Our honeymoon was an incredible experience from start to finish: from the moment we arrived at the Selous Safari Camp, to the moment we waved goodbye to our hosts at Fundu Lagoon! All of the places we stayed were idyllic and the level of service was second to none. We will never forget some of the experiences we had during this trip, such as watching a pride of eleven lions battling with crocodiles over feeding rights to a dead hippo, or over a hundred elephants crossing a river and dusting off right next to our vehicle. This was truly the holiday of a lifetime!
Our experience of Tanzania was incredible, the country is beautiful and fascinating with incredible wildlife, people and cuisine. We loved our experience of the country and look forward to exploring it further.
The Selous Safari Camp was the first place we stayed on our honeymoon, and was an amazing start to the experience! The camp is very well-designed, with spacious tented rooms with a thatched roof built on raised wooden decking. The beds are huge and very comfortable, the bathroom area is huge and the outdoor shower is great! The tented accommodation really allows you to experience the wildlife at all hours - impala and giraffes grazing near the tent, baboons and vervet monkeys running around during the day and bush babies jumping around at night. The sounds of grumpy hippos, laughing hyenas and roaring lions are heard throughout the night, to remind you that you really are in the wild...
We were always woken every morning by either the lions, or by a lovely chap who would bring us a pot of tea. He also kept our room spotlessly clean.
As for the activities, there is a real variety with game drives, boat safaris and walking safaris, and we would recommend them all. We always did two activities per day (sometimes three if lunch was served on the lake!). We were lucky enough to have the drives alone most of the time, and Walter our guide made sure that we always had plenty of wildlife to see. He also tailored the drives to our interests, and when he said he would show us elephants (after we hadn't seen any on our first day), he really wasn't messing around! We waited patiently in the same spot for about an hour before seeing around 150 of them crossing the river and dust bathing in small family groups. It was incredible!
We also saw plenty of lions (three seperate prides), and some special moments included watching a pride of lionesses and cubs during a buffalo banquet, and also seeing a group of cubs playing with a honeybadger (one of the fiercest animals in Africa!).
Unfortunately we didn't see the wild dogs, but a group that arrived after us told us that they did, so there is a real chance of finding them.
It's worth doing a boat safari at least once too, to get up close and personal with the crocs and hippos, and to see the fish eagles hunting and the giraffes and elephants drinking. A sundowner on a small island out on the lake was the perfect end to the day.
As for the walking safaris, they really add to the experience. Our guide, Gerald, punctuated the bush walk with interesting facts about the animal and plant life in the area. During the walk we managed to get very close to giraffe, elephant and wildebeest, and the surprise breakfast by the lake was fantastic!
When we would return to the camp we would always be met by smiling staff with refreshing cold towels and a drink. The service throughout all of the meals was excellent, and our dedicated 'butler', Salum, made sure that we were well looked-after with our favourite drinks. I should also mention the food, which was excellent, with a different theme each day. Particularly considering how remote the location is, this was really impressive. I also found that the food was very healthy, with lots of fresh fruit and salads. The chef clearly made a real effort to please the guests.
Drinks by the campfire before dinner were also a real pleasure, and this would be the time when Emile, the camp manager, would spend some time chatting to all the guests to make sure they were happy. Emile is one of the firendliest, most easygoing people we have ever met, but is also highly professional, both as a manager, and (as we discovered on the journey to the airstrip) as a guide! He was always there, either front of house, or behind the scenes, making sure that we were enjoying ourselves, and I personally think that he was responsible for making our stay so fantastic. So thanks Emile! He is a real asset to the Selous Safari Company...
At the end of our stay of four nights we were very sad to be leaving, but happy that we were heading to another of the Selous Safari Company camps (Jongomero), which we were confident would be of a similar standard.
We stayed at Jongomero Camp for three nights after spending four at the sister Selous Safari Camp in the Selous Game Reserve. We thought that the Selous would be really difficult to beat, but from the moment we arrived at Jongomero we realised that it was going to be an amazing experience of the wild African bush. It all started when, on our arrival at the camp, we were greeted by a female elephant, 'Mother' and her two 'little' ones, ?Theresa? and ?Benedict? as they passed through on their way to the river bed, and the magic continued throughout our three-day stay.
The camp is beautifully-designed, with a huge cathedral-sized reception area that includes an atmospheric bar and restaurant, filled with local artworks. A pool that overlooks the river bed and spacious tented rooms with thatched roofs built on raised wooden decking. The bed was huge and very comfortable, built out of massive chunks of wood that originated from old dhows in Dar es Salaam, and the bathroom area is huge, with a shower designed for two. The tented accommodation really allows you to experience the wildlife at all hours ? watching elephants strolling majestically along the dry river bed from the decked terrace or listening to the lions roaring at night. I am not an accomplished enough writer to put into words how fantastic this is... all I can suggest is that you experience it for yourself!
