Reviews of Mwagusi Safari Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
We all had a great time together and the safari trip was a really good bonding experience for the whole family. We are planning a photo book and will send you a link as soon as it is ready. However, with over 6,000 images taken by 3 cameras and 6 hours of video footage this will take some time to create. Planning the trip: Your Services are outstanding and we appreciate your patience.
The camps were well chosen for their wildlife variety and different landscapes. The most striking was the difference between a National Park (Ruaha) and a Game Reserve (Selous) close to a hunting concession. While we saw a large number of animals in both camps, those in Selous – especially zebras and wildebeest – were running away as soon as they got to hear/see/smell the jeeps. We did not come as close to the animals as in the private game reserve in South Africa as drivers in the National Park are not permitted to leave the road to follow the animals. However, large herds of elephants, giraffes and zebras are quite close to the tracks and sometimes even the lions!
We recommend to inform any visitors to Selous that wild dogs are not to be seen during the dry months as they obviously live underground until the rain ‘flushes’ them out.
We were impressed how well all animals looked at both locations– clearly a sign of a balanced wildlife.
Guides and Drives
Guides in both camps were adequately knowledgeable – however less than what we had experienced in South Africa, where all local guides had a special degree which clearly made a difference in the information they provided.
In Selous we were disappointed that there was no additional driver, leaving the guide to drive the car while looking for wildlife. He did a great job driving in incredible difficult terrain though. Drives in Selous only start at 8:00 am – obviously to accommodate the foremost honeymooning guests – but we believe that the best time to see the game is shortly after sunrise. Selous’ late morning game drives were considered as negative by several well-experienced safari tourists we met in Ruaha. An earlier start could allow to visit more remote places.
The guided walking tours in both camps were outstanding. In Ruaha the river walk seeing hypos, crocodiles and huge flocks of birds was absolutely fantastic - to get so close to the animals yet staying safe. The landscape is overwhelming!
In Selous the walking tour guide was very good – we enjoyed the information and the subsequent surprise breakfast at the lake side.
We also recommend a boat trip on the lake in the morning, when hordes of elephants and giraffes visit the shores – great photo opportunities beyond the many hypos and crocs; however you need a really good telephoto lens for close-ups.
Food was above expectations at Ruaha – clearly Mrs. Fox’s recipes cooked on open fire are a legend. The settings of the dinner tables in the river bed close to an open fire are dreams come true.
In Selous, food was good too, however less experimental – breakfast was much better at Ruaha.
In Selous, unfortunately two members of the family caught a stomach bug – both believe it had to do with the drinking water provided from the lake. Our son-in-law was worst hit and could not go back to work for a week after his return.
Both camps were outstanding in their own way and clearly exclusive and clean.
Beds are very large and comfortable. Bathrooms are an experience in itself with smaller wildlife never being far away… However, closing the tents properly makes you feel very safe also at night. No mosquitos in September!
In Ruaha, the elephants visit the camp during day and night to feed on the fruits of the palm trees. Our daughter Jennifer had one looking into her bedroom – she froze for a good 15 minutes before the elephant moved on…
We were a bit surprised that in Ruaha there were no guards to be seen during day time, while at night we did not see a single guard carrying more than a light. In contrast, there were plenty of armed guards in Selous – the hypo trails go through the camp to the lake.
Service was very warm and polite and clearly staffs are making huge efforts at both camps to accommodate all your needs.
The laundry service is very helpful and good to point out to visitors struggling to fit your clothes within the 15 kilo permitted by the local airline.
Flights and luggage
It may be helpful to mention that we were not asked to add hand luggage (camera equipment) to the weight of the bags. However, you have to place hand luggage on your lap during the local flights – very cramped then.
We believe it is very important to make tourists more aware of the additional costs including the additional payments for the water provided on game drives. This can be a substantial sum to be added to the pre-paid expenses and should be
added to the quotation when planning the trip to avoid surprises. Tips are clearly expected – and almost as compulsory as on cruises.
Hotel accommodation Dar-Es-Salaam
Please make a note that the Asian restaurant at the Sea cliff hotel was below standard. Service was extremely slow (35 minutes!) and the food was dreadful.
Mwagusi Safari Camp review
We liked our banda and it's position, but there were problems with the lighting on three of the mornings which made getting ready for the game drives difficult.
The food was very good, served buffet style and normally at a communal table (in various locations) except for our last night when we were treated to a private supper in the river bed below our banda. Our guide and driver were very good (Samson & Vincent) and we enjoyed the game drives.
We saw 44 lions from 5 prides in one day! We saw lions and cubs on a kill, lesser and greater kudu, male and female bushbuck, jackal,ostrich, a herd of 500+ buffalo and a herd of about 100 elephant. We also were lucky enough to see a lion chase a leopard in the moonlight, along the river bed outside our banda. Chris, Adrian and Connie were good hosts.
Excellent safari at Mwagusi
Had an great stay at Mwagusi. The guiding was up to the excellent standard we had hoped for and the camp was comfortable along with very good food. We were also fortunate to meet Chris Fox who shared his passion for the area and need for protecting hiigh guiding standards.
Our only suggestion for improvement is the inclusion of sundowners on evening drives as these are an integral part of safari and were conspicuous by their absence.
