Reviews of Mwagusi Safari Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Mwagusi Safari Camp review
A wonderful camp in a great setting. Great food and staff. Managers were very friendly and helpful. And thank you for a second birthday song, dance and cake!!
The guide and driver were extremely helpful and knowledgeable and tried to give us the best possible photo opportunities.
The jeep, however, was awkward for photo taking (moreso than any other jeep we were in) primarily as it was difficult to gain a purchase for tripod/monopods on the uneven floor and move a long lens into the best positions. There were several posts that obstructed the view.
We were instructed by the manager not to tip individuals but to give her the tip money that she would look after and supposedly divide out evenly among all staff. This we found irregular and think it better to give the tips anonymously via a tip box. Also we feel that if someone excels in a service to us there should be recognition.
We were surprised to learn on the last day that we were charged for juice drinks. This was not the case in any other camp. In addition the price of all the drinks here were very expensive.
We found that there needed to be some attention paid to small issues of cleanliness in the room e.g. the light switches were dirty as was the "bidet" tap.
We had to ask for a "lunch" to tide us over on our last day as we had several hours of flights ahead of us (and then we only got t buns and sticky buns). Perhaps lunch should have been automatically provided as it was on our trip from Ubuntu to Selous.
Expert Africa comments
We were very pleased to read these travellers enjoyed their time at Mwagusi! We sent this feedback onto the managers to get some feedback regarding the tipping situation.
They said the following: "With regard to tipping at Mwagusi it has been agreed by all staff that their tips are given to management to lock away immediately into the safe and kept until the end of season - when they are shared appropriately. Management are not included in any tips. We have approx 40 staff members and this system makes sure everyone (not only the handful of staff - guide/driver and waitering staff) who interact with guests are not the only ones who get a tip. Everyone even the staff member who launders guests clothes, cleans room / sweeps pathways / cuts grass - benefits from the total sum of tips at end of season."
Mwagusi Safari Camp Review
For 3 of our 4 nights we were the only guests in the camp and so had very personal service! Everybody was attentive and the camp is well run, providing such things as after-dark escorts and spraying of the tent with insecticide to ensure a bug-free night. Wake up calls were on time, with attendant tea or coffee before the morning game drives. These were longer than we have experienced at previous camps (mainly in South Africa) as they included a picnic breakfast, so there was no need to return to the camp much before lunch time (around 1pm). We really appreciated this as it gave more time to travel to different areas of the park, which has many different landscapes and habitats, giving good game viewing opportunities.
The afternoons were quite short, with not a lot of time between the leisurely lunch and tea at around 4pm prior to the evening game drive. The daylight is partly responsible for this, as it was dark soon after 7pm, but it did give a sense of being quite busy most of the time. After dinner at 8pm we were quite happy to retire for the night!
All meals were served as a buffet. Presentation, quality and flavour were all excellent and special dietary requirements were happily accommodated.
Our guide and our driver, Samson and Moses, were both competent and engaging. After it rained the roads were quite difficult but Moses handled them with aplomb. Samson was very knowledgable about the whole ecosystem, including animals, birds and plants.
Although the bandas do not have Wi-Fi or electricity for charging cameras etc., mobile phone coverage is good (the guides themselves use it to keep in touch) and batteries can be recharged in the camp office. The lack of Wi-Fi was not an issue for us as we go on holiday to escape such things!
The camp manageress was welcoming and accommodating, and performed her duties as a hostess very well.
We really enjoyed our stay here.
Excellent camp in Ruaha
A very good camp - and one that is better in real life than the pictures on their website.
Excellent guiding ( and driving), saw lots of game including exceptionally good leopard despite losing a night because of the late arrival of our flight.
Mwagusi Safari Camp review
Ruaha is a special park and this is a very special camp.
We were delighted to be picked up at the airstrip by Geofrey who'd been our guide on our previous visit. He and Moses the driver made a good double act and it was interesting to have one of the trainee guides with us on most drives – extra pair of eyes is always handy!
We were a little disappointed not to see Riaan and Kimberley who'd been the managers on our previous visit, but Connie and Sylvia were equally excellent hosts and virtually every member of staff greeted us with a 'welcome back'. Bandas are still excellent and now have hot water to the wash basin. Our banda was perfectly looked after by arch-perfectionist Kanu- wish we could have taken him home to unpack for us!
Food was plentiful and tasty (cinnamon bread as good as ever, thank you Meru!); however due to it being a fair distance from kitchen to table it was often lukewarm at best. As the river was full and lots of insects in the bush we couldn't have the outdoor buffet with coals from the fire keeping the food warm. It was amazing to watch the river rise and fall visibly in just an hour or so after rain.
Game drives were productive with elephants and giraffe everywhere, lions mating all over the place, an excellent cheetah who we followed for some time as he called for his brothers. Finally on our last afternoon we saw THE leopard - the one we’d seen two and a half years ago as a little cub left up a tree while Mum went hunting - Safi (as we named her- because she is beautiful) is now all grown up and looking for a boyfriend. Thank you Geofrey. However we didn't fall for the one about the warthog having to shut his eyes when elevating his tail so running about blind because his skin was too tight to have both eyes open and tail up!!!!!
