"There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you have drunk half a bottle of champagne - bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive" ~ Karen Blixen
The wide range of game activities on offer at our boutique bush camps is a huge draw for either the avid safari connoisseur or the first time safari novice - "The safari opportunities are so varied and all excellent. We were assigned a guide for the duration of our stay who was great and seemed to have swallowed an encyclopedia his knowledge was so vast." ~ Siwandu by SamCam, UK (TripAdvisor)
From walking with the elephants at Jongomero, to meandering next to basks of crocodiles in Siwandu, to sleeping under the stars on our Walking Safaris. Our guests fly home with forever memories of shared moments with unique game experiences far from the madding crowd - “Go there for a luxurious yet understated experience. To avoid having 10 cars around a lion like it is the case in Serengeti, to meet a lovely team, to sleep to the sound of hippos, to benefit from great game and animals around the lake” ~ Siwandu by LuxuryEditor, Paris (TripAdvisor)
In this post I wish to focus on our bush camps and the Southern Tanzanian wilderness experience you can delve into. Firstly, it is important to note that all our rates are full board game packages, which includes two shared activities per day in the morning and afternoon.
Now, what do we mean by shared, well, you will join fellow adventurers on drives, cruises and dawn walks – most guests are delighted to meet new friends on safari; share experiences and stories over a sundowner by the lake. The camp managers always endeavour to bring guests together with similar experiences so please do advise your agent what Africa travel you have done in the past as it will help us match you with guests with related interests. But if you have a driving passion to track just one species or you simply wish for privacy or freedom to leave and return when you wish then we also offer Private Vehicles for $300 per day and guests will have a 4WD vehicle and driver guide all to themselves. Unlike other camps we offer the flexibility to have a Private Vehicle for just one day during your stay so please advise your agent at booking stage so we can include this in your itinerary.
Let us begin by expanding on our 4WD opensided GAME DRIVES – offered both at Siwandu, with six seater vehicles, and Jongomero, with four seater vehicles. All guests have a window seat and the car comes with a FGASA Level 1 Driver Guide. At both bush locations we are lucky enough to be situated adjacent to the main water sources and as such within prime game areas. Unlike other camps in Africa who have to wake up early to simply drive to get to the game; we are right there! Animals sleep in the plains at night and as the day heats up travel towards the water sources and after 30 years experience monitoring the animals behavior we advise our guests to have breakfast within camp and leave at 8am for the rest of the morning in the park to get the best sightings. However, if you are an avid photographer and wish to leave at 6.30am to capture the dawn’s morning light that too is possible, please just advise your travel agent on booking or manager on arrival so we can arrange it for your stay. As you share a vehicle we do have to ask your fellow passengers what they wish to do and during high season we may not have the capacity to offer the full range but we always endeavour to accommodate all requests. Some guests ask for full day game drives which we will happily accommodate but if asked we would not recommend them, unless it is the green season in Ruaha, as firstly being out at midday is hot and tiring but also there is very little game at this time so it is worth returning to the camp, enjoying a leisurely lunch and relaxing before tea and the afternoon activity from 4pm.
”Game drives are awesome but make sure you do a sunset river trip too - that is truly breathtaking.” ~ Siwandu by Pipster12 , New York (TripAdvisor)
And how right Pipster12 is, with Selous Game Reserve being one of the only protected areas in Tanzania offering BOAT SAFARIS, this is an activity and opportunity not to be missed! We have both smaller metal bottomed boats as well as a floating pontoon, which is the only one in East Africa and for both lunches and sundowners makes an unbeatable platform to get up close and personal to both animals and birds. “The cruise was absolutely tremendous in terms of being close to river and lake wildlife.” ~ Siwandu by GoHawks5, Chicago (TripAdvisor)
Our boat cruises are only available at Siwandu and guests are welcome to experience wildlife on the water in both the morning and afternoon, but watching the setting sun with a gin and tonic in hand while pods of hippos wallow close by and antelope drink from the shore is something incredibly special. For an added experience we also offer guests a little fishing – throw in the rod with a beer in hand, enjoy the company of your friends, family and guide while waiting for the catfish to bite!
