Reviews of Kwara Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Kwara Camp review
As with Nxai Pan the weather prior to arrival and the resulting conditions , controlled events.The water level in the delta was as high as during a typical flood, usually 3 or 4 months later. (There was considerable local apprehension as to what will happen if a big flood arrIves. )
The elephant grass growth was too high to allow walking, thus drives dominated activities. Possibly due to guest pressure, a mornings Mokoro tour was arranged using all 5 canoes, and by moving access point a boat trip through the delta in Moremi NP was arranged. Both were very enjoyable, although animal sightings were infrequent.
Whilst the animals were well spread out reasonable sightings were had, but the variety of birds was very good throughout.
We were told bird spotting was a minority pursuit but it was a great time to see them. In fact we would say that the green season was not for new Africa hands. The guides were exceptionally informative and knowledgeable. However for us the drives were too long and without sufficient break time for sundowners etc. The spotlight drives were very perfunctory given the vegetation.
As recognised by a forthcoming refurbishment the tents were old fashioned poorly positioned and with very inadequate plumbing.
Expert Africa comments
Botswana's 2016 / 2017 summer rains have been out of the ordinary; more rain fell than over all of the three previous rainy seasons combined. You comment about the arrival of the floods... We've heard from Kwando Safaris that some of the researchers are hypothesising that the rain belt typically at the Angolan highlands has tracked south this year which would mean not as big a flood as they might otherwise anticipate. We will have to wait and see what nature holds!
Activities in the green season are often quite different to the dry season - in that guided walks do depend on the grass levels and visibility, game drives can be delayed or cut short because of rain, and water activities all depend on water levels and whether or not there is enough shallow water around in a safe area to allow for mokoro activities, and enough deep water to allow to boat activities.
With regards to the tents and their refurbishment... we're anxiously awaiting news on this. Watch this space!
Kwara Camp review
At Kwara Camp we had four nights with a private guide in the Green Season.
The area was just beautiful and lush, and we did see a pack a wild dogs as a bonus. Other game was somewhat hard to find, our guide worked really hard to track cheetahs and lions with limited results, though.
We did have a leopard kill an impala about 20 feet from our tent, though!
Kwara Camp Review
We were at Kwara for 4 nights.
Going there, we were somewhat apprehensive as some people we had met in the previous camps (and other Trip Advisor comments) let us to believe that it was going to be rather run down. This was reinforced by the fact that it was considerable cheaper than the Lagoon and Lebala camps (all part of the Kwando group).
In fact, it turned out that this was probably the best camp we stayed at - certainly from a value-for-money perspective.
The location was really good, right on the edge of the delta close the the Moremi Reserve, so a great mix of water and land based activities. The camp itself overlooked a large lagoon with elephants wandering about (often into the camp). Also, there was a family of baboons living in the camp itself and a hoard of Impala also wandering about throughout the day, making things always lively and interesting.
Our guide and tracker were particularly excellent and worked really really hard to give us a great experience, tracking down cheetah, loads of lions, wild dogs on the hunt, elephants having a mud bath, etc etc.
The rooms were probably the most basic of the 7 camps we visited, but more than adequate, and the food was a similar standard (good) as all of the other sites.
We would certainly recommend this camp.
Wonderful Kwara Camp
A wonderful camp in a beautiful situation overlooking a lagoon, with hippos, elephants, baboons, impala and warthogs moving around and through the camp during the day and night.
The staff were friendly and helpful but a special mention must be made of our outstanding guide, Dux, and our excellent tracker, AT, who together provided us with some exceptional game drives. It was wonderful to see how they worked together to read the animal tracks, deciding on the animals' movements and deciding where to go next.
Thanks to their skills we were provided with some fantastic sightings including wild dogs on a kill, a pride of two lionesses and four cubs who were extremely hungry one day but the next replete having killed and consumed most of a zebra and a cheetah stalking a reedbuck.
In the bush
Enjoyed the intimate, social nature of the camp. Was pleased with the food and being able to dine with guides and members of camp management.
