Kanga Bush Camp sits beside Kanga Pan in a remote region of Mana Pools National Park
Kanga Bush Camp: Our full report
Located in one of the most remote parts of Mana Pools National Park, Kanga Bush Camp (often called simply ‘Kanga Camp’) lies on the isolated Kanga Pan, which is near the Ruckomechi River, about 15km (as the eagle flies) away from the Zambezi. It is the newest camp in the area, having opened in 2010, but its tents have already been upgraded.As the only source of surface water for a fair distance in every direction, Kanga Pan is a big draw for game, especially in the dry season (from around July to October). As surface water elsewhere in the park dries up, the pumped Kanga Pan entices game in from the parched surrounding regions.
In mid-2011 Kanga Bushcamp’s tents were replaced with six much bigger tented chalets, raised up on wooden platforms with views towards the pan. Far from the traditional image of a ‘tent’, these are solidly built structures with substantial timber frames supporting canvas walls and roofs, with floor-to-ceiling mesh windows allowing in natural light. In the evening, solar lights supplements the traditional gas lanterns.
Inside, large double or twin beds form the centrepiece of each tented chalet. Canvas headboards form a partition between the bedroom and the bathroom, with space behind for wooden shelves and a hanging rail. The bathrooms themselves – with flushing toilets, hot and cold shower and his and hers basins – are very open plan, so there’s not a lot of privacy.
Kanga’s chalets incorporate a honeymoon suite, which has the bonus of a large, free-standing bath in a private annexe, and – furthest from the main area – a family chalet, which has a particularly secluded outside shower and bath. This family unit has a double bed as well as two singles in the main area; it also features a small seating area and an extensive balcony which leads right round the side and front of the chalet, offering fantastic views onto the pan.
Kanga Bush Camp’s main communal area is elevated on a series of split-level, stylish wooden platforms, a few metres above the pan and under a large stretched-canvas roof. This is where the bar and lounge area is found, as well as a small bookshelf with a good selection of books, and some comfy, quiet hideaway corners in which to while away the afternoon. Steps lead down to another deck where there is a dining table and a firepit surrounded by camp chairs: a great area to discuss the day’s events before and after dinner.
On an adjacent level, jutting out over the edge of the pan, another deck is set with some really comfortable chairs and sofas, providing a good place for a spot of birdwatching and game viewing. On a recent visit to Kanga we saw elephant, a bushbuck, a small herd of kudu and impala here during the day, plus a large troop of baboons. Completing the facilities at Kanga is a small plunge pool with a couple of sunloungers and umbrellas.
When it comes to activities, this bushcamp specialises in walking and tracking wildlife with top-quality professional guides. Game drives in open 4WD vehicles both in the early morning and in the evening are also available – as well as all-day drives in the area beside the Zambezi. As an added bonus, Kanga has recently been granted permission to do night drives on their concession, which is not possible at any other camp located within Mana Pools National Park.
It’s worth noting that the game that comes to Kanga Pan towards the end of the dry season can be great – so this is genuinely a good camp to sit and chill on the deck for a day. Equally, the whole-day drives to the Zambezi riverfront area can be excellent. However, we’ve found that shorter morning and evening drives, in the thick bush in the vicinity of camp, are much less productive, and these can even be disappointing. Thus, to get the most out of what’s on offer, we advise our travellers to chat with the manager on arrival, and plan the activities for their stay carefully.
A more adventurous option from Kanga Bush Camp is a sleep out approximately a kilometre from camp, where four sleeping platforms have been erected high up on wooden stilts under large wild fig trees. These consist simply of a mattress, with pillows and duvets, laid on a wooden platform, and completely covered by a mosquito net. Down below, two platforms each share a flush toilet and a bucket shower. A late afternoon walk from Kanga, with your guide, will bring you to ‘Kanga under the Stars’, where staff will be waiting for you with ice-cold drinks around a campfire. Later there is a three-course dinner, and in the morning, breakfast is served before walking back to Kanga.
Another offshoot of Kanga is the Zambezi Lifestyles Mobile Camp. Based in national parks’ campsites on the banks of the Zambezi River, this opens for a minimum of three nights and can be booked on its own or along with a few nights at Kanga itself. Activities here will concentrate on canoeing, walking and driving, all with a professional guide.
Our viewKanga Bush Camp combines seclusion with luxury, and a hint of the raw experience of camping in a wilderness area. Although a relative newcomer to Mana Pools, Kanga is in a different environment to most of the parks’ other camps, which are beside the river, and so it offers a very different experience . Come to Kanga for a long stay and spend time in camp relaxing by the waterhole, or stay for a shorter time in combination with one of Mana’s riverfront camps, or the ‘Lifestyles’ mobile camp.
Ideal length of stay: We find that Kanga works best for an extended stay of five or six nights, for travellers who are happy to explore Mana’s riverfront area on full-day drives, and want to spend some time just relaxing in camp beside the waterhole. Alternatively, we’d recommend staying for about three nights here, before moving to one of Mana’s other camps beside the Zambezi.
Directions: Kanga Bush Camp can be reached by light aircraft from Harare or Victoria Falls, or by road transfer from Lusaka. The nearest airstrip is Dandawa, which is about 20 minutes’ drive from the camp.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: African Bush Camps
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: During our visit in May 2013, we found the food at Kanga to be of a high standard.
A light continental breakfast is offered around the campfire before the first activity of the day. This usually consists of porridge (kept warm over the fire), cereal and toast, with coffee or tea.
Brunch, is served on returning from the morning activity. We had a quiche Lorraine with macaroni cheese and a selection of salads, followed by fresh fruit salad.
Before the evening game drive, there is a substantial high tea. When we visited it consisted of homemade sausage rolls, cookies and a cheeseboard.
On returning from the game drive, drinks around the fire are followed by a three-course dinner. We had a starter of mushroom soup with fresh bread rolls, followed by curried bream with rice, carrots and salad. On cold winter evenings dessert is generally served around the fire and there is also the option of cheese and biscuits. We enjoyed profiteroles with fresh cream, which rounded off the meal very well indeed.
Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Yes, drinks are usually included at Kanga but fine wines and spirits are charged extra.
Further dining info: Room service is not available
Attitude towards children: Kanga does not generally accept children under ten years of age, although they are quite flexible and can consider each situation on a case-by-case basis.
Property’s age restrictions: Generally no under 10's.
Special activities & services: None
Generally recommended for children: Given the adult ambience of Kanga and the amount of dangerous game in the area, Expert Africa doesn’t recommend Kanga Camp for children under about 16.
Notes: This is a very open safari camp, with big game passing through regularly. Children must be supervised by their parents at all times.
Power supply: Solar Power
Power supply notes: There is a back up generator.
Communications: There is a radio link to other lodges, and email and Skype may be used in an emergency.
TV & radio: No
Water supply: Borehole
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Kariba, a few hours’ drive away. The nearest airstrip is 20 minutes’ drive from Kanga, which makes an emergency evacuation much quicker.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There is a safe at reception.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are dotted around camp.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: It is possible to have all laundry done at the camp and this is included in the rate.
Money: There are no safes in the rooms at Ruckomechi, but there is a safe in the main office.
Accepted payment on location: No credit cards are accepted at Kanga. Cash is accepted in US dollars, GB pounds, South African rands or euros.