Reviews of Kanga Bush Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Where the wilderness comes to you
Our favourite lodge of this trip with very comfortable accommodation with a view across the camp's pan. The camp is a long way from the river and a long day's adventure away, if you are staying on the river later on in your trip then we recommend not to leave Kanaga, simply sit in one of their comfortable chairs, enjoy the warm hospitality and wonder at the array of wildlife that comes to the waterhole. Perfect. We had a really excellent guide, Reggie.
We were very disappointed in not seeing any painted dogs, the Kanga pack were suspected to be denning in the neighbouring hunting zone and had not been seen for weeks. We did however have the privilege of meeting Greg Rasmusenn, the painted dog research man himself. Actually we bumped into him no less than five times during our stay in Mana Pools!
Kanga Bush Camp review
There is nothing wrong with the camp, the staff were all good and welcoming. What we felt while we were there was that we were pushed to do sofa safaris and not leave the camp. Morning activities did not start until 7am, as photographers this meant we missed the best light of the morning. The activity was short and we got back into the camp earlier than our other camps, this was both true of walking and driving.
The main activity happened around the pan in the afternoon when there were no staff or guides around to identify birds etc. We must admit the camp was empty when we arrived and our first evening game drive we saw a leopard, and a small pride of lions with 3 young cubs, never to be seen again.
The camp is based on the pan, it is more for the first time traveller rather than an experienced traveller. We feel that 2 nights would be enough time there not the 3 that we did.
They call it
This was the most luxurious camp of my trip. I loved the spacious, very comfortable tents and the common areas. Food was fabulous.
I also loved that the vast majority of the camp staff, management very much included, were black Zimbabweans. Their welcome was fantastic. The guides were excellent.
The camp faces a large waterhole, which provides an opportunity for what the staff calls "an armchair safari," ie, just sit and let the game come to you. They did, in reasonable numbers, if not great variety.
Game in game drives, though, was very scarce.
My problem with this camp is that I think it's sited far too close to a hunting concession, which probably makes game viewing more difficult as animals are skittish. One morning we heard three rifle shots - not such a pleasant experience if, like me, you're not a fan of hunting.
Expert Africa comments
We were delighted to read that this traveler enjoyed their stay at Kanga Bush Camp. We were however concerned by the reports of gunfire within ear-shot of camp. We naturally went back to the camp to get their take on this report and this was their response:
We are delighted that your guest had such a wonderful time at Kanga and felt this was the most luxurious camp on their trip. I am sorry to learn that this guest encountered gun-shots during their time with us at Kanga Camp. I can assure you that this is the first of its kind this season and that the hunting concession outside of the National Park is too far from our camp to hear gun-shots. Having spoken to both Kanga Camp Management and National Parks, I can confirm that this particular incident was in fact an incident involving poachers. Our Camp Management, having heard the shots immediately notified National Parks who sent a patrol to be based out of Kanga and who followed the tracks all the way to the Kariba side of the escarpment. I can confirm that poachers were apprehended on this occasion and that National Parks are now conducting heavy anti-poaching in the area between the Kanga concession and the escarpment.
This was an isolated incident and we do apologise for the inconvenience caused to your guest whilst staying with us. We hope that with the increased presence of National Parks and operators between us and the escarpment that there will be no further incidents involving poachers in our area.
Kanga, where you gamewatch from your bathroom
At first sight I felt that this lodge looked a little scruffy, but that soon changed as we went into the lounge area and deck above the pan, and also when we were shown our tent. It was very roomy, even having a dressing room area in addition to an enormous open air bathroom and toilet. Washing looking out over the pan was amazing and although there was no electricity apart from solar powered lights in the tent, a lot of thought had gone into making sure that there were other alternatives. We did find having our own torch useful for toilet visits in the night though rather than using the large lantern.
The food was excellent and we ate as a group with the staff who often had to interrupt the meal to spotlight the game appearing at the water hole, and we certainly saw a lot of game there. In fact the amount of game visiting the pan throughout the day almost made it unnecessary to go on a game drive! Also the game, particularly the elephants came within feet of the decking with apparently no awareness of our presence. This was an excellent experience.
The game drives and guides here were excellent and had a high level of knowledge of both animals and birds.
