New Kwara Island Camp

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Jun 22nd, 2005, 04:23 PM
  #1
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New Kwara Island Camp

My apologies if this item has already been posted:

Kwando Safaris are currently building a new luxury tented camp - to be known as Kwara Island Camp, in the Okavango Delta.

The camp is expected to be open for guests in October 2005 and will consist of only 4 guest tents. The camp is located on an island in the permanent Delta on the border of the Moremi Game Reserve in the private Kwara concession of 175 000 ha.

Kwara Island Camp will offer an intimate setting, in a private area, with personal service – vintage Africa. While the camp will share a name with the well known, 16-bed Kwara camp, operated by Kwando Safaris since 2000, Island Camp is a 1-hour drive from Kwara.

Kwara Island Camp will offer the following game activities: mekoro trips year round, double deck boat cruises, island walks and game drives both off road and at night. The game drives will take place on the “mainland” by crossing by pontoon to the vehicles.

To put the concession area into context – 175 000ha is just under 10% of the area of Kruger National Park.
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Jun 22nd, 2005, 04:24 PM
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Nicky and I stayed there last year and saw amazing leopards; in fact, just about every time I've been to Kwara going back to 1996 when it was a Wilderness Safaris camp, I have seen exceptional leopard interactions. Recently it has also been very good for cheetah.

The Kwara area is notable for its deep sands and lovely grasslands with good general game. It also has good birding, especially from September when the migrants arrive.
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Jun 22nd, 2005, 04:30 PM
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jim,

From a photographers point of view, how would you rate the Kwando vehicles with the Wilderness Safaris vehicles?

I would personally love to visit Kwando but my biggest concern is with their vehicles. Roughly 25% of the entire safari is spent in the vehicles, so an uncomfortable vehicle is really a big factor.

Also, from your experience does the food and accomodations of Kwando measure up to Wilderness Safaris?

Lastly, do you find it makes a big difference that Kwando employs the guide & tracker system while Wilderness Safaris does not?

Thanks.
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Jun 22nd, 2005, 06:47 PM
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Hi Roccco,

I have been on safari in quite a few makes of safari vehicle in Botswana over the years and have always found a way to make each one work.

These days, it's most importatnt to me that I have room to manuever to both sides of the vehicle and so sharing a seat with your partner (or, better yet, having a seat to yourself) is paramount as you cannot expect the driver to always position the vehicle such that it is perfect for you only.

I have to say that I become so focused and, Nicky says, "intense" that I really cannot say I have been uncomfortable on a drive ever - except for the time our guide stayed up all night drinking and was still drunk on our morning drive...

On the tracker "issue", I know that some here complain about is the lack of a tracker in some camps. I actually lean towards the other side of that fence as the tracker system has MANY times intruded on my view and photogrpahy. I was actually quite chuffed when WS decided to abandon it from that standpoint.

I suppose it's difficult for me to be an objective party in regards to first-time safari guests anymore, but I try to be and I do understand that some here may see the tracker as a huge help in finding animals - this is no doubt true in general (though I've also had fairly useless trackers too).

Do I find Kwando's vehicles uncomfortable or in any way an impediment to my photography - No.

Kwando's food is on a par with most WS camps - I will say that the upscale camps like Mombo do provide a step above. Still, I remember my love of Mombo way back when the tents were actually very worn out, on the ground, and in some disrepair and I am still going for the same reason - the game. It is unbeatable. Still, one does now pay a hefty premium and the food does reflect this I believe.

I believe the Kwando's accommodations and food are top-notch and have never been anything but pleased in this regard at their camps.

As for the tracker system - I will add one more thing. For those on a mission to find a specific animal - say dogs, the tracker system does provide a HUGE advantage in finding them. I usually have a vehicle to myself though and just have the tracker climb in the vehicle once we find what we're searching for.

Kwando's guides are superb in my experience (although some guests have told me otherwise on occasion). I will mention that my evaluation of a guide is not only how well he/she finds animals though and I'm sure you'll agree.

Hope this was helpful and I do recommend Kwara as a great area for a safari. I was lucky enough to get really nice cheetah images last time there, plus leopards (three!) fighting hyenas over an impala kill and excellent birds on the water. It's an intesting area and I've seen unusual things like Carmine bee-eater colonies nesting in the sand right in the middle of the game track.

I'll stop lest I ramble interminably
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Jun 23rd, 2005, 12:34 AM
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Jim
Ramble away, please!
I'd love to hear more about your experiences on your trips - on another thread perhaps.
Do we have any trip reports from you on the forum or do you have such information posted on the web anywhere?
As for Mombo, I think when my parents went it was Old Mombo, though I forget now when they replaced that camp with the new one just a mile or so away.
Whilst I can't say I don't enjoy the accommodation or food, I pay the prices not for those but for the game viewing. If they opened a standard WS camp in the same area (not that they can as their concession license only gives them a certain number of beds in the area) I'd opt for that one instead...
Are the Kwando vehicles the same config as WS ones? 3 rows of 3 seats with only 2 per row used?
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