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Ikuka
Ikuka
Ikuka
Ikuka
Ikuka
Ikuka
Ikuka
Ikuka
Ikuka
Ikuka

Ikuka: Our full report

Built high on the escarpment in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park, the upmarket Ikuka Safari Camp has commanding ...

... views of the park throughout the entire property. Located about a 20-minute drive from the best game viewing areas in the park, used by several of Ruaha’s camps, Ikuka stands out for its unique locations.

Opened in late 2016, Ikuka is one of the newest properties in the park, named after the area of Ruaha where it’s situated. It is managed by one of the owners Mark Sheridan-Johnson, an experienced safari guide and lodge manager in Tanzania. The architect behind the camp is Neil Rocher, whose portfolio also includes Chongwe River House and Luangwa Safari House in Zambia. All his designs make good use of natural materials to give a fresh, modern take on a traditional safari lodge.

Neil’s signature style is evident in Ikuka's six open-sided rooms, strung out along the escarpment. They each have stunning views over the national park, with rooms 1-3 facing the sunrise and 4-6 facing the sunset. All have been beautifully designed and feature low walls, created from locally collected white quartz, and high thatched roofs to allow for a fresh breeze. A neutral colour scheme and the architect's hallmark use of natural materials give the rooms a sophisticated look and a calm, relaxing atmosphere.

Each room has a central tented area with a super king-size bed, surrounded by full-length cream curtains. Two rustic wooden lamps sit either side of the headboard and glass decanters provide fresh drinking water. On one side of the room you will find a comfortable dark leather sofa with a scattering of tasteful cushions and a low coffee table. The floor is covered by makuti matting, with shoots of mother-in-law's tongue growing through it. Combined with large quartz boulders, this creates added interest and helps Ikuka feel in keeping with its surroundings.

The spacious en-suite bathrooms have a good rainfall shower, flush toilets and twin stone washbasins with lovely views. A large mirror hangs on the back wall and Ikuka provides complementary toiletries by Inaya Zanzibar. The bathrooms are separated from the bedroom by a shoulder-height wall constructed from a wooden frame filled with quartz rocks. This looks stunning, and gives the entire room an open, airy feeling, but does limit privacy within the room itself. All rooms have a gas boiler to provide an almost inexhaustible supply of hot water.

Outside, a large wooden balcony, complete with director’s chairs and a hand-carved table, allows you to relax while taking in the panoramic views.

The team at Ikuka have plans to build a seventh room which will be designed for families, comfortably accommodating up to four people. They plan for this to be open from June 2019, and we'll provide an update and photos once we know more.

The central area is equally stylish. As with the rooms, its wood-and-thatch construction has been left open-sided to maximize the views – helped by a viewing scope that has been set up to spot game on the plains below. This space has been built around several trees and boulders that were left in place during construction and form a focal point. At ground level you'll find a number of comfortable leather sofas and low tables with coffee-table books. The dining area forms the focus for all meals, which are sociable occasions, with all guests dining at one large table. Up a set of steep stairs is a second relaxation area with plump, colourful cushions and a small library containing several field guides.

From the central area, a few steps lead down to a raised wooden veranda where guests can relax by a beautiful oval swimming pool, set out with shaded sun loungers, and enjoy more spectacular views. Attentive staff are on hand to offer drinks.

Safari activities at Ikuka centre around 4x4 game drives, mainly in the game-rich area surrounding the Mwagusi River. While out on game drives in 2018, we encountered several large herds of elephants and prides of lions, and in the past we were lucky enough to have a leopard sighting.

Guided walks are also available for an extra cost of US$50 per person, and need at least 24 hours’ notice, so that the necessary park rangers can be arranged. The walks are usually led by Ikuka’s owner Mark, a highly experienced guide. You will typically head out early in the morning to learn about the tracks and signs of the bush and discover some of Ruaha's lesser-known birds and animals. You’ll then normally end with a full breakfast out in the bush.


Our view

We are always excited to see new owner-run camps open, and we think Ikuka is an excellent addition to this remote corner of Africa. It offers something quite special in Ruaha in terms of its elevated location.

Olivia Barclay-Hudson

Olivia Barclay-Hudson

Tanzania expert

Geographics

Location
Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
Ideal length of stay
Spend three or four nights at Ikuka to explore Ruaha National Park.
Directions
Ruaha is a two-and-a-half hour flight from Dar es Salaam; it is then a further 45-minute drive to Ikuka.
Accessible by
Fly-and-Transfer

Food & drink

Usual board basis
Full Board & Activities
Food quality
Expert Africa last visited Ikuka in 2018 when we found the food excellent. Dishes are international in flavour, and are fresh, tasty and beautifully presented.

