Reviews of Kaingo Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Ebony forest magic
We were the first guests of the season at Kaingo and could not have asked for more. We only had two nights here which was not long enough to take advantage of all the hides.
We were picked up after a canoe transfer from Tafika camp and hardly had time to settle in the land cruiser before we spotted a leopard. This set the scene for the rest of the game drives which were guided by Sylvester (Sly) who was very knowledgeable and good fun.
We felt thoroughly spoilt by Carly, Issy and team.
Fantastic Finaly with Kaingo
We had guide Mayem to ourselves for transfer from Mwamba to Kaingo, and for our last day's drive at Kaingo. What a difference this made in the willingness to listen, and find what we wanted. His knowledge and motivation became a great asset. Camp manager Izzy was also instrumental in sending us out without other guests, so that we could concentrate on the Thornicroft giraffe, Crawshay zebra, and Cookson wildebeest, which were my primary reason for visiting Zambia--I wanted to capture these animal's unique coat patterns.
Guide Andrew, with his fabulous smile and unending enthusiasm and knowledge, drove us to the airport, by way of the Mfuwe secondary school. (I don't know how much celebrating Zambia's Independence day had to do with all the smiles we saw passing through town, but it was so nice to witness instead of the usual tension seen associated with western life). The large herds of wildlife along the road driving out was a safari in itself. Andrew made sure we stayed on schedule, and was very supportive and helpful when the power went out at the airport--we would have felt bewildered without him. Kaingo had sent us with drink and sandwiches--much appreciated during our wait.
Despite not feeling the same degree of inconclusiveness and relaxation of our previous camp stays, Shenton Safaris has a spectacular location and I would certainly go back for the wildlife, although I would want to reserve a private guide/vehicle.
Note: there is a discrepancy between Shenton Safaris encouraging up to $20-day tip for guides, and Expert Africa's suggestion of up to $10-day.
Stunning Location Overflowing with Wildlife
I had great expectations, and unfortunately Shenton Safaris fell short. I find myself sounding harsh, but this is only in comparison to the other camps we visited which far exceeded our expectations, so I'm not saying these camps are a poor choice, only that the relaxed inclusive atmosphere of the previous camps was somewhat lacking.
Kaingo has a beautiful location with large old-growth trees along the Luangwa River, offering spectacular diversity of wildlife. But, for all their emphasis on photography, I found our previous camps' guides more aware and accommodating to our photographic desires and needs. Too much emphasis here was placed on timing, such as a 'special sundowner', which had us flying past wildlife and great landscapes with the full-moon rising, only to watch the sunset in a dull location lacking inspiration.
Upon our arrival, an excited guide took us down to the hippo hide as a crocodile appeared eager for a meal. It was fun to watch it dig itself in, lying stealthily only feet from where many animals were coming to drink. Unfortunately, or not, the crocodile never did strike during the week we were with Shenton Safaris. The road to the hippo hide seemed always thick with a wide variety of wildlife, so no resting on the drive to-and-fro.
We spent one-night in the elephant hide, and though it was my best night's sleep of our trip, having pulled back all the nets it was relatively cool and I loved the silence broken only by the wildlife (and a BBC truck at 1am!), it would be much more rewarding if there was more time actually spent at the hide--maybe a picnic dinner? But only being there for a few hours (and needing some sleep), I feel it wasn't worth the additional cost, and I certainly wouldn't do it again. Maybe the Mwamba camp-out would be a better option.
Kaingo has decks overlooking the river in front of each room which is a wonderful place to enjoy the environment from; lunches are brought here in an ice chest with a selection of drinks each day--very enjoyable. But I missed having a veranda adjacent to the room, where I could enjoy each morning's arrival. The chalets are solidly built, and I also found myself also missing the openness of our previous chalets.
We had a wonderful walk to Mwamba with guide Andrew who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
Superb location in the South Luangwa valley!
Great camp location right on the river with access to 3 hides in the area. Guiding is top notch, special mention to Patrick for the drives and Andrew for the walks, both are extremely knowledgeable, patient and focussed on their clients. You slip quickly in to the camp routine which, for some, may be a little regimented, with pretty strict adherence to a timetable for meals, activities etc. We had the opportunity to meet and spend time with Derek Shenton the owner who took us to see Mwamba Bush Camp, a really nice guy who is clearly passionate about the South Luangwa Valley and it's wildlife.
The thatched chalets are well furnished and comfortable with excellent en suite facilities, the private deck overlooking the river is a bonus! The central lounge, dining and bar area is comfortable, roomy and stylish and a large communal deck over the river provides another spot for relaxation and afternoon tea. Food was excellent with plenty of it and we noted the camp's ability to provide alternatives for those with special dietary needs etc Battery, phone charging facilities are available as is a small shop. The camp staff are very helpful and attentive.
As our visit was towards the end of the dry season there was plenty of game congregated around the available water, we had many memorable sightings both on foot and on game drives. The 3 hides are also a must visit during the day between the morning and late afternoon activities. Clearly a popular camp with serious photographers we enjoyed the company of a multinational set of guests which changed almost daily during our stay, when both Kaingo and Mwamba were full, the guide, ranger and vehicle resources became a little stretched, resulting in a slightly more prescriptive approach to what activities were being organised for us, it took some negotiation and persuasion to alter the camp's plans for us on one morning!
