Reviews of Camp Hwange
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Great time at Camp Hwange
Great place to stay as you feel so close to the animals but far away from everything else. Beautiful rooms, views and setting. Friendly staff. Spike was exceptionally knowledgeable. Vegetarian food was the best I'd had on holiday in over 30 years of travelling as a vegetarian. We saw two male lions up closer than we could possibly have imagined on three different occasions; and tracked a bull elephant through the bush 'til we could sit on a rock and watch him eat his lunch by ripping the bark off a tree. Fantastic birdlife as well.
Downsides: we were picked up by Stephen (who was a great guide) at the camp gate and taken on a fairly long and roundabout drive to get to the Camp; we saw loads of amazing wildlife immediately which was a great treat and a real surprise but by this stage we'd been travelling for over 24 hours and were exhausted; we'd had a bite to eat at Jo'burg airport but hardly anything on our connecting flight; it would've been good to be warned about this, or offered some food/options as we were very tired and quite hungry, and had assumed we'd be taken more or less straight to the camp! We were so keen to see stuff though that we weren't too bothered, but others might be.
We were also picked up with a large group of other people (possibly staff from the national park as they were mostly dropped off en route), but one of them got quite drunk and was being persistently over-friendly which wasn't ideal. The route through the coalfields from Vic Falls airport wasn't the best way to be introduced to the National Park. I wonder if there is an alternative if slightly longer route via Main Camp to Camp Hwange that would avoid this?
Also a couple of the game drives were quite long without seeing much; early starts also meant we really needed our siestas so possibly it would be good to make these shorter when there's not much to see.
Camp Hwange review
The camp was in a fantastic position within Hwange. By being so far away from the other accommodation we hardly saw any other vehicles so all of our wildlife viewing was exclusive. The main lodge was good and comfortable, as were the tents but they were not as good as at Changa. For instance the lighting over the sink was poor making it difficult for Richard to shave when dark outside.
Our guide Dahmesh was excellent – good fun to be with and extremely knowledgable. We learnt a lot from him. He also had an interest in wildlife photography which was a bonus as he was always trying to get the best angle for us.
Hwange was a lovely park with diverse wildlife. We were lucky because one of the lion conservationists had come to the area to collar a dominant male, so we got to hear of the prides whereabouts. We witnessed the pride (including young lions) having recently killed a young elephant and feeding on it, which apparently that pride is quite notorious for but it is something we have never seen before.
We saw many, large elephants at close proximity, which was wonderful. I was delighted to have sightings of two males cheetahs and we also saw rarer things such as a honey badger during the day. Each evening whilst driving back in the dark, we saw interesting small animals such as serval, gennets, spring hares.
All in all we were very happy with our experience in Hwange.
Very comfortable safari at Camp Hwange
A very comfortable safari camp with friendly welcoming staff and very knowledgeable guides. The water pan in front of the camp did attract some game and provided a great focal point.
The guide was very knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna and was very keen to share some of this knowledge with us. The guide was also keen to take us on walks into the bush which were a real treat, especially when we managed to get up close to a herd of zebra. The food and drink were both plentiful and of great further adding to the experience of staying in a new and very comfortable safari camp.
I love this camp
Camp Hwange is one my favorite camps in southern Africa; it's super well run and has excellent guides, management and staff. They are also very flexible on arrangements which we appreciated enormously.
If you're looking for somewhere where it's all about the game, this camp could well be for you. Don't get me wrong though; it's also very comfortable and well run with all the basics (good food, comfortable beds, hot water, cold drinks) done well. But it's first and foremost a game viewing operation and they take this very seriously so if you just want a quick drive round the bush before breakfast or dinner you might want to choose somewhere different.
