Reviews of Kwihala Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Kwihala Camp review
We arrived from Selous after a lengthy and interesting flight ,to find a very different environment in Ruaha,much drier with different terrain, with hills and rocky outcrops. It was really very hot,( 39 deg) due to a delay in the rains arriving, and the open position of the camp and tents meant that in the middle of the day we suffered a bit. The camp will be in a new position from next season with better shelter, and I believe fans in the rooms which will be very welcome!
That said the camp is well furnished and the tents are comfortable . Food was excellent, especially considering the remoteness of the camp and the limitations of a "bush kitchen". Communal meals were served in the main mess tent, or just outside in the open.
We saw a huge herd of buffalo on several occasions and many elephants ,including herds with very young calves and a couple of big bulls with impressive tusks. The resident big male Lions proved elusive, though we did get close to a couple of prides and some very young cubs that we watched for quite a long time.
While we were here , we were introduced to a film crew who were fiming a documentary for national geographic about interactions between lions and buffalos. The Ruaha apparently being a good area to observe these. We were told by Marius, the resident manager/guide that there has been a change in the local Lion population with the main pride fragmenting and being much smaller than of late. This has led to problems hunting large prey such as buffalo.
We were very impressed by Marius's skills as a guide with extensive knowledge of much of Africa as well as the Ruaha. We had three seperate leopard sightings, each one being rather brief unfortunately. We also encountered a group of 4 magnificent mature Kudu bulls . Other sightings included a rare glimpse of a serval and two distant cheetah. We spottted many bird species, including Ostrich,bustards,Giant eagle owls, several hawk species and vultures as well as many smaller species.The heat meant that after mid morning sightings were less good as all the wildlife was sheltering from the sun.
We had an early morning walk when we found remains of enormous scorpions and saw columns of big black matabele ants hunting, and looked around the rocky outcrop that will be the sight of the new, possibly permanent camp., which sounds an exciting project with a raised terrace on a rocky outcrop, with 360 deg views over the countryside
In the camp there were many Lizards including bright orange and blue rock agamas which scuttled away as soon as we approached and seemed to be living between the double tent roof layers!
If I had a complaint it would be that considering that much of the time there were only two couples in the camp, it might have been better if two game vehicles were used on the drives to give each couple a more personal experience. We felt that it was a bit of a compromise in our case as the other couple were mostly interested in the birdlife. This is not a serious complaint and it may not have been possible to use two vehicles, due to staffing etc. This being a dry area there were of course no boat activities, but the walk did provide a change.
All in all we had a very good experience in Kwihala, and found the staff to be friendly and helpful,and I am sure that the new camp will be even better.
Kwihala CAmp review
This camp was the highlight of our stay in Tanzania. Beautiful tents were widely spaced to give maximum privacy. Service was exceptional - even the drawers were tidied and clothes refolded.
The bucket showers provided a touch of the real bush experience. Without doubt, however, our stay was made 'special' by the guiding of Marius. Marius has a true passion and is very happy to share it liberally. We were happilly riisng each day at 5 to be off by half past to experience the African sunrise.
Game viewing was excellent - two lion prides, leopards and 700+ buffalo - lots of bird life. We are old African hands but we found we still had much to learn.
Kwihala Camp review
what not to like, excellent camp, attentive staff superb meals.
game drives not done to a timetable but dictated by what was to be seen and possibly found. an exhilarating and new experience on how game viewing can be done.
Kwihala Camp review
Little gem of a camp and a great recommendation. Fantastic guide Pietro - one of the best guides I have ever had in 30+ visits to Africa. In 3 full days had 3 cheetah sightings (including hunting), 3 leopard sightings, and too many lion sightings to remember including one day with 5 separate sightings and a 19 strong pride with 6 clubs. The guides treated the animals with respect and as a result the animals were very relaxed around vehicles.
The camp was beautiful and well set out with great staff. Mealtimes were relaxed and flexible to accommodate longer morning drives and evening meal taken under the stars. Only minor criticism was that food was less varied than at similar camps and could have benefited from more salads / fresh fruit etc.
Overall a lovely camp and one that I have no hesitation in recommending highly.
Kwihala a very special, small camp
Kwihala was outstanding! With only 6 tents, it was very small and quiet--had the best sleep of our lives the three nights in this camp. Very comfortable tents, and felt like five-star luxury to have electricity after going without it (happily) at the previous camp.
The food was mostly good, and amazing what they do in such a remote camp kitchen, but occasionally the beef was fairly tough.
Highlight here was our guide, Pietro, and guide-in-training, Saidi. Pietro is passionate, even obsessed, with spotting game, and he did a brilliant job for us. We watched a very large pride of lions interacting for about an hour one morning, sighted three leopards over three days, saw a cheetah, huge herds of buffalo, elephants, giraffes, etc. etc. Ruaha was quite chilly in the mornings and evenings, so be sure to pack accordingly with long sleeves and pants, a warm fleece, hat, etc.
