Reviews of Kaingo Camp
Wildlife sightings and reviews
186 independent comments and wildlife information from our travellers who have visited Kaingo Camp and kindly agreed to share their thoughts. They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa
"Kaingo Camp review"
The camp itself was OK, the idea of a private dinning area on the river for each bungalow is certainly very nice. We would have preferred "would and straw" rooms (as everywhere else) to concrete built ones whereas at the same time it is the only place where we had plumbing problems (the water taking ages to drain out of the shower).
The activities were disappointing, we were not allowed to go to the elephant crossing point on day 1 (apparently there were too many people wanting to get there) and this activity was simply canceled on day 2. Apart from lions, the night drives did not show anything, the staff was significantly and obviously less experienced that Remote Africa's, in fact on the second night the spotter was a room attendant.
When we stopped for a sundown drink, someone found a lower jaw of a crocodile (so distinctive) which was identified as .... maybe an hippo!!!. As far as their driving was concerned, it was absolutely clear that they were going far too fast to be successful in spotting wildlife.
Would we go back? no.
" See all these reviews: 11n in Zambia
When Margaret asked about this Brian the manager brushed the matter aside. Brian was unimpressive in dress and even more so in his management which was noticeable at times by its absence. We were half way through our second course at dinner one night (neither Brian nor Michelle were at the table) and no wine had been offered. When Russell complained a Zambian guide offered to bring him some wine and it was suggested he should bring it for the whole table. After the first glass we had to ask for another one because it was not offered. Brian's explanastion the next morning was that we should have helped ourselves. This might be the American way but it is not the British way, nor the South Luasngwa Valley way.
Food - poor - Food came quite frequently but was not in any way comparable with the Robin Pope expereince. For one thing it was already dished out onto our plates at dinner and there was not a great deal of it on the plates, and neither of us are big eaters. The standard of cooking was not high and on game drives at sundowners the nibbles were very poor and always the same.
Guiding - we had Ian, a newly qualified guide for some drives and he was excellent - knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and one drive with Gronwe who was also very good. Unfortunately most of our drives were with Derek Shenton who appeared to be completely disinterested in communicating his knowledge with his guests. In fact the first time we went out with him, with other guests in the vehicle, for the first 25 minutes after leaving camp he did not say a word to any of us. We always stopped for 5 minutes to watch the same hippo in a pool. On 2 occasions he had an old university friend in the passenger seat and the majority of the drive they spent chatting together, which obviously distracted him from guiding his visitors. It was as if we were an inconvenience although away from guiding he was very friendly and courteous.
We did have our best lion sighting at a kill while with him, but it had originally been found by another guide. After 2 days Russell suggested to Margaret that he try to move on to Nkwali because he was not enjoying the experience. There was a French couple often with us, Alain and Bridget, who live in Bedford and who booked through you who could confirm what we say. This was not a pleasant experience.
One plus point was that there were short wooden ladders for guests to use to get in and out of the vehicles, including when out on game drives, which was marvellous for ageing joints. This is something other camps could emulate." See all these reviews: 14n in Zambia
Michele and Bryan could not have done more to make our stay a real pleasure and the drive with Derek Shenton was excellent as he understands what photographers/videographers need by way of light and positioning. The guides, ours were Mayam and Gondwe , were very good and did all they could to help get us the best shots and video film. We especially enjoyed the night safaris and had some great Leopard and Lion sightings including some 16 Lions drinking togther at a water hole.
The much advertised hides are superb. We used both the Hippo and Bird hides to great effect especilly when two male Hippos had an almighty fight right in front of us. A relatively new feature is for each room to have its own deck overlooking the river and this was a superb way of relaxing after the morning drive and having lunch privately.
The accommodation is not new but very comfortable. The only down side is washing in safe, but brown water. At first it felt that daily life was organised round the food of which there was plenty (too much?) and not the wildlife ,but Michele responded to this and made changes.However we could not help but wonder if a buffet style of meal would be helpful in that tourists could choose how much they wanted and it might also mean that Michele and Bryan would have an undisturbed meal occiasionally instead of waiting on us.
The main problem I had was with being placed in a truck with what I call maching gun photographers. Video which is my main choice and makes no impact on photographers, but photographers can and did ruin video soundtrack by the noise of their shutter in burst mode. There is no easy answer to thus unless you have your own truck. Even if the camp has enough vehilces the cost is often prohibitive. I discussed this with derek Shenton who undertood the problem and changes of seating were made where possible but this issue is something which other camps might think about when deciding who goes on which truck. Equally I should ahve been more explicit in the planning." See all these reviews: 12n in Zambia
"Kaingo Camp review"
The new individual viewing decks sitting over the river where you can have lunch are a great place to relax and recharge the batteries after the early morning starts.
The food was of a very high standard and the team at the camp were very friendly and helpful. Ian, Michele, Brian and our guide Mayam went out of their way to make our stay as memorable as possible, down to having breakfast in the Ebony Grove one morning follwing the early morning game drive and then to a champange sundowner at the stork colony on our last evening.
Mayam's guiding was excellent, finding leopards on our first two nights and then finishing off with the Hollywood pride of lions on our last night. The hippo hide is another wonderful experience, getting really up close and personal with these huge beasts was quite daunting.
