Safari at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

Tag: Destinations, Tanzania   Type: |
February 3, 2013   No Comments

After the scrum of getting a visa-on-arrival, we transferred to the domestic airport and caught our first glimpse of Africa. It was 8am and already 30 degrees. People going about their daily business – cramming onto packed buses for work, women carrying impossibly-large packages on their heads, traders selling fruit from market stalls. Busy!

 Safari at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

A lonesome hyena relaxing in the last sunlight of the day

After a short drive we were in the tiny 1950’s style airport and 20 minutes later we were walking across the runway to board a 12-seater plane to the Selous Game Reserve – no ticket, just a tick next to our names on a clipboard and a big smile – we marvelled at the Hakuna Matata (No worries), laid-back approach to travelling. The way it should be.

 Safari at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

The tiny 4 seater plane that flew us back to Dar again - yes, that is the runway!

A short flight later we were landing on the bumpy, dusty ‘runway’ in the middle of the bush. A jeep, containing our driver Emmanuelle and guide Samuel, awaited our arrival and within seconds we were on safari, winding our way through the undergrowth and spotting our first wildlife – still wearing jeans and jumpers from cold London!

 Safari at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

Our driver Emmanuelle (left) and guide Samuel. They helped to make the safari experience as special as it was.

We stayed at Lake Manze Camp, a smart, mid-market ‘camp’ nestled nearby a series of lakes, including the biggest, Lake Manze. There were 10 ‘tents’ and a communal restaurant and bar area, where, each evening, you can chat over the day’s activities with your fellow travellers.

 Safari at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

This photo was taken from the dining area at Lake Manze Camp. Elephants wandering past was common but always special.

Camping in the bush
The full-height tents included a patio area with table and chairs, a double-bed and simple wardrobe, and open-air en-suite with flushing loo and running water. Our impressions of the tent were of smart comfort while maintaining the sense of camping in the bush. Nice touches like candles, oil-lamps, mosquito cream and the sculptured towels add to the privileged affect. The through-draft was mostly sufficient to keep the sticky nights comfortable, although a solar-powered fan was available too.

 Safari at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

Why do zebras have back and white stripes? No one knows for sure!

The tents were not fenced off from the rest of the game reserve and elephants were a common sight in the camp – one strolled right in front of our tent and others came to visit as we enjoyed morning coffee. Aggressive looking buffalo, nervous impala, and playful monkeys were all frequent visitors nearby.

 Safari at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

An impala. You'll see hundreds of these at Lake Manze, including in and around the camp.

A team of Massai ‘body guards’ escort you from your tent to the restaurant in the hours of darkness to protect you as lions and wild dogs do stroll through on occasion. Food served up included beetroot, pumpkin, chicken stew, Tanzanian pastries and salads – wonderful flavour combinations and a real delight. The accommodation, service, peaceful and professional vibe at Lake Manze Camp comes highly recommended by us.

 Safari at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

Ben with one of the Massai body guards at Lake Manze Camp

Your safari options are…
Selous is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and we were not disappointed by the abundance of animals we saw. The safari options, which were talked through with us each evening by the staff, were a drive, a boat or a walk. All in all we managed 4 drives, 2 boat trips and 1 morning walk – including the 2 drives back and forth to the runway. Full day trips to local hot springs may be a good option if staying more than a few days to see more variety of scenery; we didn’t have time, staying 2 nights. It sounds quite a short visit – and maybe an extra day would be nice – but you’re up at 6am each day and pack a lot in to a short period.

 Safari at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

On the early drive you stop in the savanna and have a breakfast picnic. Special times.

 Safari at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

Crocodiles are a common sight at Lake Manze and happily co-exist with the hippos.

As we were on our first safari we weren’t seeking out any particular animals and we loved every minute of spotting another elephant, giraffe or hippo – all abundant around Lake Manze. Other notable animals were wild dogs, hyenas, lions, crocodiles, buffalo, wildebeest, zebras, impalas, warthogs, monkeys, baboons, eagles, vultures, and dozens of other beautiful birds. One day, an elusive leopard was heard to be in the area but we couldn’t track it down – the only minor disappointment.

 Safari at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

A group of giraffes by the water of Lake Manze.

Some first impressions from our safari:

You really see natural selection in action:

  • a wounded wild dog will hamper the team effort of the next hunt, maybe undermining the whole pack
  • a lame female buffalo, cut adrift of the herd, looking starving hungry and soon to be picked off

You really see the inter-dependencies of the eco-system in action:

  • The birds feeding off parasites on the back of buffalos
  • The vultures circling above, ready to feed on a lion’s fresh kill below
  • The scarce rainfall resulting in poor grass growth resulting in thin and weak impalas

You see the harsh realities:

  • Bones and skeletons are EVERYWHERE
 Safari at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

There is a huge variety of birdlife that gather around the abundant waters of this part of Selous.

OK, so some of these impressions listed may seem pretty obvious. But a safari is about observing the natural world. It’s a delicate, inter-dependent and wondrous world out there.

 Safari at Lake Manze Camp, Selous

Chilling in the hot afternoon.

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