Reviews of Lebala Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
So many animals at Lebala
We did not think that the accommodation or food was as good as at Kanana and Shinde BUT the great advantage was the game drives having a driver and a spotter - in our case OC and Mister Moh.
We saw many more animals than at the other camps - including herds of buffalo, wildebeest, zebras, giraffes etc and 4 leopards, (2 at night, 2 during the day), AND a pangolin, which is extremely rare.
All the staff were very friendly and helpful. The only disadvantage was that there were no water based activities, so we bounced around in a jeep every morning and evening, but equally we did see more animals so this isn't really a criticism.
Lebala Camp review
Lebala was the best Kwando camp as far as accommodation is concerned and better than Lagoon for location. The service at all Kwando camps was about the same. i.e., very good. Here we saw two male lions in daylight and a leopard after dark. We followed the leopard for some way as she walk without any acknowledgement of our presence. She broke into a trop and then leaped to one side behind a bush, there was a scream and she reappeared with a jackal, we then followed her for a way before she settled down to eat it.
We had a bad drive at Lebala due to Kwandos vehicle layout and 6 to a vehicle policy. A couple arrived from Lagoon who we had met there and we were told that we would be going out with them. However we went out with a group of four Belgians who kept talking which was bad enough but having six people in a vehicle is too many as there is not enough room to put cameras, bins etc. This was made worse as it rained and we had to wear ponchos which restricted us even more. In our opinion three people to a row is one to many, this is the only safari outfit in our experience that does that. What made it worse was the couple from Lagoon went out on their own!
Lebala Camp review
Lebala was nice but not a camp that we would rush back to.
As a general observation, Kwando camps are doing themselves a disservice by not having roofs on their vehicles and occaionally having 6 guests in their vehicles. We think that Kwando should have the same cars as Selindi and Sandibel camps. We were so impressed with their safari vehicles. They really need roofs!
Delightful stay at Lebala Camp
Following our stay at Lagoon Camp we spent two nights at Lebala Camp which is located south of Lagoon Camp in the Kwando reserve. Because it was relatively close to Lagoon we were able to make our transfer part of a game drive where we drove about halfway between the two camps and transferred to a vehicle from Lebala to continue our game drive.
Although close to Lagoon the area around Lebala Camp was a little more open in places and so the game drive experience was a little bit different. Again our guide and tracker proved to be excellent with an exciting chase with wild dogs through the mopane brush one morning. Tthe dogs, apparently the same pack we saw while at Lagoon as their den is between the two camps, had lost their pups, possibly to hyenas, just before we arrived in the Kwando reserve. So it was not clear if they were hunting or searching but it was exciting just the same (although it was a shame not to be able to see the puppies which had been seen only a few days before). Game drives were the primary activity here.
Lebala had just undergone an extensive upgrade to the facilities a few months earlier and the rooms can no longer be described as tents. They are wood frame and screened panel "chalets" on a raised deck with a beautiful interior and the addition of more extensive solar lighting, a bath tub and ceiling fan (a most welcome addition that Lagoon and Kwara do not have). Supposedly the solar powered batteries will not run the fan or lights indefinitely but with judicious use we never had a problem with power in our room even though this was the start of the rainy season and we did not have constant sunshine.
Some might not like the new rooms since it isn't the true "safari tent" experience but we thought they were excellent. They are still close enough together that you can hear your neighbors at times but were otherwise quite private. There does seem to be some additional engineering that needs to be done with the white curtains that cover the screen panels. While they look beautiful and work fine when conditions are calm when it was rainy and especially windy the curtains were easily blown around and bang against the structure. They perhaps need a better way to anchor them at the bottom during storms.
The location at Lebala is quite beautiful on an island with a stream in front and a marsh behind even though there is less water readily visible here than at Lagoon or Kwara. The common areas have also been refreshed and are spacious and airy with beautiful views. The only downside is that Lebala seems to have a much bigger problem with mosquitoes than either Lagoon or Kwara. In fact we rarely noticed them at the other two camps but they were quite common here and that is why the location rating is slightly lower. Also the airstrip at Lebala has been flooded for some time requiring a relatively long drive to a neighboring camp to the south to reach their air strip. This really wasn't too big a problem as it just proves to be another game drive of sorts. Our drive to the airstrip was in fact quite productive for wildlife viewing although the one limitation is that you don't have the luxury of following the game.
