Mdonya Old River Camp

Reviews of Mdonya Old River Camp

Excellent(92%) From 122 travellers
Excellent
85
Good
28
Average
7
Poor
2
Terrible
0
Below are independent comments from 122 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.
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.

Read more about the whole safari
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!

Read more about the whole safari
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.

Read more about the whole safari
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.

Read more about the whole safari
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.

Read more about the whole safari
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?

Read more about the whole safari
Mr & Mrs C from Wokingham
Arrived on: 7-Oct-2018 Stayed for: 5 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Mdonya Old River Camp review

Ive just written a lengthy tripadvisor review so this is a summary.

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!

Read more about the whole safari
Mr A. from West Vancouver
Arrived on: 29-Sep-2018 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Good
Good
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Good
Good
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Good
Good

Wonderful guides who really knew their birds

A well run camp. Not too exciting though maybe because the young manager was without her partner - it takes two to run a busy camp with all the staff that requires. The food was fine, we couldn't complain about anything.

The guides were wonderful & did their best to help us see every bird and animal possible. We could not believe that none of the guides we encountered had binoculars! (Why don't their employers provide binoculars?).

The guides can't possible afford to pay several $100'0 for decent binoculars & it must be tiring for their eyes when they spend each & every day trying to spot birds or animals for tourists.

Read more about the whole safari

Expert Africa comments

Whilst we were glad that overall these clients enjoyed their stay, we were sorry to hear that their guide did not have binoculars. We contacted the camp about this and they informed us that it is standard practice for guides to carry binoculars, and they are sorry that this did not appear to be the case on this occasion. The camp works hard to source high quality binoculars, with their binoculars typically coming from South Africa. They informed us that they have a system in place whereby the guides contribute a little towards the cost of binoculars, and that these then become their own personal pair. This then encourages the guides to keep them in a good condition.

Ian G from Wiltshire
Arrived on: 9-Aug-2018 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Good
Good
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Average
Average
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Good
Good
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Good camp with some issues

A good camp where we had a great safari experience but with some issues that spoilt our stay.

Location: Ruarha has plenty of animals and I understand it is a lot quieter than some other parks. The most vehicles we saw was around a cheetah, where there were about 10 vehicles. Most of the time we saw only 1-2 others and were mostly on our own. The park has lots of different habitats so lots of different animals and birds but in the dry season the only water is in the one river, so vehicle safaris were the only activities on offer at the camp (half or full day).

The very good: Our guide and driver Dismass and Godson who made sure we had a wonderful safari experience and put up with our endless requests and questions with constant good humour. We can’t compliment them enough. We particularly appreciated their approach to the animals where they put us in good positions for photos without threatening the animals, in contrast to other safari vehicle who sometimes ended up chasing the animals, which we didn’t like.

The good: Like the previous camp we stayed at (Lake Manze, Selous owned by the same company) the camp is very well located, has friendly staff and plenty of good food, not ‘cordon bleu’ but remarkable for what they can achieve given the location and facilities. This is a back to nature facility in tents and with wild animals always close by and often wandering through the camp. This is exactly what we wanted and made for a great camp for us. However, while tents have proper beds, toilets and showers (looking up at the sky/stars !!) there is no Wi-Fi, a/c, pool, electric in the tents(charging points in office available 24/7)etc. If you want these things go elsewhere. Drinks around the fire before dinner and tea/coffee with a snack before early morning game drives were nice touches not seen at the previous camp. Breakfast and lunch in the bush were particular highlights, you can’t beat being served your lunch on the bonnet of a safari vehicle while looking at wild animals walking across the landscape, sometime quite close – amazing.

The not so good: The running of the camp was a bit haphazard, sometime things happened as planned, sometime they didn’t ; sometime the drink/food (e.g. dietary requests) you ordered turned up, sometimes it didn’t. The arrival brief was also a bit perfunctory. For example we turned up for diner on the first night in shorts and t shirts (as we had at Manze) but ended up being quite cold as the temperature drops by 10-15 degrees at night. Several people told us that they had done the same and we witnessed other ‘newbies’ do this so it is a common mistake. Therefore, it would be a good idea to inform guests of this when they arrive. Finally we had a major issue with arrangements for the safaris that spoilt our stay at the camp. Some people said that this was typical of Africa and the service you should expect but it compared poorly to the excellent running of Lake Manze camp. It gave the impression of a new team (and the managers had only been there 7 weks) so it might improve.

The main issue was that on arrival we were put together with a single traveller in one vehicle – we had no problem at all with this, they are a business and it made perfect sense. However, as complete strangers with different experiences and aspirations it should not have come as a surprise that we couldn’t totally agree on what we wanted to do on our 3 days together – they wanted to do all day, every day we wanted a shorter day in the middle. It should have been easy to move one of us to another group/vehicle for one day and this was what eventually happened. However, the camp management seemed to be totally surprised by this and rather than trying to meet our request seemed to spend more time finding reasons why this couldn’t be arranged even though the other guest was willing to pay any additional costs to sort this out. I had to be really awkward and create a fuss, threatening to complain, before this eventually got sorted out. This spoilt our enjoyment of the rest of the holiday and created an ‘atmosphere’ whenever we were around camp.

Overall this was exactly what we wanted from a safari holiday and our guide and driver made the actually game drives a great experience. If it had been our first camp I doubt we would have noticed the somewhat random running of the camp but it compared poorly against Lake Manze, where we had just been. The disagreement over moving people between vehicles for one day was also unnecessary and severely affected our enjoyment and rating of the camp

Read more about the whole safari

Expert Africa comments

We are sorry to hear about the experience with the vehicles at Mdonya Old River Camp. Typically guests are allocated vehicles and guides based on their own interests and wishes, and the camp managers strive to ensure that guests sharing the same vehicle are compatible with each other. We are sorry to hear that this was not the case in this situation, and that this took some time to sort out, however we are glad that the issue was resolved and that overall they had a great time on safari. We have passed these comments on to the camp and are working with the team to improve the customer service for future travellers.

Mr RT from Sutton
Arrived on: 21-Jan-2018 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Good
Good
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Good
Good

Mdonya Old River - January 2018

A lovely camp in a very good national park.

Good service, good food, comfortable tents, and the game drives were exceptional. All day drives with lunch stops at picnic areas.

Very good bird life as well as all the regular game.

Some opportunity for a short walk.

Read more about the whole safari
X  Close