Reviews of Kwihala Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
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.
Lion Free Kwihala
We arrived at Kwihala still sweating from 2 nights at Lake Manze. It was still unseasonally hot but the extra altitude reduced the humidity, cooled the nights and actually allowed sleeping under a light cover. The electric lights and charging facility in the tents were wonderful and the bucket shower worked well, albeit we suffered black, muddy water from the taps for an hour or two as a water tanker delivery had stirred up the mud in the camp tank!
We were the only guests for all 4 nights and so had the very best of guiding from Marius and Festo. We did actually earn the record of their first ever guests not to see lion! Despite our best efforts neither of our guides seemed to believe that having seen 20 lion in a 2 night stay at Manze, we were completely unconcerned.
For the record we learned that Kwihala received its Permanent Site permit the day we arrived. They intend to move to a better site 700 metres away and to sink a bore hole to supply much needed water without relying on tanker deliveries. They were unsure what other infrastructure improvements the Italian owner intends although he is reported to be determined to retain the current luxurious simplicity.
The food, wine and service were excellent throughout and the simple addition of a fan in the tent for the hot afternoon siesta would have perfected the picture.
I am unsure if it was hidden away in the camp description but we were disappointed that, as Ruaha is a National Park, no off road driving is allowed to follow up sightings. In addition game drives were officially limited to the hours between 0700 and 1900. This was particularly galling as our guides responsibly followed the rules while other lodges did not. That said the fabulous expertise of our guides and Marius's shared enthusiasm for photography of anything and everything delivered a wonderful 4 days of great sightings.
Despite the off road restrictions and sometimes crippling heat we loved our time at Kwihala. A testament to the expertise and enthusiasm of our great hosts.
Kwihala Camp review
Overall an excellent experience. We were the only people in camp for 3 of our 4 nights, which meant the undivided attention of Marius, Festo and Lorenzo - a wealth of knowledge!
Marius was inspiring, his enthusiasm and knowledge second to none, all went out of their way to satisfy our interests (which amounted to just about everything!). The feeling was that they enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed theirs. The food was fantastic considering the facilities and leaves a lot of our UK restaurant experiences out in the cold - compliments to the chefs!
Witnessed many a battle between the insects, beetles, scorpions, etc in camp - fascinating to watch and all part of the experience. As a temporary camp it was very well situated with tremendous views from our tent, perhaps could have done with toilet facilities close to the mess tent, but otherwise a fantastic experience in Ruaha which we will always remember - in fact, if a permanent site is set up then "we'll be back" - if only to find that elusive cheetah - try as we may we couldn't find one - that's wildlife!
Kwihala Camp review
We were the only guests for the first two days and had Steve's undivided attention. He is an excellent guide, the best we have had in four safaris through yourselves. He interacted very well with his assistant Amon who he was training; itself something good to see.
Minor domestic details could be tightened up: one day we had no water for a shower and the next day it was not hot.