Overall an excellent experience, great location, superb guiding, top notch wildlife viewing, comfortable, well organised camp with good food and hosting.
Superlative guiding at Kaingo
Fantastic staff at this camp who made us very welcome on arrival and by the time we left we felt like part of the family. Yvonne is an excellent manager who went out of her way to make sure people felt at home and were enjoying themselves. Andrew is an excellent guide who is a natural teacher and has an amazing knowledge of the animals, birds and plants. Great fun as well. Interesting hides which made a good midday activity.
The bedrooms could do with some serious maintenance - particularly compared with other camps we stayed at. Some of the netting of the windows had tears/splits - one quite a large hole. There was one minute fan which was so noisy that it couldn't be used at night and was useless anyway. The pressure in the shower was poor. There was an outside bath but one needed to ask for the water to be heated 1/2 hour in advance. The private deck is a lovely idea.
The communal areas are excellent - including a lovely lower deck by the river where afternoon tea was served. Main area comfortable and welcoming.
Breakfast after the morning game drive was excellent but somewhat snack-like lunches, served in a box on the private deck, were not very good. This arrangement was presumably to provide flexibility in when one ate and to allow the staff time off, but it would have been better to leave chilled, covered bowls of food in the communal area and allow people to help themselves. Evening meals were good. Lovely surprise breakfast in the ebony grove.
A fitting finale
This time we reversed the order in which we stayed at Kaingo and Mwamba, deliberately choosing to keep Kaingo till last. This was because of its superb location on the bank of the Luangwa - what better place to have your lunch than on your own private deck overlooking the river, watching elephant, giraffe and antelope on the other bank, while hippos, crocs and various birds kept us engaged the whole time closer by.
Game viewing throughout our stay was excellent, and we were lucky enough to have Andrew as our guide. His detailed knowledge of the lions we saw, and interpretation of their activities, added an extra dimension to our enjoyment. Besides the lions Andrew's skills also brought us multiple encounters with leopards, both by day and at night. With all the animals we saw, Andrew placed our vehicle in the best position for photography, whilst at the same time taking every care not to distract them.
Beautiful river location
We enjoyed Kaingo very much - especially the setting, the individual decks overlooking the river, and the smart decor of the houses. Our guide, Patrick, was very good and even found us an aardvark. We also had a brilliant guide (Andrew) walking us from Kaingo to Mwamba. The hides were also extremely good, especially the hippo hide.
By comparison with Tafika, however, Kaingo (and Mwamba) felt more regimented. Walking was given less of a priority (e.g. it wasn't possible to walk in the afternoons). They also didn't allow quite enough time for people to shower/change before dinner after coming in the from the game drive (20 minutes wasn't really enough for us, so we felt a bit rushed). Having had a full breakfast at the start of the day at Tafika, Chikoko and Croc, I found it difficult to adjust to having just a muffin before the morning activity. But these are very small quibbles.
Out of Africa experience at the elephant hide
When we saw the Kaingo elephant hide during the day we wondered about our night there. However we relaxed when after dinner we went to spend a night there.
It was a beautiful night just before full moon. The bed had been made up beautifully and the whole area was covered in a great big mosquito net. Old suitcases were used for storage and the whole effect was fantastic, The bottle of Amarula was a nice touch, together with coffe, tea and water. A wonderful night
Great game viewing at Kaingo
Our excellent game viewing started on the journey from the airport. It continued right through our trip and reached a pinnacle on the last evening when after watching lion, we then had two good leopard sightings before we peaked by seeing an aardvark. Guiding from Sly, Patrick and others was of a high standard. We liked the hippo, elephant and bee-eater hides
The room was great and we loved our private deck overlooking the river from which we watched birds,hippos and crocks. We had daily visits from bush buck and the monkeys loved our hammock. Food was of a high standard, but never ending in its supply, we seemed to move from one meal or snack to the next, all day long
Service was very friendly, professional and we got all the activities we asked for. A lot of keen photographers were in camp and if photography is your interest then this camp is for you.
What impressed us most was the help, support and concern shown when one of us became ill during the night at the elephant hide. You could not fault Maxwell's and other's response. Forunately next morning there was a full recovery
This was my second stay at Kaingo and was again fabulous. Everything was superb especially the guiding. It was nice that Derek Shenton was in camp and we all got know him. He has an excellent sense of humor.
The cottages were very comfortable. I enjoyed staying out one night in the elephant hide and listening to all the sounds of the bush. The food was excellent and we were served no less than seven times a day.
I saw a pride of young lions inexpertly kill a buffalo, they began eating it when it was still alive and struggling. The poor beast's face had been torn off. I then watched two male lions fight when a young male attempted to join the pride. The younger one ran off.
I also watched two hippos fight until the younger one retreated.
The night drives were as expected the best one can have in Africa. I saw leopards two night out of three nights I was here,as well as genets, civets, porcupines, owls and more.