Kanga Bush Camp

Kanga Bush Camp: Our full report

Rooms
6 tented chalets
Traveller's rating
Excellent (92%) From 13 reviews
Children
Best for ages 16+
Open
1st April to 31st October

Situated in one of the most remote parts of Mana Pools National Park, Kanga Camp lies next to the isolated Kanga Pan. Unlike other camps in the park, Kanga is about 15km from the Zambezi River (as the eagle flies), and therefore has a different feeling.

During the safari season in Mana Pools National Park (April to November), the wildlife tends to move towards the permanent Zambezi River to find a reliable water source. Taking advantage of this game-rich area, the majority of camps in the park have been constructed along the riverbank, but Kanga Camp has taken a different approach. The property lies in the bush next to the eponymous Kanga Pan, which is the only source of water in the area. As surface water dries up, the pumped waterhole entices game from the parched surrounding regions, providing superb game viewing in a largely exclusive environment.

Having upgraded from a simple bushcamp in 2011, Kanga Camp now consists of six tented chalets, raised up on wooden platforms, set discreetly around the edge of the pan. Far from the traditional image of a 'tent', these are solidly built structures with substantial timber frames supporting canvas walls and roofs, with floor-to-ceiling mesh windows allowing in natural light. In the evening, solar lights supplements the traditional gas lanterns.

Inside, large double or twin beds form the centrepiece of each tented chalet. Canvas headboards form a partition between the bedroom and the bathroom, with space behind for wooden shelves and a hanging rail. The en-suite bathrooms are outdoors, accessed through zipped flaps at the back of the tent. Head-height walls surround a shower, washbasin, large mirror, and a flush toilet hidden behind a section of wall.

Among Kanga's chalets are a honeymoon suite, which has the bonus of a large, free-standing bath in a private annexe, and – furthest from the main area – a family chalet, which has a particularly secluded outside shower and bath. This family chalet has a double bed as well as two singles in the main area; it also features a small seating area and an extensive balcony that leads right round the side and front of the chalet, offering fantastic views onto the pan.

Kanga Bush Camp's main communal area is elevated on a series of split-level, stylish wooden platforms, a few metres above the pan and under a large stretched-canvas roof. This is where the bar and lounge area is found, as well as a small bookshelf with a good selection of books, and some comfy hideaway corners in which to while away the afternoon. Steps lead down to another deck where there is a dining table and a firepit surrounded by camp chairs: a great area to discuss the day's events before and after dinner.

On an adjacent level, jutting out over the edge of the pan, another deck is set with comfortable chairs and sofas, making a very pleasant spot for an ‘armchair safari’. On our last visit to Kanga in October 2016 we saw an almost constant procession of elephants, zebra, impala, kudu and baboons coming down to drink during the day, and leopard, lion and hyena after the sun had set. Completing the facilities at Kanga is a small plunge pool with a couple of sunloungers and umbrellas.

When it comes to activities, this bushcamp specialises in walking and tracking wildlife with top-quality professional guides. Game drives in open 4WD vehicles both in the early morning and in the evening are also available – as well as all-day drives in the area beside the Zambezi. As an added bonus, Kanga is permitted to conduct night drives on their concession, something that is not possible at any other camp within Mana Pools National Park.

The game that comes to Kanga Pan is superb, particularly towards the end of the dry season, so this is genuinely a great property to sit and chill around camp for a day. Equally, the whole-day drives to the Zambezi riverfront area can be excellent, although these are less popular towards the end of the dry season (October–November), when midday temperatures can be exceedingly hot. However, we've found that shorter morning and evening drives, in the thick bush in the vicinity of camp, are much less productive, and these can even be disappointing. Thus, to get the most out of what's on offer, we advise our travellers to chat with the manager on arrival, and plan the activities for their stay carefully.

