Reviews of Lake Manze Adventure Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Safari as it should be
Lake Manze is a really well run camp, it has the perfect balance between comfort and rustic charm. We had a fabulous time and all the other guests looked to be having as much as a ball as we were. We didn't have the best tents at Manze in terms of a view (10, 11 and 12) but tents 1-6 have a view of the Lake and so it might be worth requesting one of these to see if they are available (I would expect no guarantees though). Hosting is relaxed and friendly, food is fantastic and serving it outside under the stars every night is very nice.
Lighting in the tents is minimal (a lamp and some candles, plus a paraffin lamp in the bathroom). You soon get used to it though and I think it adds to the charm as well as reducing the impact on the environment. Its hot, hot, hot in Selous in Sept so the solar powered fans in the tents were a welcome addition! We found a small torch with a wriststrap came in handy to hang above the bathroom mirror on near the shower, they also come in handy when rooting through a bag in the dark.
The activities at Manze are the best feature with a good mix of options. I personally wasn't too impressed with the walk, but that maybe because I have been on a two day walking Safari before. If Manze is your first Safari then the walk might be more rewarding. The boat trips were excellent and better than anything I experienced in the Okavango, we did three and all were rewarding with close encounters with Elephants, watching Giraffe crossings, close to hippos (boat was bumped by one) and lots and lots of crocs.
The drives are excellent and starting early with a packed breakfast to have in the bush gives you a 6 hour drive in the morning which is a very decent amount of time indeed. Its nice to couple this with a Boat safari in the afternoon. I liked that you could mix and match the activities, go for an early morning boat trip, followed by breakfast back and camp and then out on a 3 hour drive. We did find the game quite skittish in Selous and some more than others, Zebra, Wilderbeast and Impala tended to keep a distance - although the Impala eventually seemed to relax. Giraffe are everywhere though and I was astounded by how many there are. One evening stretching our legs by the river we counted over 50 on the opposite river bank.
We had a top notch Leopard sighting and excellent Lion sightings, no dogs, but you win some you lose some. Selous as a park is very beautiful and I was surprised by the breadth of different terrain. I thought it had a wilder more untamed feel to it than the Northern circuit which is difficult to articulate, it just felt a more challenging life out there.
A final word for the guides and staff, we had a great guide and driver (Samuel and Emanuel) and our boat guid (Omari) was exceptional at getting us close to game on the banks. Its a big plus for me that Manze run a two person guide and driver system, some camps just have one person do both jobs and I much prefer having one person keeping an eye on the road and another on the game. All the staff were without exception delightful and it was nice to share a few days with people who are clearly committed to the camp and friendly and relaxed around guests.
I can't imagine any reason not to stay at Manze, its a proper Safari as it should be.
Lake Manze Tented Camp review
We were warned hotel facilities would be "a drop" from Impala. Boat Safari was brilliant. Vehicle safaris had good sightings and access but 6 people per vehicle is at least 2 too many!
People need to be warned that they need to sort out their unpacking/organisation as soon as they arrive, after you come back from safari it is dark and, in our case, the hurricane lamp inside the tent had not been lit (it should have been lit) and the batteries in the torch were low, this made our first night difficult. Unpacking and showering by 2 candles was not easy. The staff need to be sure to light the lamps and/or check they are lit before they leave you. Laundry was not included, nor drinks.
The communal dining was good but needed more illumination.
great start that got better and at Lake Manze
We saw wild dog and lion on our way to camp from airstrip. This was the start of great game viewing during our 4 day stay.
The camp had very friendly staff, a great location for our tent and good food.
The guides both on land and water were very good and made sure our activities were great fun.
Lake Manze Tented Camp review
Camp a little 'tired'. Pippa was brilliant but camp lacked personalityRead more about the whole safari
Great time at Lake Manze
We received a very warm welcome from Pippa. We had already met Phil, the manager as he flew in on the same plane as us.
The tent was small but comfortable although with no electricity it was very dark. We had candles but relied heavily on the torches we brought with us.
The shower and toilet are open air which was interesting particularly when it rained!
The food was good but it was very irritating to have to remind the staff at every mealtime, that we were vegetarian. Apparently the message regarding our dietary requirements had not reached the camp, but as they were told on our arrival we feel this should have been noted down somewhere.
Dinner was eaten at a communal table in the dry river bed, there were lots of candles but a torch was needed to see what was on your plate, this was quite irritating and something we never got used to.
There were plenty of animals passing through the camp, particularly at night and at times it got quite noisy especially when the elephant that hangs around the camp, decides to uproot a tree just outside the tent!
The highlight has to be the wonderful guide, Samuel. He was our guide everyday and was incredibly knowledgeable about everything. We found it a real bonus to have him every day as he knew what we had seen and so didn't waste time going back to the same places.
Another highlight was seeing the wild dogs, perfect!
Expert Africa comments
We're glad these travellers had some great game viewing at Manze and enjoyed their time!
It is worth re-emphasising to travellers that Manze is a real bush camp - which is part of it's rustic charm. It is quite dark in the evenings without electricity, although there are plenty of lanterns and candles lit. They're working on getting brighter torches, however, it's proving a challenge to find a good solution without using a lot of environmentally unsound and expensive batteries. Watch this space!
