Nkwali

Reviews of Nkwali

Excellent(96%) From 181 travellers
Excellent
148
Good
30
Average
3
Poor
0
Terrible
0
Below are independent comments from 181 of our travellers who have visited Nkwali, and have kindly agreed to share their thoughts.

They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Mike from Cam
Arrived on: 1-Jul-2018 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Good
Good
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Good
Good
Facilities:
Good
Good

Great camp

Lovely camp and friendly staff. Guide John was fab. Lots of leopard and one wild dog pack seen

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Mr & Mrs S from Oxon
Arrived on: 19-May-2018 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

We love it here!

We were very happy that Shadrak (our guide) was able to accompany us from Luangwa River Camp to Nkwali. He was then able to continue to guide us for the next four days.

It was our fourth visit to Nkwali and we were well received by Kiki and Fred. We really appreciated being given Room 6 - large and luxurious! As ever every thing was wonderful at the camp - with a surprise brunch waiting for us one morning after our game drive.

Thanks go to ALL the staff at Nkwali for making it such a great place to stay.

Special mention must go to Wilson, our spotter, for chameleon location and lots more. Thanks also to Samuel, the boatman who had to punt us across the river on one occasion.

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F from Derbyshire
Arrived on: 19-May-2018 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Nkwali review

I was delighted that Daudi, the manager at Luangwa River Camp, was able to grant our request for Shadrak to continue to be our guide when we moved on to Nkwali. As I noted before, Shadrak had been an excellent guide at Luangwa River Camp and so I felt fortunate that we were going to continue to benefit from his expertise. I also liked the idea of the continuity; Shadrak knew what we had already seen and also our interests.

Shadrak transferred us to Nkwali, which was another great game drive. The highlight of which were very good sightings of African painted dogs and also a pearl spotted owl. Our greeting and introduction to Nkwali was as warm and helpful as had been the one at the River Camp.

The accommodation was fabulous and it was lovely to have views directly over the river. One small point, the reference books available for guests were rather limited and there were none about birds which was a shame.

As at Luangwa River Camp, every game drive revealed yet more delights in the bush. We had further exceptionally good sightings of African painted dogs which were informed by Shadrak's encyclopaedic knowledge of their behaviour. We also saw a black mamba which was a remarkable experience. It could have been a tad alarming but Shadrak handled the situation with calm professionalism and considerable sang froid!

We were joined for the evening drives by Wilson. He is another exceptional skilled spotter. He managed, somehow, to spot a chameleon in a tree, in the pitch dark.

Whilst at Nkwali, I joined one walking safari with Fred. This was equally interesting and informative as the one at Luangwa River Camp.

The food was delicious. I enjoyed sharing our meals with Fred (Kiki was called away after the first day) and some of the guides. It allowed us to extend our discussions and knowledge about the life of the park, the villages and the wider country. All the staff were excellent company.

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Dr C & Mr P from BC
Arrived on: 5-May-2018 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Good
Good
Location:
Good
Good
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Good
Good
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Good
Good
Facilities:
Good
Good

Good game viewing

great game viewing.

Our guide Brantson used a jeep without a cover -- we got drenched one night when caught out on the evening game drive. I felt ponchos should have been in the jeep and offered to us to use if we wished.

Game viewing was good lots of leopard sightings. Brantson was very knowledgable.

The camp manager , Kiki, was excellent--very informative and made everyone feel very welcome.

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Miss P from NL
Arrived on: 1-Apr-2018 Stayed for: 5 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Nkwali

I love everything about Nkwali, it has become one of my favourite camps in South Luangwa. The rooms are lovely, with great views across the river. Kiki is a fantastic host and the team of guides there are really friendly. They had actually arranged for me to have the same guide, Yona, as at Luangwa River Camp which was great as he knew my interests and what birds I'd ticked off my list!

We went to a very interesting talk by the Carnivore researchers on one afternoon before the afternoon drive.

We continued to have great wild dog sightings, including one of a different pack to the one we had been seeing previously.

They dealt very well with a mixed group of guests with quite conflicting interests.

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Mr & Mrs L from Surrey
Arrived on: 4-Mar-2018 Stayed for: 2 nights
Overall:
Good
Good
Location:
Good
Good
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Good
Good
Facilities:
Good
Good

Nkwali

Seeing the river in full flow was most impressive. Unfortunately rain prevented morning game drives but sighting the two leopards on our final drive was a highlight.

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The Sand Martins from Oxon
Arrived on: 2-Mar-2018 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Average
Average
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Welcomed back to Nkwali

Arriving at Nkwali for our sixth visit, we had a wonderful welcome from Kiki and his team. The chalets at Nkwali are spacious and very comfortable, with a fine view directly to the Luangwa river.