Can't wait to come back !!" See all these reviews: 9n in Zambia
"Once again perfection at Kaingo"
It has very much a feel of a family and as such is very relaxing but with excellent guides. On this visit each chalet had its own river veranda which was a nice new touch although the chairs on them whilst very comfortable were not built for little people!!
We cannot recommend this camp too much." See all these reviews: 17n in Zambia
"Photographers delight at Kaingo Camp"
One of us was an avid amateur photographer and we both hoped to have extended encounters with leopards, the only one of the "big 5" that neither of us had seen at length in the wild. Most past reviews had indicated that wildlife viewing was excellent in the area of this camp area and in particular leopards sightings were very common. In fact the camp boasts a 95% sighting success rating. In addition Kaingo Camp had an excellent reputation of catering to photographers of all levels to include the use of a number of superb photo blinds. Within an hour of our first drive we could be included in the 95% of people who saw leopard with an extended sighting of a mother and cub in the late afternoon. We had two additional extended encounters at night over the next three nights of our stay.
Combined with those superb photo blinds our experience was excellent. Our guide Patrick always was accommodating to our needs and as we were the only people in the vehicle he helped us to mold the experience to fit our interest with extended visits in the hides, a great walking safari and of course the previously noted leopard sightings.
Added to that was the friendly family feel of the camp as a whole. Kaingo operates inside the park in a beautiful location along the Luangwa River. Power at night was provided by solar power and kerosene lanterns giving the camp at pleasant unpretentious rustic feel. With no generator to interfere with the night sounds you felt you were in a private remote location deep in the bush. But all amenities were still provided for with excellent meals and comfortable lodging including a lovely outdoor bathtub overlooking the river outside our chalet.
Traveling in October we were advised it would be hot. The vehicles were open top (there was an option for a top but we preferred not to have the top to improve game viewing and photography) so one must use protection from the sun. While it was hot and dusty on the trail and the landscape rather barren it was never unpleasant and it made the game viewing that much better as the animals congregated near the water holes. It was still warm at night but we had no trouble sleeping because the active schedule made you ready for a good nights sleep! (I recommend a silk sleep sack which was all the cover I needed at night. I wonder if a solar powered ceiling fan is possible? It would be a nice addition to help with the heat).
In fact another plus at Kaingo was the willingness to conduct 3 activities a day rather than the usual two. You don't have to do three but this was perfect for us as we have never been big fans of the prolonged mid day down times at other safari camps we have stayed in. Instead we spent mid day in the "elephant hide", built up in the trees, each day and had one particularly exciting day when a herd of elephants walked directly beneath us in the hide on their way to the river. Even when it was relatively quiet the elephant hide and the new river deck are great locations to spend time during the day between the morning and evening safaris.
If we were to have one small quibble it would be with the solar panels which were scattered about camp collecting power during the day. They didn't cause us any problem but they did detract a bit from the overall appearance of the camp which was otherwise very pleasant." See all these reviews: 7n in Zambia
"Kaingo Camp review"
The hippo and carmine bee eater hides are a great way to see them up close.
This is a camp for people who really like being on safari rather than lots of luxurious frills.
" See all these reviews: 10n in Zambia; 3n in South Africa
"Kaingo Camp review"
A lot of great activities that make you explore very well the area and see a lot of game. I'd like to thank everybody for the warm welcome and company.
The food was absolutely delicious and indeed too much!" See all these reviews: 12n in Zambia
The hides (one of the key reasons we chose the camp) are a short drive away from the camp, and a visit makes up the "third" (midday) activity. This makes for a long day, with little opportunity for a midday siesta (we're not complaining!). The hippo hide and the elephant crossing hide in particular were superb, and we could have happily stayed in each all day. Nice "small" touches - bean bags and dust covers for the cameras (the Shenton camps were the only ones to provide these).
Being a photographer herself, Freya was very conscious of good positioning of the vehicle, optimising use of the available light. As our main interest was in photography, this helped enormously in ensuring great drives. Meals were excellent, although we felt sorry for the camp staff on several occassions when only a couple of us turned up for lunch. Derek and Jules were very welcoming, and we were delighted to have been in camp while Marianne Shenton was there - what a lady!
Highlights - the buffalo kill, the tree climbing lions, the leopard sightings, the hippo and elephant hides, the relaxed hyena, the buffalo "stampede", watching the tiny elephants trying to use their trunks, the porcupines and gennets, and the walk to Mwamba - this is a "must do". If there was a grade above "Excellent" Kaingo would receive it!" See all these reviews: 12n in Zambia
"Kaingo - Loved The Hides"
Probably the most beatiful part of the Lower Luanga, but also the busiest area that we went to - 2/3 vehicles from Kaingo, plus Norman Carr Safaris (and others?).
Very disappointed with the antics of one of the Norman Carr vehicles which charged in whilst two of Shenton's vehicles were quietly watching a Leopard Hunting. It was made quite clear - lights off or with infrared when on, and warning indicators - that something was happening and the need to approach with care. In stead they charged in and the Leopard lost its prey having been just about to strike.
Excellent guiding from Patrick and Freya.
" See all these reviews: 10n in Zambia
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