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Kwihala Camp, Asilia Africa
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Reviewed October 21, 2013

I still can't get over what an amazing time we had during our stay here. For those looking for the 'typical' African setting, I would say that Ruaha National Park would be the place for you and this camp cannot be missed. Sarah, the manager, was so incredibly welcoming, setting the standard for the staff and we were not disappointed - Lorenzo and Saidi made an awesome team, spotting cheetah for us with ease (how they see it from hundreds of metres away still blows my mind) and ticking off every single animal on our list. I really miss getting up (the only time 5:15am has been a welcome time!) to get going on our daily adventure, although the tents were a little bit difficult to leave!
What fantastic accommodation - HUGE bed in a spacious tent, separate en suite with flushing toilet and bucket shower, as well as electric lights and a socket to charge cameras etc. Whilst it did get very hot in the day (noticeable when you returned for lunch and had a couple of hours in the afternoon to relax - maybe a fan could be provided?), it cooled down in the evening and we slept very well.
Now, the food - I still can't get over the standard of the food....cheese souffle in the bush?! Banoffee pie?! Julius, our chef, really outdid himself. I honestly don't have a bad thing to say about it....well except maybe I enjoyed the food a bit too much (my clothes are not being particularly forgiving).

Overall, I am absolutely in love with this camp. I really hope we get the opportunity to return in the future, and I urge anybody who has not been to put this on their list.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Elle_Tidy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 19, 2013

We stayed at Kwihala Tented Camp in September 2013 for 4 nights. This was the 2nd of 4 camps we stayed at on our 14 night safari in north and south Tanzania. This was our 2nd safari holiday (18 nights/5 camps) in Africa and the 1st camp we visited in Ruaha National Park.

The guiding was excellent, the car was fantastic, location was terrific, the tent and camp very good, the food was great, drinks on afternoon game drives were included and laundry was included. Therefore I rate an outstanding experience relative to cost/night and my experience at other camps.

The camp is in a great location, not far from Mwagusi River and an hour and a half to Ruaha River. Even though Ruaha was dry when we were there, some water remains in both rivers beds and animals congregate in these areas. Ruaha was hot and dry in the day and a little dusty/dirty. The landscape and flora are varied and lovely to photograph. There was some long grass and lots of trees like palm, baobab, acacias, sausage, jackal berry which can making spotting animals challenging but interesting. There were no Mosquitos or flies and a few tsetse flies around the camp and areas we drove through.

When we arrived at Msembe airstrip around 3.30pm and were greeted by a trainee guide Leverd. We were offered a cold drink and waited about 15 minutes for our paperwork to be lodged at the office. We had a 3 hour game drive before heading to camp for dinner. Leverd was fantastic.

Sara is the camp manager. She is friendly and we enjoyed her company at meal times. She does not always see you off or greet you after game drives, but that doesn't matter. Our guide was always waiting for us in the lounge area before drives and a support staff member always greeted us after game drives with a cold towel and a smile. On arrival at camp Sara debriefed us on the running of the camp and checked any food allergies. She informed us alcoholic drinks and some other drinks were not included in our rate but sundowners were complimentary on afternoon game drives, which I thought was a nice touch. Drinks were around $5 each or you could pay $15 for all-you-can-drink! Pricelists were in the tent. Laundry was included in our rate. We shared a car, guide and trainee guide with another couple who we loved. Camp had a semi-flexible routine. Wake up call was at 6am. You could choose either 6.30-1pm safari with packed breakfast followed by lunch at camp or 6.30-11.30am with brunch at camp. Afternoon safaris were 4-7pm each day. Hot showers at night and cold showers for the day were always ready when you returned from safari.

At camp there was a very large tent with a lounge area and a dining table where we ate lunch. There was a campfire and chairs out the front at night. Communal dinner was served in the bush under the stars! 6 tents and a maximum of 12 guests made for a very cosy environment.

The camp uses a generator and solar power so power was available in the tent and at all times. The tents were large and the decor was nice. The bed was firm and it had four types of pillows. Nights were cool and a light weight duvet was suitable. The bathroom had 20L hot/cold bucket shower for 2 people, so you have to ration or shower together! Shampoo, washing powder and soap were in the bathroom. 2L plastic water bottles were provided on the desk in the room and in the bathroom each day. Elephants and a jackal were near our tent during our stay.

The food was very good. For your 6am wake up call you could choose a powdered coffee or tea with cold milk plus shortbread biscuits. Packed breakfast included juice, cereal with milk, 6-8 pieces of bread, 6-8 muffins (different flavour everyday), two types of fruit, bacon and 6-8 boiled eggs. We also had mandazi (traditional Tanzanian bread) on two days. Yum. You serve yourself from the buffet set up on bonnet of the car and eat standing up. The guide makes you either powdered coffee or English tea/herbal teas. We stopped in the shade of a large tree in 4 different locations in the park around 9.30am.

We ate lunch at camp and Sara ate with the 4-8 guests who were around. The lunches were 3 plated courses with coffee/ tea to finish. For example salad, meat skewers with grilled vegetables and fruit salad. Good size portions and great flavour and variety each day. On the table was butter, olive oil, vinegar and fresh chillies in oil! There was different flavoured fresh bread rolls each day. We really enjoyed the lunches.

No snacks were offered before game drives. Nibbles were provided when sundowners were offered on afternoon game drives around 6pm. From 8-8.30pm guests met around the fire for drinks and appetisers. Dinner with the all the guests was at 8.30pm. 3 staff ate dinner with the guests. This helped keep the conversation flowing, but also made it very entertaining! Dinner was 3 plated courses; entree, main which included meat and vegetables and dessert. As I am vegetarian I had a separate main meal. Food was restaurant quality except for the stuffed eggplant which was not cooked. I rolled to bed after dinner every night!

