Reviews of Nkwali
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
This was our fourth visit and we enjoyed some wonderful wildlife again. In one 24 hour period we saw a Leopard hunting in daylight (unsuccessfully), had wine on the river watching the sun go down, a pride of lions at night and a pack of wild dogs the following morning. In between there was a barbeque in the bush under tha stars.
We might have been especially lucky on previous visits, but we wdidn't feel that we were made to feel as special this time. We were not asked by the camp if we wanted to go walking or on a boat trip although these were arranged when we asked. There was a large South African birding group in camp which seemed to take priority and the best guides. Ours was enthusiastic and helpful, but inexperienced.
Another very good experience, but not sure we'd go back to Nkwali. Even at this time of the year we came across a number of other vehicles (admittedly most from Nkwlai or the Robin Pope houses.
Nkwali - fantastic
Everything about it was brilliant. Service was superb and extremely friendly - nothing was too much trouble
The food was consistently excellent
Our guide - Sebastian - was very knowledgable and very helpful
Cannot recommend it too highly
Wild Dog week - on arrival there was confusion on who was leading the week activities (R Pope or WDC) and it took a couple of days to sort out what was happening as there was no initial greet and inform on the week. We had a fantastic time anyway but this is something that could be improved.
The WDC people were wonderful and the standard of guide at R Pope's was excellent based on our experience of Botswana including Kwando, Namibia and South Africa. We had 4 different guides with different personalities but all very good. R Pope's were extremely accomodating in trying to offer multiple activities for each taste when the wild dog were showing no sign of coming close to the area. 9 leopard in 8 days is pretty good and elephant shrew and white tailed mongoose a bonus, birding fantastic.
Transport across river novel and good for quick park access. Nice to be able to go by boat on the river. More game than we expected for emereld season and with the wild dog finally turing up, a whole day with them was a bonus that you wouldn't get on any other trip.
N'kwali is a lovely camp especially for emereld season. Good access, friendly and confident staff, excellent food without feeling force fed. We had to ration the cake intake!
Having said we wouldn't normally go to the same camp twice - we would with N'kwali.
A Christmas to remember.
We were lucky to be upgraded to Robin's House giving us the unexpected, but very welcome, luxury of our own bungalow complete with a dedicated team to look after us. We also had the benefit of game drives with just the two of us on board. The game viewing wasn't spectacular - as is often the case at this time of year - but our guide, Obi, ensured that there was always something of interest to see just around the next bend. Game viewing highlights included a pair of Pels Fishing Owls, spending time up close with elephants and their calves, and a male lion roaring from only 10m away!
Having the use of boats on our doorstep (literally) to get across the river, and into the park, added to the overall experience. Opportunities for walking were somewhat curtailed due to the muddy conditions underfoot, but we manged to get out twice during our 6 days there.
The carol concert, where all the safari lodges and their guests congregated under a nerby baobab tree, is a memory that will stay with us for many Christmas's to come So, too, was the excellent play performed by local drama group, Seca. This is the second time we've been to Nikwali, and we hope it won't be the last.
Nkwali was a good camp run very professionally and there were many very good things about it. From its point of view it did suffer a little in comparison with the camps further north away from the busy main gate and it may have been better to do the camps in reverse order.
The guiding was good but some drives were extremely quiet and with the luck of the draw we saw no cats at all in the area. The time it took to get to the park could be a drawback but they did try and vary the routes as much as possible. In the event the drive to the main gate was the best wildlife option as the game was much more plentiful there than taking the nearer routes via the boat and the river crossing.
The guiding was good but not outstanding. I would also praise their willingness to allow us to make a particularly early start on two occasions so as to be on the bridge at the main gate before sunrise.
After 3 days of being private at Luangwa Safari house it was a nice change to mix with other travellers and to swap stories. Met many interesting people over dinner. We carried on our game drives in the park with Joseph who was excellent and informative.
Camp was well run and accommodation very good. Although different from the safari house we really did enjoy our time here. A refreshing change. Boys got to try their hand at beating the drum for meal time. Pool again was a big plus to the boys. They loved it and was a great way for them to pass the down/quiet time. Could see the need for a English/Welsh hostess here - more staff and guests to coordinate. Done very effectively.
Different from the luxury of the previous 3 days but we loved this camp.
Another of the many highlights from this part of the trip was the morning we spent at the school and village sponsored by Robin Pope. We were privileged to get into the local school, Jonathan pumped water from the well, we chatted to the local nurse, we eat lunch prepared by a villager....a very humbling experience and a huge learning experience for the boys.
Wonderful start to our safari at Nkwali
From the minute we disembarked at Lusaka, we were met by Robin Pope staff who took care of us and led us swiftly through to where we needed to be. This continued at Mfuwe and indeed throught all our transfers.
On arrival at our first camp, Nkwali, we were welcomed like old friends and therefore settled in very easily. It seemed they couldn't do enough to make sure we were OK. Aware of my special diet, they still took the time to regularly check that everything they gave me was OK. I was impressed by their attention to detail.
We loved the accommodation (and the wake-up call of African drumming each morning!) On our very first night drive we came across a leopard and her cub - and then again on our second night! This was setting a precedent! The day drives were fantastic too with very knowledgeable, friendly guides. We were sad to have to leave but looked forward to Nsefu.
well run, good food and good walking
Good atmosphere, well run and well organsied, good walking opportunities, good food.Read more about the whole safari
Robin Pope has now sold his major shareholding in Robin Pope safaris and several things were not the standard we had experienced before. Peopel said that he is still a director and has a large shareholding, but once somebody else holds over 50% of the shares overall control passes to them. (Robin himself seemed to be just the same as ever.)
For instance, the steps cut into the bank down to the river were positively dangerous, perhaps because it was the end of the season, but they were a disaster waiting to happen. If they had given me a spade for an hour I could have made them safe, that was how little it needed. Since the river channel has moved we found that Nkwali had lost some of its charisma, and game watching from camp in the afternoons across the river was less good than our previous visit.
The game viewing was excellent and we saw 15 giraffes mourning another. Our guide was very patient with us and happy to show us tiny creatures and plants. - he found us tiny chameleons, for example. There were elephants in the camp during the day and at night, which was very exciting. The food was very good, very plentiful, the rooms kept well-cleaned, and the staff found nothing too much trouble. All in all, we would recommend Nkwali to anyone.
We started well with an upgrade to the Luangwa Safari House with its splendid jetty!
Game watching from the jetty was already superb, especially the elephants. Our guide, Jacob, was absolutely excellent and extremely knowledgeable - we had very good fun with him and enjoyed his "hippo" laugh too!