Siwandu: Our full report

13 tents
Traveller's rating
Excellent (98%) From 53 reviews
1st June to mid-March

Plush and luxurious, Siwandu (formerly known as Selous Safari Camp) is set amid mixed woodland on the shores of Lake Nzerakera, in the central part of the Selous Game Reserve. Lake Nzerakera is located a few miles north of the Rufiji River, connected to the main river by the network of waterways that laces through this part of southern Tanzania. Siwandu is an expansive camp, occupying a long stretch of lake frontage, with the main public area and swimming pool towards the southern end, and a separate lounge, dining area and pool at the northern end for when the camp is full or for exclusive occupancy by large groups.

On arrival at Siwandu your briefing is held in the spacious reception area, where the camp office and a small shop are located. This is where morning and afternoon activities usually begin. One or both of ‘North Camp’ and ‘South Camp’ are used, depending on the number of guests, with the 7 tents of South Camp usually being filled first, followed by the 6 tents of North Camp.

The central areas of South Camp, located between the southernmost tent, #7, and Tent #6, are tastefully decorated and comfortably furnished, with interesting African art and wooden furniture that includes some beautiful writing desks. The whole of the main area here is raised on stilts, offering lovely river views. Dinner is served on a different raised area each evening to add variety. The main swimming pool is here and a separate dining area as well as a small shop selling curios and useful items such as sun cream.

If you’re staying in a room in North Camp, you’ll find its communal bar/lounge area has big squishy sofas that provide the perfect relaxing spots in the shade after a morning’s safari and good places to take in the view and watche the prolific birdlife that frequents the area. A small but well-stocked bar is in one corner, and traditional African bao boards are scattered around should you feel like challenging someone to a game. Next to this central area is a shaded swimming pool, surrounded by wooden decking, and with plenty of loungers. Dining usually takes place outside on this decking.

The octagonal tented rooms in both the north and south parts of Siwandu are identical: permanent tents on slightly raised platforms, under thatched roofs. Their unusual shape maximises air flow. These are large, private ensuite tented rooms, each with a pleasant view of the lake and with a comfortable sofa, writing desk and small table on your own spacious veranda. They can all be set up as a double or twin, and can take an extra child bed if necessary. In South Camp, tent #3 has a good view out across the lake, as does #4 (from both front and side), while tents #6 and #7 are the closest to the South Camp central areas and the ones to choose if you want to have the shortest walk to meals, drinks and socialising.

Natural reds and yellows are used throughout the rooms, resulting in a simple, stylish feel, while subtle touches such as full-length mirrors adding a tone of luxury.. The furniture is locally made, and includes a bed, wardrobe and dresser with a digital safe. The décor is enhanced by selection of artefacts from around Zanzibar.

Each room has convenient power points where you can charge batteries using a multiplug adaptor (UK, European and American). For hot nights there is also a cooling fan, but no air conditioning. There are no mosquito nets over the beds, but the windows are mesh-covered, so the whole room is essentially insect-proof. The Siwandu area seems mercifully free of tsetses and has few mosquitos.

The spacious bathroom is an extension of the bedroom, with a canvas partition that can be let down for privacy, double basins (deep brass bowls) and and a standard flush toilet. Stepping through the bathroom you reach the outside shower area itself, and in most of the rooms these have views down to the lakeshore, and the sight of passing wildlife. The shower areas have good toiletries – very nice shower gel, conditioner and shampoo – and plenty of warm water.

Activities at Siwandu include boat safaris, walking safaris, 4WD game drives and fishing for catfish and tigerfish. Vehicles at camp include a 200Tdi 7-seater Land Rover Defender, six 110 Defenders with 7 seats and one 5-seater 110. The 7-seaters are all fully open, with high canvas roofs, with the seating arranged 2-2-3 and boxes between the seats in the front two rows.

In 2016 we went on a long morning walk that rewarded some of our group with a bush pig sighting and all of us with enjoyable wildlife along the way, including giraffe and just-disappeared buffalo. Our chief guide George, from the UK, was outstanding, though we found some of other guides in camp had slightly inadequate English. We had an excellent bush breakfast along the way (taken out by vehicle by the staff). One day we were given a lake-based surprise (no spoilers…) and coming back from evening activities, we were treated to tiny shots of cold banana liqueur at Reception. Siwandu excels in little touches like this.

Our view

Siwandu has a very comfortable, stylish feel and a superb, lakeside location. The tents are of a very high standard – the best canvas rooms in the park. Excellent service and guiding mark this camp out as a very high-quality operation that pays real attention to detail. We felt it was occasionally just a little too formal, but it will certainly please you if you gravitate more to hotel rooms than camping.


Location: Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

Ideal length of stay: 3–4 nights

Directions: The Selous is a 35-minute flight from Dar es Salaam, and the camp is a 15-minute drive from the airstrip. Alternatively, it is around a 6-7-hour drive from Dar – depending on the weather and the state of the roads.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Selous Safari Company

Staff: George (British) and Emma (Australian) are the management team.

