Reviews of Selous Impala Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Wonderful First Safari in Selous
First, about Selous Game Reserve - the reserve's main feature is the Rufiji river and lakes system which allows for boat safaris and game drives near the water sources. We went in January which was supposed to be a bit more wet but it had not rained much this year, so we got semi-dry season instead. This led to very prolific game viewing near the lakes.
We saw lions (including 2 hunts - one of which was successful), wild dogs, lots and lots of giraffes, zebras, impalas, hippos, crocodiles, elephants, buffalo, and lots of beautiful birds, especially the bee eaters and lilac breasted rollers. There were animals everywhere.
Another cool thing about Selous besides the water, is that it is a game reserve, which allows for off-road driving. This meant we could drive up to 100 meters off road to get closer to the action. It makes for a much more wild experience on game drives and nice secluded spots for bush breakfast. Although, the place felt secluded enough as it is. We ran into just a few cars each day, with no more than 2 other vehicles, even at lion sightings. Most of the day, we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.
Now about the guiding - Dennis was our guide during our 4-night stay. He took care of us on both the game drives and the boat safaris. You get to choose 2 activities per day. It was like we were on a private safari because we were in our own car/boat and could pick and choose what we wanted to see. Combined with the ability to go off-road and being the only car at a sighting most of the time, this meant almost total flexibility in seeing what you want from the angle you want, as long as you want. It was awesome.
Dennis is an excellent spotter. We are still impressed by how he could spot a lion's presence from very far away by looking at the giraffes' behavior. And I mean from very far. This led us to a lioness who was eyeing a baby wildebeest. We got to see the whole drama unfold... again, off-road, all to ourselves.
Camp and dining - Our tent was right next to the river so we had beautiful sunset views. The tents have en-suite bathrooms which was good to help us warm up to the bush. There was a hippo hanging out in the water near our tent and we could hear him (sometimes quite loud) at night. We also had elephants come up to the tent which added to the fun.
Sylvia and Barbara took good care of us. Everything was run beautifully at the camp. Dining was excellent with 3-course lunches and 4-course dinners. One of us chose vegetarian option which they executed very well. We chose the bush breakfast option every day we were there. Breakfast in the bush is a bit more limited than in the camp but we preferred the experience and having more time in the bush.
One thing we wished was a little more communal time at the bar before dinner. Since dining here is private, unlike at some other camps, the bar time would give a chance for guests to mingle and share their experiences of the day. We also want to suggest making drinks included during sundowners to encourage people to hang out at the bar / camp fire more. Since we already get a private safari and dining the rest of the day, an hour of communal time could be fun.
Luxury in the bush.
Barbara and Sylvia made us feel most welcome to this lovely camp. All the staff were attentive and efficient.
Our guide Dennis was fantastic and we had a great time with him on safari and on the water. Beautiful birds and many hyena.
The 35 elephants crossing the river at dusk was a highlight.
Superb guiding at Selous
Impala camp is a comfortable,well run camp ,which excelled in terms of the quality of guiding - always our first priority.
The weather was hot and humid and the recent heavy rains had dispersed much of the larger game , which we had expected would be concentrated round isolated water holes .Neverthless there was a lot to see and it was magical to experience the greening up of the bush. It rained one morning and substantial raincoats were provided .(umbrellas also available in the tent if needed)
Our tent was comfortable and the access to plentiful hot water and electricity was very convenient .Toilet and shower areas were separated off from the wash basin area so providing maximum privacy.
We were in tent 6 ,very close to the river ,the shore of which was frequented by hippo ,elephant and water buffalo -often noisily in the night .The dawn chorus around 5 am was the loudest and most joyful we have experienced .
The land cruisers were extremely comfortable due to proper moulded seats (not benches) and we were fortunate to be the only passengers in our 4 night stay.This enabled us to go at our own pace and linger to watch interesting animal and bird behavior and not bore others with our interest in the myriad birds. (By the way the bird list booklet in our tent was very useful and much appreciated.
The boat safaris (one morning ,one evening and one en route back to the air strip ) were fascinating .Faidh our boatman made some great spots and Ezra explained how the african golden weaver builds its nest . We enjoyed the walking safari as an opportunity to stretch our legs and focus on the micro habitats.Red velvet mites emerging from the sand were everywhere once they had been pointed out to us!.
Ezra was an outstanding guide who shared his knowledge ,enthusiasm ,stories and sense of humour such that we learned a great deal and enjoyed ourselves hugely .His excitement when a radio newsflash announced a sighting of wild dog towards Lake Manze resulted in a dash to the scene in time to have good sightings.Manuel our driver was superb- coping with the wet and muddy potholes remarkably well. Many animals such as impala,giraffe and wart hogs had very tiny newborns .
While we were aware that dining at this camp involved separate seating arrangements ,the prevailing atmosphere was rather more european than African bush and we did miss the informality and camaraderie that is generated by
sharing meals with fellow travellers and guides.
