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Southern and Western Tanzania; Recommendations, Please!

Southern and Western Tanzania; Recommendations, Please!

Aug 20th, 2008, 09:46 AM
  #1  
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Southern and Western Tanzania; Recommendations, Please!

I'm leaving for my fourth trip on the northern safari circuit of Tanzania in a few weeks, but am already looking ahead to 2009. One area I've never visited on my previous safaris is southern and western Tanzania: Selous, Ruaha and Katavi. I've made some preliminary contacts with Jane Fox of Foxes Safaris and David Barker of Authentic Tanzania. However, I'd like to hear from my fellow Fodorites as to their experiences in these areas as to camps and lodges, time of year (I'm looking at September), safari companies, etc. Also, if anyone is interested in going with me, let's talk!
ShayTay is offline  
Aug 20th, 2008, 10:05 AM
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I have only been to Ruaha. Stayed at Old Mdonya River Camp.. Excellent camp.. Nice staff, great manager and a faboluos setting along a dried up river.. It is very basic and rustic, but you really a wildlife experience. We had animals in camp every day incl. lions, elephants, buffaloes and various antelopes.. No svimmingpool and no butler but you donīt pay 1000 US$ a day
jesron is offline  
Aug 20th, 2008, 10:45 AM
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jesron
i just had a look at the camp you mention: sounds very good to me. no big fuss but decent facilities.

thx for your input.

div
divine54 is offline  
Aug 20th, 2008, 11:03 AM
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Thanks, Jesron. That's one of the camps I've enquired about... nice to hear of your experiences there.
ShayTay is offline  
Aug 20th, 2008, 03:44 PM
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ShayTay, if you have followed the East Africa Trip Report Index thread you probably have run across our reports from couple of visits to Tanzania including Ruaha, Mikumi and Selous. 2007 trip included Ruaha and Mikumi. We have been very pleased with the Foxes of Africa organization and will certainly include them in our planing for visit in 2009 once we settle on north, south or a bit of both as we did in 2007. Our trips to Tanzania have always been in May and/or June but for next one we are looking at probably October simply to see a different season. September would be a great month particularly in Ruaha as wildlife will be more concentrated along the river and other water areas. If you have particular questions feel free to contact me at [email protected]
Dick
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Aug 20th, 2008, 05:10 PM
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ShayTay,
We were In Katavi last September and it did not disappoint!Great concentration of game along the river bed during their dry season.Probably over 50 lion sightings,huge buffalo herds,many elephants,huge Nile Crocs hiding in the banks, amazing hippo concentrations,sable,to name a few,as well as some great birding-many scavengers,birds of prey,trogans...We stayed at Chada Camp-great traditional bush safari,good food,wonderful guides and the best company.A highlight was the fly camping overlooking the Chada Plains.So much of a different and somewhat more remote experience than the Northern Circuit.Hope you make it out there next yesr!
toontowndoc is offline  
Aug 20th, 2008, 07:37 PM
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Thanks, Dick, for the information. I'll look for your trip reports. I'm glad to hear your recommendation of Foxes. I may just e-mail you later if I have questions.

Toontowndoc, it's nice to hear from someone who has been to Katavi. It sounds wonderful! I've been to Botswana and Zambia, but this sounds even more remote.
ShayTay is offline  
Aug 20th, 2008, 07:44 PM
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Hi Shaytay,

have a great time on the Northern Circuit this year and then you will have more fun planning your 2009 safari.

Old Mdonya is worth investigating. I met some fellow Australians on the Ruaha River Lodge airstrip who I had previously spent an afternoon with at DAR airport and they were very pleased with both the accommodation at Old Mdonya and game-viewing in Ruaha.

DF and I stayed at RRL for 5 nights between 28/6 and 3/7 this year. The rooms are large with a deck and indoor lounge area and the situation of the camp on the river is hard to beat. We hired a private vehicle for 4 full days game viewing and I was very pleased with the standard of guiding.

However, I would not return and here are some reasons, which may or may not be important to other travellers.

Both DF and I got sick at different times during our stay. The food was of varying quality, and the dining and serving staff were reserved, and whilst not unfriendly, seemed uncomfortable talking to guests.
Joseph the barman was the exception to this! I would have appreciated some electricity in my banda between 6.30-7.30 am to light the bathroom which was dark in the early morning due to small windows and a low thatch roof. Rather, the power was switched on between 9-1 when most guests were on game drives. The bathroom was fine at other times of the day. Power was also provided between 6.30-10.30 at night.

Unfortunately, no comments form was given to departing guests at RRL, however I noted my opinion of RRL on the comments form at Rufiji River Camp upon departure. I believe RRC was purchased by Foxes of Africa late in 2007.

RRC was a great property that I would recommend to others. The tents were scrupulously clean, food and service were of high quality and standard, the bar/lounge/library area was very welcoming and provided a centre for the camp. The view from the tents over the river was fantastic and the hippo honking provided an authentic safari backdrop.

