Lebala is owned and run by Kwando Safaris. Its name means ‘wide open spaces’, and it’s just one of two properties in the immense reserve – the other is Lagoon. One of the best big game camps in Africa, it’s authentic rather than stylised, with classic safari experiences its priority. That said, service standards are high, and the camp has been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence! Accommodation is usually booked on a full-board basis, including all meals, a selection of alcoholic and soft drinks, twice-daily game-viewing activities, and a laundry service. The camp is open all year round.
ACCESS & LOCATION:
The camp is accessed via 20 minutes’ road transfer from the local airstrip. It’s situated on the River Kwando’s floodplains.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES AT LEBALA:
There are eight guest tents, including one tent for family use. All are positioned on Zimbabwean teak decking. A few steps lead up onto the front veranda, which is put to use as a private viewing deck. Set with a couple of comfy chairs and a small table, the deck boasts amazing vistas over floodplains! Entering a standard tent through mesh sliding doors, you’ll arrive in the bedroom area, which features a double bed or twin beds, bedside stands and lighting, a ceiling fan, a writing desk and stool, and a seating area. Adjacent to this space, behind a canvas wall, you’ll find the very spacious washroom, with separate flush toilet, twin washbasins, claw-foot bathtub, and another pair of sliding doors out to an al fresco double shower! The space also contains a large storage unit incorporating a safe, and the camp supplies complimentary toiletries such as shampoo and shower gel. The family tent benefits from all the features of the standard unit, in addition to a twin bedroom for kids. Washing facilities are shared.
Also raised on teak decking, the communal buildings at Lebala are approached from the guest tents along a sandy walkway. On arrival at the camp, guests cross a wooden bridge over a waterway that’s strewn with beautiful lilies during green season! The main structures themselves include an attractive timber-and-thatch lodge, open sided to maximise vistas of the floodplains. In the lounge/library, well-cushioned wood-framed seating is positioned around coffee tables and close to the side of the building for the views. The camp’s bar is positioned next to this space, offering a good range of drinks and snacks. In a separate structure, there’s the dining room, featuring one large table flanked by safari chairs. Everyone eats together here, tucking in to Lebala’s delicious cuisine! Guests often enjoy early breakfasts and pre-dinner drinks around the camp’s fire-pit, which is set up a short distance away. Private outdoor dinners for special occasions are arranged on request. There’s a swimming pool here too, with inviting sunloungers alongside. And you can also relax with a little retail therapy, in the well-stocked curio shop.
ACTIVITIES AT LEBALA:
Lebala offers classic safari activities – vehicle and walking safaris. Please note, any parties containing a child or children aged 6 to 12 years must book a private vehicle. Additionally, there’s a minimum age requirement of 12 years for walks here.
Expertly guided game drives- The Kwando Reserve covers a staggering 232,000 hectares of plains, woodlands, wetlands, and water sources. Game viewing during the dry season is exceptionally good, peaking from July through to early November, as species really cluster around scarce water supplies. However, vehicle safaris are high quality throughout the year, thanks to the sheer volumes of wildlife. Highlights include predators such as lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, and wild dog; herds of elephant, buffalo, and hippo; and plentiful plains game, not least giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, impala, and tsessebe.
Night drives- As Lebala is situated in a private concession, the camp is able to offer drives by night as well as during the daytime. Also accompanied by a knowledgeable and experienced guide, these are thrilling opportunities to search out Kwando’s nocturnal creatures, among them civet, genet, honey badger, and spring hare.
Walking safaris- Ideal for anyone interested in getting to know the smaller life forms within the concession, this activity showcases Kwando’s plants, insects, and birdlife. A guide is on hand to answer all your questions. Just a few notable bird species in the region comprise ostrich, African skimmer, sacred ibis, slaty egret, and the vibrant little bee-eater!