Reviews of Kwihala Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
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.
Ruaha is hard to get to, but worth it
Arrived the week of manager transition and was impressed with both the old and new.
Great elephant sightings of large groups with lots of juveniles in dry river beds
saw reasonable amounts of many game species.
Lion kill on baboon from large troop
hyena family out of den in early Am was special
outstanding service and 5 star food
very comfortable vehicles
excellent large predator bird sightings
guide spotted huge python coiled in tree(something we were looking for)
would say 5 stars based on everything except camp itself which is very good
Kwihala Camp review
Our 3 night stay at Kwihala was excellent. We were very well looked after by the camp manager and the staff and I can't speak too highly of all the guides. Our allocated guide was faultless and the other two guides, who accompanied us on our walk on the last day, were also extremely knowledgeable and competent. The whole experience was a step up from Lake Manze, but for us, still struck the right balance - not too plush, but comfortable whilst retaining the "bush" experience.
It was the attention to detail that was impressive - comfortable vehicles, excellent meals in the bush, and flexibility of activities and meals to suit our preferences. We had numerous sightings of lion and elephant, as well as good sightings of leopard on two occasions. Bird life was quite prolific considering migrants had not yet arrived and we achieved an impressive list of sightings with the help of our guide. We took half day game drives with bush breakfasts, evening game drives, a night drive and a walk.
We squeezed the walk in our last morning and this proved to be the best way to round off our stay - a proper safari walk. For this, we drove for 30 minutes away from the camp and then walked for over 2 hours with 2 very knowledgeable guides and an armed ranger. Altogether a great experience, and rates as one of the best in some 40 years of our African safaris.
One word - AMAZING
As some one who appreciates the details and the little things, kwihala Camp did not disappoint. Everything from the staff, to the decor of the tents, to the food, to the guides was exceptional.
It was the perfect size camp. The guides were exceptional and a lot of fun to be around. We took full advantage of the various tours they offered. The walking safari, night ride and game drives were all unique experiences.
Kwihala is my idea of safari perfection in either green or dry season-great camp,great location,amazing game and bird life and above all top notch guiding . So pleased that the essence of Kwihala is being preserved and full marks to Sandy for sustaining the warm welcome and helpfulness that always awaits.Special thanks to her for managing to procure my favorite sun downer tipple and the orange juice to accompany it . Campari and mango juice is an acquired taste!
This green season was very different from last year-very little water in the rivers -even less than in October, which resulted in different flora and birds. It was great to spend time with Lorenzo again and I marvel at his patience with my attempts to improve bird identification.
The game and birding was great as usual and my few days ended on a high note with a dash across from Kimilimatonge to over the Mwagusi bridge to catch good sightings of wild dog. This was my fourth visit and there is nowhere else I'd rather finish a safari tour as it never disappoints.
PS While i was in Kwihala Lorenzo was awaiting the results of his level 3 Field Guide exams and news came through after I returned home that he has been successful .Congratulations -great achievement
Kwihala - really comfortable 'camping'
We were not aware that going to a National Park meant that we had to stick to the dirt roads, with off-roading strictly prohibited, but it all worked out, albeit it was a different experience than Selous.
The staff at Kwihala were very welcoming and did everything possible to ensure we had a great time. One thing I'll always remember is the night when they made a cake for another guest's birthday, and brought it into the dining tent all singing a Swahili birthday song, tapping on cans or bottles with sticks, and 'dancing'. Every night we met before dinner at a campfire for drinks, where we were advised of the dinner courses for the evening, and then led back to the main dining tent. Dinner Kwihala is served family style which is a nice opportunity to get to know people from different countries and hear about their experiences during the day.
The main dining/lounge tent is quite large and very comfortable. There is a washroom tent very close by which is handy. The sleeping tent that we were in didn't have any sort of view from the porch which was a bit of a drag but I don't believe any of the others had a view either. The sleeping tent was very comfortable, although the shower head was a bit low and my husband had to duck to get water on his head. I wasn't expecting turn-down service in a tent, but sure enough...
