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“A magical and memorable safari!”

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Kwihala Camp, Asilia Africa
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 19, 2014

We had the best and most memorable experience staying at Kwihala. From the moment we were collected from Ruaha airstrip by Leverd (trainee guide) and his driver colleague, our safari began. Sara was a great manager, always on hand to offer help and advice (and toothpaste!) and the guiding was awesome!! Lorenzo was everything you could wish from a guide, and more. His passion for the animals and birds was obvious and his enthusiasm was infectious, sharing with us the sights, sounds and smells of Ruaha. We shared our vehicle with a wonderful young couple from Australia and, together with Lorenzo and Leverd, we had the best photo-packed, animal spotting, fun time ever. My true highlight was seeing a female leopard in a 'sausage tree' shortly after sunrise - magical!

The accommodation was far better than I had imagined. Clean, roomy, comfortable bed, flush toilet and hot water in the evening just right for a shower before dinner. Forget about a morning shower as (a) no hot water and (b) very early wake up call. However, the latter came with choice of lovely tea or coffee. We chose to have breakfast in the bush which was perfect - all laid out on the bonnet of the land rover! Otherwise you could return to camp mid-safari. For those wondering (as I did) how one 'relieves' oneself on safari. Don't worry just ask your guide and he will find the perfect safe and secluded spot for you behind a bush or tree. Male or female, you soon overcome embarrassment and it becomes part of safari life. Even the guides have to 'go'!

We had a visit from an elephant on site one night but the staff were at hand to make sure guests were safe. We also heard a lion roaring some distance away during the night. When you arrive at camp you are asked if you have any food in your bags. This is because Honey Badgers are extremely good at sniffing out food and will rip their way into anything to get at it.

We loved the genuine friendly and relaxed atmosphere at Kwihala and the sharing of stories between guests, guides and management around the camp fire each night, followed by communal dinner outside under the stars. The food was ok and I personally preferred the lunchtime food. But we weren't there for haute cuisine. We stayed for 3 nights and wished we had stayed longer.

I could go on but would only be repeating what others have written already. We will never, ever, forget Kwihala. Thank you to everyone there and to Liz and James from Expert Africa who arranged our first-time, wonderful trip to Tanzania.

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank 2woollyjumpers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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121 - 127 of 170 reviews

Reviewed December 4, 2013

Most enjoyable stay here. Excellent guides. Appears to be the best located camp in the area as all the other camps are much further away from the river, near where many animals congregate.
Couldn't believe the number of different lions we saw.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled solo
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4  Thank Paul E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 5, 2013

We arrived at Kwihala rather jaded after a long journey, interrupted by a rather delayed flight. However, our welcomne at the airstrip by assistant guide Levarde and our subsequent 3 day safari obliterated all tiredness. A really great welcome, an amazingly good and knowledgable guide, Pietro, who had a great sense of humour and real skill at navigating the bush at excitibg speeds. Having a head guide and an assistant/trainee who helps to spot game is a great advantage.We were privileged to have superb sightings of leopard every day of our stay, but perhaps more due to Pietro's skill than luck, plus very close encounters with a multitude of lion, and cheetah, elephant, zebra, kudu etc.etc. Sarah runs a very happy and friendly home base. Tens well sited for privacy, and well appointed without being ritzy - you really feel that you are "on the land". We must go back.

Room Tip: take a cotton bathrobe if you need one - none provided
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  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank William C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 31, 2013

Our second safari camp, unique and different. We were met at the airport and taken on a safari drive as we found our way to camp. There was another couple also going to Kwihala camp. The trainee guide Leverd was great at stopping and and answering all our questions. The scenery in Ruaha was very different, very dry compared to Selous. We arrived at the camp and were met by Sara, the manager. She had someone show us to our tent and advised that lunch was at 1 o'clock. After refreshing ourselves, we returned to the dining/lounge area for a group lunch. Over lunch we discovered from other guests that wake-up call was at 5:15, going out on morning safari at 5:45 with a bush breakfast around 9 with a choice of return at 11 for brunch or 1 for lunch. After a delicious lunch Sara let us know that our afternoon safari was at 4 - meeting in the lounge area and we were paired (for safaris) with the couple who had arrived at the same time as us for our 3 day stay.

I inquired about the flexibility of the time for the morning drive and the possibility of breakfast in camp but changes were not possible as the guides want to ensure you see the maximum of wildlife and that means early morning in Ruaha.

Lots of elephants, giraffes, ostriches, baboons, mongoose, and birds everywhere. The scenery was ever changing. Watching elephants drinking in the sand river was priceless. As was watching giraffes and elephants eating.

Our best bush drive was our long one the second morning - to what they all refer to as the "little Serengeti" fabulous scenery, lots of animals, great bush brunch. Our guide Marius was very knowledge and excellent at locating animals.

Because of the heat my husband chose to stay in camp in the afternoons instead of going on the 4 pm safari. Sitting in the shade in front of our tent he was able to watch impala walk by, observe a variety of birds and commune peacefully with nature. He loved it.

Overall an very enjoyable safari. Satff were very attentive, our dietary needs were always met, accomodation and food excellent. Safaris excellent ! The little Serengeti and the sand river surpassed all our expectations.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
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4  Thank MarGarSh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.
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Additional Information about Kwihala Camp, Asilia Africa

Address: | Mbagi area, Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Iringa Region > Ruaha National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 13 Specialty Lodging in Ruaha National Park
Price Range: $425 - $450 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Kwihala Camp, Asilia Africa 4*
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set in Tanzania's iconic Ruaha National Park, this small frontier-style camp provides exceptional access to the park's huge populations of big cats, buffalo and elephants. Relatively unexplored, Ruaha is one of the largest national parks in Africa, ensuring a true wilderness experience. Kwihala is an intimate six-bedroom camp where simple excellence is the order of the day. The adventurous will relish the remarkable concentration of wildlife roaming this diverse landscape, which ranges from baobab trees and granite kopjes to open plains with cooling rivers and woodland valleys. With the option of bush walks and night drives with our highly knowledgeable guides, safari doesn't get better than this. ... more   less 

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