After a long day of transport to camp, felt some sort of welcome drink/snack should have been offered...everyone showed up hungry and had to wait two hours before afternoon snacks were offered.
Felt our guide who was friendly and knowledgeable spent much more time in conversation with the tracker than informing us what was taking place. Common complaint in our vehicle.
Kwara Camp review
The camp is based on the edge of the delta and has a large lagoon for many rooms but not all. Both our 2 rooms were a walk away towards the back of the camp and did not have lagoon views. More on this below.
The Kwara concession is a large area with mixed sightings for us. We had some drives where we saw good range of animals and others where it was much quieter and not even many impalas. When asked when we arrived we asked to see the large cats. The guide and tracker mostly talked with each other and occasionally we would get explanations from the guide. When we asked question the answers were factual but not elaborate. This meant we were not always sure what they were tracking and sometimes it led to nothing which we understand is the nature of a drive but the guide could have still made the drive more engaging and interesting. During dinner another jeep guests were openly discussing asking for their guide to be changed for the next day.
For a fairly expensive camp the service was average or sometimes below. No one asked us what type of food we like and drinks was self service from a fridge. At other camps, we only had to look and someone would be there to ask what we would like. The tents are on stilts and made of canvas. The facilities are dated. There were holes in the canvas where clearly insects could get in.
After one night, another couple who arrived on the same flight as us were moved to lagoon room as a number of guests had departed. We were not asked if we wished to move.
The makoro (wooden canoe) morning across the lagoon to an island was a lovely experience and this was the only time we felt the guide was engaging and explained many interesting things about plants, animal droppings and termite mounds.
2 days would have been sufficient at this camp.
Expert Africa comments
When we shared these comments with Sue, the CEO of Kwando Safaris, which runs Kwara Camp, she was very responsive and appreciative that these guests took the time to give their feedback.
Kwara Camp is Kwando Safaris oldest camp, and as we say on our website it is simpler than most camps and fairly traditional in style. Being an older camp it does have some more wear and tear, but this does not excuse issues that are easily fixed like holes in the canvas. Kwando has said they are sincerely sorry about this. They do have daily checks on the rooms that should have revealed the holes, and they have done a walk through since to identify and fix them.
Five of the eight rooms at Kwara face the lagoon. The other three tents are a little way from the lagoon, but have elevated views of the floodplain towards the lagoon. The Kwara Camp Manager explained that during your stay, unfortunately there were not two lagoon-view rooms available to be able to move the four of you to.
We passed your comments on to your guide and he does acknowledge that you expressed an interest in cats. However, he also said that the other couple in your vehicle expressed an interest in all aspects of safari since it was their first safari. The guide does try to accommodate all interests and the camp report that you saw lion and cheetah during your stay. Kwando Safaris have an ongoing training programme and a guide trainer, and as a result of your feedback, he has spent some time going over your constructive comments with your guide.
Kwara Camp review
I'm extremely satisfied with the guide, his knowledge, the amount of wildlife, the experience, the wilderness.
Sleeping right beside elephants, hienas, hippos... Watching baby hienas of only few days, a family of cheetahs putting down and eating an impala, a couple of leopards (we saw four leopards in only three days!)...
What an experience!!!!
Kwara Camp review
We had a great stay at Kwara. The game in the concession is superb and the combination of a guide and a spotter works really well. This is definetly the place for a great animal experience.
The staff at the camp are really friendly and do a geat job. The food is also excellent. It may just have been when were there, but this camp had the greatest range of guest ages, with more families than at other camps.
The rooms are very comfortable, and the gas-heated hot water works really well. Some of the furnishings are getting a bit tired (e.g. superficial cracks in the sink) but it did not affect our enjoyment or comfort at all.
We would heartily recommend Kwara!
Kwara Camp review
Kwara was exceptional. What a location! - experienced the delta filling with water, animals and bird life from the day we arrived.
Extraordinary encounters with 3 cheetahs making a kill, 3 lions crossing a channel whilst on a boat trip, a leopard cub and incredible bird sightings including a spotted eagle owl and a pearl-spotted in camp.
