Reviews of Kwihala Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
I partly chose Kwihala for an 8 night stay based on the based on the comments of Expert Africa's previous guests and I can now say that all the praise of the guiding is completely justified. I have been on many safaris and spent 6 months working in safari camps, and I don't think guiding gets any better than the guiding at Kwihala.
Festo had an answer for every question about any bird or animal, as well as an in depth knowledge of the particular individual animals and prides of lions in Ruaha and their histories. Pietro is extremely passionate, not only about wildlife and conservation but also about his involvement in contributing to the guiding profession by the training of guides. The camaradarie within the team also makes for a fun atmosphere in camp and at mealtimes. I was the first guest of the season and their only guest for the first 5 nights of my stay and their enthusiasm was apparent when I found myself accompanied on a number of my early drives by the entire guiding team of 2 guides and 2 trainees who couldn't wait to get out there and see what had been going on in the 2 months of camp closure (or in Pietro's case, since he left last October).
The game viewing exceeded my expectations for what is, allegedly, not the best time of year . For only the beginning of the dry season I found it already looking very dry with no particularly high grass or thick vegetation. We saw a big male lion on the way from the airstrip followed by leopard and cheetah on my first afternoon drive, and continued with countless lion sightings, glimpses of serval and honey badger, not to mention Ruaha's herds of elephant and buffalo. There was plenty to see and, thanks to Festo, Pietro, Lorenzo and Tony my bird knowledge has improved significantly. Three lion cubs in particular provided numerous highlights including playing in the Mwagusi river bed and climbing a tree, and we also saw lions feeding on buffalo and giraffe. The piece de resistance was on my final morning, when I awoke to sounds of lions killing a warthog about 100 yards from my tent. We were quickly rounded up by Pietro and taken to watch two males (one of which was the aptly named Grumpy) feeding for 2 hours from darkness through sunrise, with the three cubs (Grumpy's offspring) arriving to beg for scraps.
Ruaha is a superb park with a lot to offer and can easily justify a stay the length of mine. It is huge with many different areas and Kwihala has a prime location close to the most productive game viewing area. I asked Festo what different lion prides they saw on a regular basis and I lost count at 10. In my stay we saw lions from 4 of them, as well as a shaky coallition of 4 new young males. The scenery is also very diverse, from the granite kopjes, boulder strewn river beds, to the open spaces of the "small Serengeti" to the wide sand rivers and the shady woodland along the Rufiji River. Best of all, I hardly had to share it with another vehicle.
I think Kwihala is definitely a camp which would be appreciated by experienced safari goers as the guiding is outstanding. Having said that, such enthusiasm is infectious and the three honeymoon couples who arrived during my stay (mostly first timers on safari) seemed to be loving it as much as me.
I would love to come back and see what Kwihala has to offer in "peak" season!
Kwihala Camp: an experience
Kwihala is not "just another" Camp, but has a special substance. It was perfectly managed by Steve, who was also one of the two guides.
Our tent was large and very comfortable, but had no view though. In this time of the year the grass was high and the trees had leaves. We didn´t miss the view, because we scarcely had time to sit on the veranda. We didn´t "spoil" time for relaxing.
The service was excellent. All of the staff took very good care of us. After one day I didn´t recognise my own drawer anymore: I found my clothes folded in neat piles.
The food was being served outside and very good, considering the facilities "in the middle of nowhere".
We especially enjoyed the camaraderie at the dinnertables with lots of jokes and laughter. The different nationalities mixed very well.
Steve was the most knowledgeable guide we ever had. He is very enthusiast and exploring, and eager to share everything he knows and sees. In the vehicle we often landed in the middle of detailled discussions about specifications of birds everybody spotted exept us, which is a very special experience for "non-birders".
The morning drives in Kwihala usually turned out to be long though - up to 8 hours-, which ,we thought, was very heavy. Steve couldn´t stop looking for another lion: maybe around the next corner? As we are not keen birders, Steve suggested that we changed vehicles (and guides) to the more relaxed Festo.
I´m sorry not having written in the guestbook, when we left for our last drive on the way to the airport. 6 AM is not my favorite time of the day. We should have been reminded to write the book the evening before, I think.
Kwihala was a wonderfull and special experience. We wouldn´t have missed it.
Kwihala was the best, easily.
We loved Ruaha, Kwihal & Steve Roskelly.
Great food, service & location. But it was the superb guiding that really made it.
Was nice here to have everything included.
Patti cried when we left!
Kwihala Camp review
Steve Roskelly, our guide was a fount of knowledge & made our stay a truely memorable experience.Read more about the whole safari
Kwihala Camp review
We had an excellent guide called Steve who also enjoyed photography as much as the guests. It really helps that he is well educated and knowledgeable, not only on plants and animals but also on geology.
We saw lots of animals. The rooms, service and food are excellent. The only comment (and possibly complaints) I heard from my daughter and another lady was that, the servants who tidied up the room actually folded their underwear although they are not supposed to touch them.
It was also good to have the all inclusive feature on drinks.
Kwihala Camp review
We very much enjoyed our time here, Ruaha NP was beatifully green and different to Selous.Steve Roskelly was our guide He made our time so interesting he patiently spent time explaining every animal bird and plant we came across,and we had some fantastic siteings.
