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“Avoid this Camp” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Kwara Camp - Kwando Safaris

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Kwara Camp - Kwando Safaris
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3.5 of 5 Cabin/Campground   |   P.O. Box 550 | Maun, Botswana   |  
Hotel amenities
Sydney, Australia
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Avoid this Camp”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2008

Kwara Camp

We found this camp run down and seedy with a management that clearly did not care.

The concession area, (like other parts of the Okavango) is very attractive and the guides are comparable with other camps. The camp is at the east end of the concession area and as a result evening drives are unattractively into the setting sun. Tracks are very rough and guests are very badly jolted around during safari drives. One guest injured his back and had to rest from the drives.

Our “luxury” tent had no hot water and no lights for the first night and for our early morning wake up. When informed the Caucasian lady manager’s response was “no problems”. Despite several request we were not informed what was happening until we publicly made a fuss in the presence of other guest. The solar power cells for our tent were not working and they obviously were aware of this without telling us. On our third evening and morning we again had no lights, but received no explanation or apology. Other guests had problems with their toilet and had to raise the matter several time before any action was taken.

The hot water and lighting problems were only one symptom of a very run down and shabby camp where maintenance is obviously poor. Their motorboat for water drives was broken down and water drives were only available for some guests and even then only when they could borrow a boat from another camp.

Meals were plentiful, but of a poor standard and food that was supposed to be hot was usually cold.

The management attitude was appalling. Even on arrival 6 guest were kept waiting in the dilapidated public area without access to our rooms for 45 minutes until another couple arrived. We were told that this was so that the manager did not have to give the 5-minute orientation talk twice. Even so some of the things she said proved to be wrong.

While the guides were cheerful the remaining staff seemed very sullen compared with the staff at other Botswana camps. Later in our visit we learned that the Caucasian managers were leaving very soon and were being replaced with a Botswana lady. She may be able to improve the camp atmosphere, but unless this is supported by considerable re-investment the camp will remain unacceptable.

In summary we strongly recommend that you avoid this camp. Although we did not see any of the other camps run by the Kwando Group, we would certainly never again stay in a Kwando camp.

  • Liked — Guides for drives and Mokoro
  • Disliked — Poor maintenance, Don't care mangement
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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110 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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English first
Zürich
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
31 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 17, 2007

We spent only 2 nights at the end of the dry season in Kwara and saw abundant game on all our trips; we were impressed by the professional way our guide, Donald, showed us around the delta and seemed to be knowledgable of every living being from elephant to the smallest bird. Its quite reassuring to trust your guide when you are only a meter away from a group of lions.
Our tent had like a little terrace overlooking a pool with hippos. Of course it was spotlessly clean, the meals a delight and the athmosphere at dinner always easy to have good conversation with fellow guests. This as well I wish to credit to the wonderful staff (guides and camp manager) who share the meals with their guests and try to break the ice in an unobtrusive way.
For 600 Euros per night per couple one would expect something special. And we found it just perfect and only regret to have booked for only such a short time.

  • Stayed November 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Switzerland
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2007

I guess all camps go through cycles - we unfortunately seemed to have hit Kwara on a down-swing!
I've wanted to go to the Okanvango for so many years and hoped for a really wonderful experience - but sadly we didn't get one.
We felt as if the whole outfit was being managed to minimise cost rather than maximise customer satisfaction. The tents are adequate, but nothing special. A hole in the bathroom wall was stuffed with lavatory paper! There were no bathrobes or kikoys and none of the dispensers - shower gel, shampoo etc - worked.
The camp generally felt uncared for with unswept paths and dingy public spaces. The food was unexciting and rarely hot. We particularly found the late breakfast after the morning game drive a disappointment. And there was never a good cup of tea because it was made in cups with tea bags and less-than-hot water! Too bad too if you didn't like the wine on offer - the one you had yesterday and liked will only be available again tomorrow!
The biggest disappointment though was the guiding. Although we were asked on arrival what we were interested in - the unique aspects of the delta, the water and the birds and walking rather than driving - and not the big game one can see elsewhere - this wasn't taken into account. We were taken on game drives which were conducted to the background of constant radio chatter as we rushed from one lion sighting to another - where we'd find all the other Kwara vehicules. Chasng around the bush in clouds of dust and exhaust fumes in search of a leopard who had just fallen out of a tree after being disorientated by 4 spotlights shining on it, was a deeply unpleasant experience - as was the scaring of an elephant off the track by reving the engine and accelerating at it.
Not one piece of information was offered about the bird-life on any drive - although the guide was quite knowledgable when asked direct questions. Sadly he didn't have a bird book handy when we needed to check something. All in all guiding was more spotting than informing.
The 'water safari' was a race through the channels with some spectacularly bad and noisy driving. Such a shame.
There didn't seem to be enough guides/vehicules as a fellow guest who really didn't want to walk when we were finally allowed our one walking 'drive' was told it was that or nothing - there was no room on a vehicule.
Strangely one had the impression that there was actually a huge fleet of land cruisers as during the afternoon siesta time sleep was impossible because of the constant revving of engines in the deep sand of the track behind the camp. No idea what was going on!
Maybe our expectations were too high, having come from RPS in the South Luangwa, but this was a very special holiday and we will probably never have the chance to repeat it. If we can save someone else the disappointment.............

