Reviews of Kwihala Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Amazing and so different in green season
A third trip to Kwihala but first in the green season. Ruaha is thankfully still quiet in terms of tourism and as amazing as ever. As a camp Kwihala just keeps on getting better – constant Asilia improvements.
It was already very good back on the first visit and it meets all my key criteria. It is small, just six ground level spacious tents giving an authentic bush feeling. You are provided with all the comforts / facilities you need but nothing that for me detracts from the bush experience. All the staff are outstanding – you could not be made more welcome and no request is too much trouble – e.g. hot bucket shower whenever you want it. The food is wonderful, right from the bonnet breakfasts out on game drives to lunch and dinners back in camp. The whole situation of pre-dinner campfire (weather permitting!) drinks and communal dinner feels like one big very friendly family. The guides are excellent at their job but it is more than just being in a vehicle with a really good guide – you are in a vehicle with someone as a friend which raises the whole experience another level.
So to the green season comparison with dry season. Before arriving we were expecting what I believed to be a typical January: a mixture of good dry spells with a number of heavy showers / storms. However, the thing no one can control thought different – we arrived in the wettest January anyone could remember for years. Rivers were all flowing fast and many routes were either impassable or partly destroyed by water torrents. That sounds bad but in reality we got out for every game drive – a few just a bit delayed while the worst rain cleared and also a bit restricted to the available roads, although during our stay we did manage roads for the first time in over a week.
Game is undoubtedly harder to see – general dispersal and the lush green undergrowth see to that. However we still saw plenty – lions on kills, cubs playing, leopards, civet, all the usual antelope, giraffe, elephants, zebra, hippo, hyena, jackal etc. etc. The sighting highlight had to be the wild dogs – I would not have believed a dog could be so vividly beautiful. There is also a mass of birds and butterflies not present in the dry season. Sitting watching weaver birds build their nests from strands of grass is entrancing. You can be shown side by side pictures of the same place in the dry / green season but the difference is so amazing that you really need to see it firsthand. Just to see the Ruaha, Mwagusi and Mdonya rivers full, bank to bank and flowing fast was a wonderful sight.
Of course the weather led to some issues on the road and in the camp. Whatever problems occurred were dealt with efficiently and professionally and we never felt insecure or unsafe. Overall we had a fantastic time and everything contributed to an unforgettable nine night experience.
Kwihala really is the complete package and yes I want to go back again – green or dry – that is the question. If you have only been in one then you have missed out.
Kwihala Camp review
First class accommodation and guidesRead more about the whole safari
Kwihala Camp review
We had a fantastic 4 nights at Kwihala. The best aspect is the team working there. They are extremely friendly (welcoming you back every time with a cold towel and a smile) and extremely knowledgeable. The guides are excellent, extremely skilled in all aspects of the bush and safari as well as being very warm and friendly people so it was a joy to spend time with them during the drives and over dinner.
The food was also fantastic - surpassing our expectations given how remote the camp is. The food is typically not fussy but of great quality. I would describe it as fresh rustic cooking which is just what we wanted. Everything from the wake up coffee to the tents and breakfasts is so fresh and tasty that we never felt hunger during our stay. The communal dinners are very fun (including Robert or Ibrahim's fantastic menu announcements) and are a great end to the day.
The tents are extremely comfortable and they team go to great lengths to ensure you have all that you need with great facilities both in the tent and in the main mess tent, which is very relaxing place to go and spend some time.
Overall a fantastic camp with an exceptional team.
An authentic bush experience at Kwihala
We spent six days at Kwihala. It was exceptionally hot throughout our stay with only one brief shower. One area of the Park had received enough rain to start to green it, but most areas were very dry. In particular, the Mwagusi and Mdonya rivers were more or less completely dry with only a few puddles remaining, and even the Ruaha river was virtually dry with only the area next to the Ruaha bridge retaining some deep pools.
The camp provides an authentic bush experience with tents and bucket showers etc. But it is nonetheless very comfortable.
Ruaha provides a wide variety of differing landscapes including a remarkable concentration of huge baobab trees.
