Reviews of Lake Manze Adventure Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Lake Manze Review
We are seasoned safari hands and deliberately chose Lake Manze Camp for two reasons.
Firstly because it offers a more authentic 'bush' experience than some of the more luxurious camps. This proved to be the case - we were able to watch elephants bathing and giraffes passing in front of our tent. The camp blends well with the surroundings giving a feel of fly camping but with added facilities! The tent has no electricity but is spacious and well appointed.
Secondly because we hoped it would provide good game viewing and guiding. The guiding was first class both on land and on the lake. We had stayed at other camps in Selous and had to travel longish distances to see much game. At Lake Manze the game was on the doorstep.
Nothing was too much trouble for the managers - who were under pressure due to lack of water (now resolved). Food was the only negative - not very high quality although vegetarians might be happy.
Lake Manze Adventure Camp review
Lively camp, good atmosphere, pleasant helpful staff. Game drives good; particularly liked exclusive use of 4WD and driver PLUS guide (same individuals throughout), which increases chance of sightings. Only adverse comment relates to food, which was pretty dire we thought.
I'm pretty tough on gradings and believe Excellent should be awarded only in really exceptional circumstances. So, for me, Good is a pretty high rating.
Expert Africa comments
The manager at Lake Manze was sad to here these guests were disappointed by the quality of the food. We understand that there was only one chef in camp at the time, which although should not have affected the standard, may have had an influence. Since then another chef from Zanzibar has arrived who is working closely with the staff to improve the menu.
Great safari at Lake Manzi
Adam and Mgoma were excellent guides/driver. In particular, we were very impressed by Mgoma's thoughtfulness in positioning the vehicle for the best light for photographs and shade when he was able to do so without disturbing the wildlife.
As our stay at Lake Manze was 6 nights it was good to have the same guide and driver for the duration of our stay as they knew where we had been and what we had seen.
Being at the end of the dry season we were unable to do any boat trips due to the lack of water in the lake, although this was adequately made up for by the game drives. It was also a great experience to have elephants and other wildlife wandering into the camp day and night.
Lake Manze Adventure Camp review
We stayed in Tent 1 as requested and glad we did. It is a long walk from the main part of camp but the privacy and view are worth it. Just sitting on the porch in front of the tent was at times as good as a game drive. We had a small problem with tiny ants one morning and the staff took care of it very quickly. The nights were a little warm, even with the one fan going but then we expected that and knew what we were getting in to.
Food was decent and the staff attentive. We enjoyed the boat trip and absolutely loved our guide and driver on the game drives. There is much to see in the Lake Manze area although elephants were a big scarce. We finally saw one big heard of about 40 on the second day but they were a little ways off. Our drivers went above and beyond to make sure we got the most out of each drive which was very much appreciated.
Expect to many bumpy drives and the camp is dusty given the floor of the main camp is dirt. A nice feature was the outlets in the main camp were universal so we didn't need an adapter for our US plugs. Not having electricity was not really a big deal. We had our own flashlights and headlamp which came in handy.
Lake Manze Adventure Camp review
After quite a long journey from Ruaha River Lodge, we arrived at about 2 pm and were welcomed by Rebecca, the young manager who had only been at Lake Manze for 3 months. She took her time to explain everything to us and we were pleasantly surprised that lunch had been kept for us.
The activities on offer included a boat safari, early morning game drive (6.30 am), afternoon game drive (at 4 pm) or all day game drives which left at 8.30. We did them all and were delighted with all. Victor, our guide, was very knowledgeable, as Ngome, our driver and it was nice to have them on most drives. The boat safari was very relaxing after the journey.
On the full day game drive, there were times when we would drive for maybe an hour, seeing not much, but were then rewarded with something spectacular.
We thoroughly enjoyed having dinner out in the open on a long table as it gave the opportunity to talk to fellow guests. The food was very good and plentiful
Nice break from traditional safari
Overall the Lake Manze Camp was a pleasant experience. The camp itself was well maintained and looked after and your were made to feel welcome from the moment you arrived.
The tents are a good standard and had running hot water which was a nice surprise. The food offered by the camp was of good quality, if the range was a bit limited.
The one big positive of the camp was the boat trips that were offered - these gave you a very different experience from the traditional jeep safari and let you get very close to a number of animal and birds which is not possible in any other situation. Also a trip to the hot springs as part of the all-day game drive was great fun and a different experience. The other postive was the guides and drives at Manze - Hillary and Zakora
Looking back, I think having only two night (instead of 3) would have been enough in Manze, for no other reason than the animals in the park seemed to be very aware of the jeeps / people to a much greater extent that any other location we went to. This meant it was very common for them to move quickly area from open areas when a jeep arrived or to back off to a safe distance - according to the guides this was due to the hunting that takes place in the south of the park.
Could not recommend this place highly enough. It is exactly what we were looking for and more. The staff were exceptionally friendly and did everything possible to make your stay a memorable one.
Would love to stay here again.
Excellent location Lake Manze adventure camp
The camp is in a superb location over looking the lake with lots of visiting animals nearby,the highlight of our stay were the trips by boat out on the lake with our guide Mbargo.Thanks to Daniel our driver for his superb traking skills.Read more about the whole safari
Lake Manze Adventure Camp review
Some background before we go into the details:
We are experienced safari travellers who have been on safari in South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana and Kenya before visiting Selous, and we have stayed at 20 different lodges and camps while travelling. Because of this we had high expectations and quite a lot to compare with. We'll divide our comments into 2 parts: The Lake Manze Adventure camp and the safari experience.