  • Stayed August 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
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Palo Alto, CA
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2007

What can we say. Number one lodge from our 5 week safari. Best guides you can imagine. Incredible game viewing. Lions, cheetah, leopards, wild dogs all in complete wilderness with only our vehicle anywhere near. We stayed in Little Kwara which is less than 1 mile away from the original Kwara. The tents are brand new and stunning. Get your sleep before you go as there is so much stimulation at Kwara we didn't sleep more than 3 hours any night.

Stayed January 2007
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London
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2007

A few details to add to the previous review:

Note that there are TWO Kwara camps, 1) the original one (usually referred to as Kwara) and 2) Little Kwara. They are different.

1) Is older, the tents are not quite up to par with other luxury lodges. Also, some of the infrastructure seems a bit tired (e.g. the swimming pool pump was broken when we were there and the pool not usable). The view from the lodge is excellent, overlooking a pool with Hippos. You also see Impalas grazing.

2) is 300m away, but since there is open bushland in between, you cannot walk there. It is basically brand new. The tents are beautiful and can hardly be called tents anymore: they have doors, there even is a separate toilet with a door. Albeit, the door has gaze pannels, so not quite sure how useful that is... ;-) It is also smaller, only 5 tents (I think), so more intimate. The view, however, is not as good as in 1), as you cannot see the lake. We have had Baboons runnign through the camp instead, and they are great to watch.

What both have in common is excellent and motivated guides, spuer friendly staff and management and very tastefully made facilities.

I preferred the game driving in Lebala, the sister camp in the North. In Kwara you have more variety, as you can go on water safaris too. No game, of course, but many birds. I am not a birdwatcher, but I really enjoyed it.

Note that the experience will be very different between high (dry) season in Winter and low (rainy) season in Summer. Many more animals in high season. We went in low season, and you have to a bit of driving to see game. In Winter, there should be herds of animals. As for the rain: we did not have much at all. What is nice is that the landscape is lush and green and the nights are pleasantly warm.

Stayed February 2007
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Houston, Texas
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2007

I recently went to Botswana for a month for work, and while I was there I took several safaris. Kwara camp was far and away the best of the bunch. I didn't want to leave, and frankly after I left Kwara, my standards were so high that all the other places looked that much worse.

ARRIVAL:
You have to fly in on a private plane as there are no roads. The camp has an airstrip. You are greeted by your game drivers and the manager of the camp. Then you are driven to the camp and given a welcome drink and told the saftey rules of the camp (no wandering alone at night, stay on the paths, don't pet the hippos etc etc)

SCHEDULE: The day is typically scheduled as such: wake up call at 530AM, quick breakfast and coffee at 6AM, game drive/activity at 630-930/10. Breakfast at 10. Siesta till 4pm. Lunch at 4. Game drive/activity after lunch until 830. Dinner when you get back. It is a little early, but you see much better game in the morning and that is why you are there.

ACCOMODATIONS: The lounge is very nice, all hard wood and open. Several comfy chairs, games, books, and open bar (just help yourself). There is a small pool. You actually stay in tents.. sort of. Technically I guess you could call it a tent, since it does have canvas walls.... but it also has hard wood floors, actual beds, a deck, a western style bathroom with 2 sinks/toliet and outdoor shower (big enough for two). There are solar powered lamps for light in the night. The beds were comfy, no mosquito netting required. I spent a few afternoons sitting on the deck watching the 15 hippos that liked to lounge in the pond outside the camp.

GAME DRIVES: This is the part that really sets this camp apart from the others I went to. (well, and the accomodations). You are assigned 2 game drivers to work with you on all drives/activities. (Activites being boat/walking tours and such) One drives and the other watches for animals. One of the differences of being on a private concession as Kwara is, is that you can drive off road (although they do try to limit it to protect the environment), and you can do night drives. Our guides were great!! They knew where the animals were, how to get to them, seemed knowledgable, and were a lot of fun to talk to. The General (our driver) loved to go off road and had a competitive nature to him. He was not going to let another driver get in between him and the animal. We were chasing a pack of wild dogs while they were hunting, and he wasn't going to let them out of his sight/or any other car in front of us :-) We had a great time with them. We saw: lions, lion cubs, lions eating, zebra, elephants, hyena, cheetah, cheetah cubs, cheetahs eating, wild dogs make a kill, tons of hippos up close, (all of these animals were within 15 feet of the car), baboons, too many antelope species to name, giraffe.... By the time we had left all I needed to see were leopards and a cat actually make a kill. (There are very few wild rhinos in the Delta - if you want to see rhinos I suggest the rhino sanctuary in central Botswana).

Beyond that, the staff went out of their way to make things easy and comfortable for us. The manager even lent me some cyclizine when she found out I get motion sick (my friend wanted to go on another plane ride). If I ever go back to Africa, this is where I am going. Granted it is expensive (500/person/day I think - it was booked as part of a package), but it was the best game I saw the entire time I was there. Why pay to stay at a place where you aren't going to see anything??? I even went during the rainy season, imagine what it is like during the high season.

Stayed January 2007
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Additional Information about Kwara Camp - Kwando Safaris

Address: P.O. Box 550 | Maun, Botswana
Location: Botswana > North-West District > Okavango Delta
Hotel Style:
Ranked #36 of 66 Specialty Lodging in Okavango Delta
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Kwara Camp - Kwando Safaris 3.5*
Number of rooms: 5
Also Known As:
Kwara Camp - Kwando Safaris Hotel Okavango Delta
Kwara Camp - Kwando Safaris Botswana/Okavango Delta

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