We were the only guests on New Year's Eve which concerned us a little at first. However we were met in the bush with champagne sundowners after leaving Safi, followed by an exhilarating drive back to camp trying (successfully) to skirt round a thunderstorm. The staff had laid on a brilliant barbecue by the river which we, Connie and Sylvia thoroughly enjoyed. This was followed by the staff wading across the river singing and carrying lanterns. Dancing round the fire and even a bit of fire-leaping (not by us) came next followed by more champagne at midnight. Next morning as we drove to the airstrip all the animals must have had hangovers as we didn't see a single thing except a few impala - who knew they were teetotal???
This must be one of our favourite camps in Africa and we will be back to see Safi's cubs!
Brilliant guiding ensured fantastic game view
Initially disappointed to not find the river flowing at Mwagusi, but later understood that this did not prevent the animals coming to find water there, and quite an abundance of life to use the apparently dried out river bed.
Guides excellent - Sampson and Justin in particular - just had the knack of knowing which animals would be at a point in the territory at a moment in time.
Enjoyed close up views of leopard, cheetah and the elusive caracal.
Fascinated by the big bull buffalos seeing off the lions, and getting their herd to water - a high point of the visit.
Accomodation very comfortable and full of character.
Slightly unnerved by a leopard settling down for the night on the cushions in our tent's seating area - it had a perfect overview of game on the riverbed!
Food excellent - very imaginative cooking - drinks rather pricier than other camp.
Dinner at different locations on the riverbed was entertaining, until the lions and elephant got rather too keen to join in!
Returns to tent/banda after dinner a bit hairy on occasions due to proximity of beasts - a good torch and whistle come in handy.
Management team very helpful and attentive.
Mwagusi Safari Camp
Of all the camps and lodges we stayed in, this was our least memorable. It is known for the ability to see the cats, Lions, Cheetah, and Leopard along with the other wild animals. We also saw a Caracol, which is very rare. Our guide was fantastic and we had a wonderful time with him. WE went out early, had breakfast in the bush, returned for lunch, went out in the later part of the afternoon when it was cool, returning to camp by 6:30. The camp is located on a river, which while we were there was dry. Dinner is served in a different place in the river bed each evening. Many times the food was cold and was not very imaginative.
Our banda was located close to the main house, which was good for me, as the ground was lumpy and sandy and not easy for me to walk in. Our guides and the Massai, who always took us to our banda in the early evening when we returned from our drive and back after our dinner was very careful and cautious of me. The location was pretty and the screened bandas blended with the surroundings, but they only use lights when you ARE IN your banda, turning them off when you leave. You are in complete darkness with a flash light or kerosene lamp to guide you over rough ground to dinner, This was very unsettling as you could hear the animals hunting for food and they sounded very close.
The male manager was too young and did not know how to blend the guests and for most of our stay was absent. His counterpart was a girl from Germany, who was very good, but just had too much to do with meeting, greeting, accounts and running a school for prospective guides where they learn about the birds, animals, and English. We will definitely not return.
A truly 'out of Africa' experience
A lovely, slightly 'colonial' experience at this camp in the most amazing and awe-inspiring location. Lying in one's banda (we were lucky enough to have the honeymoon one which is a long way from the main camp - a little map would have been helpful!) with the nearly full moon illuminating the river bed, watching elephants walk by - oh what an experience.
The bandas were beautifully presented, comfy and well-equipped, with great attention to detail. The meals were delicious and being served around the campfire and by candlelight created a superb atmosphere. The requested gluten-free meals appeared with no fuss and were excellent.
The game drives and the guiding were superb - we saw so much including leopard, lion, cheetah, elephant, giraffe (just missed a birth - we arrive about two minutes after the drop) kudu, and everything else. Samson gave us a terrific amount of information seemed to take joy in imparting his knowledge.
This is not an 'all inclusive' camp - and we really did not like the whole ethos of having to sign for our drinks and later to settle up, (incidentally we thought these rather expensive - with prices not easily forthcoming). Shame - it took the gilt off somewhat.
Enjoyed the political discussions with Chris and grateful to Adrian for his advice about green ginger infusion as an aid to prevent air sickness - it worked.
Good game. Good 'Hemingway' camp. Nice dining set up outdoors.Read more about the whole safari
Fantastic time at Mwagusi camp
We had a very warm welcome from Connie and members of staff, with fresh juice and freshening towels. Our Banda was fabulous, very luxurious. A huge lounge area with overstuffed cushions and hammock, looked directly over the dry river bed. Lots of animals came along including vervet monkeys, elephants, baboons and bush hyrax.
The rest of the Banda consisted of two very comfortable beds, dressing table and a huge trunk to put the cases in. The bathroom area was lovely with antelope horns used as towel rails and toilet roll holder.