The only thing to be aware of here is that this camp is in thorn scrub area in the main, but it makes an excellent combination with a waterfront camp by the river.
One other thing to be aware of is that they allow young children here. On our visit there was an 8 year old and 3 year old. The former being no problem, but the 3 year old disrupted the night game viewing and we were glad we had had our first night in peace to see the leopards etc as the constant use of the spotlight by the 3 year old, plus his enthusiastic voice were not conducive to peaceful game watching in the evening. I have taken young children on safari myself and agree it is a very valuable experience for them but when it affects other guests, as it did here, I feel clients should be made aware that this could happen. Most other places I have been have a lowest age limit of 8 years.
Fabulous at Kanga et Zambezi Lifestyle
A beautiful camp, and always many animals at the waterhole during the dinner: leopard, lions, porcupine, civette... The drive at Kanga was quite quiet, but it is a lovely camp to stay and to rest for a few day.
It will be good to know that if you want to have some walk (you first drive and then have some short walks) you must book them before coming at the camp. We haven't do walks in Mana Pools when we were at Kanga, I regret, but the guide was with other guests and it seems wonderful.
A treasure trove in Mana Pools
We really enjoyed our four nights at Kanga - and could easily have spent the whole time just sitting on the deck watching the constant stream of mammals and birds coming to what has to be one of the best waterholes for game-viewing in the region. However, we did get out and about, walking under the expert guidance of Rob Shattock who is a brilliant guide with a wonderful portfolio of anecdotes reaching right back into the early days of Mana Pools. It was also a real pleasure to do a couple of outings with Reggie whom we knew already from Somalisa: his undoubted enthusiasm and expertise has only burgeoned since we first met him.
The camp itself is very comfortable and we were very impressed with the lengths which Lizzie, temporarily managing on a day-to-day basis, went to to make us feel welcome and to provide any assistance we required.
As for the wildlife - leopards, painted dogs, lions, hyaena, buffalo and (of course) elephants all graced the waterhole during our stay, among many others; and we identified over 70 species of birds without even leaving the concession.
Kanga Bush Camp review
Kanga is without doubt one of the best camps we have visited in our many trips around southern Africa. As the camp is effectively less than a year old, everything is impressively clean and sparkling, yet it manages to feel like a well-established little camp that sits perfectly in its forest clearing around the pan.
Our hosts Richard and Gilly manage a perfect balance of warmth, professionalism and relaxed style in the way the camp operates and we came away - reluctanctly, having enjoyed our stay so much - feeling that we had spent a happy few days with old friends. The beauty of Kanga is that one can spend a day relaxing in camp and still see great wildlife right in front of you. With no need to move on, it is possible to watch fascinating behaviours that one would not see from a vehicle or possibly even on foot.
We saw, for first time, a beautiful male bushbuck hesitantly make his way to the water, alert to every sight and sound and easily spooked even by the baboons who spent their days at the pan.
The most unforgettable experience was seeing a leopard family - a mother and three large cubs - come down to drink one night as we sat on deck, whilst other nights saw the visits of lions and hyenas.
Kanga Bush Camp review
We loved Kanga. Our hosts Gilly & Richard were great fun and looked after us very well. Unfortunately, the camp is surrounded by very dense vegetation so it was difficult to see much game, however, the waterhole at Kanga was a very relaxing place to sit and we watched elephant, impala, bushbuck, baboons, banded mongoose and many birds. At night, we had visits from four leopard at the same time, lion, wild dogs, hyena and a porcupine. On one day, a couple of us didn't bother going for a local drive so sat overlooking the waterhole with books and a cold beer. Beautiful.
Fisher, our wonderful guide, took us to the Zambezi at Mana Pools a couple of days for a change of location and the chance to see more game out in the open. We had a few lovely walks to get up close to waterbuck, elephants and a fish eagle. He was heavily armed in case of trouble, but kept us very safe and at no time did we feel threatened.
Kanga had the most beautiful bathrooms in the whole of Zimbabwe. Completely uncovered, a great shower and handbasin with a view to die for!
Kwality Kanga Kamp
Richard and Gilly were exceptional hosts. As our guide Fisher was excellent and all the staff were very efficient and friendly. The whole atmosphere within Kanga is what one would hope for in a luxury tented camp. The siting, with it's waterhole, was a delight and we appreciated the opportunity for nightime viewing with the infra red searchlight.