Our guide, Daniel, and our tracker, Gomos, were outstanding and a delight to be with.
The camp is great and the camp staff were also super - the manager, KP was also outstanding and great fun. The food was also the best of the 3 camps.
Outstanding Safari at Kwara Camp
We spent four nights in early June at Kwara Camp. This was the middle of our Africa trip, so we appreciated the extra time to relax. It also served as an excellent intro to safaris in Botswana, after a couple of days in Chobe. Game was abundant, and contrary to Expert Africa review, focus of game drives was not limited to predators, as we stopped to photograph all sorts of animals and birds, which all the guests in our vehicles wanted to do.
Guide Caltex and tracker KB were excellent, probably the best team at any of the camps we visited. KB was always on the lookout for wildlife, and we would have missed many of the smaller animals and birds if he had not pointed them out. Caltex was expert at positioning the vehicle for the best sun angle, and made sure everyone got good shots. He never rushed us.
We found camp managers and staff to be very friendly, and especially appreciated that the guides and managers joined the guests for sit-down meals. We also much preferred the family style dining, which allowed plenty of opportunities to exchange experiences with other guests. Flexible brunch and dinner times meant that we didn’t have to abandon a photo op in order to rush back to camp for a meal.
With four days available, we were able to enjoy additional activities, including mokoro ride, boat ride, and nature walk. If offered, don't pass them up, it's another side of Africa, not often experienced. Unfortunately, African singing and dancing shows by the staff were only scheduled for one night while we were in Kwara, and we would have liked to hear and see more of them. Since the performers were mostly in the dark while guests sat around the campfire, it was difficult to see and hear the performance. The shows were put on much better at Lagoon and Lebala Camps.
Kwara was a small camp (8 tents) which was exactly what we wanted. We were quite pleased with the food and accommodations, and didn't find the tents dated or much in need of freshening. Maybe we're just easy to please! After all, it was the wildlife that we came to see, and we were very satisfied on that account.
Highlights: the excitement of spotting a photogenic family of giraffes driving from the air strip to the camp; the beautiful lioness lounging with her very curious six week old cub less than 20 feet from our safari vehicle; returning daily to the lion pride at a giraffe kill, with vultures waiting above in the trees – and the smell of the dead giraffe getting worse each day; a leopard with her playful cub stalking mom while they walked; other beautiful leopards; the cheetah with her two “teenage” cubs; other activities including mokoro ride, small boat cruise, and guided nature walk.
We also stayed as sister camps Lagoon and Lebala, and the following comments apply equally to them.
The safari vehicles were well designed, with (relatively) easy access, canvas tops (removable), and very few support poles to interfere with photography. Only six passengers were allowed, giving everyone a "window seat", extremely important to us.
The same guides and trackers remained with us throughout our stay, from pickup at the air strip to delivery for the return flight. This added a great deal to the safari experience, as guides came to know what guests were interested in, and which areas were best to meet guest interests. It also allowed us to get to know our guide and tracker better.
Having both a guide and a tracker measurably improved the safari experience, as the guide could concentrate on driving, especially off-road, while the tracker spotted the wildlife. When trying to find an animal, it couldn't have been done effectively without the tracker to watch for paw prints in the sand.
Night drives took place after the sundowners, en route back to camp. Pickings were sparse, but we were pleased to see the occasional nocturnal predator.
We really appreciated "bush babies" (hot water bottles) on the early, cold morning drives. They were also provided in the evening for our beds, as the nights were quite chilly (maybe cold better describes the temps). We brought several layers of light jackets and sweaters, plus knit caps and gloves, taking them off as the morning wore on, and putting them back on after the sun set. We had back packs which worked well to carry all these items of clothing, plus camera gear and whatever.
Laundry service was efficient, which meant that we could have left some clothes at home, and not have stuffed our duffels quite so full.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Kwara Camp and would eagerly return. But apparently there's a possibility that Kwara and Little Kwara camps could be combined into a single, even larger camp. We would consider such a development to be very unfortunate, and would not return to a larger, combined camp.