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.
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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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Mrs H from Bristol
Arrived on: 3-Dec-2017 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Second Visit - Even Better

This was our second visit to this camp and we loved it just as much as our first visit. We stayed in December for 4 nights. We had Ayoub and Dismas as our driver and guide and they were brilliant. Ayoub is a great driver and guide with a wealth experience and knowledge about animals and birds, he is also great company. Dismas is younger, with lots of enthusiasm and is keen to help you have a great time. They were both happy to answer even the most obscure questions and Dismas even brought his "tree" book along to help identify different ones. We also had lots of fun trying to identify some of the more unusual birds.

We shared our game drives with another couple who we became really good friends with. So the six of us had a brilliant time together. We left camp every day at 6.30am and didn't return until 6.30pm each evening. We ate breakfast and lunch in the bush every day. Our game viewing was brilliant including elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, jackals, foxes, hippos, lesser and greater kudu as well as of course lots of giraffe, zebra, antelope and many other mammals, reptiles, insects and birds.

It was also great to see Rebecca, the camp manager, again who is always on hand to make sure everything is going well. It was good to catch up over dinner each evening. We missed Andrea this time as he was away. As before the tents are great and so was the food. All the staff are friendly and I even managed some basic Swahili conversations with the Massai guys.

In all ways it was a great stay and we really hope to return again soon.

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Mrs L from Leeds
Arrived on: 18-Nov-2017 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Excellent
Excellent
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Mdonya Old River Camp review

From the moment we arrived we felt welcome and very much at home. The tents are spacious, comfortable and clean, and sitting outside your tent watching elephants, giraffes, jackals, impala (I could go on) is something extra special, and it happened every day during our stay.

The food is very good, definitely something for all tastes, and sitting around the fire having a chat with the staff and other guests is really nice. Drinks are very reasonably priced.

Dismas and Chelestino were our guide and driver – these guys were exceptional and really made our trip 5-star. Dismas had such amazing knowledge and passion for his work and his country, and the wildlife of Ruaha, he is a credit to Mdonya and to Essential Destinations. We rarely saw other vehicles (one of the reasons we chose Ruaha and decided to avoid the Serengeti) and it really felt like a proper adventure. The game viewing in the park was incredible; we had tried not to get our hopes up beforehand as nothing is ever guaranteed, but we had many amazing sightings every day, mainly due to the skills of Dismas and Chelestino.

Thanks everyone at Mdonya (wildlife included!) for making our trip so spectacular – I hope we can return again in the future.

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Ms W from Kenora
Arrived on: 5-Nov-2017 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

Another fabulous and well run camp!

We felt very comfortable arriving at our second safari camp and we were so glad we had the opportunity for a similar but different experience in another part of Tanzania. once again our guides met us at the small airport and where very helpful and welcoming. The camp managers met us on arrival and once we were settled in met with us to discuss our afternoon drive and the camp orientation.

Once again our tent was fantastic, spotless and with all the comforts we expected after our visit to the first camp. We had drinks around the campfire in the evening before dinner and it was a great time to socialize with the other guests. The meals again were delicious with plenty of food and variety. Camp breakfasts out on the game drive were a great experience as well and the food was delicious. I did have a problem on my last breakfast with all the bees attracted to the honey or jam i tried putting on my toast and finally gave up in the end.

Our guide and driver were both very knowledgeable regarding the vegetation, birds, insects, animals and their behaviour which we really enjoyed and appreciated. We travelled with another couple on our game drives and enjoyed their company as well. Once again the variety on animal sightings was excellent with no line ups and every attempt by the guide and driver to help us get a good shot with our cameras.

From the information from the camp on line i was not expecting to see a dry riverbed and no waterfall whatsoever. Our guide was good enough to take us to the waterfall area so we could see for ourselves and get a better understanding of the impact of the dry season.

