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Penny Parker
Tanzania

Ruaha National Park at its best - Ikuka!

5.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 18 Oct 2020
Where to even begin?
Myself and my partner, Grant, live in Tanzania and have worked in the safari industry for a collective 20 years!
Ikuka Lodge just really blew our mind.

It is perched on a hill, with the most breath-taking view over the Ruaha National Park. Being up high gives you perspective - you can see the Baobab trees in the valley below, and watch for animals from the comfort of your suite.

The lodge itself is beautiful (and we have a particularly detail oriented eye). We stayed in their newest suite - and it is absolute bliss. Besides game drive, we never wanted to leave it.

The bed is HUGE and extremely comfortable, beautiful linen, elegant and understated safari chic design that makes you feel as if you are blending in to nature. A bathroom of dreams, with a free-standing bath that also looks out over the national park below.
With a seperate "coffee/chill/dining area" on the side - it is a home away from homes. We loved our suite so much that we ate all of our meals here, dipping in our private pool, and enjoying a lovingly made GnT!

The food was really truly impressive. Delicious, variety, great plating - perfect portion sizes - and they met my gluten-free and vegetarian requirements with such ease!

Beautiful lodge, breath-taking views, amazing food - what more could you want...?

Well, what truly made Ikuka special to us were the people! Such an incredible, warm, hospitable team - who made you feel like you were living in luxury, BUT at the same time, you were at home and completely a part of the family.

Festo, our guide, made our stay for us - 100%. He was a true naturalist in every sense of the word. We loved every minute of game drive with Festo - his knowledge was top notch, but what really made us love our time with him so special was how he told stories, the passion he showed and shared for the bush, and the true friendship we developed. We laughed so much on this safari! Our game viewing was incredible - Elephants everywhere, cheetah and cubs, lions, leopard, buff - oh, and so much wonderful birding.

Festo - we cannot thank you enough.

Chloe and Mark, Lodge Managers, were so hospitable and ensured that we truly did have a wonderful time with them. we will be forever grateful to their warmth and hospitality. Thank you!

We will definitely be back!!
Date of stay: September 2020
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IKUKA SAFARI CAMP, General Manager at Ikuka Safari Camp, responded to this review
Responded 25 Jan 2021
Thank you so much for this glowing review and for sharing your experience on here with others, we really appreciate it! We are really pleased to read that you enjoyed everything about your stay and Ruaha. Thanks again and we look forward to staying in touch. Best wishes from the Ikuka Family.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
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Reviewed 28 August 2020 via mobile

As someone has been on a fair few safaris across sub-Saharan Africa, the top camps and lodges seamlessly showcase you the wonders of the park you are in yet subtly enhance it at the same time. Ikuka is one of those places and definitely ranks in my opinion as on of Tanzania's very best safari outfitters.

There are so many reasons why Ikuka is a must visit, some of which you just have to go and find out for yourself, but my top 3 would be the below:

Location - having stayed at most of the other camps in Ruaha National Park, Ikuka has by far the best view. Set on an escarpment overlooking the Mwagusi River Valley (the prime game viewing area in the park), every room and the main area are treated to sweeping panoramas of mountains, savanna and meandering rivers. Picture postcard stuff. Ruaha itself is a gem of a park. Far away from the overcrowded northern safari circuit, a journey here is a rekindling of the safari days of old. With a good guide (see below), it is very easily possible to go on a game drive and not see another soul (especially outside July/August high season) and the scenery and game viewing does not disappoint.

Staff - You can tell from the moment you arrive that the owners want a laid back homely feel (you are on holiday after all!) that avoids the stuffy hospitality-course taught formality that so many luxury safari camps exhibit these days. Mark, owner/walking guide, has assembled a friendly bunch, who go about their business with ease and are wholly encouraged to chat and engage, yet knew when to leave me alone to enjoy my book (complete with gin and tonic) around the pool. Housekeeping was spot on, as were the chefs who had a healthy yet wholesome menu on point each day.

