Beside the great Rufiji River, Rufiji River camp has one of the best locations in the Selous.
Rufiji River Camp: Our full report
One of the first camps to be established in the Selous Game Reserve, Rufiji River Camp has a fantastic location, high up on a bank above the Rufiji River in the eastern extremity of the northern area of the reserve. From the front of the camp, the views are impressive – watch hippos relax in the waters by day, and listen to them honking throughout the night!
Rufiji River Camp has a rustic African feel to it, with thatched roofs, stone floors and the occasional carved piece of furniture in both the main areas and the individual tents. Well laid-out pathways lead to 14 en-suite tents, spaced along the river in a lush stretch of woodland populated by monkeys and numerous birds – and occasionally visited by more exciting large mammals. Though a little close together, the tents are still private and comfortable. There are three pairs of family tents which sleep up to four people, and are connected by a wooden platform between the pairs. There are plans to add splash pools to these tents.
Each tent has a stone deck in front, with a table and two chairs: a pleasant place to relax between safari activities. Inside, the tents are simple in style and boast little in the way of luxury, but they are clean and have comfortable twin or double beds with cotton sheets, hanging space for your clothes and a writing desk. Instead of fans, gauze-covered windows let through a light breeze. Torches, a whistle and insect repellent are provided.
The bathrooms are situated through a door at the back of the tents. These, too, are simple yet large and clean, with a shower, bidet, single washbasin and flush toilet. The camp has running water which is filtered and so safe to drink. Soap and shampoo are supplied.
When we last visited Rufiji River Camp in October 2011, they were in the process of renovating the camp. The newer tents are significantly more spacious than the older ones and all have two double beds. The new tents also benefit from electric plug sockets, and having just been refurbished, have a brighter, fresher feel to them.
At the heart of Rufiji River Camp is a large central area with wonderful views over the Rufiji River. The lounge and small library, bar and dining area are all under one high thatched roof with lovely stone floors and comfortable soft furnishings. A few old board games are dotted around for playing before or after dinner. There are also British, European and American sockets in the lounge area.
Outside, some simple wooden seating is set around a campfire, and set a little further back from the river is Rufiji’s shaded swimming pool, which stays very cool in the heat of the day. There are loungers around the pool for those wishing to relax and sunbathe in between safari activities.
Rufiji River Camp offers a range of activities, all accompanied by one of the camp’s guides who are very friendly and have a reasonable knowledge of the wildlife. As well as boat safaris on the Rufiji River and walking safaris from the camp, there are game drives encompassing three nearby lakes, including a full-day safari with a packed lunch. For the adventurous who wish to experience more of the bush, there is also the option of fly-camping for a few nights.
Our viewFor a relaxed, down to earth stay in the Selous, Rufiji River Camp is a good choice. The camp is clean and comfortable with a pleasant, unpretentious air and reasonable prices, plus a beautiful view over the Rufiji River.
Ideal length of stay: 3 nights to make the most of the activities on offer.
Directions: The Selous Game Reserve is a 35-minute flight from Dar es Salaam, then it is only a five-minute drive to Rufiji River Camp. Alternatively, it is around a six-hour drive from Dar – depending on the weather and therefore the state of the roads.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food we were served during our last visit was simple yet tasty, with much of it grown on a local farm. All dining tables overlook the river.
Breakfast at Rufiji River Camp is served at 7.00am before the morning activities and usually consists of eggs (either boiled, fried or as an omelette), toast and fresh fruit, as well as cinnamon rolls.
Lunch is a three-course buffet served at 1.00pm. On our last visit we had gazpacho soup, followed by fishcakes with rice and salad and then pancakes. For a full-day safari, a packed lunch is provided.
Dinner, at 8.00pm, is a three-course set meal. A classic menu might be something like tomato soup, followed by beef with dauphinoise potatoes and vegetables, then cheesecake to finish. If the camp is particularly busy dinner may be served as a buffet.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Tea and coffee are included in the rates at Rufiji, but no other drinks. Beer costs around US$4, a large bottle of water US$2, and wine around US$20 a bottle.
Attitude towards children: Responsible older children are welcome at Rufiji River Camp in accordance with the restrictions below, but they are very much their parents’ responsibility.
Property’s age restrictions: 5 years and over. Children under 16 are not allowed on walking safaris in the Selous.
Special activities & services: With advance notice, early dinners can be prepared for children.
Equipment: No specific equipment is provided, though there are triple rooms for parents to share with a child.
Generally recommended for children: Yes although we’d suggest at least age 12. Though there are no special facilities for children at the camp, there is a lovely pool to keep them occupied when not out on safari.
Notes: Rufiji is quite large, and the staff do not have the capacity to help look after children staying at the camp. Parents should also be aware that the camp is not fenced and wildlife can pass through at any time – children should not be left unaccompanied.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: For all intents and purposes you should consider yourself out of contact. There is intermittent cellphone reception at Rufiji, but for the sake of other guests and to maintain peace and quiet, use of cellphones is restricted to the reception area.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio – this is deepest Africa!
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: On site first aid can be administered and various medications are kept in the camp. In severe emergencies Rufiji can arrange for clients to be flown out from the nearby airstrip.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: The Selous has a large population of dangerous game and Rufiji River Camp is unfenced, so all guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. There are also camp guards on duty 24 hours a day.
Fire safety: There are a number of fire extinguishers in key areas of the camp – such as the reception, kitchen and workshop. All guests are informed what to do in case of a fire at the welcome meeting.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is complimentary.
Money: There are no money exchange facilities here.
Accepted payment on location: Rufiji River Camp prefers payment for any extras in US dollars cash. Although they also except euros and Tanzanian shillings, and travellers’ cheques, the exchange rate for these is very poor. Visa and MasterCard are accepted but there is a charge for their use.