Beside the great Rufiji River…
Rufiji River Camp: Our full report
One of the first camps to be established in the Selous Game Reserve, Rufiji River Camp has a fine location, on a bank several metres above the Rufiji River at the eastern end of the reserve’s photographic area. The camp spreads along a considerable length of the river and the tents are reasonably well-spaced. The public areas are also large, with room for some privacy.
At the heart of Rufiji River Camp is a large central area with wonderful views over the Rufiji River. The lounge and small library, bar and dining area are all under one high thatched roof with lovely stone floors and comfortable soft furnishings. A few old board games are dotted around for playing before or after dinner. There’s a second floor to this area too, providing more seclusion and good spots for taking in the scene. The whole area has a rustic African feel to it, with thatched roofs, stone floors and the occasional piece of carved furniture.
Outside, some simple wooden seating is set around a campfire, and set a little further back from the river is Rufiji’s shaded swimming pool, which stays very cool in the heat of the day. There are loungers around the pool for those wishing to relax and sunbathe in between safari activities.
Well laid-out pathways lead to 14 en-suite tents, spaced along the river in a lush stretch of woodland populated by vervet monkeys and numerous birds – and occasionally visited by more exciting large mammals. There are three pairs of family tents, sleeping up to four people and connected by wooden platforms. These family units also all have their own, private plunge pools.
Each tent has a stone or wooden deck, with a table and two chairs: a pleasant place to relax between safari activities. Inside, the tents are simple in style and boast little in the way of luxury, but they are clean and have comfortable twin or double beds with cotton sheets, hanging space for your clothes and a writing desk. Floor-standing fans and mesh-covered windows keep conditions reasonably cool. Torches, a whistle and insect repellent are provided.
The bathrooms are situated through a door at the back of the tents. These too, are simple yet large and clean, with a shower, a bidet, a single washbasin and a flush toilet. Soap and shampoo are also supplied.
When we last visited Rufiji River Camp in 2016, the camp had recently been renovated. The newer tents are significantly more spacious and they all have two double beds. The tents also benefit from electric plug sockets, which were previously missing, and having just been refurbished, they now have a brighter, fresher feel to them.
Rufiji River Camp offers a range of activities, all accompanied by camp guides who are very friendly and have a reasonable knowledge of the wildlife. As well as boat safaris on the Rufiji River and walking safaris from the camp, there are game drives encompassing three nearby lakes, including a full-day safari with a packed lunch. For the adventurous who wish to experience more of the bush, there is also the option of fly-camping for a few nights. The vehicle fleet at the camp consists of 3 Maruti jeeps with beach seats, taking four passengers, 3 old Land Rover Defenders and 3 new Land Rover Defenders.
There is a fairly formulaic approach to activities here, common to many camps in the Selous. Guided walks run from 6.30am to 9am; boat trips or game drives from 06.30 to 11.30 (with a bush breakfast) or after breakfast from 8.30 to 1pm; then in the afternoon from 4-6pm. Full-day game drives can also be arranged, with a picnic lunch.
Our viewFor a relaxed, down-to-earth stay in the Selous, Rufiji River Camp is a good choice. The camp is clean and comfortable with a pleasant, unpretentious air and reasonable prices. From the front of the camp, the views across the Rufiji are impressive, and the scene is frequently dominated by hippos wallowing and honking nearby.
Ideal length of stay: 3 nights to make the most of the activities on offer.
Directions: The Selous Game Reserve is a 45-minute flight from Dar es Salaam, then it is only a five-minute drive to Rufiji River Camp. Alternatively, it is around a six-hour drive from Dar – depending on the weather and therefore the state of the roads.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Foxes Safaris
Staff: Camp Managers: Petra from Zimbabwe assisted by Henry from Salisbury, UK
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food served during our visits was simple and tasty standard camp food, with much of it grown on a local farm. All dining tables overlook the river under the big roof, or out on the deck.
Breakfast at Rufiji River Camp is served at 7.00am before the morning activities and usually consists of eggs (cooked however you want), toast and fresh fruit, as well as pastries such as cinnamon rolls.
Lunch is a buffet served at 1.00pm. On our visit in 2013 we had a mixed salad, marinated, barbecued pork and a lentil bake. For a full-day safari, a packed lunch is provided. When we visited in 2016 they were serving a tasty buffet of well prepared salads and other dishes, including some tough steak strips and a very good mango relish. There was also a good vegetarian dish of crisp broccoli florets and cashews in a creamy sauce. Bananas and coconut sauce finished the meal.
Dinner, at 8.00pm, is a three-course set meal. A classic menu might be something like guacamole and triangle toast, followed by chicken stuffed with sage, leeks and a potato salad, then chocolate brownies to finish. If the camp is particularly busy dinner may be served as a buffet.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Tea and coffee are included in the rates at Rufiji, but no other drinks. Beers cost around US$4, a large bottle of water US$2, and wine around US$20 a bottle. Only one 500ml (half-litre) bottle of drinking water per day is provided to each guest free of charge in the tents. Water bottles consumed in the public areas or taken back to the tents are added to your bill.
Attitude towards children: Responsible older children are welcome at Rufiji River Camp in accordance with the restrictions below, but they are very much their parents’ responsibility.
Property’s age restrictions: There is no age restriction at Rufiji River Camp. Children under 12 are not allowed on walking safaris in the Selous.
Special activities & services: With advance notice, early dinners can be prepared for children.
Equipment: No specific equipment is provided, though there are triple rooms for parents to share with a child.
Generally recommended for children: Yes although we’d suggest at least age 12. Though there are no special facilities for children at the camp, there is a lovely pool to keep them occupied when not out on safari.
Notes: Rufiji is quite large, and the staff does not have the capacity to help look after children staying at the camp. Parents should also be aware that the camp is not fenced and wildlife can pass through at any time – children should not be left unaccompanied.
Power supply: Generator
Power supply notes: Generator hours are 05:45-06:30, 09:30-12:00, 14:00-15:00 and 18:15-22:00. Otherwise, solar power is used and solar water heaters for hot water. There are UK-style electric sockets in the tents for guests to charge batteries and devices. There is a torch and solar lamp in each tent.
Communications: For all intents and purposes you should consider yourself out of contact. There is intermittent cellphone reception (Airtel, not Vodafone).
TV & radio: There is no TV at the camp.
Water supply: Other
Water supply notes: Water is pumped from the river, filtered and treated. The best pressure is during the hours when the generator is working. During our stay in 2016, we found water pressure was generally poor. A limited supply of bottled drinking water is provided to guests free of charge. Extra bottles have to be purchased.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: On site first aid can be administered and various medications are kept in the camp. In severe emergencies Rufiji can arrange for clients to be flown out from the nearby airstrip.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: The Selous has a large population of dangerous game and Rufiji River Camp is unfenced, so all guests are escorted to their rooms after dark. There are also camp guards on duty 24 hours a day. The local vervets can be a menace so it's important to keep tents closed.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers outside every tent and in key areas such as the reception, kitchen and workshop.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry is complimentary.
Money: There are no money exchange facilities here. There is a small digital safe in every tent.
Accepted payment on location: For payment of extras, Rufiji River Camp accepts payment in cash US dollars, euros, pounds and Tanzanian shillings. Visa and Master Card are accepted but there is a 5% surcharge.