Lake Manze Tented Camp review
We feel that although there are more luxurious camps available than here that this is in keeping with the bush and nature. The different activities, walks, boat trips & drives, were excellent and gave varying views of the wildlife and surroundings. 3 nights, 4 days was an ideal amount of time to stay.
The staff were all very friendly and helpful and the food was good. As it was our birthdays we had a private meal on our verandah one night and a birthday cake on the other. The tents had everything you needed.
We saw all the wildlife we wanted to see including wild dogs, which was one of the reasons we choose to come here, and the elusive leopard.
Lake Manze Tented Camp
This is obviously a more basic camp and we were glad it was the second one, so that the children (or anyone who hadn't been in Africa before) were more used to bush life. The animal life was great (elephants in camp, lots of lions and buffaloes) and the range of activities (including day safari to hot springs) very good. The guides were also excellent - extremely knowledgeable and got on really well with us and children, and the staff as a whole were very good.
It felt rather less confidently run than Impala - it is a rather big camp to manage with only basic facilities and the relatively new manager and his 18-year-old assistant, though very friendly and helpful, did seem less experienced in running such a facility. Food was plentiful though not to the standard of Impala.
One practical point - why use polluting and potentially dangerous kerosene lamps, rather than the individual solar powered lights which are now being used as best practice by development agencies across Africa?
Brilliant game viewing, lovely rustic camp
Our four nights at Lake Manze far exceeded our expectations. It's a beautiful camp and you feel as if you are in the heart of the bush. Not least because we were visited every day by a young bull elephant which literally fed a few metres from our tent. The tents are simply but effectively furnished and living by candles and hurricane lamps at night added to the magic.
The food was excellent - both lunches and dinners, relatively simple fare but absolutely fresh and delicious.
We were blessed with a charming and very knowledgeable guide, Emmanuel, who was terrific with Adam and his many questions.
On our way to camp from the airstrip we were taken to see some lions that had made a kill the day before and I have to say that I was rather alarmed at the number of vehicles that were clustered around them - our main reason for choosing the South had been the reputed lack of traffic compared with the North - but fears were unfounded and we didn't experience anything like that in any of the game drives thereafter.
We were extraordinarily lucky with Wild Dog sightings - one of our favourites - as a pack of ten was rearing four pups and not straying too far. We found them on four drives and spent an aggregated few hours in their company and very close. Fantastic.
Lions were seen on every drive bar one. General game was prolific especially Giraffe but compared with the Ruaha and places where we've beein in Zambia and Botswana relatively skittish. The lakeside setting brought the gamut of beautiful bird sightings and the Manze boat trip is especially good for approaching herons. storks, fish eagles, bee eaters, kingfishers and pods of hippo of course.
I would recommend Lake Manze camp to anyone - whether it was a first time in Africa or seasoned pros.
Well organised despite being busy
Lake Manze was very well organised with good guides and a reasonable range of activities, although would suggest they consider the idea of day boat trips. There was less flexibility in activities as the camp was very busy, so many of the game drives were 3-4 hours and went to the same areas of the Game Reserve as other camps. The guides were good and many of the sightings were very rewarding, particularly buffalo and wildebeest.Read more about the whole safari
Good, not great
My stay at Lake Manze was a bit of a disappointment relative to other locations on the this trip. In part, that was a reflection of the lack of an assistant manager, leaving all the managerial responsibility on one person. I think this is not the normal situation.
However, guiding was clearly the weakest of the 4 locations that I visited, with a personable guide but one that was clearly less skilled than desirable. Again, this may have been just luck of the draw, as our driver clearly emerged as a very skilled (but less communicative) guide. Facilities are fine, and the location seems good, but we say very little of interest on the boat safari, which was VERY different from the second location I visited in the Selous.
Expert Africa comments
The manager of Lake Manze Camp was sad to hear that this guest was a bit disappointed by his stay. He explained that his new assistant managers arrival was delayed due to bureaucratic reasons which we know can often cause delays to safari operations in Tanzania. The manager was therefore running the camp on his own which isnt the normal situation, and he apologised that this impacted on this guests stay; despite his best efforts that it should not. The manager went on to explain that this guest was allocated one of their junior guides for his activities it was good to hear that that guide was personable but he does need time to gain more knowledge and experience. The camp has a number of guides, and the more senior members of the team were already allocated to other guests at the camp. The camp manager said that he would redouble his efforts in pairing guide and guests more suitably wherever possible.
That this guest saw more of interest on the boat excursion from Impala Camp than from Lake Manze is down to the luck of the draw. Seeing big land mammals can never be guaranteed from a boat, its focus is more about the waterways, scenery and birdlife. Having said that, it is the experience of the camp team, and those of us from Expert Africa that have visited Lake Manze, that the lake and its tributary channels are often a better environment for seeing a range of mammals than the main Rufiji River is. It was good to read that the guest wasnt put off by a quiet wildlife experience on the boat trip at Lake Manze, and went on to have such a good boat trip from Impala Camp.