Kwihala Camp review
Saw a terrific amount of wildlife. Brilliant guide -- we had a real education not only about animals but also birds,insects and plants.
Camp was very well run and the people very friendly and pleasant.
Kwihala Camp review
One of the best camp experiences - very personal, great wildlife experience.Read more about the whole safari
A great bush experiance
Another class act as a camp. From arrival to departure the staff were top class. With decent rains the bush was very dense and animals scattered up to the escarpment which made game viewing very difficult but the ability of Marius Swart our guide for the 3 days made for a fantastic bush experiance . If it was living or growing Marius knew about it and passed on the information in the most understandable way.
Kwihala follows the on road rule only which is mandatory in Ruaha , so don't expect to go off road. The camp will be moving soon to a new permanent site just around the corner with a refurbishment of the facilities , the way the staff were talking , it will be spectacular.
Colin the camp manager could not do enough to help , Geoffrey the chef , fantastic and the flexibility of drives very welcome
Kwihala Camp review
Guide Festel was very good and made for a splendid three days his guiding was much appreciatedRead more about the whole safari
Kwihala Camp. The best of many tripsto Africa
The Camp is not for those who prefer the 'Hilton Bubble' luxury but who in my view will not then truly experience Africa. Having said that I have absolutely no complaints and would have wanted for nothing else. The camp provides all anyone, with a genuine love and interest in the country, could wish for and who wants to absorb Africa fully and not just from elements of a boutique hotel with a gin and tonic in their hands ( welcome though that was at Kwihala after a day's drive!).
The service was exemplary with smiling ever attentive staff at the Camp itself. Marius Swart and Festos, as our guides and tutors, were encyclopedic in their knowledge of animals , birds and insects and a joy to be with. Not only were the 'sightings' exceptional but there was laughter all the time. My wife and I were the only people there on our stay but for us, that was ideal!
Game was no doubt less prolific at this time of the season than in June etc, and had there been the expected rains, grass woyuld have been higher and more concealing. However, we ourselves do not chase the 'Big Five' and we saw all and more we could ever reasonably have wished for.
The lions and elelephants were in amazing abundance. A pride of 19 combining in military action( but failing!) to 'kill' an impala; the lioness, the pride's matriarch, at dawn within a few yards of us, marking her pride's territory ; at dusk over a 100 elephants in total arriving over the space of an hour in their family groups, to drink, from 4 months old to full maturity, playful and very much family animals ; impala, water buck, birds by the million ( all immediately improbably named by Marius and Festos) and dawn in Africa an truly magical and unforgettable experience.
Being alone with our guides who were as absorbed as we were, we spent at times over an hour stationary watching very special moments.Above all else it was without another vehicle in sight. After the Serengeti and the Mara such a joy! It felt las if Africa was there to present itself simply to ourselves alone. In a sense this sums up our stay at Kwihala and one of the reasons I would recommend Ruaha and the Camp to everyone.
Our guides to keep us honest, arrangd for the vehicle to be charged, not once but twice, by irate elephants. Excellent! though Jill might not have seen it this way. Very unusual. Peerfectly safe but the boys felt that a group of four private vehicles with youngsters on baord entering the Park had frightened the elephants earlier and caused the reaction. The g and t was quite welcome on return home!
To be objective, and I think things may change when next year the camp is moved to a simply superb location nearby, we would have preferred slightly better viewing from the 'verandas' of the tent. The camp was surrounded by bushes in their spring green. Some clearance near the tent would have helped but a minor comment. It would have been nice also to have had fans for the odd hour in the afternoon at siesta but the costs of generators etc were not in the camps initial budget. Jill did feel the heat at this time.
Chef Godfrey was imaginative and far better than we might have expected from a camp such as this, announcing, in full regalia, the menu for the night and excellent breakfasts and picnics. Nothing was too much trouble and at the end of our game drives, smiling staff always greeted us with fruit juice and wet towels.
The highlights? Watching those lion and elephants at extraordinarily close quarters. You may indeed be 'safe' in the Land Cruiser but....you never know....and Africa whilst a Garden of Eden is nevertheless a dangerous place! Excellent! And so it always will be!
One serious note which Expert Africa mightbtake up. There is an inviolate rule that vehicles keep in the Park, to the 'official tracks' and do not wander. Marius, and Kwihala Camp, fully support this. However, there was much evidence thatn this is not followed by some of he other camps nearby. It is invidious for Marius to complain direct but a gentle word from Expert Africa might help.
For me with many East Africa trips behind me, this stay goes down as one of the most memerable and perfetct of the lot. I am grateful indeed to Ellie at Expert Africa for judging my needs and recommending the place to us. Thank you, Ellie.