The quality of the guiding was very good. They have a training program for Junior Guides which is nice to see. The vehicles were also good and seated 6 in 3 rows. The first row, however had very cramped leg room so we always moved to row 2 or 3. I may not have been happy if the vehicle was full and I had to sit in the front row. Breakfast on the road and sundowners were always standing up as they didn't bring camp chairs along. I think an option for this would have been appreciated.
There was a large number of elephants and baboons when we visited in February. This was in contrast to the Selous area. It was very nice being able to sit and watch how social these groups are - especially since there were many babies. We saw two or three elephants that were only 1 - 2 weeks old! We also saw 3 different prides of lions - all with young ones. Again, the roles each of the lions play in their interactions within the pride was very interesting to observe. As it was green season, and viewing was more difficult, the guide needed to be well versed in the birds and fauna. He made sure to pass on all his knowledge - which was quite deep.
The food at Kwihala was a bit hit or miss. This is the one area that I think they could concentrate a bit more on. The quality of the ingredients was good - just somehow not put together quite tastefully all the time. We are both vegetarian (but eat fish) and this may have been the challenge. One thing they do get right is the wine! The complimentary red and white wines were very palatable. After telling the staff how we like our gin and tonics made the first night, they went out of their way to replicate them afterwards. All these little things add up to a wonderful experience.
The camp was offering guided walks and night drives for an extra fee. We chose not to go on the night drive simply because of the fullness of the vegetation and the inability to see anything not right in the headlights, but we would certainly do it in the dry season.
Overall, I would very much recommend staying at Kwihala. Sandy - the camp manager - is very helpful and oversees all the details.
fantastic safari at Kwihala
I had heard good reports of Kwihala and my visit exceeded all expectations.
The camp is extremely well run and everything is geared up to the comfort of guests including the superbly appointed tents, amazing catering, attentive friendly staff and fantastic guiding.
Steve is not only a top guide but extremely good company. His knowledge of wildlife and birds is encyclopaedic (even to a lifelong nature fanatic and birdwatcher). Every game drive seemed like a fresh adventure for him too, which makes it all the more enjoyable. Brilliant bush breakfasts and sundowners enhance the ultimate wilderness experience. The night drive takes you into a whole new world in which the same landscape is inhabited by completely new participants.
Dinner with Sandie (manager) Steve and Festo (guides) and other guests was always entertaining. The food was plentiful varied and unbelievably delicious.
The camp is in a great setting and the game plentiful and varied.
The whole experience was unforgettable. Asilia, Sandie, guides and all the camp staff are to be congratulated on doing the safari experience to such an amazingly high standard.
Kwihala Camp review
This was our third and final camp. We stayed five nights and really didn't want to leave! Ruaha at this time of year is truly magical: lush and varied landscapes giving up their wonderful wildlife secrets and a true feeling of isolation. We saw huge numbers of elephants - on a couple of occasions more than 100 at once. We saw lions every day and at the end of one evening drive found a cheetah with the help of three very focused giraffes and our guide Lorenzo. The amount and variety of wildlife and birds was a revelation.
During the course of our stay we encountered only a couple of other vehicles in the vastness of the national park. Although you can't go off road here it didn't seem to make much difference. We still had fantastic close encounters and not only with the cats. Very special were the tiny dick-dick and klipspringers: two of the smallest antelopes. Lorenzo and his Masai assistant Daudi were a joy to be with and great fun. Lorenzo is a mine of information and has boundless enthusiasm for his subject. Every day was a great adventure.
The camp has been recently taken over by Asilia and new manager Sandy is a fabulous host. Again all the staff were friendly and helpful and our vegetarian diet was magnificently catered for. The camp is simple but stylish, comfortable and clean, with widely spaced individual tents. We felt like we were the only ones in the bush as we drifted off to sleep to the sound of lionesses calling from the nearby Mwagussi river.