Reviews of Lake Manze Adventure Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Lake Manze Adventure Camp review
Some background before we go into the details:
We are experienced safari travellers who have been on safari in South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana and Kenya before visiting Selous, and we have stayed at 20 different lodges and camps while travelling. Because of this we had high expectations and quite a lot to compare with. We'll divide our comments into 2 parts: The Lake Manze Adventure camp and the safari experience.
Lake Manze Adventure Camp
The camp was excellent. It may be a bit rough for some people, with no electricity in the tent and shower and toilet outside, but for us it was just perfect. We had a really nice tent at the far end of the camp, with elephants, giraffes, impalas and buffalos very close to the tent .The common area was also very cosy with nice atmosphere, friendly staff and pretty much dialy visits by a herd of elephants. One thing we did miss was sitting by the fire before dinner (simply because there was none).
The Lake Manze Adventure camp is for people who like a somewhat rougher stay out in the wild, but still with everything you need. We enjoyed our stay very much. Highly recommended!
The safari experience
The game viewing and the scenery was much better at the Lake Manze area than around the Impala camp. We saw lions, elephants and a lot of hyenas every day, and there were a lot more wildebeest, zebra and impalas who were also more relaxed than at the Impala camp. We had a really nice guide and good drivers at Lake Manze, and it felt like they tried hard to show us as much as possible.
The boat safari was really beautiful with lots of hippos, crocodiles, kingfishers, bee-eaters and other birds, highly recommended!
We would recommend both new and experienced safari-goers to stay at the Lake Manze camp and that part of Selous, ideally in combination with some other reserve or park, like the Serengeti.
Important note about cheetahs
There is one major error on the Expert Africa webpage. It clearly states that there are ´huge populations of cheetah´ in Selous. There are however NONE. This is major issue for people who book safaris based on wildlife to experience and photograph. It's very important that facts about the wildlife is correct, since it at least for us is of big importance when choosing where to go.
Nature to the Nth Degree at Lake Manze
This was my least favorite of the 3 camps but that's entirely due to my reaction to too much nature and not anything the camp did wrong. There was too much exposure to small creatures/insects for my liking - I enjoyed seeing all the animals in camp during the day and didn't mind hearing the hippos and hyenas outside my tent at night. What I couldn't get used to were the little frogs, lizards, worms & crickets in my tent. Their skittering and jumping around was unnerving, to say the least. After one night, I was ready to cut my stay short and leave Lake Manze but there was no where to go, so I discussed with the manager (Rebecca) and we came to a satisfactory solution. She provided a bed net and arranged to have Masai check my tent each night after dinner and get rid of any creatures they found. I very much appreciated her level-headed reaction to my concerns and efforts working with my tour operator to find options.
The boat safaris were excellent; the guide, Baggo, was thoughtful and didn't chatter but showed me so many birds, trees, plants, crocs and animals. I loved the early mornings on the water best, it was quiet, peaceful and we puttered along in our little boat seeing beautiful things. One morning, he spotted elephants in the bushes and knew they were coming to cross the river, so we were able to watch a family cross and play in the water. The game drives were also very good (guide: Adam and driver: Ali); in addition to the animals, Adam showed me smaller things like the ant lion and tracks. Also enjoyed talking with them.
Food was good - equivalent to basic, home cooked meals. Chicken pot pie was noticeably tasty! The dinners under the stars were difficult for me due to the number of bugs - I know they didn't bite, but having large moths and grass-hoppers dive bomb us during the meal and get on the plate/glasses, was a distraction that diluted the pleasure in the food and magnificent sky.
Service at all levels was very nice. Masai escorts were a pleasant surprise; I've always heard of Masai and was glad to see them used in a role befitting their culture and pride. Some of them spoke English well and enjoyed talking with guests, so we joked about the hippos (and the frogs in my tent). At night, I felt reassured hearing their walking sticks on the paths and seeing their lights, knowing that they were patrolling the grounds.
