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Maria D
Madrid, Spain

Best experience and stay at Mdonyas Old River

5.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 02 Mar 2024
Thank you for such a good experience at my staying in the Ruahas National Park. It was a really good choice to stay at Mdonya Old River because of the staff, the concept of the Lodge and the situation. I recommend it if you want to feel a real stay in contact with nature!!! My guide, Benson and driver, Godson, were very professional and we had a great time, I have learned many new things about animals. And also thank you to Malcom, encharged of the camp. Hope to go back! And hope you enjoy as much as I did
Date of stay: February 2024
Trip type: Travelled solo
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
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    4 - 9 of 373 reviews
    Reviewed 8 February 2024

    Ruaha National Park in the rainy season is a tough proposition and Mdonya Old River Camp is very wild and remote. Very tricky and muddy roads, mosquitos and tse-tse flies, Its not for everyone.

    However, the feeling of disconnection from the world and the remoteness and connection to Nature are unmatched. The Camp has the perfect level of simplicity and luxury needed to fully enjoy the stay. Extremely clean and functional tented rooms, solar powered showers, all the toiletries needed, etc, etc. The Camp gets daily visits of elephants, jiraffes, impala, zebras, monkeys, etc, etc just metres from your tent. The dedication of the Camp crew (thanks to Joel, manager) to their only guest was unparalleled, in tough conditions (it rained a lot). Excellent food, attention to detail including my massai companion guiding me to the tents, etc, etc Guide and driver John and Godson worked tirelessly to give the best experience in hard conditions. They were amazing. Support from Head Office at Essential Destinations in Dar es Salaam through the booking process was excellent, especially from Flora, Malcolm, etc. My luggage got lost on my flight to Dar es Salaam and Flora chased it until I got in Camp!! Thanks Flora!!

    Ruaha National Park in January is extremely beautiful (never seen a greener green). Hundreds of baobabs, green pastures, fast rivers. The large groups of elephants with tiny ones just born was a daily occurrence with our car as single observer. JIraffes were everywhere, directly in Camp. Kudus, impalas, diks-diks, warthogs, hippos, crocodiles, etc, etc. All the birds...Too many to count.

    Meat eating animals are tougher to locate but we were lucky enough to find a female leopard with a young one up close, 3 lions (belonging to a large pride of 25), a large group of hunting dogs (very lucky) and even 4 cheetas (mother with 3 cubs).

    Remember, this trip was done in the rainy season. Dry season will be a completely different experience and I am sure an amazing one (an easier in many ways) that I hope I can enjoy in the next few years. But what I am sure is that the dedication of the Old Mdonya crew will be as good as the one I enjoyed.

    Thanks!!

    Date of stay: January 2024
    • Trip type: Travelled solo
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    Thank Inigo O
    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.
    Reviewed 27 January 2024

    We spend 6 nights in Mdonya Old River Camp, and I may say is one of the best camps I have visited in Africa, if not the best. Close to a wooded area, the place is constantly crossed by all sort of species, specially elephants, which wander freely among the tents. As a result, every minute spent in the camp is a chance to take a wonderful photograph of the real animals parade you witness. Our experience with the staff couldn’t have been any better and enjoyable. Malcolm, the manager, is very attentive to all your need, and conversations with him most interesting and enriching. Our driver Godson did his best taking us to the best sighting, no matter how remote or hidden, and our guide John was extremely pleasant and knowledgeable. We used to depart early in the morning and spend the whole day with them in the bush, making a halt in our safari for bush breakfast first and bush lunch at midday. Both, Godson and John, proved to know Ruaha like the back of their hands, and our stay in the park wouldn’t have been the same without them. Thank to them, we had sightings in Ruaha that I have never seen before in any other African park. A 24 members pack of wild dogs in action, the largest lion prides I have even observed, and even my first caracal were some remarkable examples. Ruaha is the perfect destination for those who want to live the most authentic African wilderness, far from the crowds which sadly characterised other more trodden parks of the country, and a stay in Mdonya seemed to me the perfect choice.

