Reviews of Mdonya Old River Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Mdonya Old River review
Ruaha landscape is quite a contrast to Selous – so many fantastic baobabs – and we exchanged mosquitoes for tsetse flies, which turned out to be a bigger issue than we expected – nothing seems to deter them apart from several layers of clothing. Greeted on our arrival in camp by Nicola who made us very welcome. Didn't meet Nick until later and he seemed reticent at first but this didn't last long and he proved to be very informative and interesting, and a good listener!
We loved the atmosphere at this camp, especially around the campfire in an evening. The food here was excellent and plentiful – how do they manage this in such remote locations? Once again our guide Giovanni and driver Alex were brilliant, Giovanni's bird knowledge excellent. Here we saw lots of lions, elephants and kudu along with a few different species such as black backed jackals, reedbuck, dik dik and klipspringer, and a long distance view of a cheetah and cub on a kill, as of course there is no 'off-roading' allowed in the National Park.
Around the camp we were visited by buffalo, giraffe, impala and monkeys. Our closest encounter here was with an elephant that decided to saunter through our bush lunch – as reported the food was very good! Our guides remained calm, telling us to remain still and we felt safe throughout.
Our early morning transfer to the airstrip was worth getting out of our comfortable beds for. First of all a genet crossed in front of us and then we came across 2 male lions, lying in the road. They got up and proceeded to lead the way, refusing to step aside! Eventually we got past but received a glowering look from one of them. Then to our great delight a young male leopard put in an appearance, which really made our day. Follow this up with a superb African sunrise, what more can you ask for?
Mdonya Old River review
Loved how the animals used to pass through camp, could have reached out and touched the buffalo that liked to forage alongside our tent!
Didnt love the tetse flies so much....
Astounding natural experience at Mdonya
Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, it did. We were close to the animals in a wonderful natural setting but we felt safe at all times, as long as we followed the few simple guidelines. The camp manager, Nick and his staff were wonderfully welcoming after every tour.
Our guide, Giovanni, and driver, Shitindi, worked so hard to find animals and birds. Giovanni was an expert birder and did all the work for us! We only had to sit back and enjoy. We couldn't believe the range of animals and birds we saw as we travelled everywhere. You might want to provide a facility to book a specialist bird guide, such as Giovanni,
The camp was in a wonderful situation and dining under the southern stars at night, feet away from bufallo and hyena was thrilling. The camp had a light sociable atmosphere with drinks around the fire at night. The food was excellent especially for our peculiar needs (vegetarian without cheese).
Be warned, the early morning safari was cold and we needed extra warmth. The Tsetse flies were annoying.
We had an elephant feeding on an acacia tree just outside our tent as we watched in amazement. It was also wonderful to have the Masai warrior move the bufallos on from around our tent when it was time to go to bed! There was even a safari style in the tent, simple, tasteful and elegant. There was no electricity and that was a bonus to support the whole atmosphere.
Be warned, each day in the jeep can become quite tiring. It was hot, but the heat was dry and bearable, The walking safari was especially good as we hato keep skirting around the elephants, hippos and crocodiles.
We saw several night time animals in the camp (civet, janet, hyena, jackal). A night time safari would have been great (but only in a jeep, of course).
A camp bird list might be a good idea.
Happy campers at Mdonya Old river camp
We loved everything about this camp and could find no fault with it at. Nick, Micole and all the staff were extremely friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about the animals and the area in general. We felt that our guide Yohanas and driver Alex went out of their way to make sure we got the most out of our trip. Initially we were a little apprehensive about this camp, as this was our first visit to Africa and our first safari and we thought it might be a little too basic for us but the camp is exactly what it says it is and in our opinion it was a wonderful experience. How the staff manage to cook and serve such lovely food is amazing. Yes, some of the food was occasionally not piping hot but in the main it was and you have to remember where you are and how far the staff have to carry it! The lunches we had out on safari were really good, meat, pasta, rice, fruit etc most unexpected and very welcome after a hard morning watching wonderful animals! As well as all the usual animals we were very lucky to see cheetahs busy eating. We would recommend this camp to anyone old or young, (we are in our 60's) but were happy that we visited this camp first and moved our way up the luxury scale, as some people who had been to more luxurious camps first were a little disappointed.Read more about the whole safari
Mdonya Old River review
We travelled here after time in Selous, so welcomed the contrast. The camp is more basic, but with the variety of the landscape and the richness of the wildlife you don't spend much time at a loss for things to do - and there is nothing to beat passing the time watching impala , buffalo and elephant wandering through the camp watching you watching them.
Food is good, with some real swahili cooking, and communal eating under the star lit skies and warmed by a flickering bonfire adds to the taste. The staff really make an effort, planning seating arrangements and making sure everyone gets a fair share of the Old Africa stories. Nick must have incredible patience to tell his fascinating story to each successive wave of guests.
Ruha as a park is less immediate in its rewards than Selous, but there is greater variety in the landscape, and some great horizons. Lions galore and although we didn't see cheetahs the hunt was interesting throughout. Special mention to the honey-badger and the genet as unexpected sights. Giovanni and Rowland made sure we saw as mush as possible.
