Reviews of Kwihala Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
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.
Kwihala Camp review
Ellie, from Expert Africa insisted we stayed here and made it our last camp, it was FANTASTIC, very remote and a true feeling of being in the bush.
The camp is run very quietly and incredibly efficiently by Steve, who also came out with us each day, as our driver and guide, he is passionate about the bush and it was so nice to just sit watching the various animals for maybe an hour, rather than," yes, lions, watch for five minutes, photos taken, on we go". We learnt to recognise the different tracks and poo and also some individual animals which made the whole experience much more interesting and rewarding, This was certainly the best camp for sightings, knowledge, and, of course, being South African there was good chat and humour between Steve and the guests. We would return here like a shot.
The tents were lovely, and with solar electricity were again a bit upmarket! We loved the bucket shower and the boys kept everything very tidy and clean.
We were visited in the night by jackals and hyenas and on our last night the pride of 15 lions came through camp, we slept through that one!
The food was superb, and top marks to the camps for cooking in very primitive (as we know it) conditions, I asked to visit two of the kitchens, at camps we stayed in and was amazed.
Thank-you to Ellie for arranging such a fabulous Safari, it was all we had hoped for and much much more!
Wonderful wildlife and birds at Kwihala Camp
the camp was excellent, the general area was a huge open tented area with comfortable sofas, tables, books and a drinks table. at one end a large table where meals were taken together with the guide. One evening we had drinks round a camp fire and dinner under the stars.
Food was good, tasty and varied (a bit '80s dinner party/Delia cook book )really fun. plenty of drinks and wine offered, more than required. Breakfast was taken in the bush and delicious- fresh fruit, bacon, muffins, eggs.
The tents were lovely, huge size, comfortable beds and linen and clean comfortable bathroom. very welcome wakeup call of tea, and biscuits provided when asked. lots of bottled water provided in the rooms for drinking and cleaning teeth.
masses of wildlife, birds throughout the camp and everywhere on the drives.
Animals everywhere, we saw over 40 lions on one morning drive alone and masses of elephant +usual zebra , impala and Dikdik etc
The guide Steve was excellent and very very knowledgable, not just the animals but rhe birds as well, we learnt so much in just 3 days. the holiday started on the drive to the camp when we stopped at a water hole and saw elephant, impala nile monitor and 20 different beautiful birds. the half hour journey took 2 hours as we were given a wonderful introduction to Ruaha National Park.
The suprising thing was there were only 2 other people there, others don't know what they are missing.
Note the morning drives can turn out to be very long but very exciting, one lasted 10 hours when we went after some lions.
The staff were wonderful from our guide Steve and all the support staff we were made to feel the most important people there, real guests everyone anxious to ensure we had a perfect time which we did. They are hoping to move the camp along a bit to near a granite outcrop and better views of the valley beyond , one side covered in babao trees which would make it even better. We had an early evening walk round the site and watched an elephant group walk past.
Kwihala camp review
As experienced Safari buffs we thought Kwihala to be a marvelous place. The camp fitted our idea of a good bush camp; our only gripe was that there wasn't enough water in the showers for two to have good showers but that apart the rooms were fine. The food was good, the service good and the location good. The guiding- we had Steve for the whole trip- was as good as it gets with enthusiasm, knowledge and a desire to share these and this really made the visit memorable. We sat and watched for as long as we wanted and did not spend time chasing round after other peoples sightings like you do in so many places neither were we bound by any camp managers timing and if there were interesting things to see we stayed out and simply had late lunches etc. Steve's knowledge went far beyond the local info that you get from so many modern guides and there was an abundance of game; we saw 43 lion on one day as well as cheetah, leopard as well as many other animals large and small and many birds. We would definitely go back to Ruaha and KwihalaRead more about the whole safari
Brilliant 3 days at Kwihala
Absolutely brilliant 3 days with Pietro Luraschi. If there's a more empathic guide in Tanzania I would like to meet him.
Great game viewing, great location and luckily other like minded guests. No safari snobs.
Kwihala - A great experience!
Really enjoyed this camp - Pietro our guide made it for us... his enthusiam and determination to find us Big Cats was amazing and exhilarating especially with the Itallien driving! And he came out on top with our first hour on game drive seeing lions, cheetahs and a leopard!
The camp itself was really well designed with HUGE tents and lovely social areas.
Evenings were great with pre-drinks around the camp fire followed by group meals with everyone else in the camp which were tasty (some of the meals could have been improved) and nice to chat to everyone.
Loved our time at Kwihala
Kwihala is a really intimate little tented camp where you feel very much like you are getting a real taste of life in the bush. The tents and the main areas are beautifully appointed with co-ordinated linens and pottery.
Pietro is an amazing guide and one morning we saw from our tent a lioness and a cub walk past us. We told Pietro and before we knew it we were tracking the lions in the Land Rover and watching them call to their cubs. It is a memory that we will have forever.
The food at Kwihala is delicious and varied. Eating dinner by candlelight is atmospheric but one evening we ate by moonlight only and it was lovely. We loved our time at Kwihala.