Reviews of Kwihala Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Amazing in the green season
After my first visit to Kwihala last October I was encouraged by Lorenzo and Sara to revisit in the green season and my expectations were once again exceeded.
As a camp Kwihala continues to deliver a magical wilderness and bush experience .A truly warm welcome and atmosphere, just enough of the right sort of comforts, a great staff team and superlative guiding in a beautiful setting.
Finding a place like Kwihala which so closely fits my ideal bush camp has, I fear, spoiled me for other camps.
Before coming at this time of the year, I was careful to bear in mind that animals might be more widely spread out and hard to spot ,some trails would be impassable and rain might even prevent us leaving the camp . To some extent this was true .We did not have any where as near as many sightings of cats ,we could not cross the sand rivers except by the bridges but despite the rain, mostly at night, only one afternoon in 6 days was too rainy to venture out .
But any limitations were completely outweighed by the miracle that is the bush transformed by the rain;-the lushness of the trees, grasses and flowers, the rivers flowing strongly,squelching through the muddy puddles in the land cruisers, spectacular thunder and lightening displays at night ,going to sleep to the sound of rain on the tent roof and of course the varied array of butterflies and birds in breeding plumage. Game was still plentiful if not as abundant as in the dry season and it was good to see the animals and their young in such good health.
Highlights included following a cheetah on the hunt with two very young cubs, a very newly born giraffe being licked clean by its mother , a herd of 200 elephants stampeding across the Ruaha River and circa 140 different bird species . It was great for much of the time to go at a slower pace -to spend half an hour admiring a sunrise ,to take time to identify a tricky bird ,track a pride of lions ,watch an army of driver ants cross the track or gaze in awe at huge flocks of black-headed weavers building their nests from scratch in bushes hanging over the water-how did they evolve to be able to tie knots in bendy grass stems!
I fear that having discovered a place like Kwihala, which so closely fits my ideal for a bush camp, has spoiled me for others.
It is such a special place that I was somewhat alarmed to hear that it had been sold to a bigger safari group, Asilia, particularly as I was planning to return in October with my sister. Angela at Expert Africa provided some reassuring information before I came and this was confirmed to a large extent in discussion with three reps from Asilia, who dropped in for a couple of days so I truly hope the best features of Kwihala camp will be retained.
Best wishes and thanks to all staff at the camp ,with a special mention for Sara, Lorenzo and Saidi, whose passion and dedication ensured another amazing trip and many happy memories of people as well as wildlife.
Informal luxury in the bush.
A beautiful place, 6 huge tents widely spaced. Amazing food (my husband was in heaven!)
The safaris were amazing, totally different terrain to Selous, dry so easy to observe big cats, of which there seemed to be large numbers.
Our guides, Lorenzo and Said were great guys to spend time with. Lorenzo was very knowledgeable about all aspects of the area and he was very informative. A highlight was watching elephants at a small waterhole enjoying a mud bath after rain.
Kwihala Camp review
Expectations had been raised to a high level at our previous camp and we wondered how Kwihala would compare.
From the start this warm friendly bush camp excuded team work and enthusiasm at all levels and it was a real joy to share in the wonderful atmosphere and ethos that seemed so effortlessly created.
What was also great about this camp was its commitment to training local tanzanaians in all aspects of camp life including becoming guides.
The weather was very hot but not humid thoughout our stay (35-6C daytime and 20-24C at night) and the level of birds and game was very high .The scenery here is stunning and there is a very wide range of environments ,each with its own flora and fauna.
All the facilities are simple but imaginatively designed .The tents are very big and set widely apart. This meant privacy was maintained even when we kept the curtains open so we could see the bush lit up by the full moon .Electricty is available 24hrs and there are 2 sockets for charging cameras etc -very useful. Water is somewhat limited and bucket showers provide enough hot water for 2 showers each a day. Quite enough if you are careful.Amazingly there is network access.
