Reviews of Mwagusi Safari Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Mwagusi for 3 nights
The camp is located on the banks of a nearly dry river bed and from our banda on a bend we had a view in both directions. There was plenty of wildlife, animals, birds, reptiles and butterflies to keep us amused during the heat of the day when we were in the room. This was very spacious, well appointed and imaginatively laid out.
Our guide Joffrey was excellent and we had six great game drives, all to different locations. The scenery was stunning and we encountered lions from five separate prides.
Dinner was served in a different place each evening under the stars. Most of the food, especially the lunches, was delicious, (the only exception being some very tough lamb). Attention to detail in the housekeeping was extraordinary to the extent that every piece of our clothing was refolded and rearranged! We were a little disappointed that the only activity on offer was driving - no walks were possible. Riaan is an excellent host and we very much enjoyed his company.
A very special stay at Mwagusi
We were lucky to have had the camp to ourselves for two of our three night stay and couldn't have been looked after better.
The camp has a great bush feel with large tents set within thatched open bandas overlooking a dry (in late October) section of river-bed where wildlife can and does pass through as we found with some ellies who made for a couple of facinating close encounters. The owner Chris Fox was on hand for much of our stay and gave us our first game drive - a fascinating character with a real passion for wildlife and his safari business who made for great company.
It seemed to us a well-run and happy camp with a really adventurous feel where Kimberley was a great hostess and Samson an excellent guide. A private dinner on the river-bed under the stars on our last night to celebrate our anniversary was a special highlight made just a little bit magical by the camp staff bringing out a specially made cake whilst singing a Maasai traditional song at the end.
This section of Ruaha had fantastic diversity at an interesting time of year when the water sources are really drying up. Great sightings of cats and other big game together with a few rarities such as wild cat, lesser kudu, klipspringer and egyptian mongoose. Activities are generally restricted to game drives but, in late October at regular 40C temperatures by mid-day, that suited us fine - particularly given the extent of different habitats to see and very few other vehicles about.
Food is fresh, varied and plentiful with various options/combinations available. We'd prefer to see drinks included in the overall rate as is more often the case with the top-end camps rather than wondering how much we'd spent by the end but that's small beer in the scheme of things. All said, definitely one of the best camps we've stayed in.
Mwagusi Safari Camp review
Everything was at least as good as described - if not better! We saw more animals of different types than we had any right to expect. The organisation, food, service and attention to detail were wonderful. This was our first safari and it might have spoilt us for anything else.
The only negative whatsoever was the reliance on solar power for lighting in the banda. This limited the amount of available light (the bulb in the bathroom did not work). I doubt if the long term environmental advantage is particularly compelling. On the other hand Ellie recommended that we took head lights, which we did and they were invaluable in making up for the lighting deficit.
The solar heated water was fine.
Mwagusi Safari Camp
Another well run camp in which we particularly like the outdoor private dining. We were given the honeymoon suite which was very spacious with lovely view over the dry river bed.
Food was good, especially the buffet lunches and cake for tea! Breakfast in the bush every day was a must.
Just a beautiful park with varied scenery and masses of game - lots of lions, leopards, elephant, buffalo, kudu......and amazing baobab trees. Very good guide. Dinner on our own on last night with 26 lions having just passed through the camp and heard roaring on bank! Magical place.
Mwagusi Safari Camp review
Our banda was extremely comfortable, though in common with previous reviewers we thought the lighting in the bathroom was poor and the step down to the loo a potential hazard, particularly at night. Beware of squirrels in the bathroom; they are harmless and cute but they do have a particular taste for toothpaste; ours escaped their attention but the talcum powder bottle got a good nibbling! Any loo roll left hanging is likely to be scattered over the floor! Housekeeping was of an extremely high standard.
Martin particularly liked the squashy sofas in the sandy area outside the tent, though he was somewhat disconcerted one afternoon on peering round the corner and coming nose to leg with a giraffe! Animals really do come through camp, though generally not as closely as at Mdonya. Guides are provided to take you to and from your banda at night – especially valuable on the evening when the return from dinner was interrupted by the low growl of a lioness on the path. Our guide led us around and through lots of buildings until we arrived safely 'home'. Next morning we discovered the lioness had had three small cubs with her so was definitely in protective mode.
Riaan and Kimberley were excellent hosts and very attentive to their guests. When Riaan discovered we travel around with a hand-held GPS unit we were enlisted in his campaign to show that there are far more cats in the park than shown in official figures. Lions, leopards and cheetah are no longer just watched, photographed and videoed – they get waypointed too now! It was great to feel we were being involved in the life of the park and making a contribution.
