Reviews of Mdonya Old River Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Mdonya Old River Camp
This experience was completely different from the first camp, a bit more primitive. The overall experience was good.
The guide and driver were wonderful. The camp host was very kind, but I wonder if it would have been different had the regular staff been on duty. Again, I did not enjoying sharing food/meals with the bugs, but did enjoying being in the camp. They may want to have more Massai on hand so that you can move a bit more freely about the camp after dark. These were minor inconveniences.
Overall a great adventure was had by all.
Mdonya Old River Camp review
This quite small camp was well sited and the Italian Manager was extremely helpful withe a passionate interest in the wildlife and the ecosystem. This was another occasion upon which I was well looked after.
At the end of the visit I was the only guest in camp from UK (all the others were French) and, again, it was ensured that I was not left on my own at meal times. Meals were at a communal table and the Manager sat with me to ensure that I was not left out. Returning from a drive we were invariably met by the Manager and another member of staff carrying a tray with drinks of juice laid out - a nice touch.
The camp had a civet which was sometimes found sitting on the window ledge to the camp office and elephants etc. wandered through the camp.
A very enjoyable visit and, if I expressed an interest in any particular animal, the driver and guide went to great lengths to ensure that I saw the animals concerned.
Mdonya Old River Camp review
Mdonya is in set a lovely location alongside a dry river bed. The camp itself is well laid out and the the food more than adequate. The guiding was also very good, with the spotting of a leopard 200 metres from the road in a tree in particularly noteworthy. This led to a fantastic sighting of a surprisingly relaxed leopard.
One downside to Mdonya's location is the distance from the main game viewing areas making all day trips a necessity. No particular problem with this but if you are into photography there is the feeling that the best times - early morning and late evening - are spent travelling to and from the camp along the same road.
Mdonya Old River Camp review
An excellent begining to our holiday. Micol was a brilliant manager and attentive host.Read more about the whole safari
Mdonya - frendly camp with excellent guiding
We had 4 nights at Mdonya Old River Camp in the September dry season. The staff are enthusiastic, efficient and friendly and the manager (Nicole) was a bundle of energy and seemingly ubiquitous - I don't know when she ever slept. The camp is comfortable but simple, with large well-spaced tents overlooking the long dry river. We were well aware before travelling that (apart from the office) there was no electricity in the camp but found this more of an inconvenience than we expected. The use of log fires and kerosene lamps works well in the communal areas but we feel that the combination of kerosene lamps, candles and a wind-up torch was hard work in the tents for dressing and washing. We accidentally knocked a kerosene lamp over in outr tent - luckily it did not break but it did make us think about fire risks.
Small solar panels that could provide lighting in the tents are now available (we are associated with a charity in Uganda which is supplying personal panel and lights to schools for under £15 each) and we feel that these would be a significant improvement. We did discuss this with Nicole who replied that they wanted to retain the "traditional safari" atmosphere: we think this is right for the communal areas but that some change is needed within the tents. At the very least, we suggest that you stress to your clients that they should take head torches!
Food at Mdonya was always substantial and hearty, if not "haute cuisine" - bush breakfasts and lunches were particularly welcome and varied. During our stay, the camp varied between half-full and full, with a range of nationalities which made for some interesting conversations.
Our guide Zak was excellent - he has been at Mdonya for over 6 years and during our stay had 2 returning couples who had asked for him again. There is wildlife close to Mdonya: there was an elephant virtually in the camp when we arrived, there were usually impalas or giraffes wandering past, and Zak could usually find groups of 20+ elephants within 15 minutes, not to mention the occasional lions and a leopard - but at this time of year, it is necessary to drive some distance to find the bigger numbers (which we certainly did). Half- and full-day safaris from Mdonya are therefore particularly attractive and "good value" (we had a "half" day of 7 hours, and day trips were about 11 hours). Zak was always keen to find out what we were hoping to see but also careful to manage our expectations (for example, there had been no wild dogs in the area for some time). Being a National Park, Ruaha is crossed by public roads and has some local tourism - however, although we did see a number of other vehicles including small coaches, it never felt crowded or intrusive.
