Reviews of Mwamba Bushcamp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Mwamba's Last Waterhole Hide was Fantastic
The variety of wildlife visiting Mwamba's last waterhole was incredible! It would have been wonderful to be allowed to come and go as desired, as the hide is very near the rooms. There were times when all was quiet and the heat stifling inside the hide, but with prearranged guide pick-up and deliveries, often we would wait drooping, only to have activity flare just when we were expected to leave. But the experience here was awesome--many of the animals would come within feet of where we were sitting, some with very deliberate eye-contact. Bushbuck, waterbuck, impala, puku, and kudu would come to drink, very skittish, singly and in small groups. Small elephant families drank, bathed, rolled, and dust-bathed. Birdlife was abundant. Two very old hippos appeared to be spending their few remaining days muddying the waters. Though midday light is the worst for photography, we came away with some excellent images taken here.
Maybe it was the heat, and it was HOT, or maybe the nightly elephant raids on the kitchen robbed the staff of sleep, but the staff seemed tired. Only Zimba, an older gentleman who served our meals and helped out around camp, always greeted us with a welcoming smile. The camp manager was continuously warning us of the dangers lurking, not allowing a moment's relaxation or pleasant 'goodnight' in our doorway at night before closing the door, daring us not open it until after the morning drum-roll. We were made to feel almost like prisoners . . .
We felt the guides here were overly interested in cat sightings, often passing other wildlife we'd have been delighted to watch. One afternoon/evening we spent hours bouncing and jarring cross-country. If we'd known they were anticipating lions going after buffalo, we'd have shared in the excitement of such a possibility. As it was, I just hurt. Upon arriving back at camp, I asked that we might go for a walk in the morning--nope, too little staff. I suggested maybe I remain in camp enjoying the hide, again, nope, gotta go out on a drive. Luckily the other couple in camp opted for a shorter drive, and allowed me the front seat where the ride would be smoother. Unfortunately, I misinterpreted bushcamp to mean there would be an emphasis on walking, not so.
We also found on the afternoon/evening drives, the guides and scouts would converse extensively between themselves, not hearing questions or requests to stop. But, the scouts were worth their weight in gold once the sun went down, finding any number of interesting subjects to look at.
The food was generally excellent, though I did get a really slimy salad one-day for lunch. There was a two-day period where we were served eggs breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and although the eggs are of very high quality--unlike American supermarket eggs--and prepared in a different manner for each meal, it did become rather boring. If it was because of the heat or elephant raids spoiling intended meals, fine, otherwise I would suggest alternating with the heavier meals.
We had a great game drive transfer back to Kaingo with guide Mayem. Whether it was because we were his only guests, or he was headed towards a few days off, his attitude was much better than on the couple of previous drives he'd taken us on. He was more talkative, sharing his wealth of knowledge, working hard to position the vehicle so we had the best light and angle on different animals. All-in-all we felt Mayem was an excellent guide, supposing his initial lethargy might only have reflected his being overly tired, as indicated by the camp manager. The guides do work long hours, with minimal time off, during the relatively short safari season in this area.
I hope our experience with Mwamba's manager was unusual. This should be an awesome little camp, but unfortunately during our stay there was a tense undercurrent which prevented our entire enjoyment and relaxation.
Nichols at Mwamba
An excellent small camp. Although the accommodation is essentially a grass hut, it has all the facilities necessary and if there is the occasional frog sharing your bedroom, it's all part of the experience. If you prefer five star hotels, this isn't the holiday for you.
The guided walks were the highlight. You get closer to the animals when you're in a car but walking through the bush is a completely different experience. We were there in mid-October and it has to be said that with the temperature at around 38 degrees, some might find it excessively hot. By the time we got back from a walk at 10.00 a.m. we were all ready for a cold shower.
It did mean, however, that the animals congregated around the available water and were much easier to spot.
The hide, overlooking a waterhole, attracted much wildlife, with elephants approaching very close to the hide.
The drives were also very productive, with us encountering a leopard within 30 minutes of setting out on our first drive.
Considering the limited cooking facilities, the food was very impressive.
A very pretty bush-camp with a hide close by. There were more insects here than anywhere else we stayed; I got a lot of bites.
The staff were very helpful and even did laundry for us on our last day (when we were leaving just after lunch). We would have liked to have walked on our last morning, but there was no guide available for that (the game-drive took priority). Again, no walking available in the afternoons.
After a river crossing by canoe we were met by Vickson for the drive in. On arrival we were enthusiastically greeted by Izzy, who helped us settle in. Our first activity was a visit to the water hole hide, just beside our hut/chalet. In this particularly dry year there was plenty of game - elephants drinking and bathing, impala, and the shy kudu, as well as all the birds, and the ever-present baboons. That same day the afternoon game drive brought us face to face with buffalo, giraffe, zebra and lots of birds.
