Reviews of Lake Manze Adventure Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
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!
fantastic safari experience, 4x4, boat, walks
Brilliant location with view over the lake. Exciting having elephants walking through the camp and up to your tent. We loved the variation of boat, walking and land rover safari.
The drivers & guides appeared to be as excited as us in going off the tracks to find game such as mating lions. At no time did we feel we were on a tourist trip but rather on shared adventures.
Your website mentions electricity in the tents; there is none, hurricane lamps only. There is a totla of 5 hours electicity in the main office a day for charging camera batteries etc. Some people can also get mobile phone access.