Reviews of Mdonya Old River Camp
Wildlife sightings and reviews
124 independent comments and wildlife information from our travellers who have visited Mdonya Old River Camp and kindly agreed to share their thoughts. They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa
"A great camp but not the most prolific area"
Our guide Jimmy was fantastic, one of the best we've ever had. A very keen and avid birder and a fun guy, I'm sure he has a good career ahead of him. Our driver Ayoubu was equally outstanding, much more than a driver, had all qualities of a super guide - we tipped him as one.
Lots of Zebra, Impala, Grant´s Gazelle and Giraffe along the Ruaha River, also dozens and dozens of Elephants. We found the Lions once - although our focus was more on birding (which was terrific) so did not really make an effort for Cats. I´m sure we would have seen them more often when really trying. No Leopards - but others guests saw three not too far from camp during our stay. Had a great sighting of the Dogs. Very lucky - they've last been seen in November Also saw a Serval, but one step into the high grass after a few seconds - and gone! Our most exciting sighting was a Spitting Black Cobra attacking and fighting a Puff Adder - watched that for half an hour. David Attenborough stuff!
In general, Mdonya is a top camp with super guides and really good value (esp. considering the very reasonable pv rates) but its location is less than ideal." See all these reviews: 14n in Tanzania
"Our Third Stay"
When we arrived Ayoubu our driver from our previous trips welcomed us at the airstrip and introduced us to Jimmy who would be our guide.
We had a fantastic 4 days game viewing with Ayoubu and Jimmy. We enjoyed their company and their combination of experience, knowledge and enthusiasm. They both worked really hard to show us so many things including lions, leopards, cheetahs and even a serval cat. We also saw many other animals both large and small and also loads of birds. We knew from our previous trip that Ayoubu was good at spotting and identifying birds but were surprised and very happy to find out that Jimmy absolutely loved the birds and was a real expert on them.
We spent all day everyday out on safari with these guys, taking bush breakfast and lunch with us. We generally left camp around 6.30am and didn’t return until between 6.30 and 7pm.
Food provided by the camp was generally good although we did have one evening meal in camp which was pretty awful. I am not sure what had happened but there had clearly been an issue in the kitchen. I would have thought the managers might have apologised for this but it just seemed to get ignored.
We spent very little time in camp so didn’t see a lot of the managers apart from at dinner time or early morning. Sometimes they were quite chatty, sometimes not. They seemed less in evidence than the previous managers.
All in all we had a great safari experience and cannot thank Ayoubu and Jimmy enough for their good company and hard work and for providing us with so many memorable safari experiences." See all these reviews: 9n in Tanzania; 7n in Zanzibar
"Immersive bush camping experience"
From the communal area we had regular visits from giraffe, impala, monkeys and a resident troop of mongooses. The managers set a camera trap one night and shared images of a hyena that also visited whilst we were asleep.
The food served is delicious home-cooked-style instead of a la carte and we preferred the lovely selection of vegetables and side dishes to more restaurant-style rich cuisine. When the weather allowed, we ate under the stars, served by super attentive staff." See all these reviews: 7n in Tanzania; 6n in Zanzibar
"Loved Mdonya Old River Camp"
Iris and Kings do a wonderful job managing the camp. The food is excellent, particularly considering it is all sourced locally. The tents are immaculate. The staff are very well trained and provide excellent service.
Cocktails and then group dinners by the fire were wonderful. We met people from all over the world and had some very interesting conversations.
We would love to go back to Mdonya Old River Camp someday." See all these reviews: 9n in Tanzania; 4n in Zanzibar
"Immersive remote Mdonya Camp experience"
We expected no frills at this camp, but it was a bit more than that, dining al fresco under the stars with great food and good wine. No electricity in the tents added to the feeling of being less intrusive on the habitat and environment. Candles and lanterns provided atmosphere. Masai guides walked you to and from your tent after dark. Great hot showers in the 'open' bathroom.
We had great game drives here with our wonderful driver and guide, Thomas and Henry, who were both great birders too and went out of their way to find us some great sightings. We had some really wonderful leopard time too and the elephant groups here were extraordinary, searching for water in the dry river bed.
Along with the matriarchal elephant groups with young, there were lots of young and old male bulls, two of whom decided to take large bush down next to our tent at 3am, which was an interesting experience!
The only negative were the tsetse flies, which are very annoying and vicious, although the elephant muffin burning on the back of the jeeps in the area did help somewhat.
