Reviews of Mdonya Old River Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
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.
Mdonya Old River - Our favourite camp
Our favourite of the destinations on our safari mainly down to the staff in particular our guide Giovanni. Very friendly atmosphere.Read more about the whole safari
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