Reviews of Siwandu (Selous Safari Camp)
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Siwandu (Selous Safari Camp) review
The managers, Susanna and Bastien, made us very welcome and were very keen to do anything necessary to make our stay as good as possible. The rooms and the service were immaculate thoughout and minor unserviceablities were fixed immediately, which we see as a measure of efficiency.
The boat trips were a great favourite for me as, although the lake was obviously shrinking at the end of the dry season, there were huge numbers of birds around together with a good variety of animals coming to drink; sadly, we didn't see any predators at the lakeside.
Our guide Mohammed was very experienced and clearly knew a great deal about the area and its wildlife. He filled the jeep rides with good information and had a great sense of humour.
The only thing I would change would be the dining arrangements. We were seated as couples or groups as appropriate but we feel this stifles conversation. Obviously we could chat in the bar area but as Jude doesn't drink this can be difficult. The other camps preferred communal dining and we think this leads to more stimulating conversation and discussion.
A unique safari experience
Siwandu was an excellent final stop on our Tanzania safari. Along with the usual comforts, it offers a different experience because of its lakeside location. We began and ended our stay with lovely, relaxing boat rides that gave us a close-up look at numerous crocs and myriad birds. The game drives were also rewarding, including one remarkable cycle-of-life scene -- one male lion chomping on a buffalo while his (the lion's) brother mated just a few feet away. Our guide, Zachariah, had a discerning eye for unusual wildlife, including a fruit bat nearly hidden by foliage and a juvenile black mamba crossing the road in front of our vehicle, and he was an engaging conversationalist. We had an interesting though heart-rending bush walk (the guides' names escape me), notable both for what we learned about plant and insect life and for an encounter with a severely injured infant giraffe.
We've rated the food as "excellent" on balance because of the elegant dinners and a stupendous bush breakfast. The lunches, although well prepared, were a little on the heavy side. We don't understand why Expert Africa had offered a prepaid drinks package -- which we didn't take -- and it's not clear that the camp staff even knew about it. Both soft drinks and alcohol were available on a chit basis (sign as you go and pay when you leave) at reasonable per-drink prices, whereas the package would have covered more than anyone ought to be drinking -- 12-15 beers, two bottles of wine, or five premium cocktails per person per day!! The complimentary aperitifs offered when we returned from the afternoon activity were a nice touch.
Although the tents were spacious and stylish, two features lead us to rate them as only "good." First, placing the cupboards in the bathroom was not a good idea. Short of a redesign, which seems unlikely, it would be helpful to have curtains or some other partition around the toilet. Second, there needs to be a back-up (or a more effective one) to the solar heating for the shower. The weather was cloudy or rainy for much of our stay, and the shower was barely lukewarm at best.
Siwandu (Selous Safari Camp) review
Out trip to Selous was magical.
We enjoyed the variety of activities, including the walk and boat safari. Diversity of wildlife was excellent, and a perfect complement to the different ecology from Jongomero camp. The staff was responsive to our requests, and everyone was very nice.
Stayed in tent #7, which appeared to have a better view of the lake in the dry season (couldn't see the other tents from the lake).
Siwandu Selous camp exceeded all expectations
Absolutely wonderful! The accommodation was really outstanding, gorgeous setting, the food was delicious and all the people that worked there were incredibly friendly and helpful.
We were made to feel really special and were especially impressed by the extra effort that was made to make our stay so individual. We were served a surprise lunch on a boat and the next day a surprise breakfast was laid out on a local beach. Amazing! This was after a walking safari that our youngest son ( aged 14) was too young to come on, but he was taken out fishing on a boat and then brought to join us for breakfast.
We really appreciated these extra touches and organisation that made our stay so memorable.
Fantastic in every way
Love the camp, the staff were all friendly, helpful and gave great service. The safari experiences were excellent.
Didn't have time to even look at the pool.
Siwandu, beautiful area in Selous.
We spent 3 nights at Siwandu last November .
This is a very nice camp in a great location . Accommodation is fantastic , with huge tents and bathroom . The best part is the veranda with a view to the lake. We saw lots of animals around our tent during siesta time like giraffes , elephants, hippos , waterbucks , impalas , bushbucks , baboons , monkeys and of course lots of birds. At night we also had company with elephants , hippos and hyenas !!
Service and attention was excellent . Food quality was always good , even it was not our style .