Activities - the migrants birds at this time of year were exceptional (Ruaha has over 580 species in all) as well as seeing lots of young impala, zebras and other mammals bouncing around. The rivers were high and the bush was extremely lush, a great contrast to the dusty bare summer months of previous visits. Signs of predators were always around, and I did see lions twice during my stay. My excellent guide, Festo, informed me that the greener season had been bringing better sightings of smaller predators such as serval,caracal and wild dogs whilst the drier months leopard and lions moved in and were seen daily. Having done the odd walking safari on my previous visits at other camps, I was looking forward to doing one with Mark - something that friends of mine whom had stayed said was a highlight. However, unfortunately on this occasion the rains had been such that the grass was too long and safety had to come first - something that I was nevertheless pleased the camp took as a priority.

All in all the combination of stunning views, endearing staff amidst one of East Africa's truly wild national parks, I can't recommend a stay here enough. Looking forward to going back sooner rather than later!

Date of stay: February 2020
Trip type: Travelled solo
1  Thank jcderman
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
IKUKA SAFARI CAMP, General Manager at Ikuka Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 31 August 2020

Thank you for your lovely and detailed review and for sharing your experience on here with others; we truly appreciate it! We are so pleased that with all your experience of traveling in Africa that you rate us highly in all aspects and found Ruaha to be such a special place. We look forward to welcoming our guests back again soon. With best wishes from your Ikuka family.

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Reviewed 28 August 2020 via mobile

I had the amazing opportunity to stay at this lodge last year. Outstanding views across the park and I loved the open rooms! The staff make you feel at home, Habibu was a fantastic guide and Lily and Jake were great hosts - always around for a drink and a chat!

Certainly one of the best lodges I've stayed at and would return in a heart beat!

Date of stay: September 2019
Trip type: Travelled solo
Thank LeonieUG
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
IKUKA SAFARI CAMP, General Manager at Ikuka Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 31 August 2020

Thank you so much for your review and for sharing with others on here. We truly appreciate it and glad you felt at home and we can't wait to welcome our guests back again soon. Best wishes from the Ikuka family.

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Reviewed 22 March 2020 via mobile

We spent 4 wonderful nights at Ikuka. The most beautiful lodge with outstanding rooms, views to die for and most important of all the most welcoming, friendly and kind people. Habib - our guide - was magnificent in every way. Such huge knowledge, patience, enthusiasm and all accompanied with an enormous sense of humour. We loved finding some truly wonderful birds - the boys so beautifully “dressed to impress”!! The variety of terrain, vegetation, birds and animals was mind boggling. We feel incredibly lucky to have spent some time at Ikuka, no hesitation in giving 10/10!

Date of stay: February 2020
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
Thank falamains
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
ikuka_safari_camp, General Manager at Ikuka Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 27 March 2020

Thank you very much for your simply wonderful review and for sharing your experience with others on here, we truly appreciate it! We are so pleased to read that you enjoyed the camp, Ruaha and meeting our lovely team and that you got to see some handsome birds! We look forward to staying in touch. Best wishes from the Ikuka family.

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Reviewed 16 March 2020

My family and I had an amazing stay at Ikuka - we felt completely taken care of at the lodge, it is truly world class hospitality in a remote location. The safari was magical - our guide Festo did a fantastic job giving us a great experience. Not only would I recommend it to anyone, but I would go back again myself!

Date of stay: February 2020
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank 540alexandrae
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
ikuka_safari_camp, General Manager at Ikuka Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 18 March 2020

Thank you for your lovely review and for sharing your experience on here with others; we are delighted to read that you and your family had a wonderful stay. We look forward to staying in touch. Best wishes from the Ikuka family.

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Reviewed 2 March 2020

We went as a family of six to Ikuka on a dream safari. The physical location and facilities of Ikuka are spectacular. What makes it even better are the staff. Everything runs like clockwork. Food is amazing. Lilly makes you feel at home. Festor as a guide was knowledgable, patient, and taught us a great deal of the game and birds. I cannot imagine a better experience. We were there February 2020 and the brilliant green folliage due to the rain added to the experience while still allowing us to experience an abundance of game. I recommend Ikuka and its staff to all!

Room tip: All the rooms overlook the escarpment. Not a bad choice to be had!
Date of stay: February 2020
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank edeQ9161XH
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
ikuka_safari_camp, General Manager at Ikuka Safari Camp, responded to this reviewResponded 5 March 2020

Thank you very much for sharing your experience on here with others and for recommending us, we truly appreciate it! We are so pleased to read that you and your family enjoyed your stay in the camp and appreciated the beauty of Ruaha in the green season! We look forward to staying in touch, best wishes from the Ikuka family.

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