Tam, the manager, was an outstandingly good hostess and made everyone feel very welcome. All the staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful.
Game was fewer and further between than we were expecting, but we did nonetheless have several remarkable game viewing experiences, especially with lions and leopards. Alex, our guide most of the time, was very experienced and a reassuring person to lead a game walk - particularly when we happened upon a lion!
The food was imaginative and very well prepared and presented, especially the buffet lunches.
Tsetse flies were an issue in some areas, notably along one stretch of the Mwagusi, but were not a problem in the camp itself. Although we expected to share game activities with other guests, in practice we only did so on a limited number of occasions, although we found that sharing with four others in the vehicle (which happened once) was not a good experience.
Kwihala Camp review
This camp has just six tents and a relatively small reception area which gives it an especially intimate atmosphere. Tam, the manageress, is a wonderful hostess and all the staff are warm and very hospitable. Tea or coffee is brought to the tent before the morning game drive. There are four guests to a vehicle and Tam does her best to match interests- there are a lot of lions in the area, which is clearly the main concern of some, whereas others want to see as wide a variety of wildlife as possible.
The guiding (we had three on different occasions) is outstanding. We especially valued Noel's extensive knowledge and enthusiasm and his evident enjoyment in sharing what he knows. He also has an eye for finding the best angles for photographers, and his quiet approach to guiding and the way he drives gave us so many wonderful sights. Alex is a specialist walking guide who is also immensely knowledgeable and who gave us a quite different and complementary experience to the one we'd had in Manze.
The food in Kwihala is quite simply superb. The evening meal was always a lovely experience with the staff doing their utmost to make our time in the camp the best possible.
The night game drive is really to be recommended. We had sightings of bat-eared foxes, an ardwolf, and bush babies.
The tents are beautifully done with very comfortable beds and excellent shower facilities, though they are bucket showers. My one complaint was with the hyena who kicked off just outside our tent at four in the morning.
The whole was an unforgettable experience.
Back -again !
This was my fifth visit to Kwihala ,which I guess says it all and means I don't have much more to add to previous comments.
The unique,intangible Kwihala welcome and family atmosphere was very much in evidence and a few small changes were appreciated (eg most drinks and night drives now included , bathrobes supplied ,hot water bottles on morning drives and fans in the tents. None of which spoiled the overall bush experience.
While it was good to hear that some members of the team have moved on to other opportunities within the wider Asilia family and beyond it was really great to see some had been promoted within Kwihala .The new bunch of trainees ,who had been through an incredibly rigorous process, all seemed to be fitting in very well. Lorenzo and his new trainee Moinga made for a fantastic team and created for us a memorable few days .
This time my daughter accompanied me for her first safari and was completely enchanted with the whole experience. Her main bag didn't turn up for a couple of days and Michelle managed to find a few supplies to keep her going,which was really kind of her.
Terrific all round experience at Kwihala
Following our two previous camps Kwihala appeared rather more basic and we both felt ion arrival we should have perhaps visited this camp first.
However our stay proved otherwise, our time spent there was good to say the least, our guide Mohamed proved excellent and Michelle the manager made our stay equal to any where we have been/
Great Traditional Bush Camp
Kwihala is a proper bush camp, with tents on the ground, bucket showers and very local wildlife that includes a pair of large lizards that live in the mess tent.
Saidi is an excellent guide and together with Ayube, our trainee guide, gave us some wonderful game viewing. For the first time, we saw black and white colobus monkeys - a truly memorable experience - and a family of seven very young lion cubs with their mothers.
Dining at Kwihala is communal, preceded by drinks around the fire, which adds to the intimate feel of the camp. The food is excellent. For "bake-off" fans, the cakes produced for afternoon tea are wonderful.
Fantastic Camp in Ruaha
We came to Kwihala for 4 nights as the second stop on our first safari. Our first camp in Selous had set a high standard, but I have to say that Kwihala maintained that standard.
Once again we were very impressed with the level of service throughout the camp.
On arrival we were welcomed by Tam, the manager, and given a drink and a cool towel to refresh ourselves.
