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Tanzania (Ruaha): Trip Report for Mwagusi Camp

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I have nothing negative to say about Mwagusi. My tent (called a banda) - 6B was wonderful - very spacious, decorations utilizing local wood, stones, carvings, etc. Hammock on the veranda was my favorite place every afternoon between lunch and the game drive. Really appreciated the solar lights which provided plenty of light to read in bed and write in my journal. The bed was comfortable and I slept well each night (after I got used to the elephant foraging outside my tent!) Bathroom was also spacious and seemed virtually like a house's bathroom.

The dining area was great since it stayed cool and provided a nice spot to sit and relax while watching the animals in the river bed. The food was quite a surprise since it had imaginative, sophisticated flavors - great salads at lunch featuring peanuts, carrots, fruit, and other vegs. Dinners under the stars were nice (although eating inside was nice too and less of a trudge to the river bed). Breakfasts in the bush were the best of the 3 camps I visited; i particularly liked the toast and the cinnamon bread.

Staff were helpful, knowledgeable and friendly across the board - banda team, restaurant and office. Appreciated their pride in Mwagusi and their role. Camp managers (and Chris Fox) were very visible and joined us for all meals. Rather than superficial conversation and cliches, they really talked with everyone, one on one and shared their opinions, experiences and really listened to the responses - they were true two-way conversations! Really got the sense that this is more than a job, they do it because they love it. Chris Fox was fascinating and a wealth of information about the evolution of eco-tourism and the Tanzania's path forward.

My driver & guide (Immanuel and Isaac) were fantastic. They spotted and tracked animals extremely well, including a leopard and cheetah, and lots of birds. They had a great way of knowing which way the animals were going to go and then getting us in prime position to watch/photo them. They were both very knowledgeable about plants and terrain in addition to the animals, so I feel like I got a good sense of the overall Ruaha area rather than just focusing on the search for animals. It was also nice to talk with them and learn about their lives.

Went on 7 game drives (excluding to/from airport) in a Toyota Land Cruiser w/3 rows of seats (shared the vehicle w/3 other guests on all drives).

On my very first game drive ever, we saw a lionness at impala kill! Other animals seen at Mwagusi: leopard; cheetah; cape buffalo; impala; baboons; hippos; crocs; zebras; dik diks; wart hogs; mongoose; zebras; elephants (including fording the Ruaha River); giraffes; lions; lioness; ostrich; newborn giraffe; eagle feeding chicks; Grants gazelles; Saw multiple cats each day.

I was very impressed that Mwagusi provides an on-site educational program for their employees, including English language and driver/guide training. It was clear that their owners truly believe in operating the camp in sync with the environment and the Tanzanian culture, and by providing their employees with education and a career path, their actions live up to their words. They were the only camp out of the 3 I visited who offered these programs.

I would definitely stay at Mwagusi again and will recommend it to others. Out of the 3 camps I stayed in (Mwagusi Lake Manze & Selous Impala), this was the best from a facilities, food, and blending in with the eco-system perspective.

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