Drinks were about twice the price of Mdonya but there was always plenty of water available at no cost. A nice idea was being able to order a bottle of wine, have a couple of glasses and then have the rest kept for later by the staff – much more economical than paying by the glass. Breakfasts in the bush were excellent, lunch very good (I was almost embarrassed by how much effort they'd gone to in accommodating my cheese allergy) and dinner in the bush or riverbed great fun.
Loved the idea of keeping the food hot using a shovelful of coals from the fire as a brazier! However, due the distance between 'brazier' and table food was not that hot when you actually got to eat it. Excellent puddings, though when we had chocolate and cinnamon tart I was a bit concerned about the next day's cinnamon bread – no need to worry!
Our guide, Geoffrey, and driver, Christian were excellent and took great pains to ensure we got the best sightings. A magnificent Martial eagle was a highlight, only beaten by a day in which we saw 29 different lions in 5 sightings plus a cheetah PLUS a beautiful leopard cub left up a tree whilst Mum went hunting – definitely worth risking few Tsetse bites! Oh, and a hyena and some klipspringers as a bonus as well as all the usual suspects.
We discovered after a day or so that not only were our team willing to go out early in the morning, they actively wanted to and would be disappointed if we didn't – that suited us fine! Particularly on the day when we'd been watching a male leopard for 40 minutes before our fellow guests were out of bed! It really was worth the pain of getting up in the dark to see some wonderful sights.
On our last morning we did the bird walk – about 1-1.5k gentle toddle in the bush around camp which produced a surprising number of new species for the list.
Mwagusi Safari Camp review
Everything about this sociable camp is authentic and first rate. The guides are enthusiastic and very well trained, the food is great, the bandas a delight. The location at a bend of Mwagusi sand river allows for lazy afternoon game viewing. Evenings under the stars are pure theatre.
Animals in Ruaha NP seem relaxed around vehicles. This means that the longer you stay the more interesting behaviours you will get to see. We stayed three nights and were sad to leave.
We all agreed that Mwagusi Camp was the highlight of our trip to Tanzania.
Great rustic "in the bush" experience
Very relaxed, good game viewing - long game drives (9-10 hours a day)
One really felt like you were part of nature - elephants walking between the tents , lions in the river bed, bats & monkeys in the bathroom - great
Food was good but limited - basically one menu for each meal - not unreasonable given the remoteness. Every night was an evening alfresco dinner in the bush or in the river bed near the camp. Lit by lanterns and with a big fire - cooking was on hot coals.
Very informal - keen knowledgable guides - kids loved it.
Traditional african safari in great setting.
Rooms had brilliant veiw but bathroom layout was too 'open' for us. No hot water to the basin but plenty to the shower.
Meal times ensured that guest mixed and it was great to talk through our days experiences. Good veiws of lions and one excellent view of leopard.
Dissapointed that we did not see the African dogs in the four nights we stayed at this camp.
Mwagusi - a great bush camp
We loved Mwagusi - an informal top quality African bush camp. You have the benefit of sleeping in a tent, combined with the luxury of a beautifully designed, spacious and private banda. We particularly liked the flexibility and the fact that Riaan or Kimberley (the managers) asked us each evening what we would like to do the next day. Even on our last morning we were offered 3 different options and provided with our own vehicle to allow a morning drive, return for breakfast and then a leisurely game drive to the airstrip to catch the 11.30 flight.
The guiding was excellent with both a guide (Daniel in our case) and a driver and the morning drives typically lasted 6 hours with a gorgeous breakfast (the cinnamon roll really is as good as its reputation!) and careful thought taken into which part of the park they would take us on each drive. The park is scenically dramatic and varied and we were lucky enough to see a wonderful variety of game, which was particularly dense around the Ruaha river.
Although we dont chose a camp based on its food, dinners at Mwagusi are a highlight and foster a terrific atmosphere in the camp, which is further enhanced by the presence of the owner Chris Fox.
My only criticism is that the camp undersells itself on its website, such an important influence on travellers today - I would recommend Mwagusi to anyone who wants to retain a real bush atmosphere and high quality guiding with a significant degree of comfort.
View to a kill
At first site this is a large camp, but you immediately feel at home, the staff are friendly and helpful.
Kimberley and Rianne were great hosts and Samson was an enthuastic guide.
The highlight of the stay was the seven hours spent watching a cheetah with two cubs, making 5 failed attenmpts stalking and hunting impala, before finally making a kill less than 300m away - truely widescreen viewing.