Founded by some of East Africa’s most exclusive mobile safari guides, Asilia manages a collection of understated, low-impact camps in rugged, game-rich locations with little tourism. The company’s Kwihala Camp sits on a hill near the bank of the Mwagusi Sand River in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park, which is the same size as South Africa’s Kruger National Park but gets barely one percent of the visitors due to the expense of small craft flights from Dar es Salaam or Arusha. The park has many giraffe and the biggest elephant population in Africa. Both species are frequent camp visitors, and with large buffalo herds and ten percent of Africa’s lion population, the park is also known among safari aficionados for regular sightings of big cats on kills. The large, comfortable tents have wash basins, flush toilets, bucket showers, and solar-generated electricity, but don’t expect to spend much time indoors. The emphasis here is on long, superbly guided daily game drives with 5:30 a.m. wake-up calls, walks with armed rangers, and night drives. Asilia dismantles the camp during the rainy season, with the result that animals do not permanently associate the site with human infrastructure and continue grazing nearby when guests are present.
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With just a handful of camps, the 8,050-square-mile Ruaha park remains one of the wildest and least developed in Tanzania due to its remoteness, so you will not likely see other people or noncamp safari vehicles. In contrast to the open, grassy Serengeti plains, Ruaha’s arid, red-earth landscapes and baobab forests can feel eerily scrubby and sparse, but this is nonetheless a rich transition zone for eastern and southern African flora and fauna.
Need to Know
Rooms: Six tents; from $450 per person, inclusive of meals and safari activities. Check-in: no specific time; check-out: no specific time. Dining options: Light lunches emphasize salads, while firelit, three-course dinners are based on guest preferences indicated at time of booking. Spa and gym: No gym or spa; walking safaris in hot, dry weather help burn off calories.
Who’s it for: This remote, nonpermanent lodge is the next step for those who have already seen the Big Five. Safari newbies may feel vulnerable sleeping under canvas sometimes brushed at night by wild animals, including predators. Our favorite rooms: All six tents are roomy, with simple yet cozy furnishings; three have king beds. Special privilege: Game is concentrated near the camp and its river pools during September, the hottest dry-season month. Guests who spring for the expense are paying for access to a unique environment, not over-the-top amenities.