Animal encounters were more than just those viewed from a vehicle or hide. One night we were kept awake by the deep breathing of the elephant, which chose to doze right outside our chalet. In fact we didn't get our usual bucket of hot water for the shower that morning, as the elephant was still in the way! And we will never forget the bushbuck that almost joined us for lunch on our veranda one day.
The guides and scouts/spotters at Mwamba deserve special mention. Meyam and Vickson are just so knowledgeable, and impart that expertise with such good humour, always making it seem fresh to them every time even though they must have seen many of the sights and activities day after day.
Animals and birds loved the Mwamba Hide
We had great game viewing at Mwamba both on walking and vehicle safaris. Our guide from Kaingo came with us and continued to excel. A highlight was the hide in the Mwamba camp. Great birds every morning and and an amazing afternoon when 300 buffalo arrived just before a heard of elephants. Pushing, shoving ,trumpeting till the elephants won, the hippo slept though it while the fish eagle just continued catching fish. We also saw very young Hyena and lion cubs on drives
The location of the tents were great and we loved the en suite facilities. the rooms were good but ours got hot in the middle of the day. We loved a shared lunch watching the animals especially the elephant visitors to camp.
The food like Kaingo was great and just came coming. Its a good job we were doing a daily working safari. Dinners around the the table at night were always enjoyable The camp was very friendly and well run.
If possible better than Kaingo
At Mwamba you feel even more than at Kaingo that you're truly in the bush. It has to do with the unique way the huts are constructed and their open air showers. The huts may be basic but they are certainly comfortable and there is plenty of hot water.
I really appreciated the hide built above the water hole. I saw plenty of wildlife from the hide as well as birds including the very beautiful Lillian's lovebirds. I also have to say it was a great pleasure to visit the Carmine Bee eater's hide,
The manager Marlene is a wonderful person who couldn't be kinder or more helpful. Furthermore she loves the bush and is well liked and respected by all of her staff.
I loved walking at Mwamba. We usually walked for three and a half hours each morning which includes my initial walk from Kaingo to Mwamba. I discovered that sometimes you see more wildlife walking than from the vehicle. My guides Andy and Patrick are without a doubt some of the best and most experienced in South Luangwa National Park or anywhere in Africa for that matter.
It is also true of my guide Meyam at Kaingo Camp. I have to say that Patrick is one of the funniest people that I've ever met; I was constantly cracking up.
The night drives were also superb. I finally saw a serval which has long been on my list of dream animals. I also saw two honey badgers, more leopards and a pride of lions tearing apart a zebra. I will definitely return to South Luangwa National Park.
Bushcamp luxury at Mwamba
Mwamba is a very special place, and this year's improvements - new decorations in the rooms and excellent food (on par with Kaingo) - make it feel much more luxurious than the tag "bushcamp" suggests.
As at Kaingo, excellent game viewing and guiding.
Great safari at Mwamba
The Bushcamp was in a fantastic location - we walked there from Kaingo, and as we approached Mwamba it was amazing to think we would be staying there. As with Kaingo, the food and hospitality were brilliant. It was especially good to keep the same guide (Yorum) for the two camps. Not only was he brilliant, but it meant that he knew what we had already seen and had already been told about.
The drives were great. Highlights were seeing lions with their young cubs. The camp felt a 'real' bush experience - especially the night we were all woken by the hyenas howling just outside our door! Cannot fault the camp at all.
Great guiding/cats galore-- staff on leave ?
Grading the aspects of location/rooms of Mwamba is somewhat misleading. It is a bushcamp to the riverside Kaingo. It has everything a bushcamp needs.
The one real downgrade was the food. Although we believe still cooking over wood--- an achievement in itself-- we wondered whether the absence of camp hostess Lorraine and the head cook at Mwamba, at the same time as the Shentons from Kaingo had an effect. This in spite of heroic efforts by Izzy and particularly Evonne to cover. It is impossible for 2 to cover the work of 4 hostesses without minor cracks showing in a usually flawless environment.
As it happened for us it was more than made up by the way the guiding allocation turned out. Another family wanted primarily to drive and were allocated an excellent driver/guide from Kaingo.
This left us with the camps chief guide+scout for 4days which for us with complete walking/driving freedom was ideal with outstanding game viewing. Our thanks to Evonne/Izzy for sorting the last morning's guide allocation and to Manem/Gabriel/Peter for being brilliant guides.
Mwamba Bushcamp review
A truly wild experience, total silence apart from the birds & animals. Amazing food produced from a bush kitchen. We even had
A picnic lunch down by a lagoon watching all the comings & goings of the bush.
Our guide was very knowledgable about all aspects of our surroundings and we had the same guide for our 4 nights at kaingo
And 3 at Mwamba which was nice. Rooms great but bucket shower water did run out before we had finished because we often only had 1 bucket of water delivered instead of 2 so had a bracing cold rince.