Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp

Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp: Our full report

Rooms
6 tents and 5 thatched huts.
Traveller's rating
Good (75%) From 4 reviews
Children
Best for older children who will enjoy the hikes.
Open
All year

Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp is located in the Kilombero Valley, bordering the Udzungwa Mountains National Park. It is also known locally as ‘Hondo Hondo’ (which means hornbill in Swahili), this refers to the three different hornbill species found here. Hondo Hondo is a small, rustic lodge, which has six basic tented en-suite rooms and five traditional thatched huts. It is well situated for a base from which to explore the often-overlooked Udzungwa Mountains.


The forested slopes of the Udzungwa Mountains offer a remarkable amount of biodiversity – encompassing more than 50% of the country's plant and animal species, including 300 endemic animals, and 800 endemic plants. There are four species of primate that can be easily seen from camp: the blue monkey, black and white colobus monkeys and the Udzungwa red colobus which is endemic to the area. On a recent short stay we saw three of these species whilst sitting in the restaurant!

Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp was set up by four Brits who, after bringing tourists to Udzungwa for many years, became increasingly frustrated with the lack of decent accommodation in the area. Deciding to take matters into their own hands, they started by setting up a very simple campsite and have gradually built up the camp over the past few years to a higher standard. Although they now employ a manager to take care of the day-to-day running, they're still very actively involved and can be often seen in camp.

Currently, there are six en-suite tented rooms at Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp, all of them decorated using local sustainable materials such as coconut wood and bamboo. These are the newest and most comfortable of the accommodation options here. All rooms have a bed and spring mattress, complete with a colourful throw made by one of the lodge's community support projects - the Ifakara Women Weavers group. Each tent has solar-powered lighting and a socket for charging phones and camera batteries. At the back of the tent, the open-air bathrooms have flush toilets, and an excellent solar-heated ‘rain shower’ from which you can enjoy the views into the nearby forest. The stone floors and bamboo walled bathroom feel very natural. These are definitely the rooms to go for if they are available.

The five thatched huts are much simpler with just a bed and spring mattress, and walk in mosquito nets, solar lighting, wall socket, table and chair. These are much more basic and we’d only suggest them to adventurous travelers on a tight budget. Equally there is still the original campsite nearby where travelers can camp either using their own equipment or renting it from the main lodge.

The rooms are all spread out around ‘The Glade’, a natural clearing at the edge of the forest where they've placed the ‘Canopy Bar’ – one of the best spots to sit and watch the troops of monkeys which favour the area. The evening soundtrack is one of tropical birds, monkeys playing in the trees and the running water from the Kilombero river crashing over the nearby Njokamoni waterfall - although the nearby village Mang’ula can also be heard. Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp is sandwiched between the western border of the National Park and a local town. Whilst this is great for opportunities of cultural interaction, music from the village and noise from machinery used at the sugar and rubber plantations does detract slightly from the magical sounds of the rain forest.

There's a great range of activities offered at Hondo Hondo and for many this is the reason to come here. These focus not only on the wildlife and vegetation, but also hiking to beautiful waterfalls, adventure activities and cultural opportunities. The floodplains provide great, flat, mountain-biking terrain, while exploring the Kilombero River in a traditional dugout canoe will give you a glimpse of local village life along the river (and even the occasional crocodile or hippo!). Guided village tours and a visit to the nearby rubber and sugar plantations are also possible. The camp, the forest and the Kilombero river are also very good for birders, over 80 species have been seen in the garden alone and several of these are endemics.

However, one thing that everyone visiting Udzungwa Forest Lodge should do during their stay is hike to see one of the many waterfalls in the area. Sanje falls is the most popular and arguably the most beautiful – you can also swim here which makes it even more attractive. It is just over six kilometers away and treks can take anywhere between one and four hours, depending on the route and speed you walk. Other waterfalls that can be visited in the National Park include Njokamoni, Sonjo and Prince Bernhard’s falls – named after the founder of Udzungwa Mountains National Park.

A trip to Udzungwa is most easily combined with Mikumi National Park ; or the Selous Game Reserve.

Our view

Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp is a simple camp with a low environmental footprint. It suits those looking for something a little different from the standard safari experience. A stop here is primarily to explore the beautiful Udzungwa Mountains and to seek out their wildlife, but will also help visitors to get a feel for rural life. Intrepid travelers will love the ‘no frills’ approach, but Hondo Hondo is not for everyone; although there is a degree of comfort, don’t come here expecting luxury.

Geographics

Location: Mikumi & Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania

Directions: It is a two and a half hour drive from Mikumi – the last hour of which is really hard going on an ungraded road.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Richard Wood and Roy Hind

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Meal times are very flexible at Hondo Hondo and packed breakfasts are sometimes necessary for anyone going out on an early morning trek, these can be ordered the night before. Lunch is also frequently taken on-the-go and will consist of sandwiches, nuts and fruit. Dinner is then three courses and plated. On our last stay there in June 2016 we enjoyed an avocado salad, followed by beef steak and croquets and then finished with banana fritters.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Drinks are not included but they are reasonably priced; beer is US $3, soda’s are US $1 and a glass of wine is about US$4.

Further dining info: Not possible.

Special interests

Walking: If you are willing to forgo simple accommodation there is some fantastic walking opportunities in the Udzungwa Naitonal Park. There are a variety of treks available ranging from 45 minutes to 7 hours!

See more ideas for Walking in Tanzania

Children

Attitude towards children: All ages are welcome at Hondo Hondo.

Property’s age restrictions: None.

Special activities & services: There are no activities or services specifically set up for children.

Equipment: There are cots and highchairs available.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: There is power in all of the tents so guests are able to charge their batteries.

Communications: There is intermittent mobile reception but no Wifi.

TV & radio: No

Water supply: Borehole

Water supply notes: There is running hot and cold water with plumbed in showers and flush toilets.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a first aid kit in the reception and all of the vehicles.

Dangerous animals: Moderate Risk

Security measures: There are askaris around 24 hours a day.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers, water pipes and sand buckets in all of the rooms.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is available but at an extra cost.

Money: There is a lockable trunk in each room and a padlock can be supplied. Only small amounts of currency can be exchanged.

Accepted payment on location: US$ GB£ TZsh and EU€ are all accepted. Hondo Hondo also accepts credit card payments – please note that there is a 5% surcharge for this service.

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