Wild dogs and birds at Lebala Camp
We were met at the airstrip by our guide and tracker (OC and Bowman) for our stay and then had a 2hr game drive to the lodge (saw plenty of birds and animals on the way). We knew that the Lebala airstrip was out but didn't realise that it was 2hrs to the camp.
After the obligatory welcome drinks and camp rules we were taken to our tent we didn't go out on the afternoon game drive as it was getting on and we wouldn't have had time to get ourselves ready (and in any case we had already had 2hrs game and bird spotting).
Next morning we saw wild dogs and red lechwe (both a first for us) and many bird species, in the evening we saw spring hares, wild cat and eagle owls.
Overall OC/Bowman went out of their way to find us birds (luckily for most of the game drives there were only 4 in the wagon and eventually just us two) they always managed to put the vehicle in the best position for photography - we even saw honey badgers on our second night.
Again the food was both varied and plentiful. All the staff couldn't do enough for you especially Phoebe (the manageress), Nature, Hector, OC and Spencer. It was good that the guides/rangers ate with us and shared experiences over meals.
Recent modernisation has produced excellent quality rooms. A good result for this level/standard of camp.
This was our first experience of the Kwando group of camps and we were very satisfied with their attitude and principles that the game viewing is of prime importance and the food can wait until you have finished the game drive (no rushing back to in case the meal gets spoilt!). As your brochure has said, the staff are very dedicated and go to great lengths to try to find suitable sightings - this we can confirm.
We also visited Little Kwara (part of the same group) and found similar attitude regarding the game viewing. This is something which will cause us to choose their camps again on future visits.
Lebala Camp review
I loved it here! Thank you for warning us about the 2 H drive form the air strip. It meant we were ready with the correct clothing, sun screen, hat and in the mood for safari-ing.
Our guide and tracker were lovely: do send our heartfelt thanks to Thabo & Julius, we enjoyed their company very much. They were keen to shsow us as much as possible, always cheerful and fullof information. ( Do hope Thabo has found his 5th wife! by now))Congratulations too to Bisquet 8 not sure I ahev spelled his name correctly) for running a tight ship.. all worked well. staff were friendly and helpful. Did not seem to know about our wheat intolerance but rallied and sorted it out.
The rooms were large and comfortable. Really liked the rhythm of the camp.. worked well for me . In the camp was a very experienced safari traveller who seemed to know a lot and was quite keen to tell everyone.. so the staff gently put her in a jeep of her own with her friend and their own guide and tracker.. this was kind to everyone I thought!
We wre never more than 4 guests in a jeep in either of the camps.. really nice. Impressed with Kwando camps.
Lebala - Real comfort and great animals
Lebala was the last stop on our 12 day vacation and a fine end-point despite some minor managerial issues at the camp (which we think are being addressed but on which we suggest some lessons could usefully be learned from Kwara).
The accommodation at Lebala is first class (unless one wants air-conditioning, which we do not!) and the location is really excellent for game. The mammal count during our stay was truly impressive in terms of both range of species and sheer numbers. Dogs, cheetahs and roan antelope were the better known highlights of our stay; but, for us, the real thrill was a first class daytime honey badger sighting. And we were again fortunate enough to see both serval and caracal cats, as well as large herds of elephant.
We cannot praise too highly both our guide, Hector, and tracker, Julius. They are both first-rate individuals and together make up an excellent team. The skills, enthusiasm and humour which they bring to their work are, in our view, characteristic of the excellent staff at Lebala.
Our mark-down below on 'facilities' is entirely due to transport issues noted in our comments on Kwara; and a small downgrade on 'service' reflects the minor managerial issues touched on above. Put together, they have led us to an overall 'good' rather than 'excellent' which could quite easily be pushed up from the former to the latter.
These minor reservations notwithstanding, we have no hesitation recommending Lebala to others and would certainly be very happy to visit there again in the future.
Lebala Camp review
We had an amazing time at Lebala. In particular the wildlife was superb.
We saw some amazing animal behaviour including Cheetah hunting Impala and then chasing a Leopard. The guides were very knowledgeable and commited to finding what we were interested in.
The rooms are about as good as you will find anywhere in Africa.
Paradise in Lebala Camp
We were sure that Lebala would have been a fantastic experience for what concerned game viewing and location. We were astonished by the professionality, simpathy and entusiasm of the guides ( Hector, Simon, Tabo, O.C.) who went out of their way to make our safari unforgettable.
Beside that we really enjoied the fantastic and friendly staff, superbly managed by the great Baloo, who really made leaving Lebala very very sad.