The food was absolutely fabulous, the chef, Meru has been there for 25 years and is truly talented.
Dinner is served in a different location every night, in two different parts of the river bed or in the bush. There were oil lamps and candles everywhere so it was easy to see. The main courses were served buffet style on a bed of charcoal, and there were lots of different dishes every night.
There is freshly baked bread every day, baked in a wood burning stove,also the cinnamon bread was fresh daily too.
The bird walk in the morning, about 6.45am was a real eye opener. There were not too many birds around but it was fascinating to see all the tracks of the animals that had passed through the camp overnight!
The landscape in Tanzania is so varied, from dry savannah to mountains and rivers and rocky hillsides. All great for seeing a wide range of animals and birds.
We were really feeling at home when we had to leave, it was a sad day.
We all had a great time together and the safari trip was a really good bonding experience for the whole family. We are planning a photo book and will send you a link as soon as it is ready. However, with over 6,000 images taken by 3 cameras and 6 hours of video footage this will take some time to create. Planning the trip: Your Services are outstanding and we appreciate your patience.
The camps were well chosen for their wildlife variety and different landscapes. The most striking was the difference between a National Park (Ruaha) and a Game Reserve (Selous) close to a hunting concession. While we saw a large number of animals in both camps, those in Selous – especially zebras and wildebeest – were running away as soon as they got to hear/see/smell the jeeps. We did not come as close to the animals as in the private game reserve in South Africa as drivers in the National Park are not permitted to leave the road to follow the animals. However, large herds of elephants, giraffes and zebras are quite close to the tracks and sometimes even the lions!
We recommend to inform any visitors to Selous that wild dogs are not to be seen during the dry months as they obviously live underground until the rain ‘flushes’ them out.
We were impressed how well all animals looked at both locations– clearly a sign of a balanced wildlife.
Guides and Drives
Guides in both camps were adequately knowledgeable – however less than what we had experienced in South Africa, where all local guides had a special degree which clearly made a difference in the information they provided.
In Selous we were disappointed that there was no additional driver, leaving the guide to drive the car while looking for wildlife. He did a great job driving in incredible difficult terrain though. Drives in Selous only start at 8:00 am – obviously to accommodate the foremost honeymooning guests – but we believe that the best time to see the game is shortly after sunrise. Selous’ late morning game drives were considered as negative by several well-experienced safari tourists we met in Ruaha. An earlier start could allow to visit more remote places.
The guided walking tours in both camps were outstanding. In Ruaha the river walk seeing hypos, crocodiles and huge flocks of birds was absolutely fantastic - to get so close to the animals yet staying safe. The landscape is overwhelming!
In Selous the walking tour guide was very good – we enjoyed the information and the subsequent surprise breakfast at the lake side.
We also recommend a boat trip on the lake in the morning, when hordes of elephants and giraffes visit the shores – great photo opportunities beyond the many hypos and crocs; however you need a really good telephoto lens for close-ups.
Food was above expectations at Ruaha – clearly Mrs. Fox’s recipes cooked on open fire are a legend. The settings of the dinner tables in the river bed close to an open fire are dreams come true.
In Selous, food was good too, however less experimental – breakfast was much better at Ruaha.
In Selous, unfortunately two members of the family caught a stomach bug – both believe it had to do with the drinking water provided from the lake. Our son-in-law was worst hit and could not go back to work for a week after his return.
Both camps were outstanding in their own way and clearly exclusive and clean.
Beds are very large and comfortable. Bathrooms are an experience in itself with smaller wildlife never being far away… However, closing the tents properly makes you feel very safe also at night. No mosquitos in September!
In Ruaha, the elephants visit the camp during day and night to feed on the fruits of the palm trees. Our daughter Jennifer had one looking into her bedroom – she froze for a good 15 minutes before the elephant moved on…
We were a bit surprised that in Ruaha there were no guards to be seen during day time, while at night we did not see a single guard carrying more than a light. In contrast, there were plenty of armed guards in Selous – the hypo trails go through the camp to the lake.
Service was very warm and polite and clearly staffs are making huge efforts at both camps to accommodate all your needs.
The laundry service is very helpful and good to point out to visitors struggling to fit your clothes within the 15 kilo permitted by the local airline.
Flights and luggage
It may be helpful to mention that we were not asked to add hand luggage (camera equipment) to the weight of the bags. However, you have to place hand luggage on your lap during the local flights – very cramped then.
We believe it is very important to make tourists more aware of the additional costs including the additional payments for the water provided on game drives. This can be a substantial sum to be added to the pre-paid expenses and should be
added to the quotation when planning the trip to avoid surprises. Tips are clearly expected – and almost as compulsory as on cruises.
Hotel accommodation Dar-Es-Salaam
Please make a note that the Asian restaurant at the Sea cliff hotel was below standard. Service was extremely slow (35 minutes!) and the food was dreadful.