A more adventurous option from Kanga Bush Camp is a sleep out approximately a kilometre from camp, where four sleeping platforms have been erected high up on wooden stilts under large wild fig trees. These consist simply of a mattress, with pillows and duvets, laid on a wooden platform, and completely covered by a mosquito net. Down below, two platforms each share a flush toilet and a bucket shower. A late afternoon walk from Kanga, with your guide, will bring you to 'Kanga under the Stars', where staff will be waiting for you with ice-cold drinks around a campfire. Later there is a three-course dinner, and in the morning, breakfast is served before walking back to Kanga.

A stay at Kanga, in the middle of the bush, combines very well with a stay at its sister camp Zambezi Expeditions. From its base in national parks’ campsites on the banks of the Zambezi River, it offers different scenery, different activities such as canoeing and fishing, and overall a different experience within the same national park.

Our view

Kanga Bush Camp combines seclusion with luxury, and a hint of the raw experience of camping in a wilderness area. Set in a different environment to most of the parks' other camps, which are beside the river, it offers a very different experience. Come to Kanga for a long stay and spend time in camp relaxing by the waterhole, or stay for a shorter time in combination with one of Mana’s riverfront camps.

Geographics

Location: Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

Ideal length of stay: We find that Kanga works best for an extended stay of four or five nights, for travellers who are happy to explore Mana's riverfront area on full-day drives, and want to spend some time just relaxing in camp beside the waterhole. Alternatively, we'd recommend staying for about two or three nights here, before moving to one of Mana's other camps beside the Zambezi.

Directions: Kanga Bush Camp can be reached by light aircraft from Harare or Victoria Falls, or by road transfer from Lusaka. The nearest airstrip is Dandawa, which is about 20 minutes' drive from the camp.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: African Bush Camps

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: During our stay in October 2016, we found the food at Kanga to be of a high standard.

A light continental breakfast is offered around the campfire before the first activity of the day. This usually consists of porridge (kept warm over the fire), cereal and toast, with coffee or tea.

Lunch is served on returning from the morning activity (usually at about 11.30am). We had breaded and fried tilapia, a green salad, a squash and tomato tart, and some freshly baked herb bread. A fruit salad was served for dessert.

Before the evening game drive, there is a substantial high tea which, when we visited, consisted of bacon and egg tarts, and some banana bread.

On returning from the game drive, drinks around the fire are followed by a three-course dinner. We had a starter of mushroom soup with fresh bread rolls, followed by curried bream with rice, carrots and salad. On cold winter evenings dessert is generally served around the fire and there is also the option of cheese and biscuits. We enjoyed profiteroles with fresh cream, which rounded off the meal very well indeed.

Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Drinks are usually included at Kanga, but fine wines and spirits are charged extra. Jugs of filtered drinking water are provided in the tented chalets, and water bottles can be refilled with filtered water in the main area. Bottled drinking water is also available on request.

Further dining info: Room service is not available

Children

Attitude towards children: Kanga does not generally accept children under seven years of age, although they are quite flexible and can consider each situation on a case-by-case basis.

Property’s age restrictions: Generally no under 7s.

Special activities & services: None

Equipment: None

Notes: This is a very open safari camp, with big game passing through regularly. Children must be supervised by their parents at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: There is a back-up generator. Power for charging batteries is available in the main area 24 hours day.

Communications: There is a radio link to other lodges, and email and Skype may be used in an emergency.

TV & radio: No

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: All bathrooms at Kanga are plumbed in with flush toilets and hot and cold showers.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: The nearest doctor is in Kariba, a few hours’ drive away. The nearest airstrip is 20 minutes’ drive from Kanga, which makes an emergency evacuation much quicker.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: There is a safe at reception.

Fire safety: Fire extinguishers are dotted around camp.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: It is possible to have all laundry done at the camp and this is included in the rate.

Money: There are no safes in the rooms at Ruckomechi, but there is a safe in the main office.

Accepted payment on location: No credit cards are accepted at Kanga. Cash is accepted in US dollars, GB pounds, South African rands or euros.

X  Close