Reviews of Lake Manze Adventure Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Lake Manze Adventure Camp review
We arrived on the 2nd November, just before the small rains were due to start. It was hot and humid initially but after a bit of rain the weather was pleasant. Mercifully no unpleasant insects. Flight delays meant that we were 24 hours late arriving, but Sean and Melly, who are warm and generous hosts, made up the extra day. There are elephants, baboons giraffe and hippo very close to the camp and often wandering through it.
The guiding is simply superb. Haroun, our guide is immensely knowledgeable and also keen to share his evident enthusiasm. We went on half and full day safaris and a walking safari which is highly recommended in learning about the bird and plant life of the area. The boat safari is also well worth while.
Even at the end of the dry season there is enough water around to make the area very varied and the bird life is abundant. We also saw a pair of lionesses pursuing a leopard (she escaped), hundreds of hippos in the mud, wallowing amongst the catfish, a giraffe creche, and astonishingly close views of lions.
The camp has no electricity which does create a special atmosphere. Weather permitting, meals are outside between two bonfires and the atmosphere was always convivial. Given the fact that the cooking conditions are quite basic, the meals are excellent. The tents are comfortable with good showers, and after dark we were always accompanied to our tent by a masai, which we were especially glad of when he shone his torch on a couple of hippo about 20 yards away.
We'd have no hesitation in recommending this camp.
A well-situated camp in Selous Game Reserve
Overall, we enjoyed our time at Lake Manze Adventure Camp.
The highlight for us were the safaris and our friendly guide and driver.
Our safaris and boat trip were most enjoyable and we were fortunate to have Joseph as our guide. He is knowledgeable and also interested in birds, as we had a particular interest in birds as well as animals. Our driver Daniel was also keen to learn about birds, which is commendable. Together, we managed to get interesting views of a wide variety of wildlife and birds.
On our boat trip, we enjoyed close up views of hippos and crocodiles, as well as a good variety of waterbirds. It was very pleasant being out on the water as sunset approached.
The view from our tent over Lake Manze was affected by the very low water level at the time, which meant that it was largely dry near the camp.
The facilities in our tent were generally functional but somewhat basic. We found the lighting inside the tent to be inadequate for our purposes, as it consisted of 2 candles, a kerosene lamp in the bathroom,and a solar torch which didn't work on our first night. It was fortunate that we had two small torches ourselves, as it was difficult to find clothes, etc. in your pack in the low light. We would definitely recommend brighter solar/LED lights in the tents.
We also found the floor mats to be slippery, which could cause an accident for older folks like ourselves.
Once we had got used to the setup, we enjoyed the experience of staying in our tent. We would have appreciated a fuller initial briefing, as we weren't sure which of the two taps in the shower was the hot water tap, as they weren't marked.
The communal dining was enjoyable. The food was served for you, and on more than one occasion, we found the serve of the main protein component, e.g., fish or chicken, put on your plate to be quite small, or even minimal.
We were not sure whether the waiter was acting under instructions (we were informed that at least some of the waiters were in training, which is fine) but the initial serves to us, and on one occasion. to a neighbour, were far from generous. The waiters would come around a second time and offer more food, but this was usually of potatoes, rice, etc.
Great wildlife experience at Lake Manze
Wonderful personal service. Samuel our guide met us at the airstrip and then took us on all our game drives before waving us off 3 days later. Samuel and driver Kamkumba are excellent spotters and extremely knowledgable, working as a very good team to show us some fantastic wildlife.
Shaun and Millie are fantastic hosts, ensuring a lovely relaxed atmosphere and personally meeting every vehicle as they return from drives. The tents while described as basic are in fact very comfortable. Of course they are rustic but very clean with spotless and comfortable beds. We slept extremely well....when not disturbed by amazing nocturnal visits by Lagos and his elephant buddies.
In tent number 9 we had a bush view and will probably request one of the tents on the other side of the camp which seemed to have more open lake views next time....and there will definitely be a next time! The lake trip is a must to get fantastically close views of hippos,crocs and a huge variety of water birds.
The reserve offers abundant game but is relatively quiet so there is no 'wacky races' competition to see wildlife.