I liked the fact that Manze offered a small curio shop where items made in the employee's villages were sold and all proceeds went to the villagers. They were the only camp to do this and I bought a carved zebra and about 10 bead bracelets. Great idea.
Aside from the nature/bug/tent issue, I had two negative experiences here:
(1) on my first morning game drive, I was assigned to a vehicle with a trainee guide, a guide & a driver which broke down twice and finally died. Before the break downs, I was concerned since the focus didn't seem to be on finding animals or sharing knowledge about the terrain with me, but instead they talked among themselves. That wouldn't have been a deal breaker (and I would have spoken up), except that the jeep died twice (something to do with a pump) and the driver was able to get it started again. The 3rd time, I was fed up and told them that I wanted to go back to the camp rather than have another vehicle pick me up to continue the drive. Luckily, we weren't far from camp so 2 vehicles came out - one to tow our jeep back and the other to bring all of us back. Rebecca apologized about the jeep and I explained my concerns about the guide/driver and she immediately offered to re-assign me.
(2) Whenever the managers & I discussed my plans for the upcoming days, I mentioned my interest in a walking safari and uncertainty about when to schedule it. On my last full day in camp, we arranged the schedule for my last day to be a morning walking safari and then game drive to Selous Impala. That evening, one of the other managers (not Rebecca and not Samel) suggested that I should do a boat safari instead of the walking safari since they DIDN'T OFFER BOAT SAFARIS at IMPALA. I questioned him on that statement since I knew they're located on the river and had seen references to boat safaris and he back-tracked, saying that he didn't see a place where they could do boat rides since they're located high up, but maybe they do. This left a very bad taste with me since it's clear that for whatever reason, they didn't/couldn't arrange a walking safari for me but to tell mis-truths about the other camp....that wasn't necessary or professional.
In sum, I did appreciate all the animals around the camp, liked the location, enjoyed the game drives w/Adam & Ali, met interesting fellow guests and liked spending the afternoons in the communal lounge area watching the baboons, elephants, etc. but the night times were not my cup of team so would not return and would recommend it with caveats.
Lake Manze Camp: Great location & guides
Our favourite camp of the three safari camps we stayed at in Selous & Ruaha.
The accommodation was just as we expected - simple but comfortable and surrounded by wildlife.
The food was good & plentiful and we liked being able to serve ourselves for some of the dishes.
Despite not being in Selous at the best time of year for mammals because of the lush vegetation after the rains we saw a lot - leopard, wild dog, hyena and many lion. The bird life was very good at this time of year and having the carmine bee-eaters flying with the vehicle was a very special experience.
Our guides (Emanuel and Bakari) were excellent and our driver (Zahor) was exceptional. Zahor is probably the best driver we have had anywhere in the world - not only was he skilled in manouevering the vehicle on very challenging terrain (after a lot of rain in the days prior to our arrival) but he was very conscious of his passengers safety as well as the position of the sun for photographs.
The camp managers Phil, Tricia & Micol were really helpful and worked hard to ensure all the guests could do the activities they wanted during their stay - with a full camp this can be very challenging.
Lake Manze really was an adventure
Lake Manze was a lovely place to stay, very relaxing with a great variety of things to do. The tents are fitted out well and nicely situated, it’s certainly spine tingling to lie in bed and hear the unearthly sounds of hyenas calling just outside the tent. The game drives were really enjoyable. Great game viewing, particularly in view of the unseasonal rains. All the staff were really helpful and couldn’t do enough to ensure things went smoothly. In particular our guide, Emanuel, and driver, Bacari, did everything they could to ensure that we covered as much ground as possible with great good humour. We spent a really enjoyable 4 nights there and hope to return to try and catch the elusive wild dogs.Read more about the whole safari
An amazing experience!
As a family with 10 and 12 year old children - our stay at Lake Manzi exceeded all expectations. The guiding was exceptional and very friendly - and we all became mesmerised by all that we saw - Any concern that I might have had that the kids might get bored was lost and after 4 days they wanted to stay longer!