Be prepared for the unexpected - our teenage children were forced out of their tent by an invasion of Safari Ants marching through - we saw they were capable of devouring a multi-coloured frog as well as taking numerous bites of human flesh. As Nicole pointed out we were happy to sit a matter of feet from lions but had to run from the tiny animals.
Only draw back is a slightly long drive before you get to the main game areas meaning all day drives are necessary.
Again no travellers cheques - cash only.
Great Safari at Mdonya Old River Camp
We adored the camp as it was so remote. Our tent was a fair way from anyone else and we had loads of animals walking past as we were on the ede of the old river bed.
The staff were excellent and we particularly enjoyed evenings round the camp fire and early morning breakfast.
Our safari guide, Giovanni, was incredible - there didn't seem to be anythiing he didn't know about the animal/ bird population. We had some great drives, with Giovanni and Roland, which all included picnic meals at some fantastic locations.
Mdonya Old River review
Came here after an excellent experience in Selous and wondered how anything would stand up to that but Mdonya did. A different environment both in Ruaha and in the camp meant that you didnt feel you could compare. Though a little cooler in the evenings and early mornings this was offset by being able to have drinks around a campfire and eat dinner under the stars with your feet being warmed by a bowl of coals. The open camp meant we had animals (elephant, buffalo, jackals, dikdik and giraffe in our stay) wandering into the camp but never felt unsafe.
Showering under the bright stars of an African night is an experience not to be underestimated.
Nick and Mikol couldnt have been more friendly and helpful to us and our children and again the food was excellent - a real achievement when that isolated. The staff were extremely friendly and always helpful whether serving drinks or charging up batteries.
Moses our driver was informative friendly and enhanced the experience greatly for us but was especially good with the children spending alot of time answering a myriad of questions and making sure they saw everything.
The game was plentiful and we saw two large pride of lions, two leopards and the most fantastic elephants as well as everyhting else you would expect - only downside were the Tsetse flieswhich meant you didnt linger in overgrown areas or kept wrapped in the masai blankets.
Sad not to see cheetah but otherwise a flawless stay and a great contrast to Selous - a pairing I would recommend to anyone considering Southern Tanzania.
Mdonya Old River review
Fantastic location alongside the dry river bed. Great staff and good leadership from Manager, Nick. Good food. We thought some of the previous comments on this camp were unfair. It is clearly described (and priced) as a simple camp with tented accommodation. Its simplicity is refreshing and its strength.
Animals (particularly elephants) really DO come into camp. This puts the guests in their proper place. You have to drive a long way to see a big variety of game. The guiding is enthusiastic but there is not the training infrastructure that you find in other camps. We preferred the shorter local drives and spending time in camp itself where things come to you. The tetse flies are a problem here - although thankfully not in the camp itself.
Mdonya - the best!
We spent 3 nights at Mdonya and wished we had spent longer there. Everything was 'second to none'. The fact that there was no electricity enhanced the experience. We really felt that we were on safari. Before we even went on a game drive an elephant and his pals came into camp and walked around eating the foliage whilst we finished our lunch.
The camp is managed by a very capable man, Nick who was available at all times to help us and arrange our drives & walks and was always there to welcome us 'home'. The two guides that were assigned to us from the beginning were Vincent and Moses. Moses (a plain clothes Maasai) was the driver but was just as knowledgeable as our guide Vincent. Vincent was charming. He was initially a little shy about his english but soon got over it and his knowledge was incredible about the animals, birds and plants we saw giving us the common name, Swahili, Latin and explaining their habits. If Vincent didn't understand our english then Moses who had a better command of the language helped out, but over the period Moses just joined in and we benefitted from both.
Moses and Vincent took us on our sundowner drive and a full game drive the next day serving our meals and educating us along the way. We were very spoilt and very well looked after.
On the third day we decided to take a walking safari which meant we lost Vincent and Moses. The other couple in our truck were lucky enough to keep them and we gained another two friends, Zach and Alex. We couldn't believe our luck! Another two members of staff that made our safari special. Zach was the guide and Alex the driver. Zach improved our Swahili, giving us a list of names for the game and some simple sentences. Over the three days we saw so much game and many birds and learnt about Tanzania.
We were unlucky with Lion, Cheetah and Leopard but we were enthralled by the abundance of the other species and we were not there just to tick boxes! We were very sorry to move on. The kindness we were shown was exemplary.
Well done Mdonya - full marks
A beautiful wild experience in comfort
We enjoyed so much the wildness and remoteness of Mdonya. We felt the camp well managed and the food and service good considering just where we were in the depths of the bush. The setting of the camp was very beautiful and our one regret was that we didn't have time just to relax for a day in camp as it was quite common for the game to wander through.
Our days were busy and long and our guide Giovanni was attentive and knowledgable and ensured that we got the best out of our stay in Ruaha.
One of our most memorable experiences was the walking safari with ranger Edwin along the banks of the river. We loved just sitting by the hippo pool and quietly watching.
The tents were very comfotable and and the hot solar showers very efficient. The evening drinks arround the fire and siitting together under the stars to eat were memorable experiences. Staff were ever helpful and friendly.
Just outside the camp the Tsetse Fly were a nuisance but the advice Expert Africa gave us about Avon Skin so Soft was excellent as it worked a treat when most other repellents were useless.