The charging area was very much appreciated and well set up. All the staff were very polite and helpful and really made our stay ver enjoyable. Burning elephant dung to ward off the tse flies in certain areas was ingenious but i do recommend a black head net if you are really bothered by the flies. You can see perfectly thru the netting and still use your camera.

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Mr & Mrs R from Glos
Arrived on: 3-Nov-2017 Stayed for: 4 nights
Overall:
Good
Good
Location:
Average
Average
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Good
Good
Food:
Good
Good
Activities:
Good
Good
Facilities:
Average
Average

Great safari at Mdonya

Straight off the flight from Dar and off for 6 hour safari, not the game drive to the lodge that we expected from the itinerary. Fortunately we were fully prepared and we had a great start to our stay - we went straight off to find a leopard. Fabulous!

The accommodation was just as we expected and the tents are spacious. The food was well prepared and ample. We enjoyed the communal dining. It was a great opportunity to meet others from all around the world with similar interests to us.

Andrea and Rebecca were good hosts and camp was well organised.

We were woken at 0408 on the first morning by 2 lions roaring just behind our tent. That was pretty special. They were still hanging around, with a lioness, when we left for our game drive at 0630, and we had great views. Ruaha NP is v impressive. We were lucky to see Bat Eared Foxes, cheetahs and loads of elephants and game.

The only real drawback to Mdonya is that it is a long way from the main game viewing area, through Tsetse infested bush and the beginning of the rains brought the flies out in force.

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Mrs G from London
Arrived on: 22-Oct-2017 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Excellent
Excellent
Location:
Excellent
Excellent
Rooms:
Excellent
Excellent
Service:
Good
Good
Food:
Excellent
Excellent
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Excellent
Excellent

Truly memorable safari in Ruaha

When staying in the Selous Game Reserve we were told that the Ruaha was possibly an even more memorable safari experience but we were pretty skeptical... until we arrived. Mdonya Old River Camp is well run by an interesting, attentive couple Rebecca and Andrea. The camp itself is very similar to Lake Manze Camp in the Selous and has similarly varied wildlife roaming through it. The food at Mdonya Old River Camp was delicious with particularly creative vegetarian options.

The safari experience in Ruaha was fantastic. We were lucky to see a pair of mating leopards, a large buffalo heard as it emerged out of the bushes to drink in the river, large numbers of elephants and much more.

We particularly liked the ecofriendly ethos of Mdonya Old River Camp (and Lake Manze) but would hope that in the near future they would move away from the use of kerosene lamps in favour of more sustainable, renewable energy sources.

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Mr & Mrs L from Sweden
Arrived on: 20-Feb-2017 Stayed for: 3 nights
Overall:
Average
Average
Location:
Average
Average
Rooms:
Good
Good
Service:
Good
Good
Food:
Average
Average
Activities:
Excellent
Excellent
Facilities:
Average
Average

Bush experience at Mdonya Old River Camp

We stayed three nights and that was about the right duration, The game viewing was excellent, to the extent that we from arrival at the airstrip saw lions, leopards, wild dogs and tried to locate a lion kill (heard the noise) thus in the pursuit of finding the lion kill ignored (did not stop for) e.g. buffalo and eland herds. We only arrived at the camp site after dark and that was somewhat of a challenge as the kerosene lamps do not provide that much light for example in the tents and trying to find your stuff in your luggage.

The following days was also good yet - as known upfront - with the rainy season around the corner we did have our share off rain showers. The guide was pleasant and knowledgeable, making the game drives interesting beyond only looking for game and birds.

The camp manager (Andrea) was initially somewhat silent but opened up more and more and was all in all a very good host engaging with the guests and sharing his own experiences.

We did share some feedback with the camp manager, mainly around the food which was plentiful but somewhat strangely combined. Meat and warm vegetables together with some kind of pie makes may all taste fine but together a bit strange. Soups for starter was good, especially as the rain and lack of sun made you a bit chilly. Lunches for full day game drives could have been more attractive e.g. with adding bread, having a banana cake instead of a banana as a desert, etc.

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