What really makes Jongomero special though, is the people who run it. Between them, Molly and Noelle ensure that all of the guests are looked after in every possible way. On our arrival, Molly provided us with a very detailed and entertaining introduction to the camp, the activities and the local wildlife, and he continued to captivate us with his stories from the bush throughout our stay, during mealtimes, at the bar and during the walking safaris. He has a wealth of knowledge about the African bush, and his ability to pass on this information in an entertaining and interesting way, without ?dumbing-down? is a rare skill. Noelle also does a great job of looking after all the guests and she is obviously very good at organising the staff. Molly and Noelle are a great team and their departure from Jongomero at the end of this season will no doubt be a sad loss for the camp. They will be a tough act to follow.
As for the activities, both the game drives and the walking safaris were amazing experiences. We were lucky enough to have Molly as our driving guide as well as the walking safari guide, and his tracking skills led us to the most incredible sighting we could have imagined: a pride of 11 lions perched on a felled tree out over the river, taking it in turns to feed on a dead hippo and playing tug of war with huge crocodiles that were busily feeding at the other end. At the height of the action, the male lion pulled one of the crocs clean out of the water and tossed it like a rag doll! Molly confidently stated that it was the best lion sighting he had ever experienced, so we truly felt very privileged, particularly as it was only our little group at Jongomero who were there. This is the real benefit of this location: it is so remote that you never see another vehicle, and any sightings you make feel like genuine discoveries.
The walking safaris were also fantastic ? getting close-up and personal with elephants on foot was a memorable experience, if a little nerve-wracking! But the real enjoyment on the walk was to hear Molly explain how the wildlife interact with their habitat in the bush. His detailed explanation of what goes on inside a termite mound was genuinely absorbing, and his demonstration of how elephants re-structure the forest and increase plant diversity was equally fascinating.
When we would return to the camp we would always be met by smiling staff with refreshing cold towels and a drink. The service throughout all of the meals was excellent, and I should also mention the food, which was excellent, with a different theme each day. Particularly considering how remote the location is, this was really impressive. I also found that the food was very healthy, with lots of fresh fruit and salads. The chef clearly made a real effort to please the guests.
At the end of our stay we were very sad to be leaving, but happy to have had such an incredible experience of the ?real Tanzania?.
After a week of southern circuit safari Fundu Lagoon was just perfect for a bit of tropical island relaxation on our honeymoon. From the moment you arrive at the end of the jetty by boat to the moment you board the boat again to leave you are very well looked after.
Firstly, the place is so beautifully designed - sand pathways, wooden decking, thatched buildings and tented accommodation all built into the jungle with minimal environmental impact. Rather than clearing large trees when bulding the place, they simply built around the trees. There was even a huge tree growing through the roof of our suite! The structures have all clearly been built by hand using local raw materials, but there are plenty of luxuries too (such as plunge pools in the suites). The bar, restaurant and pool areas are all really well-designed, with great views of the beach and surrounding jungle.
We stayed in two bungalows: a beachside room and the jungle suite. The first was really good - right on the beach and with a small balcony with a sea view. But the jungle suite was just incredible! The 'room' itself is exactly the same, as the tents are the same size. But it is not the room that is important really, it is the lounging area on the deck next to the room which makes the difference. You get a huge wooden decked area with a two storey 'lounge area' for chilling out or having room service meals. There is also a a large plunge pool, sun loungers and a hammock big enough for two. The whole suite is surrounded by jungle, and is accessed by a winding path, so it is really private, but you still have a view of the sea from the lounging deck.
The food was always really good, and sometimes great! The Swahili nights were good fun and the private dinner on the beach on the last night was incredible!
Hannes does such a fantastic job of running the place, and really personalises the experience.
From the moment we made first contact with Mahlatini to the moment we returned from our trip, Adam went out of his way to help us. He helped us to design the perfect trip that suited our needs, and managed to get us a brilliant deal for the level of luxury we had. Unlike so many other companies, the level of service never faltered, even after final payment. All of our queries were answered quickly and efficiently, with personalised advice from the perspective of someone who had actually been to the places we were going. The standard of customer service provided by Mahlatini, and Adam in particular, is top notch and I only wish that other companies would invest as much time and effort into looking after their customers needs as Mahlatini does. I cannot recommend them highly enough!