The management Kings and Iris, were very friendly and relaxed and were always around joining the group for meals, along with the elephants!" See all these reviews: 12n in Tanzania
"Mdonya Old River Camp review"
Just as with Lake Manze, we had frequent elephant visitors to our tent (indeed, there are far more elephant in Ruaha than Selous) and to hear two male lions roaring right outside of our tent at night (being shown the footprints the next day by the Masai) was a great experience. Dik-diks, impala, giraffe, warthog, baboons and vervet monkeys were also watched from our tent veranda across the dry river bed.
The location of Mdonya has many positives - I loved the fact that it is so isolated away from the other camps and there is plenty of wildlife in the vicinity of the camp. Conversely, the prime game viewing areas (certainly at the time that we visited) were some distance away and with game drives the only activity on offer, there was the odd day where you have to sit on a long journey back to camp which we did not mind given the interesting and varied scenery on offer throughout the park. Watching members of the injar pride of lion (who we had watched in a documentary a year or two back) hunt zebra was a fantastic experience and certainly made the distances traveled worthwhile. Again, my wife and I were grateful to have our own vehicle and driver/guiding team. We liked learning about the birdlife which pleased our guide Godson." See all these reviews: 17n in Tanzania
"Mdonya Old River Camp review"
"Mdonya Old River Camp review"
Once again I was looked after very well. Wonderful hospitality. Arrived when a significant downpour happened - 110 mls. The tent survived it remarkably well. I wasn't affected at all by tsetse flies. I covered myself with the cream Expert Africa recommended.
Saw more of some animals I didn't see in Lake Manze. Much cooler temperature at this park. I think I preferred Lake Manze as I enjoyed the open plains and liked the heat but glad I experienced both. Again an excellent guide and driver and was well looked after by the Masai people. The food was excellent.
There was no wifi in either camp so did miss not being able to send photos and experiences home to friends and family." See all these reviews: 7n in Tanzania
"Mdonya Old River Camp"
I also liked the idea of really going off the grid for a change. No electricity and wifi created a beautiful candlelit dinner atmosphere where people actually spoke to each other rather than looked at their phones during meals. And I met some really interesting people, including the managers who usually joined us at meals. The Maasai are working there to ensure your safety when elephants and other neighbors might amble through the camp, and escort you to an from your tent in the evenings and early morning. They are more than willing to teach you some Swahila.
The highlight was my incredible driver/guide -- Kahimba -- and the student intern who he was mentoring at the time -- Daniel. When I told Kahimba I was interesting in understanding the unique ecosystem of Ruaha NP and its inhabitants of all kinds, he introduced me to the ant lion insect as well as the many animal lions throughout the park. He has been working in the park for 12 years, many of them with documentary filmakers, including National Geographic and Owen Prümm (see
The Lions Rule), and has many facts and stories to share from his experience. His knowledge of the interrelationship between plants, animals, water, and insects was limitless.
I highly recommend Nov. as a time to visit -- the season is beginning to shift between dry season and wet season and the changes in the vegetation are happening rapidly. Don't expect to see another one of the big 4 (no rhinos here) around every corner, but be ready for surprises every day. And who could ever tire of seeing another immense gnarled Baobab tree?" See all these reviews: 4n in Tanzania
"Mdonya Old River Camp review"
We wanted an authentic/green safari experience and thats exactly what Mdonya delivered. If you wanted electricity or hot water in darkness, or are worried about animals coming close, then its not for you.
The tent was comfortable, the service excellent, the game drives brilliant and the communal dining and conversation were highlights - even if the food wasn't quite high cuisine.
Close encounters of the animal kind were wonderful. Elephants 2-3 metres away and leopard hunting while we were at dinner.
The camp managers (Kingsley and Iris) were immensely helpful and really conveyed their enthusiasm for wildlife.
The guide/driver (Distmas & Eyoubi) had excellent knowledge and terrific animal sightings - plenty of lions including a hunt, leopards most days, elephants, etc etc etc
Not really about the camp but.... The flight from Dar to Ruaha with Safari-Airlink was a bit of a trial. The pilot very uncommunicative and flew at 12,500 ft with a plummeting descent that really hurt our ears, neck and head. The Coastal Aviation pilots were much more attentive, when asked they promised to give a more considerate descent, which was very gratefully received!" See all these reviews: 15n in Tanzania
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