Reviews of Kwihala Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
My Splendid Safari in Ruaha National Park
I recently returned from a ten-day safari to Southern Tanzania. I had booked this safari through Expert Africa, and it was already
my third safari with them. I flew from Nairobi to Dars em Salam, and had expressed mh trepidation that one hour would'nt be sufficient
to make my connection to Ruaha. Well, I was pleasantly surprised as the transfer went perfectly smooth. I then flew to Ruaha where I was picked up at the air strip by Douadi, a tracker as well as an apprentic guide in training. I have to mention that he has three wives and one child and is planning to have ninemoe children. He is a traditional Maasai tribesman.
At the camp I was met by Mitchelle, the temporary managerwho hails from Zambia. She was kind, charming and always helpful. Absent minded as always, I somehow managed to loose the return portion of my return ticket to Nairobi. Mitchelle contacted Expert Africa, who sent me the return portion of my ticket, which she promptly printed out for me. I made sure not to loose it again. I enjoyed talking to her about her career as a photographer in South Africa, the U.K and all over Africa.
I enjoyed the tents at Kwihala Lodge as they were roomy and comfortable. Hotwater bucket showers were always available. A generator provided power twenty-four hours a day. A gentle breeze cooled off the camp. I really enjoyed the communal didning. I remember that everything served was extremely delicious. The campfires before dinner were delightful.
I saw many giraffes, impalas, buffaloes, jackals, zebras and babbons. I also viewed a black-necked spitting cobra as well as a rarely seen Egyptian mongoose, and both civet and genet. I saw many lions and too many elephants to mention. My guide Lorenzo and his assistant Douadi asked me what I wanted to see and when I responded a klipspringer, they managed to show me two of them. I was fortunate enough to have a Landcruiser the entire time I was there.
I'm an avid birder, so I have to say I was'nt disappointed. As for birds of prey, I was able to see four different species; a Tawny, an African Hawk-Eagle and a Brown Snake Eagle. I also saw a beatiful Eastern-Chanting Goshawk and a lovely Grey Kestrel.
There was no lack of beatiful and graceful aquatic birds as well. I saw a Pied Kingfisher, an African Open-Billed Stork and a Yellow Billed-Stork. I've long enjoyed watching lilac Breasted Rollers and so for this reason, I was delighted to see a little Bee Eater, as well as Rufous Crowned Roller. Another gorgeous bird I observed through binoculars was the Variable Sunbird. The most beautiful bird I saw was the Yellow Collared lovebird, although a Cut Throat Finch was a close contender.
I'm looking forward to another visit to Kwihala but this time in February, or March because I'd love to see bat-eared fox and all the species of immigrant birds. Again, I have to stress that the guiding was superb which is the most important part of any safari.
Excellent stay at Kwihala camp
Thanks to Michelle for being an excellent host,a great camp with a great atmosphere,and very good vegetarian food,and thanks to Festo our guide.Read more about the whole safari
outstanding safari at Kwihala camp
Having already spent three nights in Siwandu, this camp is a perfect compliment. The accommodation is slightly less luxurious, but still excellent and probably more what I was expecting. The landscape is very different, much more open and we covered a lot of ground!
The guides were exceptional, so knowledgeable and passionate and very cleverly made it interesting for our age ranges - 14 to 50. The days were full on, we certainly put the maximum number of hours into the game drives.
The food was excellent and it was interesting to sit on a communal table to dine and share stories, something we hadn't done in Siwandu - again the camps compliment each other, as it was also good to have family meals.
Kwihala Camp and Ruaha heaven on earth.
From start to finish our visit was wonderful.
From our first game drive where we were taught how to track by Festo and Tony there were fantastic viewing of the birds and animals along with informative information and much laughter. Even the early morning cold was quickly forgotten by the time our bush breakfast was served alongside dry riverbeds, watching the antics of baboons, buffalo and humans. Our first close up of leopard. Both Festo and Tony are passionate about the wildlife and Rhuaha National Park and we can see why.
We chose this area because on a previous trip someone had told us he wanted his ashes scattered there as it was such a wonderful place, all four of us are in complete agreement. Sandy and her team provided a great experience.
Kwilhala camp - a great experience
Our first visit to Ruaha and despite some rain at night which had made some areas wet and the grass high we still saw a lot of game.
Our guides, Festo and David were superb, very knowledgeable but also great fun as well. We got very close to elephants and a wonderful pride of lions. The highlight though were the two cheetah brothers that we followed.
Our tent was clean and comfortable, only slight criticism was that the bathroom fittings were rather 'tired'. All the staff were very friendly and helpful, food was good but lunch starters and desserts slightly repetitive.
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.