The highlight had to be Wild Dog we saw a large pack so many it was impossible to count them,they were hunting,one of then caught a Wart Hog piglet, caused alot of excitment hardly a meal for the dog that caught it,one evening a pride of lions were on the move as we were on our way back to camp,it was dark,they were in front behind and to the side of the vehicle they carried on walking for quite a while before turning of into the bush, we also saw Leopard,also the Bat Ear Foxes and lots of Elephant.
The animals seemed more relaxed even the Impalas seem to take time to leave the track as the vehicle approached them.Our tents where clean and comfortable every one was friendly.Early morning tea and coffee was bought to our tent by 6am we we off for 10hrs+ game drives during the day.
This was a first safari for my daughter a 5th for myself,we both enjoyed Kwihala so much thanks to Steve he made so interesting and enjoyable.
Truly outstanding Guide in Steve Roskelly
Steve's knowledge of the wildlife and ability to approach them without disturbing them was outstanding. His complete all-round knowledge of animals, birds, plants, photography and geology were exceptional and made the 5 days really interesting. He also showed a high level of regard for everybody's needs and desires whatever the level of their interest or knowledge. He could not have done more to make the time better.
The wildlife was very good, but the limit on game drives only and some of the roads were impassable to some areas meant we tended to revisit several areas over the 5 days. However, Steve's wonderful sense of humour and keenness made it a wonderful time, even if the weather wasn't as good as Selous!
Kwihala Camp review
You should be complimented on this place - it's a real find! The location and staff were just amazing. The emphasis here is for those with a detailed technical interest in Natural History.
Our guide, Steve Roskelly was a true expert of all things 'bush' and great company at a social level. This camp was more for the specialist/adventure seeker rather than those who would just want to relax and get the occasional game drive. We were organised for 05.30 starts, what a pain, but soon realised that it was essential to get the best out the limited time.
Evening meals to the roar of lions in the vicinity, massive millipedes crawling up the tent walls! The high altitude and damper climate gave a rich diversity of flora and fauna than I have seen on previous safaris with diverse insect and plant life in addition to the usual big game.
The dense bush gave a few surprises - leopard, as we rounded a corner on a dirt road; elephant interrupted in passage at 6m distant with testosterone charged male but we 'escaped' by sitting tight until things calmed; buffalo at close quarters: we felt safe with Steve!
An experience of a lifetime - would love to do it all over again!!
Guiding Superb at Kwihala
Absolutely fantastic. There were only 6 of us there, Stephen the guide was the best guide we have ever had, knew everything and was so enthusastic 100% of the time.
The animals were difficult to spot and not at all like the flat plains where we had previously been. But needless to say we had the best lepoard sighting ever, the female just sat behind the vehicle for a good five to ten minutes. We had elephants mock charging us too which was brilliant now.. (Looking back !) Stephen had told us what to expect previously which is exactly what happened, the vehicle also broke down which was a hoot... no phone reception for any back up and so the lads all got on with pushing it free..... brilliant adventure from start to finish !
The chef at the camp was also just the best.
Kwihala Camp review
We arrived from Selous after a lengthy and interesting flight ,to find a very different environment in Ruaha,much drier with different terrain, with hills and rocky outcrops. It was really very hot,( 39 deg) due to a delay in the rains arriving, and the open position of the camp and tents meant that in the middle of the day we suffered a bit. The camp will be in a new position from next season with better shelter, and I believe fans in the rooms which will be very welcome!
That said the camp is well furnished and the tents are comfortable . Food was excellent, especially considering the remoteness of the camp and the limitations of a "bush kitchen". Communal meals were served in the main mess tent, or just outside in the open.
We saw a huge herd of buffalo on several occasions and many elephants ,including herds with very young calves and a couple of big bulls with impressive tusks. The resident big male Lions proved elusive, though we did get close to a couple of prides and some very young cubs that we watched for quite a long time.
While we were here , we were introduced to a film crew who were fiming a documentary for national geographic about interactions between lions and buffalos. The Ruaha apparently being a good area to observe these. We were told by Marius, the resident manager/guide that there has been a change in the local Lion population with the main pride fragmenting and being much smaller than of late. This has led to problems hunting large prey such as buffalo.
We were very impressed by Marius's skills as a guide with extensive knowledge of much of Africa as well as the Ruaha. We had three seperate leopard sightings, each one being rather brief unfortunately. We also encountered a group of 4 magnificent mature Kudu bulls . Other sightings included a rare glimpse of a serval and two distant cheetah. We spottted many bird species, including Ostrich,bustards,Giant eagle owls, several hawk species and vultures as well as many smaller species.The heat meant that after mid morning sightings were less good as all the wildlife was sheltering from the sun.
We had an early morning walk when we found remains of enormous scorpions and saw columns of big black matabele ants hunting, and looked around the rocky outcrop that will be the sight of the new, possibly permanent camp., which sounds an exciting project with a raised terrace on a rocky outcrop, with 360 deg views over the countryside
In the camp there were many Lizards including bright orange and blue rock agamas which scuttled away as soon as we approached and seemed to be living between the double tent roof layers!
If I had a complaint it would be that considering that much of the time there were only two couples in the camp, it might have been better if two game vehicles were used on the drives to give each couple a more personal experience. We felt that it was a bit of a compromise in our case as the other couple were mostly interested in the birdlife. This is not a serious complaint and it may not have been possible to use two vehicles, due to staffing etc. This being a dry area there were of course no boat activities, but the walk did provide a change.
All in all we had a very good experience in Kwihala, and found the staff to be friendly and helpful,and I am sure that the new camp will be even better.