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“Maybe They Deserve More than 5 Stars”

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Sand Rivers Selous, Nomad Tanzania
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 29 September 2013

We did the Northern Circuit for 17 days before we flew to Sand Rivers. Our tour operator had suggested we save Selous for the end of our first safari because she claimed it would be the "crown jewel of our Tanzanian experience." She was quite right, actually, although I doubted it at the time!

As other reviewers have said, Jana and Nic are the consummate "camp" hosts and managers. Nic picked us up at the airstrip, and Jana was waiting with other staff, waving and singing a song, when we arrived at Sand Rivers. The staff was really phenomenal, although I have to add that the staff at every Tanzanian accommodation was wonderful too.

Others have generally described the accommodations, which are unique in many ways. We had a huge suite (Suite #2). It is really more of a large apartment, complete with living room, plunge pool, large decks, huge bedroom, bath with adjoining patio (allowing both indoor and outdoor showers). The suite has a wall halfway up to the roof, with the remaining space open to nature. So yes, monkeys can come into your suite, and animals can get up close and personal. For some guests, this may be too scarey, but we thought it was great.

The Sand Rivers guides and activities were top-flight. We had Laz for all of the 2-1/2 days that we were there. He was incredibly knowledgeable, pleasant, and helpful. You couldn't find a better guide. You can tell that this man is in love with the bush and everything it offers to see.

The boat trips are fun, as variety to the usual driving safari format. There were large numbers of hippos and crocs in the river. The driving safaris offered unique experiences, just when we thought we had seen a great deal in our Northern Circuit experience.

The noteworthy experience was the last evening when we were almost done with our drive, when we came upon a pack of wild dogs. None had been seen by anyone in Selous for over 3 months, so we were honored to be able to experience them. Laz said he has had a German couple come three different times to Selous just to find wild dogs, and they still haven't had a sighting.

I would like to especially thank Jana and Nic for their thorough and amazing level of service and hospitality. They are really interesting and fun people to visit with, about a myriad of topics. And even better, we could see that this is just the way they always are.

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank ClaireWilson36
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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161 - 167 of 237 reviews

Reviewed 25 September 2013

This trip was a 70th birthday present from my son so you can see we were not as young as some of the other guests.I was slightly concerned that there might be too much walking which was not the case but if this had been an issue I am sure Nic and Jona would have organised something different, they were so attentive. Charming is too anodine a word, delightful and great fun but entirely serious about organisation and safety. The room with showers outside and in, a plunge pool and wonderful views of the river, was deceptively simple until you took in the enormous and comfortable bed, the lanterns, the reading lamps, the beautifully arranged towels which were always miraculously immaculate again every time you returned to your room and many other thoughtful touches which were beyond anything we could have expected. Others have written about the excellent food but who could have expected to be adding madelines at tea time to their Safari memories.

All three guides who accompanied us on different occasions were so knowledgeable but also so concerned that we should see everything that was around. We really enjoyed the fact that they joined us in the evening when we were having a drink and discussing the next day's trips so we could get to know them. Ernest, who met us off the plane, was clever at discovering our tastes so that white wine, beer and delicious little edible treats appeared that evening when we stopped to look at the view after watching a large group of elephants walking slowly in front of our truck. I was envious of the other guests who had done the fly camping but we had the fun of sitting outside on the terrace by our room gazing at the stars and listening to the grunting of the animals around us. I don't think any elephants passed our room in the night but maybe we just slept so well after our wonderful days at Sand River.

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Caroline M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 September 2013

Sand Rivers, in Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania, was the last game-viewing stop on a 2.5 week safari for my husband, Fred, and I, and our friends, Rich and Claire. It followed two weeks in northern Tanzania where we saw so much more wildlife than we'd expected, that it was hard to believe that new experiences could unfold. But, rest assured, at Sand Rivers, they did.

The terrain of Selous GR is much different from that of Tarangire, Lake Manyara, and the Serengeti. Although we saw many of the same animals here, the environment was different and so was their behavior. But in addition, Sand Rivers offered river safaris on the Rufiji River. We saw crocodiles galore in the river and in Lake Tagalala, which is home to more than 12,000 of them. They live in harmony with so many hippopotami, and we never tired of seeing them! In terms of game viewing, one of the highlights was the pack of wild dogs that we were able to observe up close early one evening, on our way to a sundowner in a spot specially chosen by our guide, Lazaro.

Speaking of Lazaro, he is a soft-spoken man with immense knowledge about the Selous and the animals and birds that live there. He has been at the lodge since it was built and is a wealth of history. His guiding was exceptional, as was his flexibility in scheduling activities to suit our needs. And he was simply a joy to sit and have a conversation with.

Our room at Sand Rivers was delightful. It was a stone and thatched roof cottage with an open side lending a panoramic view of the landscape and the river. We sat on a sofa with our feet up and watched elephants, birds and monkeys doing their thing. At night, the sounds of the bush babies and hippos were thrilling and welcomed. The bed was super comfortable and both the indoor and the outdoor showers were fantastic. We were in the furthest cottage, and the patio, plunge pool, and outdoor shower were in direct sunlight after morning. It was really too hot to spend time there. And the walk is a bit of a distance in the heat. This really wasn't a problem for us, but could be for some travelers.

The large dining and lounge areas were comfortable and well staffed. We had a great time getting to know the friendly and efficient folks who served the meals and the drinks, and who kept the mischievous Vervet monkeys at bay. We also had time at meals and between game viewing to chat with the managers, Jana and Nic, who are knowledgeable guides as well as gracious hosts. They will gladly accommodate your request for private dining or, as we chose, will include you at their table with other guests. We found this to be both informative and entertaining. They really are a delightful couple.