The camp was incredibly comfortable - and the open lounge/eating area was a wonderful place to hang out and watch elephants, baboons and all manner of other wildlife wander and meander by. As a vegetarian family we were looked after really well - the food was superb and plenty of it - and the communal eating style enabled all of us to exchange stories of what we saw with other guests.
Lake Manze Adventure Camp review
Tricia and Phil are excellent managers and the camp is run smoothly and effciently. Guides are very competent, friendly and smiling. Small investment in renovating the tents (zips malfunction or shower clearly rusting for ex) would make it perfect.Read more about the whole safari
Great Safari at Lake Manze
We enjoyed every aspect of our stay at Lake Manze.
The manager (Phil) greeted us on arrival at the camp, and gave a good introduction to the camp and explaining how everything works, activity options, etc.
The tents were well equipped, very comfortable, and good views over the plain/lake. A good quality torch/flashlight was provided in each tent, as well as bug spray and bug repellent (so no real need to bring your own from home!).
Meals were fine - considering the locations and basic facilities, the meals were good. We stayed at Ruaha (Mdonya Old River) as well, and thought the food there was even better than Lake Manze (more variety, and more veg); but having said that we have no complaints about the Lake Manze food.
Staff were very friendly.
Really enjoyed the variety of activities - did both a morning and evening boat ride (excellent), as well as morning and evening game drives. Decided not to do the all-day drive - felt it would be too long and hot.
The drivers and guides were fine - we didn't have the same driver or guide for all drives, so didn't get as much of a rapport with any of them as some guests. Comparing the drivers we had, we felt Zahora was the best in terms of ability/confidence of driving; and we never felt he was trying to impress/get a tip as you sometimes felt from others.
One of our guides appeared a bit disengaged at times, but we mentioned that in a note we left with Phil when we left.
We also appreciated the relaxed atmosphere. Each evening all the guests would gather in the lobby area for drinks/snacks and the managers would confirm what our plans were for the next day. They were very accomodating and allowing for leaving at various times for drives etc - making the most of our time there. Both managers were very friendly. We loved the view from our tent and lobby - amazing that animals were frequently wandering nearby. The Masai 'guards' were always around to escort you back to your tent when needed just in case there were elephants or other animals near.
Appreciated that in Phil's (manager) introduction he mentioned that tips are not required.
One of the things we appreciated about game drives in Selous is that you can drive off the main roads - in fact you can drive anywhere - so can look for and follow animals a lot easier than you can in the National Parks.
Lake Manze Adventure Camp review
Very attractive camp and well run by a couple - Phil and Tricia. Food was good considering the location.
Game drives hard work as the land was so dry many of the animals had moved away. River and lake trips were excellent for birds.
Water activities a highlight.
We found the lake and channel trips at Manze a real highlight. For anyone wanting to look at waterbirds, they are exceptional. The sunset trip on the lake is as beautiful as anything you will ever see.
Game is generally harder to find than in many other parks, though the elephant come to you at the camp. The excellent guides and drivers work very hard to find the animals and we did see a good variety thanks to them.
Amazing experience at Lake Manze camp
The camp far outweighed our expectations. Our tent (number 7) was gorgeous, very secluded and comfortable and how exciting to see Impala, monkeys, and elephants strolling past and hear the hippos in the night.
Waiting staff were very friendly and attentive and the food was lovely (I needed vegetarian food and this was never seen as a problem). The hosts, Trisha and Phil were also friendly and we really liked the way they came around every evening to see how our day had been and discuss the options for the next day.
Our guide (Emmanuel) was excellent - so friendly, approachable and knowledgeable and the experience of seeing all of those animals around us is unforgettable. You have the choice of walking, boat and driving safaris and everything is very organised.
We wished we could have stayed longer and I would recommend this camp to anyone.