Beho Beho Camp, Selous, Tanzania

Exclusivity within an exclusive reserve, Beho Beho offers a unique experience away from the crowds. Jonathan and Sophie discover more…

Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby 

Compared to other Selous lodges, Beho Beho literally stands out. Most guests fly in but we drove, away from the Rufiji river that carves through the northern Selous, and up into the hills, from where the lodge looks down across the hills and plains.

We’re greeted by manager/head guide Walter, and Karin, with a cold beer and refuge from the searing afternoon heat.

Sunrise, Beho Beho

Sunrise, Beho Beho

Beho Beho stands out not only physically – it’s also the most luxurious and polished lodge we’ve seen in Selous. Things are done differently here. All dining is communal and there’s great emphasis on personal relationships, a sense of exclusivity, and being made to feel part of the ‘Beho Beho family’.

With no other lodges in the immediate area, it feels almost as if Beho Beho operates its own concession within Selous, and there’s a good chance you won’t see another safari vehicle on a game drive. Compared to the traffic jams at sightings in the Serengeti, this is almost unheard of in Tanzania. Unlike all other lodges in Selous, Beho Beho is away from the main Rufiji river and lake systems – but this is its strength, not its weakness, and its private airstrip is just a few hundred metres from the lodge.

Suites, Beho Beho

Suites, Beho Beho

Considering the remote location, the food is exceptional; chef Karin personally oversees the kitchen with carefully crafted menus.

The main lodge is beautifully furnished (complete with full-size billiard table), as are the traditionally constructed suites; the décor harks back to the time of Selous and the Great White Hunters.

Main area, Beho Beho

Main area, Beho Beho

Nearby Lake Tagalala is the venue for boat trips, with plenty of game, especially hippos and crocs. And Beho Beho is the only lodge in Selous licensed to conduct walking safaris with guides Walter and Werner without a Tanzanian Parks ranger in tow, allowing guests the freedom to benefit from two of the most experienced South-African trained guides in the country.

Hippo pool, Beho Beho

Hippo pool, Beho Beho

We took a walk with Walter down onto the plains, through thickets of Borassa palms, watching the swarms of white-throated bee-eaters, looking for tracks and the small things that make walking safaris special. And not only small – we looked down on no less than 70 hippos crammed into a small pool, a heaving mass of fat and flesh, just metres away. This is a truly special place, with a beauty of its own.

Under a baobab tree (named after the Camp’s founder, Christopher Bailey), Walter pointed out recently discovered human graves – children that died violent deaths, perhaps 19th century victims of slave raiders that terrorized these hills. Nobody knows – Beho Beho has many secrets. Nearby are WW1 battle fields where Selous himself met his end; remnants of these battles still remain.

Pool at Beho Beho

Pool at Beho Beho

Perhaps it’s haunted, but at Beho Beho you feel part of something greater – the fusion of incredible scenery, close-up wildlife and rich history. It’s as if you’re being watched by ghosts of the past….or just a leopard through the palm leaves.

Later that night, after a gourmet 3-course meal (including duck à l’orange) under the stars with our hosts, we sat in the moonlight, cool at last, listening to the rumble of elephants and looking down on that ancient baobab.

It alone knows the secrets of Beho Beho.

Good for: Just about everything, except families traveling with very young children (no under 12s).

Not so good for: Those that prefer private dining or prefer not to socialize with other guests on safari.

Our verdict: Fantastic combination of first-rate guiding, great game viewing (especially Wild Dog), location and luxury make this our number one choice in Selous. Due to the nature of the experience and the many activities on offer, a minimum stay of three nights is recommended.

Lake Manze Tented Camp, Selous, Tanzania

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 main area

Lake Manze main area

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.

Boat trip, Lake Manze

Boat trip, Lake Manze

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.

View from Lake Manze

View from Lake Manze

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.

Impala Camp, Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

Overlooking a wooded stretch of the Rufiji River, Impala Camp offers a fabulous location in the wild, majestic Selous Game Reserve in Southern Tanzania. Being one of the most popular camps inside the Selous, Jonathan and Sophie visited to see for themselves

Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby.

It’s late afternoon and we’re cruising along on a boat trip to Lake Siwandu – enjoying the views, the breeze (quite a relief in the 36 degree heat) and, naturally, the abundant wildlife that inhabits this great body of water – hippos grunt left, right and center, crocs laze on every sandbank. Suddenly we come to a halt – Charles, our guide, is excitingly pointing at a flock of birds, flying beautifully in a tight formation, right above the surface of the water, almost skimming it with their beaks. African Skimmers! Being twitchers, this is a real treat for us, thanks to our guide’s efforts.

View over the Rufiji River

View over the Rufiji River

On our way back to camp, we stop for sundowners at the edge of the old airstrip, but this is no average sundowner stop. While we’ve been out on the lake, Victor has set up a beautiful table with champagne glasses, snacks and, naturally, a cold bottle of South African champagne! We sit back, relax and enjoy the stunning sunset through the palm trees dotting the riverbank. Yellow becomes orange, orange becomes purple and suddenly it’s almost dark and time to return to the camp.

We meet up with the other guests for pre-dinner drinks around the fire, and chat to Sylvia, the friendly and charismatic assistant manager, about our plans for the following day. For dinner we sit under the stars and enjoy a scrumptious 4-course menu of vegetable soup, aubergine rolls, beef fillet, topped off with cheesecake for dessert. We’re accompanied back to our tent by a Maasai guard, leading the way down the long path, a tight grip on his spear and shining the torch up every tree, down every hippo path. There’s no unaccompanied walking during the night as the camp is unfenced – an aspect that we really enjoy, especially waking up to the sounds of at least 15 different bird species outside our tent.

Impala Camp

Impala Camp

The tents at Impala are built on stilts and each has its own verandah with deck chairs to enjoy uninterrupted views of the bush and/or water. Simply decorated, unpretentious yet comfortable with all modern day amenities, such as electricity, hot water and a plug point. The camp also boasts a pool and a lovely bar with great views of the water – nothing beats game viewing with a cold Kilimanjaro beer in hand!

Selous Game Reserve is one of the great wildernesses remaining in Africa, and the safari action here centres around a clutch of lodges on and around the Rufiji River. Partly water-based, and with fewer crowds than the parks of northern Tanzania, it’s a fine alternative to the beaten tracks of the Serengeti.

Sundowner drinks, Impala Camp

Sundowner drinks, Impala Camp

For our morning activity the following day we do a game drive with Charles and our fellow French guests. We are lucky to see two different prides of lions (one coalition of 6 males and another consisting of 2 females, each with her own set of cubs), a day-old hippo kill with more than 50 vultures (we spotted 5 separate species!) competing to be king of the carcass, while a few spotted hyenas lurked in the background. A wonderful way to end our stay at Impala Camp.

Good for:  Those seeking a semi-luxurious bush experience in the world-famous Selous Game Reserve. Good for families (double tented units available).

Not so good for: No communal dining so the camp has less of an intimate feel than some others

Our verdict: A beautifully located camp with great range of activities (game walks, drives, boat trips, fishing)