Reviews of Mwagusi Safari Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
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.
Mwagusi Safari Camp review
We liked our banda and it's position, but there were problems with the lighting on three of the mornings which made getting ready for the game drives difficult.
The food was very good, served buffet style and normally at a communal table (in various locations) except for our last night when we were treated to a private supper in the river bed below our banda. Our guide and driver were very good (Samson & Vincent) and we enjoyed the game drives.
We saw 44 lions from 5 prides in one day! We saw lions and cubs on a kill, lesser and greater kudu, male and female bushbuck, jackal,ostrich, a herd of 500+ buffalo and a herd of about 100 elephant. We also were lucky enough to see a lion chase a leopard in the moonlight, along the river bed outside our banda. Chris, Adrian and Connie were good hosts.
Excellent safari at Mwagusi
Had an great stay at Mwagusi. The guiding was up to the excellent standard we had hoped for and the camp was comfortable along with very good food. We were also fortunate to meet Chris Fox who shared his passion for the area and need for protecting hiigh guiding standards.
Our only suggestion for improvement is the inclusion of sundowners on evening drives as these are an integral part of safari and were conspicuous by their absence.
Unique experience at Mwagusi Safari Camp
Very different to our first taste of safari at Selous. It was like spending a few days as a guest at a country house party but with a bar bill at the end!
The drives were limited in that the vehicles were only allowed to use established tracks, of which there were plenty. We gather this was because Ruaha is a National Park and Selous is a game reserve. However, this did not prevent us from experiencing a very wide variety of wild life action at its best.
Nearly all the evening meals were taken outside on the river bank by torch light. We were really spoilt by a superb selection of food.
The staff and management team lead by Chris Fox (the owner) could not have been more friendly or helpful.