There was only one incident of concern in an otherwise great stay. On our way back to our tent after lunch the first day we came across a huge hippo grazing to one side of our tent. Now we are always warned that hippos are dangerous and fast running so i heeded instructions to call for a Masai to come to our aid.This prooved fruitless so i tip toed round the back of my tent. When I reported the incident later we were told 'don't worry, its only Andrea our resident hippo who knows us'. That may well be so but I think its not wise to treat wild animals as harmless pets -even if they have never been known to 'misbehave'.
Selous Impala Camp review
We first went to Impala in 2009 and had excellent guiding. This time, because of the early rains predators and prey were not concentrated and as a consequence we experienced fewer sightings. We did not feel the guiding was quite as good this time and felt our guide did not engage with us as much as we would have wished during those times of sparse game viewing.
However, Impala is a fabulous camp, well run and in a great location, with excellent service.
An exciting safari at Impala Camp
We had a great time at Impala Camp with good sightings of game. The boat safaris were particularly enjoyable and the walking safari was very interesting thanks to Omari our excellent guide.
The camp was good, the only slight qualification being that our hut (and most others) have very limited views of the river due to vegetation growth. Great food and service but perhaps the seating on individual tables meant that the camp had a slightly less friendly atmosphere. Heavy rain fell on our last day and this would have made game viewing more difficult had we been staying longer.
Selous Impala Camp on foot, river boat or veh
The high professionalism of the staff & the ability to cater to all our needs made our stay in this camp first class. All the staff made every effort to make us feel special.
Our guide Dennis & our waiter David adapted themselves to our wildlife special interests and mealtime needs. Barbara and her camp managers organize the camp superbly in a very subtle way.
The camp strikes a balance between over luxurious and basic bush camp in a harmonious way.
Selous Impala Camp review
Barbara and her team were good hosts.
Very well set up camp built to a high standard. Restaurant and lounge at first floor level gave an airy atmosphere and good views over river. As with Lake Manze Camp, the location enabled us to alternate river trips with game drives. Hot water always available, which is important in the humid night climate here.
The in-camp service was excellent and we thought the food was very good.
Our guide, Andrew, was particularly good and the game seen was very varied. The off-road driving was quite an experience here.
Selous Impala Camp review
Great location. Champagne by the river on our arrival was a treat
Liked eating out in different areas of the camp at night, especially by the wood fire
Nice swimming pool
Good choice of activities
Especially enjoyed boat safaris and fishing trip. Interesting trip to local village
Gerrard was an excellent, well-informed guide, enthusiastic about his job and showed us lots of game and birds
There was nothing massively wrong with Selous Impala, but I didn't really warm to it. The rooms are nice, the managers were nice enough but it was rather hard not to compare it to Kwihala which has a much more friendly atmosphere. The separate dining policy is probably mostly to blame for this, and I was aware of this in advance and suspected it would be a negative but unfortunately this seems to be common at a lot of camps in Selous.
Our guide was also a bit disappointing. Although his knowledge was good if we asked specific questions, he didn't volunteer much in the way of information either about the wildlife or about where we were going and why. When we suddenly found ourselves crashing off road into a gully nearly having our eyes taken out by bushes, we had to ask why to find out it was because a leopard with cubs had been sighted there recently. He did also seem to drive a bit too fast for comfort on the very bumpy Selous roads, and seemed reluctant to switch the engine off whenever we stopped. Even if I'm not taking photographs, I'd still rather sit in peace listening to the sounds of the bush than to the engine idling. Again, Selous Impala just didn't measure up to Kwihala on the guiding.
Impala Camp at Selous
We were made to feel very welcome the moment our plane touched down at the airport - Pollycarp and Benjy greeted us and took us on a little detour game drive between the airport and the camp. In that short space of time, we saw many animals - giraffes, zebras, water buck, hippos, to name but a few.
The highlights of the camp for us were the following:
- Very knowledgeable guides (Omari and Rajabu) who followed paw prints of lions to bring us straight to the lions almost every day (days 2, 3, 4)
- The options available to us in game drives, boat safari and walking safari (we tried all - and loved the variety)
- The food cannot be faulted; each meal was perfection and the dessert always surprised!
The scenes that will stay in our minds are the hundreds of vultures waiting for the lions to have their fill of the prey, 2 lionesses devouring a wildebeest and one later walking about 200m to feed her cubs, and 6 lionesses devouring a wildebeest in 15 minutes (freshly caught, we had arrived 10-15mins after the kill). Herds of elephants just doing their own thing, and baby zebras, giraffes, baboons all added to the magic. Lions and hippos mating were also sights we won't forget!
However perhaps because of the period we were there, all the action was around the Lakes and we spent about an hour getting there every morning (and back). That seemed like a lot of time for a 4 day trip.