It was a delight to see the river so full following the recent rains, and we boated across to meet the vehicles left on the other side.

Seeing so many elephants with their youngsters was a treat, especially when we saw one baby that Kiki estimated was only one week old. The lions Ginger, Garlic and their pride we saw several times. Compared to the dry season, the air is so clear at this time of year that the photos we took show a full spectrum of colours.

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Mr & Mrs SA from Norfolk
Arrived on: 27-Feb-2018 Stayed for: 5 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Nkwali review

Our guide Kiki was again top guy like all RPS's staff and we were treated to great Safaris. While Bertram built a bridge for us to cross a stream Kiki was faced with either us wading through the muddy waters or going back. He was persuaded that we might be old but were not going back. Off came the boots and I suggested trousers as well but this would have been going too far! The resulting "bare foot safari" through the marsh must be a highlight of the holiday and surprisingly yours truly did not fall into the water.
Again we came across a multitude of game and birds...............what a fantastic way to see Africa. We wondered why did we ever come in the dry season since the valley in the wet season is beautiful and packed with all the animals you could wish to see, many with their young

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Mrs & Mr G from Washington
Arrived on: 27-Feb-2018 Stayed for: 5 nights
Overall:
Good
Good
Rooms:
Poor
Poor
Service:
Good
Good
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Terrible
Terrible
Facilities:
Average
Average

Nkwali

Rooms: Open to the elements and wildlife/bugs at all times. Hippo deterrent pulled across the front of the room at night but still open at night at the top. No screens. There are no areas to place clothing in order to unpack except for 2 shelves on each side of the room. There are 4 hangers with 2 being used for robes. Bathroom has a huge shower with 2 shower heads and plenty of hot water. Monkeys and others can get in via wall surrounding shower area. There is remodeling taking place to the bathrooms in each room. The room was adequate but very poor as one had to live out of their suitcase due to lack of a wardrobe. Didn't appreciate baboon spider in the room!

We were able to use our CPAPs but we were surprised that the plugs were British 3 prong plugs. Everything we had read was that Zambia used South African plugs. We were able to use a converter plug provided by host Michael. It might be important to let folks know about the British style plugs! We never found any distilled water.

Service: Very attentive at meals, during activities and in general. Not happy with the way the last day in camp went (see below). We were very surprised to be met at the Lusaka airport by a Robin Pope Safari representative who made sure we were all checked in for the continuing flight to Mfue. What a nice surprise for us.

Food: Breakfast was in the bar area and cooked over an open fire. Good variety of food to include eggs cooked to order, porridge, cereal and fruit. Lunch was in dining area and was a buffet of local dishes to include hot food and salads. Dinner was in the same dining area with dinner being served individually with out asking if one wanted specific items and portions as it was doled out in the kitchen and placed in front of each guest. Dinner was very much a meat and potatoes fare as if catering European meals.

Activities: We went on one of two roads for our drives the five days we were there. Viewing was from a single road through the national park. We did leave camp to drive to the main gate of the park as there were lions seen with a kill. The guides we had, Johnny and Jobi, were very good and very patient. They were very good at spotting animals in the bush like chameleons! We saw Genet almost every day. They were also very good at identifying birds! The night drives revealed very little and should have been cancelled.

Issues we encountered:
1)one afternoon while out on a game drive the clouds were building in front of us. My husband (a pilot) kept telling our guides, that we were in for a storm and time to put ponchos on and seek shelter. They did not listen; we got our own ponchos on and the skies opened up with thunder, lightening, wind and driving rain. Pat was soaked to her skin in spite of a poncho. She said the rain pelting her arms and face hurt so much so that we wondered if there was ice in the rain. The guide, Johhny, was driving and picked up speed. At one point the back end of the car was slipping in the mud and there were visions in Pat's head of dying in a flipped over car in Zambia! We ended up at Chichele Presidential Lodge. Others from our camp were already there as their car had no lid on it (their request) yet they were not soaked to the bone as they beat the storm by one minute to the lodge . We ended up having sundowners in the lodge. This was not a good game drive!

2) We had very heavy rains which we know are normal for the time of year we visited. It was very interesting to watch the river rise and to watch the current change to extremely swift with large trees floating by. The camp used an aluminum boat with 13 seats and one 60 hp engine. As the river became higher and swifter the crossings over to the park were becoming dangerous, especially the return from the afternoon/ night drives. It meant returning back across the river in the dark. The last evening we were there was the worst crossing. There were 11 adults in the boat, including the driver and a staff member (Micheal) holding a torch (flashlight) to see what was in the water. The engine was laboring as we were overloaded (was told we were okay as there are 13 seats in the boat!) and the current was trying to push the boat sideways down river. We thought if the engine quit the boat would end up down stream or worse capsized.