Good camp. Not of Nomad calibre, but good.
With hindsight, I would stay at the Nomad camp in the Selous, just because of their impeccable standards. I image, however, that Lake Manze camp must be considerably less expensive than a Nomad camp. Much bigger, with 35 (?) spaces for guests. The food was good. The coordination between the bar staff and the restaurant waiters lacked, and beers didn't arrive, or arrived incorrectly..... or were really slow..... Sometimes seemed to be a bit of a comedy show--but they were all friendly and the environment was lovely.
Nighttime visitations by civil cats, elephants, etc.--which was wonderful. No electric lights in the tents. Only a kerosene lamp and a flashlight. My wife found that a challenge. It didn't bother me. Guiding was up to Nomad standard (despite this not being a Nomad camp). We went to 5 camps in Tanzania.
If I were to drop one, it would be the Selous. 60% of its elephant population has been slaughtered by poachers in the last ten years. Government of Tanzania: do something about this -- and I don't mean collude with the poachers!
We loved Lake Manze camp! As previously described it is "rustic" but better for it.
The staff were very welcoming. Shaun and Milli, the hosts,made us feel very much at home. The camp staff and guides were always very friendly and enthusiastic.
The tents are lit by candles and kerosene lamps at night, and the en-suite shower and toilet are lit by moonlight. Bed comfortable. Solar powered fan very useful. Various rustling noises outside the tent at night due to passing wildlife.
Meals are shared at large tables which are very sociable. Dinner was served at a long candle lit table on the sand outside the central tent, watched by a genet in a tree. Masai with torches kept an eye out for anything less friendly( and escorted us to and from the tents for safety).
Having breakfast with giraffe, elephants, impala and baboon wandering by was magical. Lagos-the camp elephant -came by daily to see what was happening
We had the same guide-Joseph-for our driving and walking safaris. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the animals,birds and plants we saw. We also did a boat safari and got pretty close to hippos and crocodiles. The variety and colours of the birdlife is stunning
Shaun and Milli very kindly made a fuss of us for our wedding anniversary-which we hadn't expected at all-Asante Sana!
Warm Welcome at Lake Manze Camp
Manze fulfilled our desire for a rustic safari experience such as we had in the past. Having said that the it certainly catered for our every need
We received a very warm welcome from Sean and Milly who were excellent hosts throughout our stay. They sat with guests at all meals and were always around to see us off and greet us home from our travels.
We were assigned our own driver and guide who were very well trained and informative. Their eyesight and ability to find game was amazing.
The tents were very comfortable and the solar electric fan was a boon.
The food throughout was of a high standard and all the camp staff were friendly and helpful.
We loved the communal dining and meeting folk from all over the world.
should never be recommended unless cheap!
First the negatives:
12 tents 33 guests
Kids running everywhere
ordinary(at best) food carefully portioned out
ridiculous small extra charges(33 charges total of $48USD) errors in bill had to wait for corrections of less than $3
rigid schedule with seating assignments for dinner table
tents ok but minimal by comparison
elephants are just about all gone(poached out according to guides and managers)
saw a total of 6 elephants (including same 2 twice,so actually only 4) in 6 game drives
had to wait 45 minutes after flight landed for pick up by camp(confusion regarding arrival time?)
location of tent caught no breeze
boat safari was almost pathetic,small traverse area, seemed a way for camp to save fuel in vehicles
managers were visible and (very) involved but smoked a lot and seemed harassed while
Next the OK parts:
Fortunately we were able to meet 2 other guests on arrival who joined us to take charge of our schedule
somewhat :Same guide,early departures(camp tried to get everyone to wait until an hour after sunrise to leave)
on game drive,come back one hour before lunch which was not until 13;00
we left at 06:30 and returned on time to eat.Also declined "all day" drives which camp promoted for some reason
we were told as long as we had 4 people or more on identical schedule for all 3 days they would allow it
Staff was OK ,some good but lack of procedural training was evident
Finally the good:
Vehicle was maintained
guide was good/very good, responded to our requests,and was friendly
lots of giraffes in the area,a couple of good eagle sightings
a very good lion pride in feeding mode gave some good photo ops
Expert Africa comments
We’ve heard back from the camp owners on these comments and while they are very pleased these travellers were very happy with their guide and had some good sightings, they are surprised and very disappointed that so much of their experience was not up to the standards they were expecting, and that the vast majority of guests experience.