Lake Manze Adventure Camp
The camp was excellent. It may be a bit rough for some people, with no electricity in the tent and shower and toilet outside, but for us it was just perfect. We had a really nice tent at the far end of the camp, with elephants, giraffes, impalas and buffalos very close to the tent .The common area was also very cosy with nice atmosphere, friendly staff and pretty much dialy visits by a herd of elephants. One thing we did miss was sitting by the fire before dinner (simply because there was none).
The Lake Manze Adventure camp is for people who like a somewhat rougher stay out in the wild, but still with everything you need. We enjoyed our stay very much. Highly recommended!
The safari experience
The game viewing and the scenery was much better at the Lake Manze area than around the Impala camp. We saw lions, elephants and a lot of hyenas every day, and there were a lot more wildebeest, zebra and impalas who were also more relaxed than at the Impala camp. We had a really nice guide and good drivers at Lake Manze, and it felt like they tried hard to show us as much as possible.
The boat safari was really beautiful with lots of hippos, crocodiles, kingfishers, bee-eaters and other birds, highly recommended!
We would recommend both new and experienced safari-goers to stay at the Lake Manze camp and that part of Selous, ideally in combination with some other reserve or park, like the Serengeti.
Important note about cheetahs
There is one major error on the Expert Africa webpage. It clearly states that there are ´huge populations of cheetah´ in Selous. There are however NONE. This is major issue for people who book safaris based on wildlife to experience and photograph. It's very important that facts about the wildlife is correct, since it at least for us is of big importance when choosing where to go.
Nature to the Nth Degree at Lake Manze
This was my least favorite of the 3 camps but that's entirely due to my reaction to too much nature and not anything the camp did wrong. There was too much exposure to small creatures/insects for my liking - I enjoyed seeing all the animals in camp during the day and didn't mind hearing the hippos and hyenas outside my tent at night. What I couldn't get used to were the little frogs, lizards, worms & crickets in my tent. Their skittering and jumping around was unnerving, to say the least. After one night, I was ready to cut my stay short and leave Lake Manze but there was no where to go, so I discussed with the manager (Rebecca) and we came to a satisfactory solution. She provided a bed net and arranged to have Masai check my tent each night after dinner and get rid of any creatures they found. I very much appreciated her level-headed reaction to my concerns and efforts working with my tour operator to find options.
The boat safaris were excellent; the guide, Baggo, was thoughtful and didn't chatter but showed me so many birds, trees, plants, crocs and animals. I loved the early mornings on the water best, it was quiet, peaceful and we puttered along in our little boat seeing beautiful things. One morning, he spotted elephants in the bushes and knew they were coming to cross the river, so we were able to watch a family cross and play in the water. The game drives were also very good (guide: Adam and driver: Ali); in addition to the animals, Adam showed me smaller things like the ant lion and tracks. Also enjoyed talking with them.
Food was good - equivalent to basic, home cooked meals. Chicken pot pie was noticeably tasty! The dinners under the stars were difficult for me due to the number of bugs - I know they didn't bite, but having large moths and grass-hoppers dive bomb us during the meal and get on the plate/glasses, was a distraction that diluted the pleasure in the food and magnificent sky.
Service at all levels was very nice. Masai escorts were a pleasant surprise; I've always heard of Masai and was glad to see them used in a role befitting their culture and pride. Some of them spoke English well and enjoyed talking with guests, so we joked about the hippos (and the frogs in my tent). At night, I felt reassured hearing their walking sticks on the paths and seeing their lights, knowing that they were patrolling the grounds.
I liked the fact that Manze offered a small curio shop where items made in the employee's villages were sold and all proceeds went to the villagers. They were the only camp to do this and I bought a carved zebra and about 10 bead bracelets. Great idea.
Aside from the nature/bug/tent issue, I had two negative experiences here:
(1) on my first morning game drive, I was assigned to a vehicle with a trainee guide, a guide & a driver which broke down twice and finally died. Before the break downs, I was concerned since the focus didn't seem to be on finding animals or sharing knowledge about the terrain with me, but instead they talked among themselves. That wouldn't have been a deal breaker (and I would have spoken up), except that the jeep died twice (something to do with a pump) and the driver was able to get it started again. The 3rd time, I was fed up and told them that I wanted to go back to the camp rather than have another vehicle pick me up to continue the drive. Luckily, we weren't far from camp so 2 vehicles came out - one to tow our jeep back and the other to bring all of us back. Rebecca apologized about the jeep and I explained my concerns about the guide/driver and she immediately offered to re-assign me.
(2) Whenever the managers & I discussed my plans for the upcoming days, I mentioned my interest in a walking safari and uncertainty about when to schedule it. On my last full day in camp, we arranged the schedule for my last day to be a morning walking safari and then game drive to Selous Impala. That evening, one of the other managers (not Rebecca and not Samel) suggested that I should do a boat safari instead of the walking safari since they DIDN'T OFFER BOAT SAFARIS at IMPALA. I questioned him on that statement since I knew they're located on the river and had seen references to boat safaris and he back-tracked, saying that he didn't see a place where they could do boat rides since they're located high up, but maybe they do. This left a very bad taste with me since it's clear that for whatever reason, they didn't/couldn't arrange a walking safari for me but to tell mis-truths about the other camp....that wasn't necessary or professional.
In sum, I did appreciate all the animals around the camp, liked the location, enjoyed the game drives w/Adam & Ali, met interesting fellow guests and liked spending the afternoons in the communal lounge area watching the baboons, elephants, etc. but the night times were not my cup of team so would not return and would recommend it with caveats.