And now we come to another activity, which is not readily available in every camp in Tanzania, and that is the GAME WALK. Offered for those above the age of 16 and for a maximum of six guests, this is a unique opportunity to step out of the vehicle and really feel part of this incredible environment – it is both a thrilling, humbling and informative activity. "Brilliant - walking safari raised the heartbeat" ~ Jongomero by Simon Moore, UK (Guest Evaluation Form).
Game walks set off from camp at dawn to not only benefit from the coolness of the day but also we are not searching for big game, which arrives in our areas later in the morning; we are focusing on the smaller creatures, gaining an insight into ecosystems and the intricacies of the bush. And it is certainly not a route march – it’s a slow amble – stopping under the shade to hear more about how the acacia poisons the giraffe or why the dung beetle navigates by moonlight.
All walks are accompanied by a certified walking guide with advanced rifle training who has a high caliber rifle as well as a first aid kit, water and a radio to contact the main camp. At Jongomero there is an extra $35pp per walk fee paid on site (this is to adhere to regulations and have a TANAPA Ranger, who also carries a high caliber, join the walk) but do not let this put you off as it is well worth it with the cooler climate, sinuous sand rivers and the undulating landscape – it’s a fabulous way to start the day! It’s also worth noting that at Siwandu walks are available all year round but in Jongomero we begin late June / early July and walk until the rains begin and the bush becomes too thick to walk safely, this tends to be around late November or early December.
“In particular, I would encourage everyone who visits the camp to take the opportunity to walk in the bush with Chris, accompanied by one of the park rangers. This is a great way to really appreciate how different the bush feels when you are outside the cocoon of the game drive vehicle and you have every chance of bumping into ellies, buffalo and lion. It is some adrenalin rush to be face to face with something very large and be guided skillfully and calmly out of the situation by your guides. And the walk also enables some of the details of the bush to come to life - the animal tracks, the insects, the noises and a realisation that people had also lived alongside the wildlife before the area became a national park and conservation area.” ~ Jongomero by Natasha, London (TripAdvisor)
Debuting this season in Siwandu we also are offering Children’s Walks, for those guests under 16 to walk around our expansive camp with our walking guide and maasai. They are offered a booklet to fill in, a chance to turn their hand at lighting a fire using traditional techniques, study tracks, trees, browsers and grazers and get an insight into life in the bush. So far the parents have enjoyed it as much as their children!
For those guests searching for even more adventure and a chance to go back in time and experience a truly authentic safari we also offer WALKING SAFARIS, or what some call Fly-Camping, in Jongomero. This activity is booked at time of reservation and is only available from 1st July through to the end of October. We offer this as a two night excursion for guests over 16 years old with a minimum of two and maximum of six guests in the group. “Jongomero must be one of the last places in Africa for true safari feeling and experience!” ~ Jongomero by Lyon, France (TripAdvisor). In this fabulously remote landscape guests completely escape and sink into the stunning surroundings while walking every day, showering under a canopy of trees and exchanging safari stories around the campfire. Read more about the Walking Safari.
"Chris who walked with us, was the best guide and walking safari one can have. It has been a wonderful experience!" ~ Jongomero by Dr Anna Belkiha, UK (Guest Evaluation Form).
I hope you have found this to be a helpful guide to our bush activities, and we haven’t even got to my favourite – the Armchair Safari! Sitting in one of our beautifully decorated lounges with a glass of wine, relaxing on your verandah daybed, wallowing in the pool or having another cup of coffee on our breakfast terrace and letting the animals pass you by!
Please remember we are always here to answer any of your questions so feel free to contact us or your tour operator. We hope to meet you at our camps soon and you too can experience all the South has to offer and in the meantime I will leave you with some more quotes from TripAdvisor..is it any wonder we are rated No 1 in all our regions?
“Of course the safari experience is jaw-dropping, I never thought I'd get so close to big game” ~ Jongomero by TJF1976, London
“Siwandu stands out for quality of game viewing, variety of activities, good management, excellent guides, accommodation sympathetic to the environment, such a variety and concentration of animals!!” ~ MarJoM14, Perth, Australia