Lake Manze Camp in Selous stands on the beautiful Lake Manze.
Lake Manze Adventure Camp: Our full report
Lake Manze Adventure Camp opened in 2007 on a prime location overlooking Lake Manze, which is one of the more northerly of a series of lakes and rivers within a rich alluvial floodplain of the Rufiji River. It lies at the heart of Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, and was set up as a deliberately rustic camp to provide guests with fairly simple comforts and a strong sense of wilderness.
Lake Manze Adventure Camp is often referred to as ‘Lake Manze Tented Camp’, or ‘Lake Manze Camp’, ‘Lake Manze Selous’, or simply ‘Lake Manze’. It is a sister-camp to the existing and more luxurious Selous Impala Camp, also in Selous, and the rustic Mdonya Old River Camp, in Ruaha National Park.
Since opening, Lake Manze Camp has cemented a good reputation for what it promised, while still providing many of the comforts expected in a good safari lodge.
The open-sided lounge/dining area at Lake Manze is a large, L-shaped banda. Sandy floors and high thatched roofs keep the area cool during the day and maintain the rustic simplicity of the camp. The long lounge, furnished with simple, locally made wicker furniture topped with colourful cushions, points out towards the lake and is a great place to sit and watch passing game. Behind is a well-stocked bar, with tables and directors’ chairs where you sit to enjoy your meals – although sometimes, you will dine out under the stars by the light of campfires and lanterns. Dining here is communal, which gives the camp a great community atmosphere. A small curio shop sells some Maasai beads and souvenirs.
Lake Manze’s 12 tented rooms are raised up slightly on earth mounds which stand above the floodplain, and have good views across the lake from beautifully built stone verandas. These mounds are covered in vegetation, and feel quite natural, and each has been sited under its own cluster of shady borassus palm trees. Three pairs of tents are set quite close together, which makes them suitable for families.
Inside each spacious walk-in tent is a double bed (or twin beds) with a lovely wooden frame. There is also a large wooden chest with a padlock for valuables, and a simple wardrobe with a wrought-iron frame and canvas shelves. Large mosquito-gauze windows on all sides of the tent allow the breeze to pass through, whilst keeping insects out. Bug spray is supplied, as is a whistle to attract attention in an emergency.
Through the back of the tent is an en-suite bathroom with canvas walls for privacy. Partially open air, it’s simple and practical – all you need in the middle of the bush. The sink is set into a large wooden surface, with running water and a mirror. An inner canvas wall separates this from the flush toilet and hot-and-cold shower, which are both on raised wooden slats. Soap is provided, but not shampoo.
Though the tents are very comfortable, the camp has maintained an endearing simplicity, so you really feel that you are out in the wild. Lake Manze is the only lodge in the Selous, which has chosen not to have any electricity in the rooms; instead, your evenings are lit by storm lanterns, creating a magical atmosphere. The feeling of wilderness is further enhanced by the camp’s position on the floodplain of Lake Manze. Animals come down to drink here – and the old, well-worn elephant trail that runs around the lake and right in front of the camp is a popular route. This makes for great game-viewing opportunities from the comfort of your own tent.
Like all the camps in the Selous, Lake Manze Adventure Camp’s activities incorporate 4WD safari drives, boat safaris, fishing and also walks. Walks are with a guide and an armed ranger and generally take place in the morning before the heat gets too much.
Lake Manze Camp is a great option for those wanting a slightly more rustic and ‘wild’ camping experience, yet with all the basic comforts and good food. We found the staff and managers to be friendly and efficient, and – because Lake Manze is quite far from any other camps – you rarely see other vehicles while on a drive. It’s also amongst the most affordable of the camps in the reserve, and we think it delivers great value for money.
Ideal length of stay: Stay at least 3 nights, and preferably 4 to do the area justice.
Directions: From Dar es Salaam, it’s a 45-minute flight into the Selous, followed by a drive of around an hour to reach Lake Manze Camp.
Owner: Adventure Camps
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Lake Manze Camp offers fairly simple yet tasty food.
For breakfast you can expect a variety of cereals, fresh fruit, toast and a cooked breakfast with fresh baked bread. Tea, coffee and juice are also available.
Lunch will then be a light meal – when we last stayed in October 2011 we had fish cakes and grilled catfish, caught that morning by one of the guests.
Dinner is a three-course meal with lots of flavour and plentiful servings. We had lettuce soup to start, followed by beef stew, with chocolate mousse to finish. Sitting together with the managers and guides meant it was a very sociable and fun experience.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Drinks are not included at Lake Manze, but they are not expensive. Expect to pay US$2 for a soft drink and around US$3 for a beer.
Solo Travel: Lake Manze is great wildlife destination as well as a very informal, single-friendly camp. Solo travellers usually join other guests on safari activities, and everyone dines communally. Low single supplements come as a real bonus at this great value camp.See more ideas for Solo Travel in Tanzania
Walking safaris: Walking safaris in the Selous are permitted for those over the age of 16, and morning walks from Lake Manze last around two hours. The guide will explain tracks and droppings, while pointing out the smaller insects and plants to you.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Tanzania
Wildlife safaris: A stay at Lake Manze allows you to feel close to the wildlife - a wide variety of game including elephant, impala, hippos and buffalos can be seen from your own tent, or you can go on a game drive or boat safari from here.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Lake Manze welcomes children over the age of six.
Property’s age restrictions: Children must be over the age of six years.
Special activities & services: There are no special services for children at Lake Manze Camp, although the camp can make up triple rooms with an extra bed for children, and three pairs of tents are built together, especially for families. The camp will also provide early dinners for children.
Equipment: Lake Manze Camp has no special equipment for children.
Generally recommended for children: Lake Manze Camp has a friendly and informal atmosphere that is great for children. Having said that, it is a very wild camp, with dangerous game passing right through regularly, and might be better suited for mature and sensible children over the age of ten.
Notes: Parents must be aware that Lake Manze is an area of dangerous big game, so children should be closely supervised at all times. Children under the age of 16 are not permitted to walk in the Selous.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: Although there is cellphone reception and email in the main office, this is for camp use only except in case of emergency. There is also a wireless laptop connection, which may be used by guests if they are very brief.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio at Lake Manze Camp
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is first-aid equipment on site and Lake Manze Camp has links with the flying doctors’ service for serious emergencies. Each vehicle has a first-aid bag and the managers are trained in basic first aid.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Maasai guards will escort guests to and from their tents after dark in case there is any wildlife in and around the camp.
Fire safety: Lake Manze Tented Camp has a fire break around the camp in case of bush fires in the surrounding area.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is an extra charge, with most items costed at around US$2. Your belongings are hand washed and line dried; weather depending, they should be back to you within 24 hours.
Money: There are no money exchange facilities at Lake Manze Camp.
Accepted payment on location: Bills at Lake Manze Camp may be settled only in cash, with either US dollars or Tanzanian shillings. If desperate they can try and change British pounds or euros but the exchange rate will not be very good.