Dining was communal ,which we really like;in the dining tent at lunchtime but together with guides out under the stars at night. Food was imaginative and varied despite the cooks liberal use of chilli .Specail diest were sensitively catered for.Vehicles were extremely comfortable -padded seats in 3 rows of just 2 seats abreast with baskets between for personal items. Good views for all.
The day starts at 5.15 with a wake up tray of drinks in readiness to leave promptly at 5.45am -earlier than at most camps but it meant we saw a great deal before our breakfast in the bush around 8.30 amd 9 and it meant we had nearly 7 hours safari by lunchtime .
Our guide/driver Lorenzo was a star and up among the 3 best guides we have had in our travels.He really helped us see and appreciate the bush in all its glory and whether we were watching a group of 4 lions catch and eat an impala before our eyes ,or 8 lions devour an adult giraffe over 3 days or a leopard stalking impala or just to simply lingering under the baobabs and acacia trees to see what came to us or enjoy gin and tonic taking in a glorious sunset ,Lorenzo added so much to each experience from his wealth of knowledge and experience-and wonderful sense of humour. His sidekick, trainee Rajabu was a first class spotter and also endowed with infectious laughter fun.Good luck in yopur level 1 exams in January Rajabu.
An unprecedented incident relating to our departure resulted in an unexpected extra overnight stay .Just to stay the matter was dealt witrh extremely professionally and promplty by all concerned ,for which we were most grateful.
This is an outstanding camp, very ably lead by Sara the manager .We would love to return.
An amazing experience
We had the best game viewing experience we have ever had. Our guide Marius was sensitive, attentive, extremely knowledgeable and as keen as us to take things slowly and really observe animal behaviour. He was a perfect match for us. We loved the harsh beauty of the terrain. We enjoyed stunning sunrises and sunsets. Daudi, the assistant guide with such an engaging personality really helped to make this such a memorable experience
The food and wine was really excellent. That all guests and guides ate at one long table set outside each night sharing the days experiences added to the enjoyment of the camp.
This camp is not for the faint hearted with game drives totalling 9-11 hours some days, with very little down time.
Kwihala Camp review
This was our first visit to Ruaha and made for a great second stop after the Selous. Everyone at the camp tried very hard to make us feel comfortable and we loved every minute of our stay. Our guides were excellent - extremely knowledgeable and putting in great efforts to track down animals. We set off at 6 o'clock each morning to get the most out of the day and were out until after dark on our afternoon drives. We had some great leopard and cheetah sightings and we were delighted to see big herds of elephants and countless lions. We also saw an incredible array of birds and learnt a huge amount from the guides.
Dining under the stars was great fun. The meals were delicious and our request for no red meat for one of us was accommodated without any fuss. We really enjoyed sitting out in the evenings with Sara and the guides and sharing stories. Bush breakfasts and lunches were impressive too
Our tent was great, very spacious and comfortable whilst still enabling us to feel in the heart of nature. We heard elephants and jackals right outside at night. The bucket shower works very well and adds to the charm. We used the laundry service and found that to be very good.
We were lucky to have a car to ourselves for the most part of our stay and felt that we were well looked after – drinks and blankets were in plentiful supply. We were able to spend lots of time in the park and we saw an incredible amount.
We had a fantastic time and would love to go back as soon as we can.
Great guidingKwihala camp
Pietro is a great guide-possibly the best I have found in 50 visits to Africa.
If he ever moves I will go to wherever he goes.
All the guides at Kwihala are excellent and the camp should primarily be recommended to experienced safari visitors.The guides are wasted on first time visitors unless they can accept quality of sightings rather than quantity. For instance we watched a buffalo herd slowly coming to drink by a river for 2 hours while watching a lion pride slowly take up position. We were rewarded by seeing the kill of one buffallo and the escape of another. We were the only tourist vehicle who saw the incident although documentary maker also filmed the proceedings.
