Reviews of Mwagusi Safari Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
A dry safari
We enjoyed Mwagusi - it has the neat trick of mixing a few luxuries with a bush atmosphere.
The number of guests means you get really personal service from the guides - you made up your own itinerary and the guides responded.
The food was excellent, and the settings wonderful. We especially liked the bush breakfasts and the dining under the stars
The bandas were gorgeous and very luxurious. I loved our huge terrace outside the tent with built in sofas with big squashy cushions and a swing seat, and a view over the almost dry river bed.
It was so relaxing to lounge there watching rock hyrax, baboons and banded mongoose, and one afternoon 3 lions came down to drink. The resident elephant wandered past our banda several times as well. The management team were very efficient and friendly and our guide Isaac was very good.
The game drives were superb, we saw so much wildlife, elephants in particular, and cheetah at the end of our last drive which was an excellent finale. We went out early one morning and had a bush breakfast in a scenic spot, which was lovely. The food was very variable. The day we arrived the lunch buffet was superb with a good choice of imaginative dishes which were full of flavours. But things tailed off after that and lunch was not as good again and dinner was very basic.
Cameras have to be charged in the office and realistically the only window for doing that is between lunch and the afternoon game drive. I found this very inconvenient and while it wouldn't be practical now to fit charging sockets in the bandas, if cameras could be left charging overnight in the office that would be much more helpful.
The Nairobi airport fire affected our homeward plans and we were very impressed how Expert Africa swung into action immediately and changed our flights. Getting 4 business class seats at such short notice could not have been easy and we are very grateful to you.
Location,location, location - amazing Mwagusi
We were stunned by the beauty of the camp's location and in particular the location of the bandas built right on the river bank overlooking a dry river bed. With animals coming down to drink in the bore holes on a regular basis I began to think game drives might be unessential. This is a special place.
I was initially a little put off by the attentiveness of the staff, such as the pulling out of one's chair before you sat in it, but I soon appreciated they were taking enormous pride in attending to their guests. The game drives were very different from the Selous experience were there was abundant surface water.
Some rivers were not entirely dry, but it meant for some easy viewing of large numbers of animals seeking out what was there, with lion ready to join in the fun. We saw lion and elephant every day, and cheetah and leopard twice. Our guide Isaac was eagle-eyed and another expert, and our driver excellent. They were both charming. We were entertained and educated in equal measure.
Mwagusi Safari Camp review
Excellent in every respect. Animal sightings, guides, camp, food all first class.
A fast paced safari, very rustic but extremely comfortable. Very laid back camp, pleasant atmosphere.
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.