I am extremely late in writing this review as we went here for our honeymoon last summer but have only just gotten round to getting myself a trip advisor login. My husband and I spent 3 nights at this luxurious camp in June 2013. From the minute we landed and were greeted by our warm-hearted driver, Ahmed, we knew we were going to enjoy this experience. The staff at the camp are attentive, courteous and will make every effort to make your stay comfortable and idyllic. Everyone from Eliette the lodge manager and his entire housekeeping and catering team treated us so well and made us feel so special. The luxury tents are better quality and more kitted out than many hotel rooms I've stayed in! Power points, twin sinks, lovely bath tub with aromatherapy bath salts, even a hair dresser! There was a bottle of wine awaiting the lovely comfortable bed and the beautiful decor and dimly lit tents combined with the sounds of the bush make this an incredibly beautiful serene honeymoon spot.
We chose Selous rather than heading for the usual route of Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara like most people do as we thought this would be a bit off the beaten track and a bit less touristy. This couldn't have been more true as often on game drives, we would spend the entire day passing only one or maybe 2 other trucks - there were no queues of trucks or tourists lining up to photograph the animals and we and it left us feeling as if we were the only people around for miles. Selous itself is huge, bigger than Belgium if I recall correctly. I would love to visit Tanzania again and to travel to the other parts but for a honeymoon, this was ideal. I suppose the thing that may put some people off (as compared to Serengeti) is that you can't necessarily guarantee which animals you'll see, whereas in some of the larger national parks, there's more certainty of seeing the big 5. We saw impalas, wildebeest, zebra, crocodiles, came face to face with a hippo, saw mating hippos (!), monkeys, baboons, elephants, giraffes, buffalo, monitor lizards, water buck, warthogs and all manner of beautiful wild birds. We also heard the shrill of hyenas late at night one night! The only thing we missed out on were cats - seems it was a quiet week cat-wise but we appreciated how much time and effort Ahmed put in to try and find some cats for us. In mid June when we went, it was just at the end of wet season so there were only a few watering holes around, which can make it harder to know where the big cats will be gathering. We were delighted to have seen as many animals as we did so were not put off by this at all as we felt that is part of the bush experience.
The 3 days consisted of a short game drive, a long all day game drive and a river safari, which was so serene and peaceful. The wonderful staff surprised us not once but twice during our honeymoon. Don't read on if you're planning to go there on honeymoon so that I won't ruin it for you....
On our final day, Ahmed took an impromptu turn in the road telling us it was a common sight to spot cats....what actually awaited us round the corner was a surprise sun down picnic and 2 other members of staff from the hotel. This was so romantic and a perfect end to our final safari trip. We then went back to the lodge and after a typically scrumptious (and very filling) dinner, we were surprised to a huge congratulations cake!! Shamefully we were only able to eat a couple of slices and we hope the staff devoured the rest amongst themselves. The entire team (including all the housekeeping staff, the manager, the waiters and all the chefs) came out singing a traditional celebratory Swahilil song (the song which has since become the anthem of our honeymoon) to greet us with this cake. Since we were there at a quiet time of year, we were at that point the only people at the lodge - we felt WHOLLY spoilt rotten by this display of kindness and knowing all these members of staff were essentially waiting on us.
The food is fantastic - a la carte always with a great changing menu and generous portions - even though it's all inclusive, we struggled to eat everything that was being served and were incredibly impressed at how well these chefs can cook considering they receive weekly or monthly shipment of food and considering they are in the middle of the bush! There was always a perfect balance of traditional food and international fare. Breakfasts were served in the same restaurant and you had the option to sit outdoors which we did most days. Eating by the sound of the river next to you was lovely and on the day of the long game drive, they packed us a lovely lunch which we all picnicked on - be prepared to use the bush toilet that day!
I loved the small touches that the hotel provided, such as the guest book in the restaurant - it was endearing to be able to read other people's experiences and they ask you to list the animals you've seen so it's fascinating comparing your own spot with those of other people. I cannot find one thing to fault about the experience from the quality of the accommodation, food, tours, vehicle (which comes with a cool box complete with drinks and water) but the highlight of this wonderful lodge is the warm nature and friendliness of the staff, which just made our honeymoon perfect.
This place will always hold a special place in our hearts and we already dream of going back there one day. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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- Also Known As:
- Selous Serena Camp Tanzania/Selous Game Reserve