The camp has explained that these guests got off the plane at Mtemere airstrip, rather than Siwandu (the airstrip that the camp routinely uses), which explains the confusion they experienced on arrival. This may have been poor organisation by the airline, as they were indeed booked and ticketed to fly to Siwandu.
This is certainly a busy time of year, and the camp was full, with two families from the UK. The staff deliberately seated these travellers away from the children, but they sincerely apologise for any shortfall in the meals, which certainly should have been mentioned at the time.
We are pleased to hear that the camp’s owners have instructed managers not to smoke in view of the guests. Smoking is only allowed by the firepit or at the bar, but this policy is constantly under review as habits change.
Bar charges over several days can be fiddly to check, both for guests and staff, but where there is no all-inclusive drinks policy, that is unfortunately inevitable.
The loss of elephants to poaching in Selous has been widely documented, but they do visit the camp – though these guests did not see any at camp during their stay. Tents 1 to 7 have better views, but fewer elephants while tents 8 to 12 are shadier, with more elephants, but can also be less breezy. Guests are always welcome to ask for specific tents, or to request to be moved if possible.
This camp does not have permanent access to the Rufiji River, only to Lake Manze itself, and unfortunately the water was very low at this time of year.
Once again, we apologise that these guests felt this was not the camp for them. We think some of their negative experience was down to the busy time of year, and some could have been improved by speaking immediately to the mangers. With hindsight, though, we accept that we may have suggested the wrong camp to these travellers.
Lake Manze Adventure Camp review
The choice of three different activities at Lake Manzie - game drives, boat trips and walks - make the visit here well worthwhile. There was a lot of elephant activity around the camp and the tents which created some excitement!
We had an excellent guide and driver for all of the 5 days we were there. He was knowledgeable on just about everything including birds that we were particularly interested in. We took half day game drives (excellent) which included bush breakfast, a full day's drive (perhaps only marginally rewarding although the lunch stop at the lake was superb), two boat trips on the lake (excellent), and a walk (really a nature walk taken from the camp which was informative but not a true walking safari).
Game sightings generally were very good - lions, elephants, hippos, buffalo etc - and bird life, particularly on the lake, was also good.
Amazing Time At Lake Manze
Wow we loved being here, you are very close to the animals. We stayed for 4 nights, and enjoyed every minute.
The tents were large, and overlooked the lake. We loved sitting outside watching the local wildlife go by!
There were plenty of options, and flexibility with regards to what trips you wanted to do which was great.
We had some very unforgettable safaris including a fantastic boat safari on the first day where we saw lots of wildlife, including a huge herd of giraffes walking across the lake as the sun was setting. The all day safari was excellent with lunch out in the bush, and a visit to the Hot Springs, very refreshing! We managed to see 4 different pride of lions during our stay.
Our guide was was incredibly knowledgeable and the driver was great at knowing when to stop for a photo opportunity They both worked so hard to make sure we saw lots of different animals.
The communal evening meals out in the open and being able to chat with other guests about their adventures is a great idea. The quality of food was great, and they were able to cater for our daughter's peanut allergy no problem.
We awoke one morning to see elephants walking past the front of our tent, what an experience! On the last morning as we ate breakfast, a large group appeared all around the lounge area almost as if to say goodbye to us!!!
Another Great Safari at Lake Manze
I just love Lake Manze. The informality in the camp combined with the excellent food and dining under the stars make for a magical experience and everyone is so friendly and helpful.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable safari (as always). The boat trips provide an extra dimension and the birding was very good. Elephant and lion numbers in the area seem to be down but this may just be a seasonal variation.
It was great to see a healthy and active pack of wild dogs again.
I am happy to rate all aspects of my stay at Lake Manze as excellent - within the camp's stated aims (which I approve) to provide a more natural (and correspondingly less luxurious) experience. Rebecca and her team are doing a great job.