The vehicle was a 9 seater with three rows with two seats and a fourth row with three seats. The vehicle had canvas roof with open sides. In the between the front row seats was a powered cool box and drinks were cold!!! Blankets were provided on morning game drives. The guides occasionally used a mobile phone to communicate with camp and other cars. I love this. No annoying crackling and no listening to other peoples conversations like with radios. What I also loved was that conversations were always brief and Lorenzo told us what the conversation was about, so we felt constantly updated and included.

Our guide was Lorenzo, who we met on our morning game drive and our trainee guide was Leverd. Lorenzo asked about our safari experience and what we'd like to see during our stay. Before drives we would discuss a plan which we all agreed on. Lorenzo made our visit to Ruaha and our holiday so enjoyable. He found everything we wanted to see. He is very in-tune with the environment; he could see a porcupines’ quill drag marks on the ground as he drove and could hear the baboon or impala barks and know a cat was near (and then find it)! He shared stories, information about animals (life span, sexual maturity, gestational periods, how to tell gender and on and on) and discussed the environment (topography of Ruaha, what the holes are in baobab trees trunk, what's inside the sausages on the sausage tree). I felt like I was learning and growing as a person being with him. He also did things to surprise us and get us excited. He once stopped in front of a broken concrete bridge and turned to us and said put your seat belts on it could be bumpy. He watched as we all scrambled to find our seat belt and realised there were none! He was kidding and it was a great laugh.

Because the camp has only 3 cars, 3 guides and 3 trainee guides we were able to meet them. They also ate dinner with the guest so we got to know them then. All the guides are great: Piedro was great fun and told hilarious stories while Festo was the leopard whisper (he was always first to spot them) and made us laugh.

On the first afternoon Lorenzo checked what sundowners we would like. We chose white wine for my sundowner and my husband asked for gin and tonic. These were always cold and in the cool box on every afternoon game drive. Even when it was late one night and we had to drive straight back to camp in the fading light, Leverd still offered us sundowners and managed(while Lorenzo was driving) to pour wine, serve beers and nibbles!

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank ClaireBare
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 11, 2013

We cannot say enough good things about Kwihala! It exceeded our family's (five adults) expectations in every way. We were told to expect a somewhat "basic" camp, yet the only significant differences from Selous Impala's tents were the bucket shower and single sink. On the not-so-basic side were the cool washcloths and fruit juice waiting for us whenever we returned to camp, the delicious meals served under the stars, the comfortable tents and common areas, the excellent and knowledgeable guides, the courteous and attentive staff, the bush breakfasts and sundowners... But all that pales when compared to the game drives. We saw an incredible abundance of wildlife (I'm still counting, but the total is well over 50 different species!), and marveled at their utter nonchalance as our vehicle came bouncing and jouncing up to them. Kwihala offers a demanding drive schedule, with start times as early at 6AM and running as long as eight hours, but the time flies by when you're watching a young elephant play in the water or a female cheetah guard her cubs as they feast on a kill. Truly a magical place.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank pvsusan44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 7, 2013

Being the first safari experience ever, kwihala and its fantastic enthusiastic guides, friendly staff and great set up left a great impression.
We saw more wildlife than I had ever expected, Lorenzo and saidi, our Italian-tznzanian guide duo were true talents when it came to leopard and cheetah spotting, changing flat tires and an amazing knowledge about wild life!

  • Stayed: October 2013
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1  Thank costafreak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 7, 2013

We have just returned from 5 nights at Kwihala. We had been forewarned that the guiding in Tanzania may not reach the levels we had experienced in Southern Africa in particular in Zambia and Botswana. This emphatically wasn't the case.

The guiding at Kwihala was the best we have experienced - we spent all our drives with Festo but I understand that the other camp guides Pietro and Lorenzo are equally as good. In particular because we were out for 7 or so hours in the morning there was time to just sit and observe - to see the action develop. Whether it was watching the cats stalking or the elephants digging for water below an apparently dried up river, Kwihala gave us time. And by seeing the same prides of lion or leopards or cheetah from day to day we could more appreciate "the back story" - the development of their lives - and the possible future for them. The evening drive of about 3 1/2 hours always seemed to finish too soon!

The camp itself is well run and spacious. The tents are large with shaded verandas and our bed was comfortable. Our morning wake up call was accompanied by tea or coffee. Sarah was a calm and efficient manager who immediately rectified a couple of trivial issues in our tent. The staff are all friendly and welcoming and much laughter could be heard. Breakfast and evening sundowners in the bush were, as always in Africa, an enjoyable part of the day. My personal view is that the light lunches of, for example, salad starter, kebab followed by fruit salad were rather better than 3-course evening meal taken round a communal table under the stars.

Our game viewing experience in Ruaha was magnificent - we were privileged to see lion, leopard and cheetah every day (all with cubs) and to see each of them stalking prey at least twice. In addition we saw greater and lesser kudu, dik dik, duiker, oribi, jackals (including one with pups) plus the "standard" stuff - elephant, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, hyena, impala etc etc. The bird life was also great, including many different raptors.

However above all this what makes Kwihala special is the quality of the guiding. We are looking forward to returning to Ruaha and in particular to Kwihala at a different time of year to see another side of life in this area. We have never returned to a safari camp but we are sure we shall return to Kwihala.

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Valmobabe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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