Jongomero Camp is situated on the banks of the Jongomero river...
Jongomero Camp: Our full report
Stylish and with a slightly colonial edge, Jongomero Camp is similar to its sister camp Siwandu. It has smooth and seamless service and plenty of luxury, but despite this, Jongomero has retained a real sense of wilderness.
Located in the far south of Ruaha National Park, Jongomero is far away from any of the other camps. This part of Ruaha is both quiet and spectacular – it's a real wilderness experience. It is extremely unlikely that you will come across any other vehicles while on safari around Jongomero.
Jongomero Camp is spread along the banks of the Jongomero River which flows strongly in the rains, but is usually just sand during the dry season. Even when dry, it's a corridor and you can sit on your veranda and watch as a variety of animals walk along it. Elephants frequently wander past, digging into the sand, trying to tap into the water beneath.
The eight tented rooms at Jongomero are raised up on wooden platforms, and have great views across the river. All are large and stylish canvas constructions – 'tent' is really too simple a word – with high-quality furnishings on polished wooden floors. Expect touches of leather and chunky repossessed dhow wood.
Similarly luxurious, Jongomero's main lounge and dining room has polished wooden floors, sumptuous sofas and Persian rugs across the floors. Rustic in design, with a slight colonial twist, it's an inviting place to relax with a drink, leafing through the coffee-table books on display. The bar and lounge are in one section, while in the other, past a small curio shop, is the dining room. This is Ruaha's most luxurious camp, yet its high thatched roofs, and odd bits of traditional African furniture and art, somehow keep Jongomero in touch with its surroundings – and stop it feeling too contrived.
Safari activities at Jongomero Camp revolve mainly around 4WD game drives – and timings are generally very flexible. Breakfast can be organised around your plans for the morning, and a picnic lunch is packed for longer days in the bush. The camp has also recently introduced fly-camping and safari walks – currently led by the main guide/manager, Molly. These are a fantastic way to learn about the smaller things in the bush – and to get a lot closer to them.
Until 2008, Jongomero was situated on the edge of the park, close to a hunting concession. Hence the game had a tendency to be a little scarce, skittish and scared of humans. Then the size of the park was doubled, and several of the surrounding concessions were included within Ruaha National Park. This has resulted in a significant improvement in the quantity of game and the quality of the game viewing around the camp. Because the area around Jongomero probably still doesn't have quite the density of game found around the Mwagusi River, the camp does offer full-day game drives so you can reach these areas.
When we first visited Jongomero, around 2003, this area of Ruaha National Park had a serious problem with high densities of tsetse flies – which give painful bites if they get a chance! In recent years, efforts to tackle the problem seem to be working and, although there are still quite a few tsetse flies around, they are no longer a reason to avoid this picturesque part of the park.
Our ViewJongomero's standards of service, food and comfort are very high – and you can certainly expect very good guiding. Its game densities aren't quite as high as some of the areas further east, but there is good game here. So if you're looking for a 'wilderness' experience, it could be a good choice for you – especially when combined with the option to fly-camp.
Ideal length of stay: Four nights is ideal to experience all this area has to offer. For a longer stay in the park we recommend that you combine it with Mwagusi Camp.
Directions: From Dar es Salaam, Jongomero is around a 12-hour drive. Most guests take the 2hr flight to a nearby airstrip, from where it's only about 2km to the camp.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Jongomero is fresh and plentiful, with an imaginative and varied menu: in our experience, it is some of the best in Ruaha. While the evening meal is generally a communal affair, this is completely up to the individual guests.
Breakfast usually consists of cereals, yoghurt, fruit and a full English for those wishing to indulge themselves. If you're out on safari, you will have a light breakfast whilst out and then head back for a slightly more filling brunch.
When we last visited, lunch was a light meal of chicken satay kebabs with a range of serve-yourself salads placed on the table. There was a watermelon dessert to follow.
Dinner, a slightly more formal affair, is served in a variety of locations around the lodge – for example, down on the dry riverbed, or in the bush under the stars. In September 2012 we enjoyed a tuna pate followed by beef with potato gratin and vegetables, rounded off by a delicious chocolate mousse.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included. Expect to pay around US$2 for a soft drink and US$3 for a local beer.
Honeymoons: Jongomero is luxurious and tented, and activities start later here than many camps. Add to this full-day drives, with lunch, which make for a relaxed schedule; dinner at which guests will dine separately as often as they'll sit together; and a very attentive team – and we'd expect any honeymoon couple to feel special here.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Tanzania
Birdwatching: Ruaha's unique position at the centre of Tanzania, north of Selous but south of most of Tanzania's other parks, gives it an interested cross section of birds; a fascinating park for the bird-watcher.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Tanzania
Wildlife safaris: You'll find all of the usual big game species in Ruaha, including elephant, large herds of buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, lion, leopard, particularly good cheetah and even wild dog. Ruaha also has a few species associated with the parks further north, including Grant's gazelle and lesser kudu; it's an excellent park for wildlife.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: The camp allows children over the age of 6 - however it tends to appeal more to couples than families.
Equipment: There are no special pieces of equipment on offer for children
Generally recommended for children: Jongomero Camp has a swimming pool, so could be a good option for families with children. However, the camp is both wild and relatively quiet, and tends to attract couples rather than families.
Notes: Jongomero has no fences, and is in an area of dangerous big game. Hence we feel that this camp is best for more mature children with an interest in wildlife – and wouldn't suggest it for anyone under about 12 years of age.
Power supply: Solar Power
Communications: Jongomero is in a very remote area of the park where there is no mobile-phone access. Internet is available for checking emails very quickly, but there is an additional charge for this.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio available at Jongomero
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: The managers and a few of the staff at Jongomero are first-aid trained and there is a first-aid kit on site. For serious emergencies the camp can use the flying-doctor service.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: You will always be escorted to and from your room by an askari (guard), as a precaution against wildlife. As Jongomero is so remote there is no risk of theft.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the rooms and communal areas and the staff at Jongomero are trained to use them. There are also fire breaks around the camp.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Included
Money: There are no currency exchange facilities here