once. We saw lions every day and at the end of one evening drive found a cheetah with the help of three very focused giraffes and our guide Lorenzo. The amount and variety of wildlife and birds was a revelation.
During the course of our stay we encountered only a couple of other vehicles in the vastness of the national park. Although you can't go off road here it didn't seem to make much difference. We still had fantastic close encounters and not only with the cats. Very special were the tiny dick-dick and klipspringers: two of the smallest antelopes. Lorenzo and his Masai assistant Daudi were a joy to be with and great fun. Lorenzo is a mine of information and has boundless enthusiasm for his subject. Every day was a great adventure.
The camp has been recently taken over by Asilia and new manager Sandy is a fabulous host. Again all the staff were friendly and helpful and our vegetarian diet was magnificently catered for. The camp is simple but stylish, comfortable and clean, with widely spaced individual tents. We felt like we were the only ones in the bush as we drifted off to sleep to the sound of lionesses calling from the nearby Mwagussi river.
Kwihala Camp review
Very friendly atmosphere. Warm welcome and well looked after by Sandy.
Fantastic guide - Festo.
Perfect safari experience
This was a second visit to Kwihala – the only camp I have returned to. Repeat visits to Kwihala are quite common which says a lot.
For me it provides the perfect safari experience. Ruaha is a superb National Park with varying landscapes and plentiful wildlife and above all, quiet in terms of tourism. Kwihala being close to the Mwagusi river means game is readily viewable and not a long drive to get to any decent viewing. With only six tents, the camp provides a very friendly environment. It feels like a large, relaxed family which the guests can just become part of and a communal dinner with twelve guests plus guides works really well in that everyone can hear a single conversation which becomes impossible with a larger number of guests.
Tents provide all the comfort you need – spacious with large beds, electric light, battering charging, shower, loo, wash basin, soaps, shampoos etc, – without going to unnecessary luxuries. Yes you are camping in the bush but completely without any tented hardships and also without any hotel type luxuries that would really feel out of place.
Typical daily routine is on the road at 6am preceded by a wake up tea / coffee tray brought to your tent at whatever time you feel you need to get ready. Stop sometime for a substantial bonnet breakfast and continue the game drive to about 1pm depending on what you see. Quick freshen up before a sit down excellent lunch. Then a short break before a pre afternoon game drive tea / coffee / cold drink and cake before going out at 4pm. Return to camp at 7pm after a sundowner stop in the bush – possibly skipped if you make the choice between a really good sighting and a glass of wine. Back at camp, a quick get ready for dinner and pick up from your tent for pre dinner drinks round the camp fire 7:30 onwards. Then an excellent dinner under the stars with all guests, some guides / manager round communal table. Escorted back to your tent to sleep and start the cycle again.
That sounds pretty full on and tiring and the truth is that it is and may not suit some people. Individuals can obviously skip drives or a car can make a choice to change timings but for me, I go on safari to spend time out there in the bush and so the Kwihala routine is great. I don’t want to be lying in bed when I could be out in the bush experiencing the dawn and things like bat eared fox cubs playing out of their den and being suckled by their mother.
As per another reviewer, the changes since the Asilia take over mostly seem pretty positive. I think they appreciate the benefit of a small camp in comparison with a 12 or 15 tent camp and also appreciate that in Kwihala they have something very special which should be changed as little as possible.
When reviewing Kwihala it is difficult not to write on and on – I shall save doing that by saying you could pick virtually any title – guiding, staff, tents, food, location, wildlife etc etc and apply a single word to them – “brilliant”. It is too difficult to come up with a shortlist of highlights from our game drives.
Finally, there is part of me that wants to explore something new if I go on another safari – there is also part of me that really worries that if I do so, I could well be disappointed and spend time comparing to what I know I would get at Kwihala. As far as Ruaha goes, you could visit many times and still barely scratch the surface. I am pretty certain that my next safari will be another visit to Kwihala – probably “green season” for a change.
A magical place
We came at the same time last year- however this year the rains had come earlier and there was a little water in the river beds ,making for a different experience in bird life and animal behavior. Having stayed at Kwihala twice before this was our first visit after it had been taken over by the much larger company Asilia .
So we were pleased and relieved that the special Kwihala magic was still much in evidence -not surprising as the wonderful staff and the stunning scenery were just the same. The very high level of returning guests speaks volumes. Lorenzo and Saidi make a formidable team and between them their knowledge ,tracking skills,patience and sense of humour make for great game drives day after day.
Highlights include ;-
-tracking a leopard for about 45 minutes after being alerted to its presence by the hyrax colony and being rewarded with an extended sighting of 'Onca' a beautiful and relaxed young male .The grin on Lorenzo and Saidi's faces said it all.
-watching elephants rub clean every nook and crannie of their bodies on a fallen tree trunk -including behind the ears/ knees
-a large pride of lions with very tiny cubs that had feasted on an elephant kill
-2 honey badger cubs on a night drive just before we had a puncture near to said lions
-a herd of 700 + buffalo as they came to the Mwagusi to drink
-lots of wonderful birds and interesting animal behavior
Thank you to Michelle for arranging for us to have our preferred tent and guide/tracker and for being so committed to keeping the Kwihala atmosphere alive and well.
Message to Asilia
The food ,previously perfectly adequate, was very much improved and it was good to hear staff speaking very positively about increased training opportunities -all benefits from being part of a larger company .The addition of the little shop was also welcome.
But we were disappointed to see the beautiful and stylish 'Baobab' crockery was gradually being replaced with more corporate white china .Please think about replacing it - we can't be the only guests who would love to purchase items as a reminder of a wonderful camp. Please don't even think of changing the Baobab bed covers.