The area where Siwandu let as down a bit were activities . Morning drives starts at 8 a. m. and this is not what we are use to after 10 safaris , everywhere we have been in Africa activities start early after sunrise , something that increase your chance to see some animals that don´t like to move during the heat of the day and also to take advantage of the best light for photography .
Also guiding level was not on par with other places we have stayed before , and for us quality of guiding can enhance hugely your experience .
If your priority in Selous is to have an amazing and beautiful tent , a personal butler looking after you and special food then Siwandu is for you . If you are after hardcore activities with great guiding i will try some other camp.
Yet ,we did see plenty of animals and birding was excellent around the lakes areas . Almost in every drive we saw , giraffes , buffalo , grater kudu , zebras , gnu and lions. We did see elephants but not as many as we were hoping , maybe the poaching problem in Selous area has something to do with it ? This is the time when impalas drop their baby so it was great to see impala babies everywhere !
The boat safari is great for birding and also you will see lots of hippos and crocs but we saw also buffalos , giraffes and elephants from the boat .
Overall we enjoyed very much our stay in Selous Reserve , the landscape is fantastic , very green and with lots of water , a great contrast and combination with Ruaha if you are doing the southern circuit .
Fortunate with the weather!
Our third venue and made every bit as welcome as at the previous two.
Emil's long experience and local knowledge is a great strength and Claire is an excellent people person.
Clear evidence of concern for guests safety in terms of after dark escorts, also true at Jongomero.
Guide, Holle, made every effort to locate species which had dispersed rather more than usual due to the early rains.
Holle, an excellent driver in difficult conditions, has a very good knowledge of the animals in terms of their behaviour,
Appeared at times rather less confident in identifying birds but always willing to follow up, may well have been hampered by a lack of binoculars.
Bird section of the species list poorly arranged would strongly recommend modelling a revision on the Jongomero leaflet ie group 'types' together ie all beeeaters, egrets, eagles etc .
Overall current booklet does not do credit to an excellent operation.
Boat safari marred by fumes from engine.
Siwandu (Selous Safari Camp) review
this was our first experience of Africa and Siwandu set an exceptionally high standard for the other camps to follow,our guide Allen was superb, with a detailed knowledge of bird life as well as the larger animals, and he coped with the rather difficult driving conditions ( deep mud) very very well, at no time did he say "I cannot get there"
The condition of our tent, the food, and the service were of the highest standard.
A Perfect Introduction to an African Safari
Siwandu was our first taste of being in Tanzania and in a safari camp and we loved it. The care and attention given to the guests by Ricus and Pietro and their staff, especially Alphonce (our personal waiter and language tutor!) were exceptional. Nothing was too much trouble.
The accommodation was amazing - clean and spacious - and the chef performed fantastic meals in what must have been difficult conditions, e.g., tropical heat and without modern equipment. A wonderful start to our Tanzanian adventure.
Great stay at Siwandu!
We had a wonderful 3 night stay at Siwandu that delivered exactly what we had hoped and more!
It was incredible to look up when having breakfast and see a couple of elephants who had suddenly appeared a few meters away! We had a wonderful warm welcome on arrival and were introduced to our host Emiel, our butler Mau and our lovely guide Mohammed. All the staff around the camp were very attentive and charming and we felt very well looked after. The chef proudly announced his dinner menu every night and made a lot of effort to accommodate my vegetarian daughter and on our last night there was a very entertaining procession as the staff followed chef through the tables singing and dancing as birthday cakes were delivered to two tables one of which was ours! Thank you Liz for passing on the info!
We did a walking safari one morning which was very interesting culminating in a fabulous bush breakfast that had arrived by boat and was laid out on the lake shore much to our surprise! I am very glad that we visited Siwandu first as originally I had planned to go to Ruaha first but had switched due to lack of availability. Siwandu is definitely more luxurious and although the guiding was very good, as the guide was also the driver, maybe another pair of eyes would have made the guiding even better as we were to discover in Ruaha. If I could I would award Siwandu 4.5 paws just because what we were to experience next was a notch above.
On the morning we left we had to hurry after breakfast as we were told the plane had arrived and wanted to take off half an hour early to make a second stop en route to Ruaha and so we had little time to explore the shop which is located in the main reception area (not south camp as in your notes!) and is well worth a visit with some lovely locally made items for sale. Also FYI there are hairdryers available for guest use!