RRC offered river safaris which complemented the 4WD game drives.

Charlie and Cathy were very welcoming managers and were in the bar/lounge area every day chatting with guests which created a relaxing and homey atmosphere.

I agree with previous comments on this forum that the tents at RRC are close together and this may bother some guests. The tents are also small and some guests might feel crowded with 2 occupants.

However, DF and I had single tents and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.

Shaytay, if you have other questions, email me on treepolatgmaildotcom. I am still working on the trip report and photos!

Cheers,



Pol.


Treepol is offline  
Aug 21st, 2008, 03:17 AM
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shaytay
that's what i got from adventure taz camps:

"To answser your specific questions below, the only one of our 4 properties where one can book sole use of vehicle in advance is at Selous Impala - the extra cost is in the attached rates.
The best seasons for seeing big cats etc are the dry seasons, i.e.e July - Oct and Dec - Feb. Our camps are closed in April and May every year, for the rains.
The best time for seeing wild dogs is now really, after the big rains, so Aug-Oct or so, though this can vary. After that they are nomadic till they return again for denning. We have not seen wild dogs in Ruaha for a while, but quite often in Selous this year.
There is no guarantee obviously, that clients will see them, though we do always know if they are in the area and where the best places to look may be."

sole use of vehicle is a loughable 100US$/day!!!

these camps are definately on my to do list ...

div
divine54 is offline  
Aug 21st, 2008, 05:58 AM
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I was in Ruaha and Katavi last Sept/Oct. I stayed and flew with the Foxes, and they were great, but I had them set up a fly camp for me in Ruaha which was the highlight of our trip; the actual River Lodge they run in Ruaha, while very nice, with huge recently refurbished bandas, is quite large and 'institutional', with large tour groups coming and going, and a huge dining room...great location but not very intimate. I booked the Tanzanian portion of my trip through David Barker, so I have a lot of experience with him. Great guy, incredibly patient, I cannot say enough nice things. I would be happy to answer any questions you have; as I am sure you know there are many ways to attack each park, and it really depends on how you like to do things style-wise. Just email me at [email protected]. Put something in the message line so I know it is not junk.
If you are going out to Katavi, you might want to consider adding Mahale, which is a hop from Katavi, and part of the Southern/Western circuit, and incredibly beautiful, unbelievably remote, and the chimp experience is great.
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Aug 21st, 2008, 09:42 AM
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Thanks for your responses. Treepol, I appreciate your forthright review of Ruaha River Lodge. Div, thanks for the research. Yes, that's a good rate for a private vehicle. Jenack, I just received a response from David; he's just come in from a safari. I'll definitely consider using him, given that I'd have the option of booking into non-Fox camps with him. He's suggested Lake Manze Camp in Selous, Tandala Camp in Ruaha (due to the time of year), and Katavi Wildlife Camp in Katavi. They all appeal to me (small, tented camps.) I'll be in Dar in September, so we'll try to get together then.
ShayTay is offline  
Aug 21st, 2008, 09:55 AM
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Send him my regards.
jenack is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2008, 02:24 PM
  #13  
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Has anyone stayed at Tandala Camp in Ruaha?
ShayTay is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 08:13 AM
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Hi ShayTay--I was in Selous Safari Camp for several days at the end of September 2008. I loved it. The animals were plentiful and unlike the northern circuit, vehicles can go off road and get very close to the animals. It did get a bit warm during the middle of the day, but I was never uncomfortable--and I do not tolerate heat well. I had left a large group in Zanzibar and traveled to Selous on my own. I appreciated the slower pace. I LOVED my accommodations---in the early evening one heard the hyena and at bedtime, hippos could be heard very nearby. One can do vehicle, walking, and boat safaris. I don't think the drivers and guides were as knowledgable as the ones we had in the north, however. I was the only American at the camp and that was fun, too.

I would love to take you up on your invitation to go with you, but I may have to wait a bit longer to return!
DianeGermaine is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 09:02 AM
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Thanks for the recommendation, Diane. How did you travel to the camp on your own? I may do that with my four extra days at the end of the safari. I used FF miles for my ticket and couldn't get out of Dar until then.
ShayTay is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 07:09 AM
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It was booked by my group tour operator (Global Adrenaline) with a Tanzanian company (I don't have the name with me right now but it was out of Arusha)--I flew ZanAir to Selous from Stonetown, then back to Dar on ZanAir--on what was supposed to be a direct flight, but turned into a one hour lay-over in Stonetown. With your experience in Africa, the uncertainty of Tanzanian air travel probably wouldn't bother you, but that in itself was a bit of an adventure.
DianeGermaine is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 12:53 PM
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msafariguy -

If you read the Fodor's Forum guidelines, advertising in not permitted. You seem to be all over promoting this wayoafrica company.
sandi is offline  
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