Siwandu is set in a great location...
Siwandu (Selous Safari Camp): Our full report
Very plush and luxurious, Siwandu (previously known as Selous Safari Camp) is set amid mixed woodland on the shores of Lake Nzerakera, in Selous Game Reserve. There are two different and entirely separate sections of the camp – North and South – and one or both are used, depending on the number of guests. This is to ensure that the camp never feels crowded or busy. With six rooms in the North Camp, and seven in the South, both are relatively small, and both have the same excellent facilities with a similar feel, but slightly different layout.
When we were last at Siwandu in October 2011 we stayed in the South Camp.
The communal bar/lounge area of North Camp is tastefully decorated and comfortably furnished. Large squashy sofas provide perfect areas to relax in the shade after a morning’s safari, taking in the view and watching the excellent birdlife that frequents the area. A small but well-stocked bar is in one corner, and traditional African bao boards are scattered around should you feel like challenging someone to a game!
To the right of this central area is a large shaded swimming pool, which is surrounded by wooden decking with plenty of loungers. Dining usually takes place outside on this decking.
The South Camp at Siwandu is very similar in style, with interesting African art and wooden furniture that includes some beautiful writing desks. The main difference, however, is that the whole of the main area is raised up on stilts – offering lovely views. Dinner is served on a different raised area each evening to add variety. There is another swimming pool here and a separate dining area as well as a small shop selling curios and useful items such as suncream. If guests stay in the North Camp they can asked to be driven to the shop in the South Camp.
The tented rooms in both parts of Siwandu are identical: permanent tents on slightly raised platforms, under thatched roofs. To maximise air flow, the tents are octagonal in shape. They are large private rooms, each with a pleasant view of the lake and with a comfortable sofa, writing desk and small table on your own spacious veranda.
Natural reds and yellows are used throughout the rooms, which results in a simple yet stylish feel, while subtle touches such as full-length mirrors make the rooms feel really quite luxurious. The furniture is locally made, and includes a bed, wardrobe and dresser (with safe). Decoration comes from a selection of artefacts from different ethnicities found in Zanzibar.
Each room has convenient power points where you can charge batteries using a standard British plug. For hot nights there is also a cooling fan, but no air conditioning. There are no mosquito nets over the beds, but there are gauzes over the windows.
The bathroom is really just an extension of the bedroom, albeit with a canvas partition that can be let down for privacy. The ‘his and hers’ sinks are deep brass bowls and there is also a proper flush toilet. Step right through the bathroom into the outside shower, most offering a view to the water, and passing game. Here you will find all the toiletries you need and plenty of warm water.
Activities at Siwandu include boat safaris, walking safaris, 4WD safaris and fishing for catfish and tigerfish.
Our viewSiwandu has a comfortable, unexpectedly homely feel and a great lakeside location. The tents are of a very high standard – the best in the park. Excellent service and guiding mark it out as a high-quality operation that pays real attention to detail.
Whilst Siwandu is more costly than excellent camps like Impala Camp, they do sometimes have ‘special offers’ – if you can take advantage of these then it becomes not only a very good camp, but also relatively affordable.
Ideal length of stay: 3–4 nights
Directions: The Selous is a 35-minute flight from Dar es Salaam, and the camp is only a five-minute drive from the airstrip. Alternatively, it is around a six-hour drive from Dar – depending on the weather and therefore the state of the roads.
Owner: Property Chain – Selous Safari Company
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Breakfast at Siwandu consists of a selection of fresh and dried fruit, cereals, cold meats, yoghurt, muffins and toast. You can also order a cooked breakfast with eggs of your choice plus bacon, sausage, tomato and mushroom. The timings for breakfast are 7.00–10.00am, so guests can have a flexible start to the day.
A two-course lunch is served at 1.00pm, with fresh salads and breads, followed by a fruit-based dessert. It is perfect for the heat of the day – fresh, tasty and light.
Just before your afternoon activity, at around 3.30pm, there is afternoon tea, which often includes refreshing home-made lemonade and cookies.
Dinner is served at 8.00pm after a sundowner in the bar and is a three-course affair. When we last visited in October 2011 we ate chilled tomato soup with condiments for starter, lamb and okra tart with fried risotto balls with cheese and mixed vegetables for main course, and Amarula and coffee mousse for dessert. All three courses were delicious! Generally, the food is a mix of international cuisine, imaginatively presented and of a high standard.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Tea/coffee and filtered water are included in the rates at Siwandu, but other drinks are extra.
Honeymoons: Siwandu is a small and romantic camp with a lovely setting and luxurious rooms. For special evenings the camp can arrange candlelit bush dinners – making this a good option for some indulgence whilst celebrating a special occasion.See more ideas for Honeymoons in Tanzania
Birdwatching: With a wonderful location right on the river, the bird-watching is great from Selous Safari Camp itself. With a wonderful location on the river, birdwatching around Siwandu is great. The guides are knowledgeable guides and there’s a wide variety of species. We had no problems sighting European rollers, hoopoes, fish eagles and hammerkops, amongst many others. In camp, a bird bath attracts masked and sparrow weavers and glossy starlings.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Tanzania
Wildlife safaris: The Selous Game Reserve has a good population of wildlife throughout the year. There is always an abundance of giraffe and impala as well as a number of lion. The fortunate might see leopard, as well as wild dogs that occasionally move through the area around Siwandu.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania
Attitude towards children: Siwandu are happy to welcome children over the age of six years old, but they feel that whilst in camp children are the full responsibility of their parents. A maximum of three children are allowed in camp at the same time.
Property’s age restrictions: Children must be 6 years old. Only children over 16 years old may walk or fly-camp while staying at Siwandu.
Special activities & services: No
Equipment: There is no special equipment, but one or two children under 12 can sometimes be accommodated in their parents’ room.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: Siwandu is a small place that is happy to have children to visit. That said, parents should be aware that this camp is not fenced and wildlife can pass through at any time; children cannot be left unaccompanied.
Power supply: Solar Power
Communications: There is intermittent cellphone reception at Siwandu, though travellers should note that the use of cellphones in public areas is not allowed. Internet access is available at US$5 for 15 minutes. The camp’s satellite phone is for camp use and emergencies only.
TV & radio: There is no TV or radio – this is deepest Africa!
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a first-aid kit at Siwandu for minor injuries and illnesses. For emergencies, the camp has links to the flying-doctor service in Dar es Salaam, which is a 35-minute flight away.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There are around ten guards on site, as well as Maasai armed with spears and pangas to escort you to and from your room at night. All the rooms also have whistles, so that if you need help in the night you can call for attention.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in every communal area and room as well as a fire hydrant for the main area. The team practises fire drills when there are no guests in camp. Please note that no smoking is allowed on activities, although a suitable spot can be found during a comfort break, if you warn your guide in advance that you may want to smoke.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laundry is included in the rates at Siwandu. It is hand washed, sun dried and ironed with a charcoal iron – so it is not advisable to put any delicate items in the wash. With an all-male team and for cultural reasons, ladies need to wash their own underwear. The camp provides washing powder for this.
Money: There is no currency exchange at Siwandu. There is a safe in each room.
Accepted payment on location: The camp prefers payment for any extras in cash, and accepts US dollars, Tanzanian shillings, British pounds or Euros. However they are also able to accept credit cards; there is a 5% charge for Visa (the preferred card), MasterCard and Amex. Card details for MasterCard and Amex payments must be given the night before departure. The camp will also accept travellers’ cheques, but not those from Thomas Cook.