But if you want some serious guiding and full-on engagement with Hwange National Park, then this is an awesome camp. But expect to be out for loooong drives or walks; we would leave by 06h and not come back until 13h and then be out again for another 4 or 5 hours so it's intense. But the game was fantastic. Lots of lions if that's your thing (it's not mine especially!) and (when we were there just ahead of the rains) enormous herds of eles and buffalo. We also saw a lot of leopard (to my slight surprise as these aren't always easy to see in Hwange). We even had the dilemma of having to choose between leopard and serval sightings one evening (we chose serval which was wonderful)
So overall I really don't think you can go wrong but I'd say it's for the genuine safari enthusiast, not someone looking for a little safari between meals and down-time.
Lastly we were lucky enough to be guided by Dave Carson again (this was our second visit) and he is great; super-enthusiastic about everything, especially lions (but willing to go and look at other game too with a little coaxing lol). I cannot recommend him highly enough
Camp Hwange review
The organisation/training of staff and the facilities at Hwange were first class and a great credit to Ruth and Ashley. I was particularly pleased that dinner was served as a buffet, thus enabling me to serve myself with just the amount I wanted which I couldn't do at the other camps/lodges. An evening meal outside our tent on the first night was a great help and much appreciated.
The guides for our game drives (mainly Damesh) were extremely knowledgeable and we benefitted from (usually) being the only couple with him. Also we suspect that, through Steven's tactful networking with the relevant person at Masuma Pan, we were able to stay there for the extra crucial half hour after 'closing' which saw so many families of elephants arrive and depart from the Pan.
Damesh always stopped for long enough to observe animal behaviour and I found this coupled with his explanations very rewarding.
Camp Hwange review
A great camp! Again this camp met our expectations and requirements, Dharmish our guide was so enthusiastic and passionate about the area and the animals that you couldn't help but be carried along with him. Anything sited we were out of the vehicle and tracking on foot, we got very close to elephants, tried to sneak up on a leopard with its kill and then track lions for 2 hours. This enthusiasm was experienced throughout the camp from all the staff, the camp was well managed and the food was wonderful.
The two other guides at the time George and Washington (yes really!) were always available to answer questions, between them they knew every bird, mammal, reptile, insect in Africa including the flat spiders in our room. This is a camp that we would go back to given the opportunity.
Wonderful Camp Hwange
Really comfortable “tents” that overlooked the camp’s own waterhole which was huge, but alas no animal activity around it at all. Had some great drives around the NP and the camp’s own concession. The resident denning Jackal with cubs was a real treat.
Evening sun downers were spent around some of the local pans watching elephants come and go. I don’t think we will ever forget the 100+ elephants that gathered around Masuma dam on our final evening.
Food was excellent, especially evening meals around the long table, where lively conversations ensued.
The guiding was first class. Our guide, George, was really enthusiastic and took us on a walk to take a look at a leopard kill that had been taken over by very noisy hyenas. We watched the hyenas from beyond some rocks until a lioness boldly came barging into the scene and it was time to retreat back to the vehicle. A very up close and personal encounter which was very exciting.
Night drives were extremely productive with serval and honey badger sightings on more than one occasion.
There was a lovely atmosphere to this camp, everyone was very friendly and helpful, i.e. we experienced a problem with a couple who were birders, we mentioned it to our guide and the problem was rectified immediately and without any bad feelings.
We really enjoyed our stay here.
Camp Hwange review
Very good game viewing and excellent guiding. The camp is up-to-date and well-run. We would have preferred to have one guide for the 3 days (we had a different one each of the 3 days and felt a little like spare parts to be added on to other groups)
Travel to and from the camp by road was long and tedious compared to some of the excellent flights we had between other camps.
