Reviews of Camp Kwando
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Camp Kwando review
Lovely setting, although could do with a bit more signage early on the approach road to reassure you that you are on the right road!
Treehouse accommodation was excellent, very roomy with good furnishings, mosquito net and balcony to sit out on. Good large bathroom with bath, shower, toilet and sink. Water comes from the river, so expect to have to pick out various bits of greenery from your bathwater! No tea and coffee making facilities in the room which was disappointing.
On our second day, we went to order a drink at the bar and we noticed a sign saying that the drinks bill (which includes any beverage ordered with dinner) must be checked by guests each night as it can't be changed after that. We felt we should have been told about this rule on arrival, as if a mistake had been made on our first nights drinks bil from dinner, we wouldn't have been able to challenge it as we didn't know about the rule on that day! Incidentally, our drinks bill was wrong on the second night, but luckily, by that time we'd seen the notice so had asked to check it!
On arrival, we booked three activities with the receptionist, boat trip on the afternoon of arrival, mokoro trip at 9am the next morning, and game drive at 2pm the next afternoon. As we were about to go for breakfast at 8am the next morning, a member of staff knocked on the door to collect us for the game drive - we explained we were booked on the game drive for 2pm, but were told we had been booked on for the 8am game drive. As they have a policy of not doing a game drive unless there are at least four people going we were told we wouldn't be able to do a game drive in the afternoon. When we pointed out that it wasn't our mistake that it had been booked for the wrong time, they did agree to take us in the afternoon, but only after a slightly heated exchange, which left us feeling like we didn't really want to go in case it caused bad feeling, so we just spent the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the surroundings.
On speaking to the management later, we were given an apology and told that it was a mistake that the receptionist had made before. The receptionist was told that from then on the bookings have to be done directly through the office, so hopefully this situation won't arise again.
The two trips we did were very good, the afternoon boat trip was relaxing with lovely views and glimpses of hippos, elephant and various birds. The mokoro trip was lovely, with a very different perspective by travelling so low in the river, the mokoro guide was excellent too. Evening meals were of an average standard, but we found the breakfast to be very good - especially the pancakes. The locals that served the meals/breakfast were polite and friendly.
Camp Kwando review
Very friendly and informative welcom. Beautiful location and we really enjoyed the evenings by the river with a tremendous amount of sounds and smells. Food were excelllent. We had a boat trip on the river and a game drive in Mudumu National park. We saw a lot of elephants, buffaloes and other plains game.
Very nice place with good atmosphere.
Camp Kwando, beautiful but sterile
The rooms and communal areas were very beautiful. The staff were pleasant, but there was absolutely no atmosphere, which was a pity as it could be excellent. The 2 young people who were 'front of house' were very good, and helpful, but too young to give a place some character, probably because they themselves are learning, and doing a job.
The river trip was probably the worst river trip we had, such a contrast from the trip at Ndhovu, we saw little, and frequently saw more than the guide, who had to be prompted to point things out!
This was the only other place we would not want to go back to
Camp Kwando review
Nice "tree house" rooms (actually on stilts not in trees) but the open-plan arrangement was not very practical for non-couples. Water supply problematic - none on arrival, then only cold. When it did work, they turned on sprinklers at 8 am to water the buildings & the river (missing the grounds) - so it stopped in the room!
Water heating by wood burning boiler at 4.00am meant smoke smell in room & flames outside - alarming - a warning would be helpful.
Atmosphere would be improved by using local supervisory staff instead of European/South African gap-year students. African restaurant staff seemed rather 'stiff' & 'following instructions'. Friendly chef introduced each evening meal.
The evening river cruise was limited compared to others.
Where were the management team to deal with problem & queries ?
Having said that the location & facilities were good with great potential to improve the overall experience.
Traditional atmosphere at Kwando
Located south of Kongola on the Kwando River, traditional style huts on low stilts with open air toilet and shower attached (screened by poles). To get there, you drive past (and through) a local village. Staff and villagers friendly, locals being trained in restaurant trying very hard, but come across as very regimented in their speech. "Enjoy your meal" comes across as a command, rather than a polite by-line.
The food, however, was very good and we did ENJOY. Open air bathroom not good if it rains - keep the toilet paper inside the hut. Two of our group went for a village tour and found the cultural experience informative and interesting. Good interaction with local community.
We drove to the nearby Mudumu National Park which is not at all well set up (yet?). No signage or fences, and when we did find the rangers hut, were given only a hand drawn map which gave us very little to go on. Just keep driving... and turn left... then repeat. We saw very little wildlife in this area, but maybe the wrong time of year.
Evening boat trip was described by one of our group as the scariest time of her life. Dodging Hippos at speed on a narrow waterway was hair-raising. We thought the boat driver was a bit of a cowboy, only succeeding in antagonising the hippo.