However, Claire, as you well know the animals within the small concession were very skittish as the camp is adjacent to a hunting area. We saw hardly any game whilst on game drives within the concession. Consequently we did two full days at Mana Pools. There we had an exciting viewing of hippo and some gentle safari walks to view waterbuck, elephant eating water hyacinth and a flock of carmine bee eaters.
We realise from past experience that game viewing on safari can be hit and miss but we really felt that Kanga was more miss than hit. Kanga is a camp to stay a maximum of three nights. A great camp in the wrong place.
In our responses to the three places we stayed we are unsure what is meant by Activities and Facilities, thus the no comment.
Expert Africa comments
This is really interesting feedback.
Mana Pools National Park borders onto several hunting areas, all of which have buffer zones of no hunting around their borders. So we don’t think that Kanga’s game is significantly affected by this.
Investigating the game sightings on this trip more closely, these travellers were unlucky to miss a male lion drinking at the water in front of camp as they showered in the evening. Their first full day was spent on a full-day trip to the game-rich Mana riverfront area (including the exciting hippo fight!).
They all spent their second day in the camp’s area. The game drives didn’t produce any great sightings, but there were elephant in camp, followed by four leopards (a female and her three sub-adults) coming down to the pan in front of camp to drink.
Later, at about 22.30, there was a lot of noise as a pack of wild dog killed an impala. Apparently some guests saw this – but it was pretty dark. We understand that the dogs were first chased off the kill by elephant, then they returned, and eventually a hyena stole the leftovers.
The third day was again spent on an all-day drive to the riverfront, whilst lionesses appeared at the camp’s waterhole as they were finishing dining.
Their final day was spent in the Kanga area – and whilst the game drives were largely unproductive, several guests at camp saw a young leopard and the group of elephants which visiting the waterhole near the deck.
Thinking about this detailed report, and other travellers’ recent experience of Kanga Camp … we think that, during the dry season (and especially the latter parts of this), the game in this area is very good. Specifically, there are plenty of animals around the Kanga area, including all the resident big predators – as these are all drawn to the waterhole which is right in front of camp. Thus sitting on Kanga’s deck can be a great place to spot game.
However, much of the bush around the camp is thick. Hence relatively short game drives (ones which go in the morning, or afternoon, for just a few hours) tend to be unproductive, and see relatively little game.
Because of this, we’d recommend that travellers do what these travellers did: take a number of whole-day trips to the Mana Riverfront area. Then perhaps intersperse these whole-days out with the odd day of relaxation in the camp, reading a book or chilling, whilst seeing what comes to the pan to drink.
A real surprise!
We loved the location of this camp, set in amongst the trees with the superb waterhole stretching out in front of us. The tents were generally well-spaced giving plenty of privacy. Game viewing at the camp water-hole was exceptional; we saw elephants, buffalo, kudu, impala, leopard, baboons, porcupine, genet, civet, hyena, wild dogs and many birds, including thousands of doves that arrived in waves. Lions could be heard very close by. We hardly needed to leave the camp at all!
Our tent was spacious and well-equipped and there was great attention to detail, probably one of the best layouts we have experienced in a tent.
Service was excellent, our tent was always clean and comfortable and laundry was returned the same day. Staff were all friendly and helpful. Meals and menus were announced by 3 members of staff in English, Tonga and Shona and whilst it was good to hear the musicality of the languages the staff appeared a little uncomfortable doing it.
The food was always of a good standard but there was occasionally some confusion about my specific dietary requirements - on one occasion there was no main dish that I could eat and one of the vegetarians staying there shared his meal with me! The lunch provided for our trip to the river was outstanding and much appreciated.
We particularly enjoyed the walking with Richard and especially our approach to the wild dogs and the time we were able to spend with them. Our game drive to the river was also outstanding. It was exciting but ultimately frustrating watching the elephant which apparently stands on its hind legs to reach high branches. Unfortunately it was feeding from a tree which was JUST within its reach with a good stretch of the trunk!
It was great to have the plunge pool in which to cool off - very welcome in the 40+ temperatures we were experiencing.