As previous reviews have mentioned, there is a band of tsetse flies near the camp. However use of high-Deet repellents and avoidance of blue/black clothes (combined with the burning of elephant dung on the backs of the vehicles) seemed effective whilst driving through this area - we actually suffered more in Selous.
In summary, we thoroughly enjoyed Ruaha and Mdonya and had some great wildlife viewing in terms of both variety and quantity. Judging by comments from other travellers we met, Kwihala or perhaps Mwagusi may be closer to permanent or semi-permanent water and therefore to the bigger game numbers during the dry season (it would be interesting to visit Mdonya in the green season). We have expressed above our thoughts about lighting in the tents. However despite these reservations, and thanks to the enthusiastic and professional camp staff and guides, we had a great time.
Great 'out in the wild' feeling!
Had great time here! Loved the tents, which were well spaced out and the fact that wildlife could just wander through! (the camp not the tents!!) Dinners taken communally outside, which was great to hear about who'd seen what that day and then continued round the camp fire... Still amazed that when someone shone a torch into the darkness there might be an elephant no distance away happily having a munch! Wonderful going to sleep to the sound of impalas and elephants feeding nearby and all sorts of cries coming through the air.
Ruaha is perfect for getting close up to the animals, giraffe and elephants in particular. We saw a cheetah with cubs and a leopard as well as lions and numerous deer! The animals do not seem too worried about the vehicles and we didn't experience any problem with having lots of other vehicles around either. The guiding is geared to what you want when so we didn't feel pushed into starting too early.
Good guides and good game viewing
The guides at Mdonya were amongst the best I have come across, very knowledgable and very good at spotting the wildlife. The number of lions was incredible (around 30 different lions in 4 days) and the highlight was seeing a female cheetah with cubs. It was possible to get close to a number of different species without disturbing them including bushbuck and dik-dik. The elephants and giraffes were particularly relaxed and I would highly recommend this National Park for both these species.
The only downside of the game drives were the occassions when cheetah and leopard (to some extent lions as well) were sighted. Some vehicles (most often from other camps) seemed to disturb the natural activity of the animals - for example, we watched the cheetah hunt some impala but the impala were disturbed by a racing vehicle despite our driver telling other vehicles to approach carefully to avoid disturbing the wildlife.
The camp's location was good although it felt a little away from the more habitat diverse part of the National Park. That said some interesting wildlife such as dik-dik and bushbuck as well as a number of raptors could be found near camps. I also heard lion and jackal on a number of nights.
Mdonya Old River Camp review
Generally we had a great time there.
The food was the best of all the camps we stayed at. The Guides were very good and we liked the location. The tsetse flies were a bit of a nuisance at times but not enough to spoil our enjoyment. The only negative was that the staff didn't appear to be allowed to interact with guests, even though they were more than happy to do so.
Secluded tented camp provides great experienc
A really lovely place.
The managers (Nicol and Fabia; regrettably now rotated to different assignments) did a great job of creating a welcoming and friendly, but also extremely professional, atmosphere. Guiding was also excellent. The location has lots of animals, thought thicker brush than some other locations in Ruaha.
My stay here was one of the highlights of the trip.
Green season at Mdonya
Like Manze, Mdonya is a very well run camp and we were really well looked after. There was a very real sense that all the staff were interesting and interested - nothing was too much trouble and they really wanted us tio have great stay.
Enoch and Chele were a great team in the jeep. Great breakfasts and lunches in the bush. The only niggle was that on day 2 we did 2 half day game drives and we were afflicted by the tsetse fllies which are far worse in the area surrounding the camp and were not a problem on full day game drives. In camp they weren't a problem and we appreciate that the park authorities are at fault for not keeping the tseste traps properly treated but they are a real nuisance - everyone was totally distracted by them. So we wouldn't recommend half day trips whem the tstetse flies are active.
That said everything else was wonderful and we had some amazing wildlife sightings