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Breakfast at Siwandu consists of a selection of fresh and dried fruit, cereals, cold meats, yoghurt, muffins and toast. You can also order a cooked breakfast with eggs of your choice plus bacon, sausage, tomato and mushroom. The timings for breakfast are 7.00–10.00am, so guests can have a flexible start to the day.

A two-course lunch is served between 13.00-14.00, with a plated dish, fresh salads and a couple of kinds of bread, followed by a fruit-based dessert. It is perfect for the heat of the day – fresh, tasty and light. In 2016, our first lunch featured chicken kebabs and coleslaw, and the second some very good red snapper.

Just before your afternoon activity, at around 3.30pm, there is afternoon tea, which often includes refreshing home-made lemonade and cookies.

Dinner is served at 8.00pm after a sundowner in the bar. When we visited in November 2013 we had vegetable samosas to start, followed by chicken tikka and pilau rice, served with spicy mango chutney and tzatziki, and a chocolate pot for dessert. All three courses were delicious – but it’s instructive to note that we ate the exact same menu on our first night in 2016. On the second night we had a fresh, guacamole starter, followed by grilled beef and a lemon meringue pie. It’s fair to say the food is above average – an appetising mix of imaginatively presented international standards.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Tea/coffee and filtered water are included in the rates at Siwandu, but other drinks are extra.

Further dining info: Yes – but there are no phones in the rooms so requests have to be made in advance.

Special interests

Honeymoons: Siwandu is a small and romantic camp with a lovely setting and luxurious rooms. For special evenings the camp can arrange dinner on your deck – making this a good option for some indulgence while celebrating your honeymoon to Tanzania.

See more ideas for Honeymoons in Tanzania

Birdwatching: With a wonderful location on the river, birdwatching around Selous Safari Camp is great. The guides are knowledgeable and there’s a wide variety of species. We had no problems sighting European rollers, hoopoes, fish eagles and hammerkops, amongst many others. In camp, a bird bath attracts masked and sparrow weavers and glossy starlings.

See more ideas for Birdwatching in Tanzania

Wildlife safaris: The Selous Game Reserve has a good population of wildlife throughout the year. There is always an abundance of giraffe and impala as well as a number of lion. The fortunate might see leopard, as well as wild dogs that occasionally move through the area around Siwandu.

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania


Attitude towards children: Siwandu are happy to welcome children over the age of six years old, but they feel that whilst in camp children are the full responsibility of their parents.

Property’s age restrictions: Children must be 6 years old. Only children over 16 years old may walk or fly-camp while staying at Siwandu.

Special activities & services: Not really - guides sometimes do nature quizzes.

Equipment: There is no special equipment, but one or two children under 12 can sometimes be accommodated in their parents’ room.

Notes: Siwandu is a small place that is happy to have children to visit. That said, parents should be aware that this camp is not fenced and wildlife can pass through at any time; children cannot be left unaccompanied.


Power supply: Solar Power

Power supply notes: Mainly solar (for hot water), with generator assistance (the generator normally runs when guests are out on activities, roughly 10am–noon and 6–10pm, which are the times hair driers can be used). Type of plug: Multiplug sockets (UK, European, American) in all rooms. You can charge items at any time. Inverter batteries provide overnight power for the lights and fans.

Communications: There are pockets of Airtel cellphone reception, though travellers should note that the use of cellphones in public areas is not allowed.

TV & radio: There is no TV.

Water supply: Other

Water supply notes: Lake water is pumped up for general use, chlorinated and UV filtered.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There are first-aid kits at reception, in the vehicles and in the boats, for minor injuries and illnesses. Manager/guide George is first-aid-trained. For emergencies, the camp has links to the flying-doctor service in Dar es Salaam, which is a 35-minute flight away.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: There are plentiful guards on site 24/7, as well as Maasai armed with spears and pangas to escort you to and from your room at night. All the rooms also have whistles, so that if you need help in the night you can call for attention.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in every communal area and room as well as a fire hydrant for the main area. Fire training is planned. Please note that no smoking is allowed on activities, although a suitable spot can be found during a comfort break, if you warn your guide in advance that you may want to smoke.


Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: Laundry is included in the rates at Siwandu. It is hand washed, sun dried and ironed with a charcoal iron – so it is not advisable to put any delicate items in the wash. For cultural reasons, ladies need to wash their own underwear. The camp provides washing powder for this.

Money: There is no currency exchange at Siwandu. There is a safe in each room.

Accepted payment on location: The camp prefers payment for any extras in cash, and accepts US dollars, Tanzanian shillings, British pounds or Euros. However they are also able to accept credit cards; there is a 5% charge for Visa (the preferred card), MasterCard and Amex.

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