Reviews of Kwihala Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Kwihala - Inimate & close to nature!!!
This camp is an intimate camp, small, really close to nature and all about the guiding. We stayed for 5 nights and the last 3 we were the ONLY guests. The camp does seem to be moving away from semi-mobile to fixed and seemed to be struggling to identify it's unique selling point.
Entry into the park stated well as we made a stop at another airstrip flying low over a massive group of Hippo's only to find Elephants lining the runway at out airstrip. Now that's a welcome.
Within the Camp we saw birds, Impala, Jackal and 6 Lions calmly walking through whilst we were have dinner - Now I never knew a Lion could sneeze before!?!?! Nominally the guiding is from 06:00 to 11:00 and then 16:00 to 19:00. However, on one days we were out (our choice) at 06:15 and got back to camp at 15:15 and could have gone out again. In fact in over our 5 nights we clocked up about 50hrs of game viewing (not including that in camp!)
We had 2 different guides and always had our own vehicle which allowed us to dictate what we went to see and how long to stay etc. I think it was good swaping guides halfway through as this allowed a different perspective. Both guides were excellent in their own way. On many a day it was several hours before we saw another vehicle and often we ony saw several if we dashed off to a confirmed Lion sighting by another camp. I think an excellent location with good access to all part of the park, both popular and more remote.
Tents were fine and had everything we needed, inc UK 3pin plug (24hr electricity). Bucket showers worked well and a full buckets to yourself seem like luxury. Sleeping with Lions growling on the edge of camp could sometimes be a challenge.
The reason for only giving 4 stars was that for us the food was over the top, being very rich and trying too hard. An example was that the followed specific recipes and adjusted to what was around. So Beef and Ale, became Chicken and Ale, which did not work. Or mixed fruit with custard, but no advance warning to have it without custard. Perhaps a menu written down in the morning would help and reduce waste. Also whilst it was a tented kitchen the Chef would come out in his White Uniform and state the menu. A bit excessive for a tented camp when we were the only guests. Personaly we would have preferred simpler wholesome food.
Service was excellent as you would expect with only 2 guests and one night we had our dinner a short distance from out tent with a guard watching out for Lions!?!
As stated earlier this is an intimate and relax camp, for New Years eve we had a bottle of champagne and in bed early for a 06:00 departure the following day - For us this was perfect. With hindsight, I still believe we chose the best camp for what we were look for.
Go for Location, Guiding, flexibility and risking being a little scard (being so close to wild animals), Ruaha park.
Not good for partying, having a rest or true luxury.
Fantastic safari at Kwihala
We choose Kwihala as we were aware it had only 6 tents and excelled at providing rustic luxury! We were looking for a unique safari and certainly found it here. Sean, our fantastic South African guide met us from the plane and provided quite exceptional guiding for the next 4 days. Having had a brief taster of the Safari experience on our journey to the camp we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves the only couple in camp.
The camp whilst not on top of a hill with sweeping panoramas had more than enough to make it outstanding, the luxury tents were fabulous and you felt much closer to your surroundings as a result. The food was plentiful and varied and we were waited on hand and foot by our very attentive camp staff, George, Rashidi and Mustapha.
We visited in mid November 2009 prior to our arrival there were 4 days of perpetual rain, the first of the short rains. This meant Sean had a job on to find any of the bigger residents of Ruaha but this was made up by a guide who clearly had a great understanding of the ecosytem who could impart that enthusiasm onto his guests.The large mammals were in abundance and watching the pride feed at sunset was apersonal highlight.
The Birdlife was quite incredible and we quickly appreciated the less lime-light hogging species of the park. Perhaps the most profound incident was the second night when the termites came out in abundance (raining quite literally down onto the tent) with a host of scorpions /goliath spiders ready to feast. An entomologist's dream, and though my wife would never claim to be the world's biggest fan of insects she became quite a fan after Sean explained all about their role and individual characteristics.
It was absolutely what we wished for: a luxury safari with the sense of isolation and yet with top guiding. We have both been on safari before and this would convince us to go again.
Wonderful safari experience at Kwihala Camp
The camp is located very close to excellent game viewing areas, so we didn't have to travel far to see plenty of animals.
There are only 6 tents at Kwihala which are well spaced out and are beautifully furnished. There was only us and another couple staying at the camp during our stay so it felt very exclusive!!!
The food was excellent - tasty and well cooked, although we did find a couple of the dinners disappointing. We are both vegetarian and found that for 2 out of the 4 dinners we were given the potatos and vegetables that the other guests were having with their meat or fish and nothing else.
Overall we had a very enjoyable stay at Kwihala.
Expert Africa comments
When we sent this feedback on to Kwihala, the owner Carlo Rossi replied that he was delighted these travellers found the food excellent. However he was also concerned that they were disappointed with a few of the vegetarian dinners and has assured us that in future there will be a selection of produce suitable to provide varied and appealing vegetarian dishes.
A true bush camp in a great location, your are not really sure if you are ever going to arrive but when you do it is worth the wait.
There is not waterfront or vast open plains to soak in but the location is fantastic for its isolation among the low scrubland and you are close to all the key viewing areas. This is possibly not a place for your first ever safari, but I was joined by a honeymooning couple who found the expereince engrossing and the camp welcoming. Marios was a great host, we spent hours talking about photography and became firm friends in a matter of days.
A great birding location, but the highlight was the first 17 minutes on an impala lambs life from the point of joining the world to standing and running 17 minutes later - stunning (and all within 300-400m of a dozing male lion).
Highly reccomend this camp it has everything a good bush camp should have.
Kwihala Camp review
This was our favorite probably because of Marius our guide. He was outstanding particularly his knowledge about all things in the bush.
More rustic then Impala in Selous but the accomodation, people and food were all great and there is a real sense of being in the bush. There is little shade so it gets hot during the day time.
The only possible improvement might be in getting to and from the tents at night. Given the number of predetors we spotted it was a bit nerve racking leaving the main tent for our tent. They did provide an escort but there were no Masai petrolling the camp. Still overall this was an amazing few days.
Kwihala Camp review
Absolutely fantastic - way exceed our expectations! We were the only guests, so the description 'exclusive' was ceartainly true for us!
Although described as a 'temporary' camp, the tents and central mess were beautifully appointed. The location had a real in the bush feel and lying in bed hearing the lions roar in the valley and leopard calling too was magical. We had a minor problem with water to our tent on one evening because of hyena digging out the water pipe and biting through it! Note - this isn't a negative comment but a reflection to give an impression on the proximity of the wildlife and the connection of the camp and the bush.
Ruaha was a magical area - so quiet. We had day drives and saw only a handful of other vehicles.
The guiding was superb - Steve was fantasticly knowledgable and we really felt that we had time to watch and experience the animals. The animals were less skittish than at Selous and it was possible to get much closer to buffalo, wildebeast, zebra etc tthan hat other places we have been. Coasting the vehicle into the middle of a herd of several hundred buffalo was a great experience - we were then able to sit and watch the herd slowly move past, with indidual buffalo taking turns to keep an eye on us as they herd move on through.
The service in the camp was great - friendly and attentive.