Mdonya Old River Camp

Reviews of Mdonya Old River Camp

Excellent(92%) From 126 travellers
Excellent
87
Good
30
Average
7
Poor
2
Terrible
0
Below are independent comments from 126 of our travellers who have visited Mdonya Old River Camp, and have kindly agreed to share their thoughts.

They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
M&A from Austria
Arrived on: 5-Feb-2020 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Good
Good
Location:
Average
Average
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Good
Good

A great camp but not the most prolific area

Camp itself is perfect, really loved the tents and the atmosphere. The managers are doing a great job there. The immediate surrounding area is beautiful, lots of huge old trees, and a reasonable amount of game. But boy, this is really a marginal part of the park. On the way to the core safari areas mammals were awfully scarce, one morning we went two hours without even seeing an Impala. Really a long way to the much more productive grasslands along the Ruaha River - which we absolutely loved.

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.

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Mrs H from Bristol
Arrived on: 19-Nov-2019 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Good
Good
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Average
Average
Food:
Average
Average
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent

Our Third Stay

This was our third stay at Mdonya Old River camp so I think that speaks for itself. This time we stayed for 4 nights and were accompanied by some friends.

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.

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Dr & Dr S. from Knutsford
Arrived on: 8-Nov-2019 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent

Immersive bush camping experience

Like its sister camp in the Selous, Mdonya Old River offers super comfortable bush camping with excellent helpful staff, delicious food and an immersive safari experience located on an old dried up riverbed.

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.

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Mr & Mrs A from Aboyne
Arrived on: 10-Oct-2019 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Amazing

Return visit after 12 years. A few upgrades. I preferred the previous solar showers but the camp now has water direct to the tents.

Very friendly, helpful camp staff.

SUPERB guides (driver and spotter) based at the camp, Extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic working impressively well together as a team. Great spotting. Bravo Ayoub and Henry Modonya is SO lucky to have you .

Lots of animals in and and around the camp. Bush television had many channels!

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J and C from Clayton
Arrived on: 22-Sep-2019 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Loved Mdonya Old River Camp

This was probably our favorite camp. Our guides, Henry and Thomas, were fantastic. Personable, fun and amazing at finding incredible wildlife sightings. Our favorite was watching five families of elephants come together in a dry river bed to bath, drink and interact. It was hilarious and a memory that will stay with us the rest of our lives. We were also the only people at leopard sightings, making them even more special. We will miss these two young men.

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.

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Sisters from London
Arrived on: 15-Sep-2019 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Immersive remote Mdonya Camp experience

The experience at Mdonya Old River was very special due to the location. It was very remote and at one with nature, the animals being part of daily life, particularly the elephants.

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!

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Mr. I from London
Arrived on: 1-Aug-2019 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Good
Good
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Mdonya Old River Camp review

My wife and I loved this camp. It is perhaps more rustic than Lake Manze in terms of its setting but there are nicer touches around the tent and the recent introduction of hot water showers in the mornings is a welcome addition. Just watch the cheeky baboons - they made a right mess of our bathroom area one day! Like Lake Manze, we loved the lack of electricity around the camp and we encourage all camps such as this to remain without wifi. It allows folk to interact around evening camp fires without a mobile phone in sight. Instead, the starry sky provides the entertainment and backdrop. Kings and Iris were excellent hosts.

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.

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Mr & Mrs S from Weymouth
Arrived on: 7-Feb-2019 Stayed for: 5 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Mdonya Old River Camp review

Again the Camp fully met our expectations.

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Ms F from Auckland
Arrived on: 7-Jan-2019 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Mdonya Old River Camp review

A very different environment from Lake Manze. From my tent I could watch many animals. Such a treat.

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.

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Ms C. from Baltimore
Arrived on: 16-Nov-2018 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Good
Good

Mdonya Old River Camp

I chose this camp with the advice of Expert Africa, a UK company that helps you sort out all the options and make the arrangements for safaris in Tanzania and beyond. It was a great fit for me -- a woman traveling alone after a business trip in Dar es Salaam. I went during the November shoulder season when I was able to book last minute and the premium typically charged for single travelers was lower than I would find in the northern, more popular safari region.

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?

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