Kwihala was an Amazing Full-on Experience
We had the best and most memorable experience staying at Kwihala. From the moment we were collected from Ruaha airstrip by Leverd and his colleague, our safari began.
Sara was a great manager, always on hand to offer help and advice (and toothpaste!) and the guiding was awesome!! Lorenzo was everything you could wish from a guide, and more. His passion for the animals and birds was obvious and his enthusiasm was infectious, sharing with us the sights, sounds and smells of Ruaha. Our highlight was seeing a female leopard in a 'sausage tree' shortly after sunrise - magical!
We loved the genuine friendly and relaxed atmosphere at Kwihala and the sharing of stories between guests, guides and management around the camp fire each night, followed by dinner round a big table outside under the stars. We will never, ever, forget Kwihala.
Kwihala Camp review
We loved Kwihala which lived up to all our expectations. We were in this part of Ruaha last year. Our excellent informative guide Pietro assisted by Toni made sure we saw almost every possible animal and bird including leopards, cheetah, lions and the touraco. We did 2 game drives a day and each one was different and rewarding because of the expertise of our guide.
Our hostess Sarah was helpful and attentive. The food was very good and we enjoyed the communal bonfire and dining, and we were thoroughly entertained by the guides Pietro, Lorenzo and Festu during the meals. We liked our tent No 4, but it did not have a good view and was not as private as some of the other accomodation we experienced. This camp is semi-permanent and so the tents are not as grand as in the other places we stayed, but they were more than adequate and we really liked the feeling of being more in the wild.
The night time sound of lion, hyena and elephant were thrilling, and we especially enjoyed the night of the elephant invasion which resulted in some amusing diversionary tactics.
Amazing stay at Kwihala - must return!
We had a three night stay at Kwihala and it was an amazing experience. The guiding was superb and the passion of our guide Lorenzo and his trainees was infectious and their knowledge truly incredible. The camp is fairly basic but perfectly adequate and comfortable although my daughters had some issue with the bucket shower which was readily rectified. We all especially liked the friendliness around the campfire and dinner table where the all ate together, swapping drive tales!
The food was good but not to the standard of Siwandu. Again we were celebrating another birthday (mine) and also our 25th wedding anniversary and Sara the camp host very kindly had a bottle of the particular wine we had been drinking put in our room which was a lovely touch - thanks again Liz! On the subject of drinks, on arrival we were given the option to pay $15 per person per day for unlimited drinks whilst in camp. Any drinks ordered for sundowners at the end of the second drive of the day are included in the package but everything apart from water is charged and needs to be paid in cash at the end of your stay (your notes say "all inclusive" and "nothing to pay for" in one bit and drinks extra in another paragraph by the way!)
Please note I am awarding "good" instead of "excellent" for food but in no way does this take away from the overall wonderful experience we had. FYI my daughters aged 22 and 19 both preferred this camp because of the great atmosphere and felt the style of Siwandu was for "older people". Also on arrival we were asked by Sara if we had any food in our bags as it is not recommended to have food in the tents as honey badger will come after it!
I had taken the comments in your brochure on board and stocked up with snacks just in case( but never needed!) so surrendered them for safekeeping in the kitchen. Lastly, every day we opted to leave early at 6:30am for our morning game drive which meant it was very chilly, especially on the vehicle so would definitely recommend lots of layers, even a hat and possibly gloves to keep you warm until the sun had warmed up around 9:30!!
This was my second visit to Kwihala, and my third to Ruaha. Kwihala has become one of my favourite camps in Africa- they're doing everything right here. The guiding is excellent, and the atmosphere in camp is fun and sociable. We had fantastic game viewing, with lots of predator sightings and even a cheetah kill!
If I was going to be really picky, I'd say one of the vehicles we had (the Defender) was really rather tight on legroom and got a bit uncomfortable on some of the longer drives. We got swapped to one of the other vehicles half way through our stay, which was a lot better.