    Date of stay: August 2023
    • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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    Thank josebanales
    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.
    Reviewed 3 December 2023

    We were lucky enough to spend 6 nights here in October.
    The accommodation was exactly as promised – and with great views! Our tent was awesome & had everything required for a comfortable (and private) stay. Water was solar heated, so you could have a hot shower whenever you wanted. Although we usually did not need to turn on the hot tap as water was a perfect temperature during the day / afternoon / early evening for a shower. There was a lot of wildlife in and around the camp, so we were escorted to and from everywhere throughout our stay – but still felt totally safe at all times.
    The food here was the best we have ever had anywhere in Tanzania. Every meal was amazing – fresh & delicious! We elected to leave early and have a bush breakfast each morning, which was awesome. Our guide & driver picked a spectacular spot each morning and no 2 days were the same (think of a herd of buffaloes 100 metres away or watching a leopard in a tree whilst eating a boiled egg & having a coffee 😊). Dinners were a communal experience with the other guests. Something we absolutely loved, and we enjoyed hearing the other guests’ experiences.
    Then the wildlife – WOW! After visiting the Serengeti twice previously, we went here with no expectations, other than we were willing to be patient to spot amazing wildlife encounters - AND it not being overcrowded when we did (something that spoiled our last Serengeti trip a little). And we were not disappointed! We had many truly amazing sightings – including the (huge) Mdonya lion pride on a buffalo kill, lions mating. elephants galore, a leopard with cubs and a kill, Bat eared foxes with their cubs, etc, etc. - with our car being the only car at each sighting!!! (And remember they all walk through camp some evenings 😊). To be honest, we saw more lions in 6 days at Ruaha, then we saw in 2 trips to the Serengeti (if that is your thing). Although, Tanzania has taught me to expect (and be amazed by) the unexpected. And I would have to say one of my favourite sightings here was an Eagle Owl and her (wide-awake) baby on a tree branch just above us. Truly amazing and unforgettable!
    Finally – the management, staff and the people. Wherever you stay (and whatever your budget), we will all have the same chance to see the same animals. It is the people where you stay who make the difference between a good & great safari. I cannot compliment the camp staff enough. Our driver & guide (Enos & Dennis) were amazing – and became great friends. Malcolm was an absolutely brilliant host (and such a great person & willing to share so many stories!). And all the staff were incredibly patient with me trying to learn a little Swahili whilst I was there (Although I am sure they laughed a lot at my clumsy efforts – but I still truly appreciated all their patience and help 😊). But more importantly (for us) everyone was just incredibly nice, down-to-earth and caring - and really genuinely wanted us to have the best experience possible. Unknown to the staff, we also celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary while we were there (this trip was a Covid delayed 30th wedding anniversary trip). It just so happened that the day of our anniversary ended with Enos & Dennis taking us to a magical viewpoint to watch the sunset with a few drinks. They created an extremely magical moment for us without even knowing it.
    Thanks to all the team. We so hope to see you all again soon!

    Room tip: Just go!
    Date of stay: October 2023
    • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
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    Thank crouchie03
    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.
    Reviewed 16 November 2023

    Nestled amidst the untamed beauty of the African wilderness, Mdonya Old River camp offered a perfect 'off the beaten path' experience. A very charming camp with excellent canvas tents.

    Open-air dining, with the stars as our ceiling, provided the perfect setting for delicious meals and sharing stories with fellow travelers.
    The sounds of wildlife -- whether the distant roars of lions or the low rumbling sound of elephants-- became my constant companions.

    Game drives were excellent and the smile on my face grew bigger every single day. I lost count of how many elephant and giraffe I have seen during my stay. I felt very privileged to have spent quite some time with the Mdonya pride of lions (22 ) in a dried up riverbed. Just me and my guides Noelle and Godson in the vast wilderness.

    It is not just a place to stay....It's a journey into the untamed beauty of Ruaha National Park.

    Date of stay: October 2023
    • Trip type: Travelled solo
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    Thank marijnglobal
    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.
    Reviewed 9 November 2023

    Having never been to Mdonya before I was excited and not disappointed. It is a truly unique camp and managed by a remarkable man. Shout out to the lovely Malcolm and our drivers and guides Jonas and 😱😱😱so sorry can’t remember our driver’s name (apologies). We think of you often guys, keep doing what you do. Amazing wildlife, scenery and memories. Please don’t change a thing and I hope to return…

    Date of stay: October 2023
    • Trip type: Travelled with friends
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    Thank Ann E
    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.
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