We realise change is inevitable, especially to ensure Ruaha remains viable. However the prospect of a sister camp to Kwihala very nearby will inevitably increase traffic in the area, which we noticed had much increased since this time last year. Still nowhere nearly as congested as northern Tanzania but how long can it remain the isolated wilderness we love?
A last request - a bird list would be really helpful. Notes written on a bumpy vehicle are pretty indecipherable.
Kwihala Camp - briliant experience
This was our second visit to Kwihala and the first time we have ever made a return visit to a safari camp. We were not disappointed.
The guides (we had Lorenzo and Saidi) are among the very best we have come across and demonstrate what a difference good guiding makes. Not just been able to spot game but to 'think' like the game and through patience and persistence make unforgettable memories for guests.
The camp is run extremely well and the small size makes for a family atmosphere with tales being shared around the camp fire before a first class dinner in the evening.
We hope the new owners keep Kwihala as it is - as we plan to return!
First class camp with limited activities
Bordered on the excellent, (we compare everything to our favourites in Zambia) The density of game in Rhuaha was much better than we expected and the variety of species bringing in the northern area game was superb.
This camp was run very well and the accommodation was very good, Food also excellent. We were lucky to have a very experienced guide in Festo who suited us very well and was quietly informative and enthusiastic. (some others would have been a bit too noisy for us)
The camp could not provide walks or night drives and this meant it was lacking in variety of activities. There were also a few occasions when this area of the park became quite busy (4 vehicles around lions)
A great start to our safari
Kwihala Camp was a great spot to begin our third safari. It is a very friendly, welcoming camp that seems to be blossoming under Asilia management. The Ruaha landscape is varied, and the animals were plentiful. Our guide Festo maximized the hours spent on our game drives, sharing his vast expertise and love of the animals and the land.
The tents at Kwihala are large, comfortable, and spotless. The bucket showers had plenty of hot water. Drinking water is provided in reusable containers rather than throwaway plastic bottles. The food was very good and included a wide variety of dishes. Fresh vegetables and salads were plentiful. Campfires each evening always included special hors d'ouevres, followed by dinner under the stars. Those who were served vegetarian meals said that they were excellent. A special birthday was marked with a celebration including champagne and a cake carried in by singing, dancing waiters. It was a real treat!
The manager Sandy was attentive and caring. We noted that she seemed to be well respected by the staff. The guides mentioned that they believe the camp has improved in many ways since the change to Asilia management last May. They especially like the increased training opportunities, so it seems to have certainly been a change for the better.
Since Ruaha is one of the less-populated tourist areas of Tanzania, we were surprised to find vehicles from several other camps as we did our game drives. But it never felt crowded (with the exception of one leopard sighting which drew about 5 cars).
Kwihala Camp review
Just as good as ever - a fantastic campRead more about the whole safari
My Splendid Safari in Ruaha National Park
I recently returned from a ten-day safari to Southern Tanzania. I had booked this safari through Expert Africa, and it was already
my third safari with them. I flew from Nairobi to Dars em Salam, and had expressed mh trepidation that one hour would'nt be sufficient
to make my connection to Ruaha. Well, I was pleasantly surprised as the transfer went perfectly smooth. I then flew to Ruaha where I was picked up at the air strip by Douadi, a tracker as well as an apprentic guide in training. I have to mention that he has three wives and one child and is planning to have ninemoe children. He is a traditional Maasai tribesman.
At the camp I was met by Mitchelle, the temporary managerwho hails from Zambia. She was kind, charming and always helpful. Absent minded as always, I somehow managed to loose the return portion of my return ticket to Nairobi. Mitchelle contacted Expert Africa, who sent me the return portion of my ticket, which she promptly printed out for me. I made sure not to loose it again. I enjoyed talking to her about her career as a photographer in South Africa, the U.K and all over Africa.
I enjoyed the tents at Kwihala Lodge as they were roomy and comfortable. Hotwater bucket showers were always available. A generator provided power twenty-four hours a day. A gentle breeze cooled off the camp. I really enjoyed the communal didning. I remember that everything served was extremely delicious. The campfires before dinner were delightful.
I saw many giraffes, impalas, buffaloes, jackals, zebras and babbons. I also viewed a black-necked spitting cobra as well as a rarely seen Egyptian mongoose, and both civet and genet. I saw many lions and too many elephants to mention. My guide Lorenzo and his assistant Douadi asked me what I wanted to see and when I responded a klipspringer, they managed to show me two of them. I was fortunate enough to have a Landcruiser the entire time I was there.
I'm an avid birder, so I have to say I was'nt disappointed. As for birds of prey, I was able to see four different species; a Tawny, an African Hawk-Eagle and a Brown Snake Eagle. I also saw a beatiful Eastern-Chanting Goshawk and a lovely Grey Kestrel.
There was no lack of beatiful and graceful aquatic birds as well. I saw a Pied Kingfisher, an African Open-Billed Stork and a Yellow Billed-Stork. I've long enjoyed watching lilac Breasted Rollers and so for this reason, I was delighted to see a little Bee Eater, as well as Rufous Crowned Roller. Another gorgeous bird I observed through binoculars was the Variable Sunbird. The most beautiful bird I saw was the Yellow Collared lovebird, although a Cut Throat Finch was a close contender.
I'm looking forward to another visit to Kwihala but this time in February, or March because I'd love to see bat-eared fox and all the species of immigrant birds. Again, I have to stress that the guiding was superb which is the most important part of any safari.