Very pretty location and attractive lodge
For us this was just an overnight stop. It is a beautiful spot.Read more about the whole safari
Relax at Camp Kwando
We selected Camp Kwando to relax and unwind after 2 weeks of intensive travel, and were not disappointed. We were met on arrival, allocated two tree houses, assisted with our luggage and allowed to relax completely. Game drives and boat trips were offered, the staff enquiired after our well-being, we were well fed and watered, and were perfectly content. The tree houses are a must for secluded relaxation, beautifully constructed and equipped, 5 star luxury alongside the Kwango.Read more about the whole safari
Great Lodge. Shame about the Management
We went to Camp Kwando with some reservations as we had read adverse reviews about it. We determined to keep an open mind but soon had to agree with what has already been said.
The camp is beautiful and in a fabulous spot overlooking the Kwando River. We were met by the receptionist, Constance, who showed us to our tree house and explained about the generator and meal times. No offers to help with our luggage were made (up some very steep stairs). We asked if we could join an evening activity and she said we could go on the boat in half an hour. As we were rushing to shower and change she came back and said we couldn`t go as it was full and the game drive had already gone. The first time we have ever been refused an evening activity, ever, in a camp.
At no time did a member of the management staff ever approach us to introduce themselves or enquire if everthing was OK. There seemed to be little communication between the African staff and the white management. The African staff were willing but had limited English so requests were not passed on.
As the guests moved from the bar to the dining room the managers would then have their drinks and as we came to the end of our meal so they would come to their exclusive table in the dining room. At no time were we asked if we wished to sit with other people and when we requested it one mealtime it seemed to put them out.
We were introduced to the game guide, John, (by another guest) ,who doubled as the barman. We said how much we were looking forward to the morning game drive with him. However in the morning he left wthout us and another couple because of misinformation from a manager.
We have never stayed in a lodge or a camp where the managers took so little notice of the guests and everone commented on it.To the end of our stay we had no idea of their names or function and some of them would pass by on the path and ignore us. It reminded us of a stay in a big city hotel. Not what you expect in a small game lodge.
One last point We felt that in a lodge of this quality a bedside light would have been nice. We feel that Kwando has great potential with a different management style.
Expect little and you won't be disappointed.
+9In contrast to The Garden Lodge this camp was one of our less enjoyable experiences.
We arrived at lunchtime hot and tired.Tea was ordered for us but after a considerable wait we were brought strong coffee. Although I was assured that the kitchen staff were aware that I am vegetarian, I was served meat at each meal.
We booked a morning game drive, and after travelling 15 minutes the driver was called back to camp as the manager had forgotten to tell the driver there were another four guests booked on it. We were allowed extra time to compensate and it was a very good drive. John, the driver, who also doubled as the waiter and barman, was a very competent guide. However, on returning to camp, the six of us sat down at table together for lunch.
My order of cheese and tomato toastie and tea arrived as ham, cheese and tomato with a good deal of raw carrot chunks, and coffee, which I sent back. By the time my meal arrived I was eating alone as everyone else had finished. At dinner, having been served meat yet again,the plate was taken away and returned only with the meat removed, leaving just rice, carrots and green beans. All of which are very nice but make a very unexciting meal.
In my opinion the camp needs more enthusiastic management and certainly supervision.
A room in the river!
On arrival we found that we were booked into two seperate tents far from each other. The manager was not expecting the children to be so young and had not been informed at the booking stage. The camp manager realised that the tents allocated were not suitable and moved us to the family chalet. However, as he said at the time, this chalet was affected by the unusually high river level the camp was experiencing and so only one bathroom could be used (several other tents on the river front had been abandoned altogether because of water level problems) and the chalet had to be accessed by a sand bag 'stepping stone' walkway. The single bathroom was not a problem for us although a curtain on the bathroom window would have been good as this was overlooked by the tents behind us - we had to improvise a 'bathmat curtain' ourselves. There was also no light in the bathrooms - only light spilling in from the main room (not great for midnight toilet calls!).
The activities offered were good - we did the sundowner river cruise and a safari into Mudumu National Park. The park was disappointing in terms of wildlife seen - just a few warthogs, zebra and impala. The riverside location again was great - with hippos, a variety of frogs and other wildlife very audible at night. The food and service in the dining room/bar was good with a good selection of items available at the breakfast buffet and breakfast cooked to order. The dinner menu was whatever the cook decided for that evening, but both meals we had were filling and delicious. We had the opportunity to meet the Swiss owner on our second night who had come to stay with her family. She made a point of talking to us as we had small children, asking us about our stay, explaining the river level problems - and made us feel welcome.
In hindsight, we probably could have done the drive from Divundu to Katima without breaking the journey here and had more time in other locations. There seemed less to do in this area than the Divundu/Bagani area and the wildlife we encountered had been seen elsewhere.