Room Tip: The furthest room was a long walk, and the sun was pretty intense in the afternoons, but it was also...
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  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank Dori S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 September 2013

When we arrived at Sand River Selous our immediate reaction was that the main lodge was exactly what we thought all Safari Lodges would be like. But this was not our first trip. Whilst hardly seasoned Safari goers we have been to maybe a dozen or more different places and lodges and this one just inspires. We stayed at Mahale also on this trip and loved its remoteness and simplicity. Selous is different but no less enjoyable for it. The setting on a bend in the Rufiji River is stunning and the lodge and all rooms are designed to maximise the views.

And something that takes Sand River Selous away from the ordinary are the different types of trip you can do whilst there. Walking Safaris are hardly unique, nor boat trips along the river, and I dare say there are other venues where you can flycamp but for most of our Safari experiences in other venues we had done none of these so it was great to be able to do ALL of these as well the game drives we did here, all expertly guided by the charming and very funny Laz.

Top quality food was something I came to expect with Nomad but I really thought the chef at Sand River surpassed these high standards. The snapper we had the first evening was amongst the best meals I have eaten anywhere, and I don't just mean in the bush.

Well done and best to Nic, Jana, Laz as well as everyone else at Sand River Selous. We have enjoyed many Safaris, that's why we keep going back, but you took our experiences to another level and left us feeling we had got to know the bush that bit better, not just as passing tourists.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank LarKir
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 September 2013

We spent four nights at sand rivers and while we had expected it to be great from previous recommendations and reviews, we were blown away by the level of comfort and simplistic luxury. The staff and management cannot do enough to please and everything from the accommodation to the food to the safaris is so well thought out and executed that you are left feeling spoilt, pampered and privileged to have been a guest at Sand Rivers. Our guide Ernest was so great in every way- kind, caring , knowledgeable and engaging. Our four teenagers(16,16,17 and 19 years) adored him and he catered to all our needs. Jana and Nick were great considering they are relatively new to the lodge, but managed it like they had been there for years.Fly camping was an absolute must- I struggled with giving up my beautiful room for a night but the level of luxury within a mosquito netted cube and it's surroundings surpassed all my expectations. I will absolutely consider another safari experience with the nomad tanzania group"

Room Tip: We had room 3 which was fabulous with a lovely decking area.
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with family
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Thank deehom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 September 2013

Beautiful setting and beautiful facilities. I stayed in one of the suites. If you can spring for it do so. Great to be a little away from it all and to hear the elephants and hyenas right outside. The rooms are open so if you're not comfortable sleeping under a mosquito net(albeit one over a king sized four poster bed) think twice. Nick and Jana run a tight ship and all the staff are pleasant and knowledgeable. Keep an eye out for the colobus monkeys when you're eating, they grab your food and make a run for it. But then you get to see Flora chase after them with a slingshot ( and no she doesn't hit them but the possibility makes them scatter). My only caveat is that the meal seating is a little formal. As a single traveler one of the bonuses of staying at a small lodge is that you're seated with all the other guests, which was not he case here. I did eat dinner with Nick and Jana and some of the others so I wasn't dining alone most of the time.

Room Tip: Spring for one of the suites.
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled solo
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Thank AuntieMush
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 August 2013

Over the years we've spent 10 safari-type holidays in Africa, and this was the best location ever. The camp is beautiful, with just 5 secluded and spacious rooms and 3 suites, all built in natural materials high up overlooking the landscape and a beautiful wide river. One night two browsing elephants wandered within a couple of metres of our bedroom (see pic)! We were lucky enough to have one of the suites, which was pure luxury including an outdoor shower and plunge pool as well as the shower in the bathroom.

Luxury is all very well, but we also like to feel part of the environment, and the whole design and location of the camp gave us that in spades.

Jana and Nick, who manage the camp, are both friendly and welcoming, and completely professional - a great combination, and a lot of fun to be with. The meals were superb, and very high quality with excellent use of spices - the best we have ever had in Africa. I'm a carnivore and Lesley is a veggie, and we were both really well catered for, plus all the standard alcoholic drinks are included in the price - so why wouldn't you have another beer or G'n'T??

Any little extras we needed were provided without question, and all the staff and guides couldn't have been more helpful.

All in all a great experience.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank David D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sand Rivers Selous, Nomad Tanzania

Address: Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
Region: Tanzania > Lindi Region > Selous Game Reserve
Amenities:
Business Centre with Internet Access Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 26 Speciality Lodging in Selous Game Reserve
Price Range: £317 - £408 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Sand Rivers Selous, Nomad Tanzania 3.5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
When Richard Bonham built Sand Rivers, he was offered any area in the Northern Selous. There were good reasons why this site, overlooking the mile wide Rufiji River, was the only place he wanted to be. At the heart of an intricate network of sand river channels, oxbow lakes and open plains, Sand Rivers opens a window on the private lives of Africa's big mammals. Creep up on elephant as they wallow in hidden lakes; drift silently by boat down the river at dusk or sleep out under the stars at night in our unique flycamp. With just eight open-fronted rooms looking out over the Rufiji River, Sand Rivers offers variety, spontaneity and a gradual immersion in a seductively wild part of Southern Tanzania. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sand Rivers Selous Hotel Selous Game Reserve
Sand Rivers Selous, Nomad Tanzania Selous Game Reserve

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