Reviews of Mdonya Old River Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Honeymoon at Mdonya Old River
A long drive from the airstrip provided some excellent game viewing on our journey to camp where we were greeted with a warm welcome from Mcol and her team. Although this camp is more basic than some others it has everything that you need and has a more isolated feel. Campfires, elephants at breakfast and showers under the stars make for a magical experience.
We had different guides each day at this camp, Geremia, Zakaria and Giovanni were all exceptionally good. With their drivers it amazes us how they spot thing with the naked eye that you struggle to see when its pointed out to you!
A walk down the river with Evans the ranger was also well worth doing. Crocodiles & Hippos are really close and leaving the vehicle behind makes it very peaceful.
The communal meals under the stars have a lovely atmosphere and give a chance to meet and swap stories. the food was delicious and full of surprises, we did not expect lasagne and apple pie in the middle of the bush! On the last night the Mdonya team surprised us with a romantic meal outside our tent complete with camp fire and our guide Zakaria to tell us stories.
The game viewing was brilliant. We were very lucky to see 4 Leopards whilst in Rhuaha as well as a Leopard tortoise!! There are very large herds of Elephant, Buffalo, Zebra, which are great to see up close.
Nothing is a problem for Mcol and her team at Mdonya even when the water was off because of an elephant digging up the pipe this did not cause too much disruption for guests.
Mdonya Old River Camp review
While Selous to Mdonya might be the correct order from the "observing animals" point of view, the more simple living conditions seem like a down grade after the luxury of Impala.
Would it be better to reverse the order of the camps?
Mdonya felt like a real camp
Very friendly well-run camp, well overseen by Nicola. More basic and "real camp" tahn Impala, but still very well looked after. There were only 10-12 of us there so very intimate atmosphere aroung camp fire and at dinner, and nicely cosmopolitan with italians and Spanish.
Because it's a national park the animals are not as shy as at Selous, but obviously you can't drive off road as in the Selous. It was good to do both. Lovely scenery, and walk by river.
Lots of elephant, lion, and our guide excelled at spotting cheetah. Quite a way from the camp to the "main" area around the river, and tsetse flies a problem along this road, but as there was game in the camp/ all round the camp, and all along the road it wasn't a big issue. 100% DEET kept tsetse flies away.
One of our best safaris at Mdonya
Mycol and her team run this camp very well in what is probably the best National Park in Africa. The low impact of the camp on the environment adds to its appeal. Sitting under canvas having breakfast while elephant and impala graze a short distance away is what Africa is all about. Food was very good and as with the other camps we visited on this trip nothing was too much touble.
Our guide Zakariah and driver, Knight, were brilliant and worked very hard for us, ensuring we had the opportunity to see a wide variaty of animals and birds. They were with us on all our game drives and even gave up their day off to be with us on our last full day at the camp. On one day we wanted to try and find sable in what is a remote part of the park. We searched all day but didn't find them, but it wasn't for the lack of effort on both their part. On other all day drives we did see cheetah, lion (35 in one day in six separate instances) as well as elephants digging for water in the dried up river beds, as well as lots more besides.
Ruaha is an absolute gem of a park, with so many variable habitats and lots of wildlife. It is also the place to come to if you want to see more animals than tourists.
Mdonya Old River Camp review
Just perfect.Managed by an Italian,Micole,with all the style that they bring to the occasion.Nothing was ever a problem.Very good sightings of game and in some respects,better than SelousA better 'wilderness' experience.Communal dining also to be welcomed,especially in the evenings.Read more about the whole safari
An amazing experience at Mdonya
Mdonya is what it says, 'simple but comfortable, for people looking for a genuine off the beaten track, round the campfire experience'. We were not disappointed! Here was somewhere truly special. Nicole and her team welcomed us warmly, greeting us with a drink every time we returned to camp. Everyone worked so hard to ensure all the guests made the most of their stay in these idyllic surroundings.
Our guide Zacharia and our driver (name escapes me), were exceptional and so knowledgeable. If they did not manage to answer one of our questions, it was researched that night and answered in the morning. Their eyesight was fantastic, spotting the slightest movement of bird or beast, then giving us a comprehensive explaination of their habits etc. They hopped in and out of the vechicle to point out plants, seeds, footprints and dung! (We became quite proficient in identifying the latter!)