A leisurely breakfast incorporates a selection of fresh fruits and cereals, as well as a full cooked breakfast. Alternatively, guests may take a bush breakfast out on safari, normally consisting of boiled eggs, bacon and toast, along with a selection of fruit, yoghurt and cereals.

A buffet lunch is served at around 1pm. We enjoyed homemade fish cakes with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, together with a selection of fresh salads and herb bread hot from the oven; dessert was a tasty rhubarb sorbet.

A three-course dinner is served from around 8pm. On one visit, we started with tempura vegetables with a soy sauce. Our main course was roast chicken with mashed potato, green beans and buttered carrots. For dessert we enjoyed a very good lemon tart. On another occasion, a fish curry was served with coconut rice, followed by a chocolate orange mousse.

Special interests

Family holidays
Children over 7 years are warmly welcomed at Ikuka. The camp has recently constructed a family banda which can sleep up to five, and there is a communal swimming pool to enjoy in between game drives.
See ideas for Family holidays
Honeymoons
With spectacular views and attentive service, Ikuka offers a very romantic option for a Tanzanian honeymoon. Couples can relax in the beautiful pool while its six elegant rooms offer both luxury and seclusion.
See ideas for Honeymoons
Birdwatching
Ruaha National Park is a paradise for birdwatching in Tanzania. More than 580 species have been recorded in the park and visitors could well spot a hundred or so different species in a single day. Ikuka’s lofty location is perfect to watch raptors soaring above the plains.
See ideas for Birdwatching
Photography holidays
Ikuka is an excellent choice for keen photographers in Tanzania. Owner and guide Mark Sheridan-Johnson is an accomplished photographer and is more than willing to share his skills and experience with guests.
See ideas for Photography holidays
Walking safaris
Head out for a walking safari with a knowledgeable guide from Ikuka and discover the lesser-known flora and fauna of the bush. Learn how to identify bird calls and how to recognise animal tracks and scat, and the many medicinal uses of plants.
See ideas for Walking safaris
Wildlife safaris
Ikuka is located in one of the best game-viewing areas in Ruaha, making it a great choice for wildlife safaris in Tanzania. The park is known for its particularly good numbers of lion and elephant and guests staying for several nights can expect some excellent wildlife sightings.
See ideas for Wildlife safaris

Children

Attitude towards children
Ikuka welcomes mature, well-behaved children over the age of eight.
Property’s age restrictions
Children need to be over eight years old.
Special activities & services
There are no special activities for children at Ikuka.
Equipment
None
Generally recommended for children
While Ikuka welcomes older children, the camp generally has a rather adult atmosphere.
Notes
Ikuka is unfenced and animals regularly wander through camp; children should be under adult supervision at all times. There is a steep drop from the verandahs which could be dangerous.

Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Ikuka Safari Camp

Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Ikuka have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.

Elephant

100% success

Giraffe

100% success

Lion

100% success

Zebra

100% success

Hippo

85% success

Leopard

81% success

Eland

68% success

Buffalo

68% success

Spotted Hyena

36% success

Roan antelope

29% success

Cheetah

21% success

Sable antelope

18% success

Striped Hyena

6% success

Wild dog

5% success

Aardvark

0% success

Pangolin

0% success

Communications

Power supply notes
Ikuka has a back up generator, although this is rarely used. All rooms have three-pin UK-style plug sockets.
Communications
It is possible to connect to Wifi in the central area.
TV & radio
There is no TV at Ikuka.
Water supply
Borehole
Water supply notes
All rooms are fully plumbed and each has a gas boiler for instant hot water.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended
Yes
Medical care
Managers have basic medical training and there is a first-aid kit on site as well as in every safari vehicle. Ikuka has links with a flying doctor service in Dar es Salaam.
Dangerous animals
High Risk
Security measures
There are askaris on guard around the clock and you will be escorted to and from your room after dark. All rooms come equipped with air horns to raise the alarm in case of emergency.
Fire safety
All staff receive fire training and there are sand buckets and fire extinguishers in the rooms and central areas.

Activities

  • 4WD Safari

    4WD Safari

  • Birdwatching

    Birdwatching

  • Guided walking safari

    Guided walking safari

  • Hot air ballooning

    Hot air ballooning

Extras

Disabled access
On Request
Laundry facilities
Laundry is included and normally takes around 24 hours.
Money
There are electronic safes in all the rooms.
Accepted payment on location
Ikuka currently accepts only cash payments in either US dollars or Tanzanian shillings.

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