Reviews of Lake Manze Adventure Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Lake Manze Tented Camp review
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Lake Manze Camp
A real safari experience. Guides were excellent and mostly spoke good english and were very informative. Good balance of activities but if you are staying for a while what you see does get a bit repetitive although we understand this the nature of safaris.The activities were very well organised in maximum of 4 people per group (but this could have been 6) which was great. For those wanting to do long safaris we would recommend splitting time between camps as 4 nights was long enough for us. We did see leopard which was a real highlight. Fly camping from Selous Impala was excellent with a fantastic guide, back to nature experience, no sleep.. but really worth it.
It is amazing to see animals close up but on a couple of occasions we felt the guides went too close and we ended up being charged by a hippo! Richard and Malcolm (who were the managers that week) kept reassuring everyone that the elephants in the camp were friendly but they can get very very close which can be unnerving.
It was communal dining, which was nice for us to share stories with other guests, but for some this may not be ideal.
Brilliant safari at Lake Manze Tented Camp
Facilities were very comfortable and tastefully done, with just the right amount of luxury and authenticity. Beds very comfortable and location of the tents just superb, looking out onto the river; felt very private and exclusive. The service was fantastic, very personal and attentive but friendly and not pushy.
Eating together in the evenings felt very inclusive and it was interesting to talk to some of the other guests.
We had a great guide and driver, Ian and Robert, and were very fortunate to have them for the whole time. The safari drives were great and were able to choose what times we wanted to go out, but we felt the walking safari lacked substance and was a bit slow and the river safari, whilst informative, went on for too long. The elephants coming past the camp each day, and especially Rafiki, really made our stay special.
We loved it a Manze and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
Fabulous Lake Manze Camp
Our party of middle-aged parents and four young adults were were completely bowled over by Lake Manze Camp. This was very much due to the professionalism of the camp management. They personally came out to welcome every vehicle drawing up at the entrance whether it was new arrivals or guests returning from a short game drive. We were impressed by their clear instructions for our safety, efficient organisation, good staff management and their healthy respect for wild visitors to the camp, however familiar they might be. Everything was clean, and all activities and meals happened on time though we never felt rushed at all.
We loved our tents. One after-lunch 'verandah safari' saw us lounged on our own porch gazing quietly around between snoozes. I could see hippos in the lake, a giraffe on the far shore and, nearer at hand, an elephant munching the bushes, and a number of tiny bright pink birds pecking at the ground near our feet. From our bed at dawn we saw a family of elephants lumbering past 20 metres away in the misty half-light.
The tent was completely insect-free; if you spotted a mosquito you could zap it with the spray helpfully provided on a convenient shelf. A comfy bed, African woven mats and rustic storage completed the tent. Through another zip-door at the back was the spacious bathroom. Tall people can peep over the canvas while showering to look out at the bush. The towel rail was more generous than in many a posh hotel bathroom. My only slight discomfort was the lack of a toilet seat – but I saw a boxfull being delivered as we left!
Food was really good. Considering the kitchen receives a truck delivery (10 hours from Dar es Salaam) only once a week it was amazing. One of our party is a non-fish veggie; she was amply catered for without special arrangements because there is plenty of variety among the selection of tasty dishes at each meal.
Out on safari we had wonderful experiences from the first moment we arrived; we found ourselves among a pride of lions less than an hour after arriving at the airstrip. The management try to make sure you are taken out by the same guide and driver each time so that you get to know each other. Ours were truly fantastic. They were knowledgeable, professional and kind and they made us laugh. We were constantly amazed by their ability to spot interesting animal behaviour and nothing was too much trouble for them.
I have recommended Lake Manze to all my friends and will go on doing so.
Lake Manze Camp
Lake Manze camp is an excellent way to start a multiple stop safari. The terrain in this area is quite open so there are plenty of opportunities for viewing the grazing animals and we were fortunate to witness lions with a kill. Our drivers Olay and Salom were excellent. They seemed knowledgeable were prepared to be talkative in a general way when we were out on all day drives.
I was especially impressed with their respect for the animals and that they resisted the pressure of other guests to 'go closer' or 'follow the lion'. Guests were politely but firmly discouraged from trying to interact with the animals. Credit to them for their professionalism. The boat men were also very good. Two contrasting trips on the water, one on the lake and one up a creek revealed very different aspects of the wildlife and birds.
The accommodation was exactly as described in the brochure; however it may be useful to note that Manze's family accommodation is a standard tent with a supplementary tent covering the veranda area. Although this did give the advantage of being together it made things rather cramped as we lost the sitting area by our tent and had to share our bathroom four ways. Had our children been smaller I might have been more appreciative of the situation but travelling with teenage boys it made for a few embarrassing moments! That said, not a camp for young children.
