Kwihala Camp

Kwihala Camp: Our full report

Rooms
6 tents: 2 doubles and 4 twins.
Traveller's rating
Excellent (98%) From 101 reviews
Children
Best for aged 10+
Open
1st June to 25th March

Kwihala is an excellent mobile operation in Ruaha National Park that has been open since 2006. Kwihala was taken over by new management in 2015 and we are delighted to say that it has only gone from strength to strength since it changed hands. Kwihala's excellent standards have been maintained, and thanks to some investment the camp has also benefitted from refurbishment.

There is nothing permanent about this camp; you won't find any cement or stone, and when it moves sites there should be no evidence that it was ever here. Despite this, the camp is very stylish, offering luxury and comfort without losing any of the sense that you're in the wilderness. The food and service at Kwihala are excellent and the whole camp runs very smoothly.

The natural-coloured tents at Kwihala blend into the surrounding vegetation, and the furniture and decorations are elegant in keeping with their surroundings. The main lounge/dining area is a wonderful open-sided tent which faces the Mwagusi river. Although the bare groundsheets are still visible, billowing white materials, interesting metallic wall hangings and stylish furniture lend an elegant and romantic feel. Watch out for the long guy ropes though, as they can be easy to trip on in the evenings!

The tents are decorated with woven textiles and rustic pottery vases featuring the signature Kwihala baobab. Comfy sofas invite you to relax and browse through the selection of coffee-table books, and there's a small bookshelf with interesting artefacts collected from the surrounding area, such as quartz sling-shot balls and ground snail shells.

Just outside the main tent, under a shaded roof, a number of directors' chairs with small tables look out over the riverbed. A little campfire area just in front is where guests gather in the evening for drinks and light snacks before dinner.

The large, cream, walk-in tents at Kwihala continue the theme; combining simple practical furniture, such as a beautifully made wooden dressing table, with a stylish flair. White cotton curtains hang from a lovely iron rail adorned with African beads. Handmade tea and coffee cups of blue pottery are from Nairobi also sporting the camp's signature baobab symbol. Even the bedspread has a large embroidered baobab on it. Everything matches, yet it isn't gaudy.

In front of each tent is a small shaded veranda, overlooking the bush and furnished with comfortable director's chairs.

A set of curtains at the side of the tent leads to an en-suite bathroom. Here you will find a large wooden surface with a beautiful sink in the camp's hallmark blue pottery, and a matching soap dispenser. On the other side of the bathroom is a bucket shower – which looks and operates exactly like a normal shower! A tank outside your tent will be filled with plenty of warm water on request. There is also a flush chemical toilet – and though it has quite a chemical smell because all of the waste goes into a tank buried beneath the ground, it is very clean.

Kiwhala's location at the time of writing (in June 2016) in a secluded valley on the edge of the Mwagusi river. Animals regularly wander through the camp and along the dry riverbed, and the sounds of the bush are all around as you sleep.

The guiding is excellent. In addition to a permanently resident guide, Lorenzo, Kwihala works with a handful of top freelance professional guides in rotation. Each guides their own private safaris around Africa, but each comes to the camp for several months at a time, to guide from the camp. They're all at the top of their game – highly trained and passionate – and have very extensive wildlife experience, in Ruaha and elsewhere.

Add to this the camp's small size, and you have a safari in which there is plenty of scope for guests to explore what really interests them – be it birds, fauna or animals.

Our view

Kwihala combines a simple charm with high standards and the feel of a very elegant bushcamp. Aside from the comforts and excellent service, it is Kwihala's excellent guiding in this fairly remote park which are the real draws here.

Geographics

Location: Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

Ideal length of stay: At least four days to really explore Ruaha National Park

Directions: By far the easiest way to access Kwihala is to fly into Ruaha from Dar es Salaam, which takes around three hours, and then drive for 45 minutes to the camp. By road, Kwihala is about nine hours' drive from Dar es Salaam, whilst the nearest town, Iringa, is around three hours away.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Asillia

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: When we stayed in June 2016 the food was well prepared and focused on plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and salads. Timings of meals are usually quite flexible to fit around the guests, and the day's activities. Dining at Kwihala is generally a communal event however private dining can be arranged on request.

Breakfast at Kwihala usually consists of an assortment of fresh fruit, yoghurt, pancakes and a cooked breakfast. Guests who leave early on a morning game drive will instead have a simple breakfast of fruits, muffins, cereals and chapattis out in the bush, laid out on the bonnet of the vehicle.

Lunch normally consists of two courses and usually something light but filling – such as salads and a sandwich as well as a fruit dessert. During our last visit in 2016 we had vegetable quiche with fresh salad, followed by fruit salad for dessert.

Dinner is either in the dining tent or – on clear nights – set out under the stars with only kerosene lamps for lighting. Your three courses are introduced by the chef before dinner and then served to the table. When we stayed, we started with pea soup, followed by braised beef with a potato cake and fresh vegetables. Dessert was a scrumptious chocolate fondant served with Amarula.

Dining style: Group Meals

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Drinks are included in the rates at Kwihala.

Further dining info: There is no room service as such, though you can have tea and coffee brought to your room.

Special interests

Solo Travel: Kwihala is located in the game-rich Ruaha National Park and great for solo travellers. Holidays here include amazing walking (and 4WD) safaris with top-notch guides, social evening gatherings around the campfire and pleasingly low single supplements.

See more ideas for Solo Travel in Tanzania

Birdwatching: Ruaha National Park has an extraordinary diversity of birds – with over 520 different species recorded. Mid-November to March is a great time for keen birdwatchers to visit this park, and the knowledgeable guides are a real asset.

See more ideas for Birdwatching in Tanzania

Walking safaris: Experienced guide Lorenzo can take you on a morning bush walk along the Mwagusi river bed where he will point out the tracks and signs of the wild. Walking safaris are a great way to discover some of the lesser known species that call Ruaha home.

See more ideas for Walking safaris in Tanzania

Wildlife safaris: Ruaha is an excellent reserve with a rather wild feel to it. You can find all the usual big game including large herds of elephant and buffalo; Ruaha also has unusually high numbers of lion as well as several endemic species including the Ruaha hornbill.

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania

Children

Attitude towards children: Children of 5 years and above are welcome at Kwihala Camp.

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

Equipment: There is no special equipment for younger children at Kwihala Camp, as you need to be over the age of seven to stay here.

Notes: Parents should note that children are their own responsibility for the duration of their stay.

Infrastructure

Power supply notes: Kwihala has a backup generator.

Communications: The camp has a satellite phone for emergencies and there is generally good mobile reception. There are no communication facilities for guest use.

TV & radio: There is no TV, Radio or WiFi at Kwihala.

Water supply notes: Water for washing is pumped from the Mwagusi river whilst bottled drinking water is transported in.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: All guides and managers are first-aid trained. There is first-aid equipment in camp and in all of the vehicles. For emergencies, Kwihala is linked to the flying doctor service.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Kwihala camp has a safe in the main office where you can store valuables. Guests are escorted to and from their rooms at night and there are airhorns in the tents in case of an emergency. Night watchmen are also on duty to keep an eye out for animals.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in all of the vehicles at Kwihala and there is also a firebreak around camp.

Extras

Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry is included – but all the clothes are rigorously hand washed so it is not suitable for delicate items. As with many safari camps Kwihala is unable to wash underwear.

Money: The camp prefers payment for any extras in US dollars, Tanzanian shillings, English pounds or euros cash. Visa cards are accepted but with a 5.5% surcharge. They are unable to accept travellers' cheques.

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