Kigelia is a comfortable safari camp in Ruaha National Park.
Kigelia Camp: Our full report
Set on the banks above the Ifuguru sand river in Ruaha National Park, Kigelia is a semi-permanent 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 June 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, bucket 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.
Cream canvas forms Kigelia Camp’s main mess tent. At one end you’ll find a lounge area with sides made of mosquito-net gauze, 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, some 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 – and in the same cream canvas as the communal areas, they 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 cream colours lend an understated yet rustic elegance. A large comfortable double 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 a mobile phone, pre-programmed with the manager’s number, in case you have any queries or concerns, day or night; it 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.
Beside 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 sink, 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 bucket shower so you can wash under the stars. Plenty of hot water can be brought to your tent on request.
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.
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 viewKigelia Camp is a well-designed camp, and perfectly located for game viewing within Ruaha National Park. On our last visit in July 2014 we were really impressed by the friendly and efficient service, spotless tents and good food. Kigelia manages to provide luxury without retracting from the overall safari experience.
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
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: When we visited Kigelia in July 2014 we 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 visit a light two-course lunch consisted of kebabs with potatoes and salads, followed by a fruit-based dessert.
Dinnerwas three courses, with some bruschetta-style snacks served with our drinks around the fire before hand. To start with we had courgette soup, the main course was a delicious coconut chicken curry, served with rice, fresh vegetables and mango chutney, followed by chocolate sponge.
Dining style: Group Meals
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
Generally recommended for children: No
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: Generator
Power supply notes: The lights in the tent work 24 hours a day but batteries need to be charged in the main area.
Communications: There is mobile reception throughout Ruaha, and each room has a mobile phone provided so that you can ask to be escorted or for any other help.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio at Kigelia Camp
Water supply: Borehole
Water supply notes: 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. Kigelai 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 - Included.
Money: The rooms have lockable trunks for storing valuables.
Accepted payment on location: Everything is included in the rates so you shouldn’t need to pay for anything extra. Tips can be made in US dollars or Tanzanian shillings. There are no credit card facilities.