The camp wildlife may appear tame but you can tell from the respect that the Masai afford it, it's not! Also, although I really enjoyed the 'out in the wild' feel of Manze, Hurricane lamps are really not that illuminating!! However, the days were so full that there was no time to miss the electricity.
The food was of a good standard and supper was served communally at a table outside. Torches required if you wanted to know what was in the dishes! It was really nice to mix with other guests and swop stories. Richard (a recent recruit to the staff I think) was an excellent source of interesting information and stories and was still as enthusiastic about the wildlife as us new to safari.
Camp was almost full when we stayed, a mixture of honeymooners and ex-pats with a complement of other nationalities as well.
In hindsight we wish we had resisted the host's suggestions to have breakfast before going out on a drive. The wildlife definitely seemed (relatively) less plentiful as the morning wore on. (See my Impala comments)
We found this camp to be one that fulfilled our hopes for a rustic 'out in the wild ' safari experience to a tee.
Expert Africa comments
We are glad that these travellers enjoyed Lake Manze – we also love it for its authentic rustic nature. The family tents here are best suited to families with small children, rather than the young teenagers.
In this case, Expert Africa booked two separate tents for this family with two young teenagers. On arrival, Lake Manze’s managers thought that they might prefer to be together, and so offered them a ‘family tent’ as an option. They should have made it clear that if the family wanted more privacy, then the separate tents which we had arranged were still available. This message wasn’t clear, hence they stayed in the family tent feeling “rather cramped”.
We’re sorry that this happened, but glad that it didn’t spoil their stay. It highlights our advice that if one of our travellers has cause for concern whilst on a trip – it’s always best mentioned at the time, as many problems and issues can be rectified on the spot.
Lake Manze Tented Camp review
A basic camp but only in a relative sense (compared to Impala). Even so we felt it was a wonderful place to spend our first few nights on safari.
The accommodation was excellent and the staff (all of them - guides, drivers, management) were really superb. We felt we could ask to do anything we wanted and there was always lots of expert advice available if we had any doubts. The food was good whether it was dinner or a safari lunch.
The great thing about Manze was the wildlife - we saw so much in our short stay there - and the nature of the terrain made viewing so easy.
Lake Manze Tented Camp review
This is charming spot and the Selous has an advantage over Ruaha - you can take boat trips on the lakes and the Rufiji. Also, walks can be started straight from the camp - no need to drive to park HQ (as at Ruaha) to pick up a ranger.
Tents very similar to Mdonya, but food rather better both in quality and variety.
Late afternoon in a boat on Lake Manze is Africa at its most beautiful. The sky is full of wonderful cloud formations, reflected in the stillness of the water, animals are scattered along the shore, and there's an osprey overhead. Sheer magic.
Lake Manze Tented Camp review
A beautiful location by the lake. Comfortable large tents under shady palms. Visits by elephants throughout the day, especially one young male which made my heart stop for a minute as he approached the ramp to my "patio" outside my tent, deciding at the last miute to go around rather than through my tent! I just sat very still and he didn't seem at all bothered. Wonderful!
Friendly hosts and staff. Again, the guides and drivers were eager to share their knowledge with you and tried their best to find things of interest.
A very comfortable, friendly, relaxing camp with very knowledgeable guides and drivers.
3 night safari at Lake Manze Camp
The camp at Lake Manze is at a beautiful site. The landscape is fantastic. We were quite impressed by the Selous Reserve. It was good to have the 3 different options available to us: dirve, walking or boat safaris. We went on one boat safari. The remaining ones were drive safaris. The camp is new so the tents and main dining areas were very fresh. Elephants, impala and baboons walked through the camp. Every night we heard hippos grazing. Masai escorts were available after dark.
The camp is owned and managed by Italians. The client base is Italian. There was only one other couple, for one night, whose first language was english. The majority of their clients are Italians who are on one night safaris from Zanzibar (with this one night safari being their only experience in game drives). The food, that was well prepared, was Italian. This was usually a pasta, potato, bread and cabbage slaw for lunch. At dinner, we had a meat, potato, bread and a canned vegetable or slaw. Deserts were good. Often a food was referred to as "just like you get in Italy."
We did not expect such a strong Italian experience. We would recommend this camp to Italians who wanted to talk to other Italians about Italy while eating Italian food.