After a briefing with Tam we were shown to our tent which was enormous. The bed was super large and we also had a flush loo and a bucket shower. The shower was prepared twice a day (warm at lunch time and hot for the evening) but you could request extra water at other times if required. There were 2 useful electric sockets for charging camera batteries etc.
Lunch and dinner were communal, with everyone, including the manager Tam and at least one guide, seated at a large table. The food was extremely good and plentiful. Lunch was a buffet where you able to help yourself to whatever you fancied. Pre-dinner drink (most are complementary) and nibbles were available around the camp fire and the chef would come and describe the menu before dinner was served. As per our previous camp breakfast was served on the morning game drive, after selecting a spot under a shady tree a blanket was thrown over the bonnet of the Land Rover and food (including cereals, muffins, eggs, bacon, bread and fruit) and drinks (juice, tea and coffee) appeared from the picnic bag.
Our trip was at the end of the dry season and the rivers were empty, so no boat safaris. We spent most our time doing game drives but did do a walking safari one morning and also a night drive. Our guide was Hamsa and we sometimes had Noel, a trainee guide, as our spotter. The wildlife was scarcer close to the camp than in Selous and had to be found. Hamsa was a great guide and used his knowledge of the area and guiding and tracking skills to ensure we found ample game. Although not as plentiful there was a greater variety of wildlife and the animals were not skittish so we able to get much closer to watch and photograph them. During the night at the camp we could hear Hyenas and Lions in the distance and were woken very early one morning when a small group of elephants passed within a few metres of our tent.
On the day game drives Hamsa found lions every day and we had 2 great sightings of leopard, one laying on the ground and the other in a tree. A highlight was a mother lion and her 3 cubs, the mother was dozing and the three cubs were playing in the grass beside her - beautiful! It was also fascinating watching the elephants dig holes with their enormous feet in the sandy river bed to find water. We also saw Impala, Giraffe, Tree Hyrax, Spotted Hyena, Greater and Lesser Kudu, Baboon, Dik Dik, Mongoose, Zebra, Black faced Vervet Monkey, Ostrich, Buffalo (a herd of about 500), Hippo, Warthog, Savannah Monitor Lizard, and Black Backed Jackal. There were also plenty of colourful birds. The early morning game drives started at 06:00 with hot water bottles and blankets available to counter the chill air when driving in the open fronted (no windscreen) Land Rover, a fleece could be useful.
An armed national park ranger and an armed guide escorted us on the safari walk. We saw a Pearl Spotted Owlet, Giraffe and followed some Elephants for a while. We saw Lion, Leopard and Hyena tracks and found various colourful feathers and a porcupine quill. Investigated more poo and cut open and tasted the fruit of a Baobab tree. Lorenzo our armed guide spotted a leopard with a Hyrax in its mouth. Unfortunately we startled the Leopard and by the time we managed to focus on it, the it was running off into the long grass, having dropped the lucky Hyrax, and we only managed a fleeting glimpse. It was a very interesting morning.
The park ranger also escorted on our night drive. Noel drove the Land Rover, Hamsa manned the spotlight and Chris (the ranger) had a very bright torch. Our first spot was a Spotted Eagle Owl in a tree followed by a Scrub Hare with enormous ears. We also saw a Hyena, Banded Mongoose, Genet, Bush Baby and a Hippo. The highlight was a leopard which we first saw on the road and followed in the long grass. Hamsa was able to keep it in the spotlight beam enabling us to take photos. A great night.
On the day of our departure we opted for an early start and a final game drive on our way to the airstrip. What a good decision, we found a cheetah and managed to follow it for about 40 minutes; what a bonus!!!
Great camp, great people, great service, great food, great guides and great wildlife, go to Ruaha, stay at Kwihala Camp, you will not be disappointed.
Great animal viewing in a remote park.
We had a superb time at Kwihala Camp in Ruaha National Park. The young manager was most welcoming and professional, as were all the staff.
Our guide Lorenzo was brilliant and went to great lengths to get us good views of both the animals and birds (which we were also interested in). He was both observant and very knowledgeable, and all our safaris were excellent.
The food was quite outstanding, both in variety and quality. It was also very healthy food, which we appreciated.