Jonathan and Sophie check out one of Selous’ most popular lodges
Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby.
You can often tell a good lodge by how long the managers have been there, and Phil and Trisha, Manze’s excellent hosts, have been here three years already. And their work shows.
Lake Manze is one of the more affordable lodges in an exclusive reserve, and the emphasis is on the informal and having fun. We arrive dripping in sweat as usual, as the season’s rains have yet to arrive and we’re shown to our rustic safari tents with a glimpse of Lake Manze through the palms. There’s no swimming pool here but in this heat it makes little difference – the only way to cool down is to shower then drip dry under the solar-powered fan. It works!
Lake Manze itself forms part of the Rufiji river system, which is the focal point of the northern Selous, and the Camp is one of several strung along this wetland, renowned for its game viewing.
We join guide Victor for an afternoon game drive around the shores, teeming with hippo, croc and some great aquatic bird life. As South African guides, we have lots of new species to tick off! We watch an impala give birth, a first for us, spell-bound as the tiny lamb stood up on shaky legs and started to run, tripping over its own legs, afterbirth still dangling from its mother.
Later, we find a pride of six male lions sheltering from the heat and plenty of ellies. In Selous you should have almost guaranteed sightings of lion, elephant and buffalo and a decent chance of seeing leopard and wild dog too. This has it right up with the northern parks including Serengeti, with the benefit of far fewer crowds.
Back at the lodge we enjoy a beer with fellow guests before we all sit down at one long table for dinner – the atmosphere works well. Maasai tribesmen escort us to our tents, armed with spears against any lurking leopards. Like it or hate it, this is a common feature of Tanzanian safaris.
Next morning we take a boat trip through the river system with Rasheed, an excellent guide, past sunning crocs, angry hippo and passing elephant – boat trips are an integral feature of safaris in Selous.
Lake Manze camp is one of the most popular in Selous and we can see why.
Our verdict – Good value, friendly camp in the exclusive Selous Game Reserve.
Good for – Sociable types who prefer an alternative to the crowds of the northern safari circuit
Not so good for – Sticklers for comfort (no power in tents except for fans) – Manze has very much of a bush camp feel.