The camp is new. Some rangers have transferred from their other camp. Others are new hires and trainees. The ranger for our boat safari had limited english skills. He appeared to have good knowledge about identifying birds. He had no binoculars or field guides. We could not have a conversation with him about animal activities or local customs.
On our arrival from the air strip, our first ranger on the jeep safari was Joseph. Our driver was Simon. On our first dirve we were very fortunate to see 2 groups of lions, one of which had baby cubs. We saw a wide variety of animals. When we saw our first group of elephants (about a half mile away), Joseph and Simon put the jeep in reverse and backed down the road and took another road to avoid the elephants. They said the elephants were very aggressive and we should not get too close.
The next day we took a morning and afternoon drive with Joseph and Simon. They were both very hard to understand. There were no binoculars or field guides for them to use. For most of the afternoon drive, Joseph used one set of our binocs and we shared the other set. He said that the camp had promised him binocs but he had not yet received them. We asked several times about large brown birds that we had seen. The standard response was tawny eagle (even though you could see that the birds were different).
We asked them to get closer to giraffes. They said no, they will just run away. We pushed and they finally drove closer to the giraffes. We saw several groups of elephants, some were several miles away. We asked to get closer to them. Joseph and Simon said no, elephants are too aggressive. It was obvious that they were very afraid of elephants and were very uncertain about reading the elephants behaviors.
When we returned to camp that evening, we were greeted by the manager and asked how our safari went. We said not so good and told them about our experiences. We asked to have a new guide. We had heard (from the other english couple) that Vincent was an outstanding guide. We asked for him. The manager said that we would be reassigned but that he needed to check the schedule and would get back to us at dinner time on who our new guide would be. The manager very quickly responded to our problem and assured us that we would have better game drives.
At dinner we heard that the manager had talked to Joseph and this resulted in Joseph no longer working for the camp. We heard that the managers and the owners did not like Simon and that Simon would no longer drive on game drives but he would only work the shuttle between the camp and the airstrip.
This was more information than what we wanted to hear. We did not want to feel responsible for someone being fired. Nor did we want to know about bad blood between an employee and management. It put a damper on dinner for us. We think that clients should not hear about employee performance problems. It would have been enough to know that we had been reassigned to another guide.
We had 2 drives with Vincent the following day. Our driver was Abraham. Both were outstanding!!! They were some of the best guides we have had on all of our trips to Africa. We saw numerous animals and were provided great insights as to their activities and habits.
At Lake Manze we had one of the worse (Joseph/Simon) and one of best (Vincent/Abraham) sets of game drives that we have ever had in Africa. Ranger performance appears to be very inconsistent at this camp.
Expert Africa comments
We put all of these points to Lake Manze’s managers. Firstly, they comment that although their Italian guests might have been the most obvious and vocal – there was also a sprinkling of Spanish and English guests there at the same time as these travellers. These travellers visited when there were many Italians in camp; but at other times there has been a majority of English travellers. It varies!
Lake Manze is a new camp, and had been open only three months before these travellers visited. (Hence it’s such good-value!) They are still refining their guiding and many aspects of the camp’s staffing. Their chefs were trained at a leading restaurant (which serves mostly Italian food) in Dar es Salaam. So there is sometimes an Italian emphasis on the food; but it’s not exclusively Italian. They advise that more variation is being introduced into the menus as the camp becomes more established.
Joseph and Simon were new staff. They worked together for a few game drives, but after comments from these travellers, the manager reassigned them to work alongside some of the camp’s more experienced staff members – who could help to train them further. There was clearly a misunderstanding here, as neither of these staff members has been sacked!
Apparently 3 out of 5 of Lake Manze’s vehicles now have their own sets of binoculars for the guides; they hope to purchase another 2 pairs shortly – and rectify the problem encountered by these travellers.
As we realize at Expert Africa, a new camp like this, run by committed management team, will have some issues at first – but then it has been sold at a particularly good-value rate for its first few months, recognizing that it was just starting up! We’re cheered that these travellers enjoyed such superlative game drives with Vincent & Abraham – and that the camp’s team are working hard to overcome these various teething troubles well before 2008.
Close up to the animals at Manze
Lake Manze Camp gave us the chance to feel we were really having a wilderness experience. The lack of electricity took some getting used to at first but after the first night we were loving it. There was an abundance of animals around the area and great viewing opportunities of lions, water buffalo and elephants in particular.
Numerous animals around the camp itself - it became quite normal to meet an elephant on the way back to our tent! Excellent food and I loved the communal meals around the table in the evenings.
I have a magical memory of sitting eating dinner under the African night sky as a group of giraffes bounded along by the lake very close to us, picked up by a spotlight!