Pat addressed our concerns about the lack of safety measures that were in place with hosts Michael and Kiki. She brought up the subject first with Kiki by stating there should be a "kicker" engine on the boat should the main engine fail. He was very sarcastic with his comments by asking if all boats in America have 2 engines. We explained that we are boat people and yes, boats which ply waters with tides and currents do indeed have 2 engines. He then said "this only happens two or three times a year". He stated that the boat was not overloaded as there were 13 seats. We informed him load is based on weight not seats. He also said there were paddles on the boat. which we were surprised about as no one mentioned it previously. He said there were two paddles, one for the driver and one for another staff member. We said there was no way that boat would be able to be paddled in those waters. He said the paddles would be used for steering! He also said they only encountered this kind of situation a couple times a year. We mentioned it only takes one capsizing to have a disastrous ending for guests and for Robin Pope Safaris.
And then there is the issue of life vests. There was one on each chair that were in pretty sad condition. While all the guests wore life vests the staff did not. They did not fit well enough to buckle and some of the buckles were missing.
This boat transportation is a disaster looking to happen. Someone needs to pay attention and review the issues with crossing the S. Luangwa River.

3) Our last day at camp did not end very well. We were booked on a flight at 1740 that afternoon. After breakfast, Michael, came to us and said we needed to vacate our lodge as they needed it for a couple coming in who were sick and might need a doctor. Michael jokingly said perhaps one of the British couples, who were leaving on the same flight, might want to share their lodge with us. At which point the British couple were apoplectic about having to share their lodge with an American couple! We quickly packed our bags and were out of our room by 10a. We saw the couple who was supposedly sick arrive in the camp. When they arrived they were at the bar having a beverage, went to our/their lodge and returned later to go on a safari drive. Guess they were not very sick! We sat in the main camp area, by the bar, with our baggage until our van transportation left the camp at 1600.

As you can imagine this camp was an experience we would rather forget. The camp had 7 British individuals who basically turned their backs on us at meal time. One of them got stuck with riding with us in our vehicle on a game drive. She later told Scott that we weren't so bad after all. Really? The individuals were seasoned safari folk with some having been to the Robin Pope Safari camps 7-9 times. They even mentioned Claire at Expert Africa's London office who did their bookings.

Sadly we would not recommend this lodge to anyone based on our experiences.

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Expert Africa comments

Expert Africa is sorry that these travellers did not enjoy the open nature of the rooms at Nkwali Camp. We should have asked a few more questions to find out if this accommodation style was suitable, and in hindsight we are sorry we didn’t. We have also take on board their comment about it being useful to know that Nkwali uses british plug points rather than South African ones.

The team at Nkwali Camp extended their apologies to these guests for the issues they encountered. The outcome of being stuck in a rain storm and the manager making light of their safety concerns has been discussed with the individuals concerned and learned from.

The team at Nkwali apologised that these guests felt unnecessarily evicted from their room early on the last day. The camp team had received a report that the incoming guest was sick and did what they felt best given the information that they had.

The Robin Pope Safaris operations manager explains that the boating operations have been in existence at Nkwali without incident for the last 15 years. During that time the only thing that they have changed is to upgrade the boats from 22 foot banana boats to more stable and more comfortable flat bottomed aluminium craft. Each boat has direct radio communications with the main office and this system is there for emergencies. The flat-bottomed aluminium boats are designed specifically for the Luangwa River, and the reason for the 60hp engines is so the craft do not go too fast on the river. He adds that an auxiliary engine on a relatively fast flowing river is not an option. But that upgrading the auxiliary engine to another same size engine poses weight issues.

Instead, because the river is relatively shallow, poling poles are part of each boat so that the boats can be poled to the bank in case of engine failure. This has been tried and tested and he assures us that it works well. So the procedure in case of engine failure is to steer to the side. Get the boat to the bank and radio camp to come with the other boat to pick up guests.

Nkwali Camp has taken steps to check and upgrade the life jackets they use. They have ordered new life jackets that will be in place for the next Green Season, when the boat crossing will be utilised once more. There are also steps in place to better monitor the ongoing condition of the life jackets.

Prof & Mrs C from Derbys
Arrived on: 17-Jan-2018 Stayed for: 16 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Nkwali review

As always we were very well looked after. Nothing is ever too much trouble.

The guides are still very well trained and ever willing to discuss the days programme.

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