Camp Hwange review
We had an excellent time at Camp Hwange and were impressed by the standard of Walking Guiding having ecperience this in other countries where it was good but not as good as this.Read more about the whole safari
camp hwange feedback
I think a great mistake has been made re our reservations at Camp Hwange for 3 nights. This was to be our last safari before leaving Southern Africa perhaps for the last visit we will ever make. You originally had offered us something for $500/nite/person and we said it was too much . You then said you would find a more reasonable rate but came up with the same price but a different camp. We never paid this much but thought it would be like the top lodge in Sabi Sands so we decided to treat ourselves. Now here we are and I tell you at the most this is a $200/nite/person. It has wonderful food, very nice staff and knowledgeable guides. But…..the camp itself is pretty average. For instance no tub, , no pool, they Said they would do laundry but not underwear!!! There is a waterhole but it is not lighted and there is no glass on the windows facing the hole just screen so you cant look out at night. The tent room and bathroom were average. We stayed at a top lodge in Nambiti a private game park just outside of Ladysmith and it cost $200 per night per room! It was top notch. 4 star, called Nambiti Plains. I could name others as well.
Now let us get to the game. ….We took two 5 hour drives and saw 3 impala and 2 jackels and some nice birds. When asked about lions they said the pride left almost a year ago and they have one male and two female somewhere. We did a walking tracking for 2 hours which was wonderful but no lion. When asked about Rhino they told us the Rhino are off limits to visitors. When asked about elephants they told us there is a bull elephant that we spent hours trying to find to no avail. When asked about Wildebeasts we were told they are at the other end of the park. An on and on and on. We were told it is hard to spot game because of the tall grass but in the last three weeks we have been to three game parks and all had tall grass and we saw many animals.
The worst part was it was cold and rainy. Everyone had to eat in three layers of clothes and a fleece. The firepit was outside but it was raining.there was no source of heat inside the boma so we couldn't sit in the lounge and relax and talk. There was no source of heat in our room so the only way we could get warm was to go to bed! Finally on the last night we suggested to the staff that they pull down the canvas to close off the open spaces. That cut the wind and cold a bit but meant we couldn't look out.
We do want to say the staff was wonderful, the food excellent and the guides great! Also, I understand we can't control the weather or the animals.I just went on in the above paragraphs to tell you how it was. I guess the big issue here is how much we paid for average accommodations. Everything I said above was just to tell you how it was. Even if weather etc was perfect the rate is way too high. It is possible that Zimbabwe is more expensive that South Africa or Kenya or Tanzania but not this much. Hopefully, it was an honest mistake and there will be a refund.
I do want to reiterate that staff, food, guides were all outstanding. On the last night the manager even gave us hot water bottles for our bed. also, the walking trips were great.
I do hope we can settle this to everyone's satisfaction We will be back in the US in 2 days.
One other thing. When in vic Falls we met several people who stayed at Little Mokoro (sp?) and because it was off season they were given 1/2 price !! Plus they saw huge prides of lion, Wildebeast, elephant etc.
Expert Africa comments
Expert Africa are sorry that these guests didn't enjoy their stay at Camp Hwange. We have responded fully to them, and wanted to note a few general points here too:
Camp Hwange is not a luxurious lodge - nobody has ever claimed that it is; we recommend it for exceptional guiding and a great wilderness experience.
These travellers felt that Camp Hwange was poor value compared with South Africa's Sabi Sands area. We feel that these two areas offer such widely contrasting experiences that direct comparisons are difficult to draw. In general, South Africa's reserves are much smaller; the animals and environment are more managed; densities of visitors are much higher; and game viewing is more predictable, sometimes to the point of being controlled.
In retrospect, we should have talked to these travellers rather than just accepting this booking over e-mail. Had we done so, we would have explained that nowhere in Hwange offers a Sabi Sands experience - thus this was the wrong trip for these travellers. We're sorry that we didn't insist on at least one telephone conversation before we accepted this booking.
Camp Hwange is like many other lodges in southern Africa: laundry won't accept underwear for cultural reasons - but washing powder is provided.
These guests were very unlucky with weather and the game. This year (2014) Hwange had very heavy, late rains that continued into April, when these travellers visited. This made it unseasonably cold and wet, and the game viewing was difficult. These guests did see game, including elephant and lion, but the viewing wasn't as good as they, or we, would have expected - even at this time of year.