Kigelia Camp

Kigelia Camp: Our full report

6 tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (96%) From 23 reviews
12 +
June to March

Set on the banks above the Ifuguru sand river in Ruaha National Park, Kigelia is a tented camp that takes its name from the grove of sausage trees, Kigelia africana, where it nestles. With only six well-positioned tents, the camp aims to blend in with the surrounding bush, causing minimal environmental impact.

Opened in 2008, Kigelia manages to combine the simplicity of a temporary tented camp with the style you would expect from a permanent camp. Take bare groundsheets, safari showers and campfires, then add elegant furniture, plenty of hot water and real flushing loos, and you get a tasteful camp with a real authentic wilderness feel.

Beige canvas has been used for Kigelia Camp’s main mess tent. At one end you’ll find a lounge area with sides made of mosquito-net screen, making it a cool and breezy place to relax. Inside are a comfy sofa, a couple of chairs and a small wooden table topped with coffee table books. The furniture has a natural and rustic edge to it, with patterned African throws to add style and a homely feel.

At the other end of the tent is a large sturdy table, where you’ll generally eat breakfast and lunch, and sometimes dinner – although this may also be served in one of a number of locations under the stars.

In front of the mess tent, facing the sand river, directors’ chairs placed in the shade offer a further place to relax. On the edge of the riverbed, there’s a small campfire where pre-dinner drinks are served.

Kigelia Camp’s six spacious tents can be booked individually, or the whole camp can be hired out exclusively for eight people or more. The tents are spread out along the riverbank, with tents 1 to 4 north of the main, central area and tents 5 and 6 to the south. Tent #1 is about a 3-minute walk from the main area, and tent #2, the larger family tent, about 2 minutes away. Tent #5 is close to the river and also conveniently close the main area.

In the same beige canvas as the communal areas, the guest tents seem to disappear into the bush. While not over the top in style, they are well designed, with a simple elegance and natural feel. Inside, rush mats dot the bare groundsheets, while natural woods and pale colours lend an understated yet rustic elegance. A comfy, kingsize bed (which can be separated to make two singles), is flanked by bedside tables with solar-powered lights. A large lockable wooden trunk can be used to store valuables.

In each tent is two-way radio, used to request an askari escort after dark, and which also serves to warn of potential hazards. For example, when we last stayed, they called to tell us that a herd of elephant had just entered the camp – and then again to let us know when it was safe to leave the tent.

By the bedroom area you’ll find the bathroom, with a curtain which can be pulled across for privacy, and space to store a few clothes. It’s a simple set up, consisting of a flushing chemical toilet, a wooden table with a basin, and some jugs of water for washing, or brushing teeth. A couple of small mirrors are hung above the table, and some basic toiletries are provided for convenience. If you unzip the side of the tent you will find an outdoor safari shower so you can wash under the stars. Plenty of hot water can be brought to your tent on request. On our last visit in July 2017 we found the tents clean and well kept, but we did find them incredibly warm during the afternoon.

Safari activities at Kigelia Camp focus on game drives, but timings are flexible, depending on guests’ interests and wishes. Although full-day drives with a packed lunch can be a good way to explore the park, the game is good very near Kigelia itself, so half-day drives are more usual – returning for lunch and a rest in the heat of the day before setting out again in the late afternoon. Kigelia’s safari vehicles are very comfortable, with comfortable armchair-style seats, blankets and hot water bottles, and seating a maximum of four. We were highly impressed with the quality of the vehicles, with universal plug sockets and on board fridges.

You can also do night game drives from Kigelia: we clocked up genet, lion, bat-eared fox, elephants, impalas, white-tailed mongoose and a young leopard, and returned to camp around 9.30pm.

Closer to home, there can be some fascinating sightings straight from the comfort of your tent, with game frequently wandering through and elephants often coming to feed on the vegetation and tap the dry riverbed for water.

Our view

Kigelia Camp is a well-designed camp, and perfectly located for game viewing within Ruaha National Park. The area around camp is particularly good for wildlife, but the black cotton soils here mean their wet season closed period can be longer than some other camps in Ruaha.


Location: Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

Ideal length of stay: 4 nights

Directions: Kigelia is a 1½-hour flight from Dar es Salaam, followed by a drive of about 45 minutes to an hour to the camp itself.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Nomad Tanzania

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: We have always found the food to be imaginative and well presented.

Breakfast, usually taken in the main tent, consists of breads, cereals and fruit as well as fresh juice, tea and coffee. If you want to go out on an early morning game drive you will leave early and eat your breakfast in the bush!

During our visits the light two-course lunch consisted of kebabs or quiches with potatoes and salads, followed by a fruit-based dessert.

Dinneron one occasion was three courses, with some bruschetta-style snacks served with our drinks around the fire before hand. To start with we had courgette soup, and the main course was a delicious coconut chicken curry, served with rice, fresh vegetables and mango chutney, followed by chocolate sponge. On a visit in 2017, dinner had a Tanzanian theme one night, complete with stiff, polenta-like ugali, a rich beef stew and cabbage.

Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Drinks are included at Kigelia.

Further dining info: On request


Attitude towards children: The camp welcomes children over the age of 6 years.

Property’s age restrictions: No children under 6 years of age are accepted at Kigelia.

Special activities & services: There are no special activities or services for children at Kigelia.

Equipment: There is no special equipment for children

Notes: Kigelia is a wild camp, and so, like many similar safari camps, we can only recommend it only for mature children, over the age of about 12, with an interest in wildlife. Parents should be aware that their children are their responsibility at all times.


Power supply notes: The camp uses a combination of solar power and generator (switched on when guests are out of camp). The lights in the tent work 24 hours a day but batteries need to be charged in the main area as there are no sockets in the tents.

Communications: There is intermitteny mobile reception throughout Ruaha (Vodacom and Airtel). No WiFi is available in camp.

TV & radio: There is no TV for guests at Kigelia Camp, however the staff have a TV and guests are welcome to join them when a big game is on.

Water supply: Other

Water supply notes: Plenty of drinking water is provided.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a first-aid kit in all of the safari vehicles as well as in the main area of the camp. Kigelia are linked to Tanzania's flying-doctor service and all of the guides have first aid training.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Guests are escorted to their tents after dark.

Fire safety: The riverbed at Kigelia acts as a natural firebreak, and the staff are all well trained in fire drills. Fire extinguishers are located in the kitchen and in all vehicles.


Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: Full laundry service is included.

Money: The rooms have lockable trunks for storing valuables - a very practical solution to securing bulkier items that you'd rather not leaving lying around.

Accepted payment on location: Everything is included in the rates so you shouldn’t need to pay for anything extra. Tips can be left in US dollars or Tanzanian shillings. There are no credit card facilities.

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