All the camp staff were passionate about their environment and their enthusiasm certainly rubbed off. We loved every minute of our time here. The Ruaha is so different from the Selous, making them a great combination together. True, you do have to drive further to view game, but this is compensated for by the changing vistas.
The camp has a great atmosphere, especially round the communal table and camp fire, swopping stories with other interesting and like minded guests. Mdonya is not as basic as we had believed. The sand floors, candlelight and kerosene lamps and vigilant Masai just add to the enjoyment.
We had four wonderful days with Zacharia, having Kswahilli lessons over superb lunches in the bush. Our shared sense of humour and our love of the 'great outdoors' made this a truly memorable and life changing experience. Here you really do have close encounters with the wildlife, both in and out of the camp. We cannot thank everyone enough for making this visit so special.
Perfect Mdonya Old River Camp
This was an absolutely perfect camp for our family and suited us down to the ground. The managers were so welcoming, relaxed and interesting and we instantly felt right at home.
Our guide Zacheria and driver Night were phenominal and so full of extrordinary knowledge. Zacheria will forever be known as 'double chui' to us as we got two leopards in one day! Amazing. They were so respectful, knowledgeable and curtious. Such lovely guys.
Particularly memerable moments: Popcorn and beer watching the sun go down on our first night, seeing leopards, a black mamba, eating lunch by the river watching the wildlife go by. A truely fantastic spot. We watched 3 elephants playing around in the water and saw the biggest croc of the trip. Some awesome views around the park. Great chat and a few giggles around the camp fire in the evening with a Tusker or Safari beer, followed by the most outstanding food. We were stunned that so much variety came from a camp in the middle of nowhere.
Awesome setting - the tents were perfect.
Our favourite place by far.
Mdonya Old River review
What a magical place! We wanted to get off the beaten track and did so here. Saw almost no one except camp staff for 4 days and spent time in lush and wonderfully wild bush savanah with some very special people who are passionate about the eco-system. I was very, very sad to leave what became my favourite place of the whole trip!
Enough rain had fallen to enable a greening everywhere making it harder to spot game, but our guides used their tracking skills and bush eyes to find lions, kudo, buffalo, hosts of birds and even an eland. We had wonderful game drives in different parts of the park with the same team of generous and kind guides and drivers so that we got to know each other a bit which was lovely.The range of wildlife was enormous and the knowledge they had included flora, birds and animals including tracking and dung reading!
Many flying insects made a trip to the loo somewhat anxious at night as big black throbbing things felt threatening and seemed to have fun dive bombing us. Enclosing the toilet under netting could make a big difference at certain times of the year.
The things I want to remember for a long time are:
Evening campfires and enjoying a drink together with the sounds of Africa at night surrounding us
Lions and hyennas prowling around camp after a kill at dinner time
The calls of the dawn chorus
OUr lovely guides and driver - Yohanes, Zacharius and Night who shared so many laughs and much knowledge with us
Micole's passion about the environment around Mdonya
Trying to learn Swahili and everyone's patience, especially Kypondo, our Massai guard.
The pride of 20 lions stalking a zebra in the heat of our final afternoon.
Ejoyable safari at Mdonya Camp
We enjoyed or stay at Mdonya, and it gave us the experience of the African bush that I had requested. Our guide and driver - Yohanes and Mr Night - were good and very patient, spending a lot of time looking for our requests! The atmosphere in the camp was welcoming and friendly, and we enjoyed eating the excellent food together with the other guests.
However, we did find the distances a problem. The camp is situated a long way from good view points which tended to be near the airstrip, which in itself was over an hour's drive. On the day we went for a walking safari, we had to drive for 1 hour 30 mins to collect the ranger before we could start, by which time it was beginning to get hot.
The safaris tended to be whole days because of the distance, and this meant sitting for long periods in intense heat without moving. Personally, I found the lack of exercise a problem in both camps, but more so in Mdonya, and it was not something I was prepared for.
The other problem was the tsetse fly. It is particularly bad in the area of the camp, and none of the repellents worked. Consequently we had to cover ourselves up - which was rather uncomfortable in the heat. Even so, they managed to bite through clothing.
We felt that we could have managed with one less day at Mdonya
Mdonya Old River review
A very good and personal service was given by the staff and management in this charming camp along the dry river bed with plenty of game around the tents at daytime and in the night.
Only the tsetse flies in the areas around the camp could give me a bad day, but since most of the game drive took place in more remote areas without the flies it was only a lesser problem.