Unique experience at Mwagusi Safari Camp
Very different to our first taste of safari at Selous. It was like spending a few days as a guest at a country house party but with a bar bill at the end!
The drives were limited in that the vehicles were only allowed to use established tracks, of which there were plenty. We gather this was because Ruaha is a National Park and Selous is a game reserve. However, this did not prevent us from experiencing a very wide variety of wild life action at its best.
Nearly all the evening meals were taken outside on the river bank by torch light. We were really spoilt by a superb selection of food.
The staff and management team lead by Chris Fox (the owner) could not have been more friendly or helpful.
Mwagusi Safari Camp review
Mwagusi Safari Camp is an extremely comfortable camp, with beautifully designed "bandas" overlooking the dry riverbed of Mwagusi River.
Animals such as elephants, giraffes and baboons can be seen directly from your own, plush living-room complete with hammock and over-stuffed sofas! Great friendly atmosphere, pre-dinner drinks around a roaring fire, delicious dinners under the star, courteous and efficient staff.
The guide we had during our stay was very knowledgeable and tried very hard to show us all the game on our "wish-list"! Ruaha, although very dry and arid at this time of year, is a beautiful place and a wonderful safari destination.
Mwagusi Safari Camp review
Very nice accomodation & excellent food, evening meal at a different spot on the dry river bed every night.
Mwagusi Safari Camp review
Food was excellent. The guides were very knowledgeable and it was a benefit to have a driver and a guide who could really concentrate on spotting wildlife.
Our visit was somewhat spoilt by ignoring the advice given to lock valuables in the office safe. On the one occasion my husband left money hidden in the room - it was taken. Use the facilities offered!
Showers a little unreliable - which seemed odd as at the next camp we stayed they always had hot water even when the sun didn't shine.
Pleasant staff. Always available and friendly but not obsequious.
Lovely camp in beautiful setting with good accomoadation, very individual. My only criticism is that the shower floor was very slippery and I almost fell.
Wonderful food. Loved how we ate at different sites - in the bush or in the sand river bed- in the evening. Very reasonably priced wine.
Excellent guides. Knowledgable. They seemed to enjoy their work and their enthusiasm was infective.
Lots of game. Not many other vehicles.
Would love to go back.
Great food and Bandas
I loved the food and Bandas at Mwagusi. The food was outstanding. A lot of vairiety and flavours. Compliments to the chef.
The Bandas are beautiful and fantastic location along the riverbed, which is visited by animals. As soon as I arrived there was an elephant right outside my banda. the design and size of the bandas is brilliant. Very relaxing, spacious, comfortable and clean. Was dissappointed with the trickle of water coming from the shower.
The game drives were good. I had a very good guide, Jimmy. However, not impressed with the vehicles. The seats are not well designed and comfortable. There are no steps (footing) to climb up on to the 2nd and 3rd row seats. It is very dangerous as one has to put you foot on thin pipes that run along the side of the vehicle. One slip and can cause injury. Very difficult for people of any age let alone older people.
The managers were good but not as warm and hospitable as I expected and after my experiences with the lodges in my previous safaris and the and beyond lodges. The rest of the local staff are very good, work very hard and are very warm and hospitable.
Overall very good lodge and experience and I would recommend it.
Expert Africa comments
Mwagusi responded to say that on request they provide additional cushions for use in vehicles and steps are also available to assist guests into game drive vehicles. It seems this wasn’t made clear to this traveller which they apologise for – they try to accommodate their guests needs wherever possible and are sorry this wasn’t done on this occasion.
In regards to the shower, Mwagusi tries to be sensitive to the environmental impact of water usage and so has actually decided not to increase the water pressures in the showers. Guests may find that showers do not have the same water pressure as they may be used to.
Mwagusi Safari Camp review
We had high expectations from what we had heard about the camp but it didn't quite live up to these and we wonder whether Chris' absence, whilst setting up his other project, has affected the overall experience quality. The camp occupancy, down to 4 or 6 for a couple of the days, also affected the feel of the stay and unfortunately, both managers had bouts of illness - Serena on the first day and Ryan as we left.
The general staff were polite and looked after us satisfactorily but one got the impression that they were fairly new to the job, had very limited English, and, as a result, were rather nervous. Ryan was clearly extremely knowledgeable but didn't really initiate any conversation at mealtimes and perhaps we noticed this particularly after the warmth and friendliness of the Selous managers & staff.
Plus points were Jimmy, our really excellent guide, who was brilliant at spotting the game and went out of his way to give us memorable viewing and photographic opportunities. Also we liked the different settings around the river bed for the evening meals and the camp fires and lamps created a lovely atmosphere.
The accommodation was artistic - nice to have the natural materials and various artefacts - and the veranda overlooking the river bed was lovely. We would have preferred to have the bathroom area also enclosed in a linked tent as mosquitoes and little animals could get in that area (something made a deposit every night!) and it was a pain to keep unzipping the flaps when using the bathroom area.
We thought it was unusual that we were asked not to tip the guide separately and were a bit surprised that there was no indication of the price of any of the drinks and we got a hand written scrap of paper as our bill at the end. We suggest the camp should have a guest feedback form.
We were pleased that we combined Selous with Ruaha as the vegetation, degree of dryness, and quantity of game viewing were very different.