First was Lake Manze where we were met at the airstrip when we landed around 10.45 (BA was late) and transferred to the camp on a game drive, arriving in camp around 12.30.
Sarah, Gilles and Leonard were there to greet us and there was cold juice waiting at the car park for us.
Sarah Gigli (Italian) was the assistant manager last year, and is the manager now, as Richard Jones has moved to Rhino Lodge.
Gilles Nicolet was at Mdonya last year – he is French; he will make a good addition to the Manze team. He has experience in the hospitality industry and has a pleasant manner with the guests. Obviously he speaks French, which is an asset. Both Sarah and Gilles speak very good English.
Leonard and George, the Tanzanian assistant managers are still in place, they work in the office and are present in the dining lodge in the evenings, to chat to the guests.
They took very good care of everyone during the time I was there. They are a good team, together with the rest of the staff, about 50 personnel.
Sarah did a little introduction and explained the safety points about the camp while we sat in the shady lodge. Then we were shown to the tents, to take a welcome shower (skylight) with solar hot water, before lunch.
Lunch that day was Swahili food, I think it was quite nice, but a little heavy. Its fun though for people to try this, I am sure. The food was generally nice, though I do think a bit heavy considering how hot it is in Selous. Sara is looking at doing more salads and lighter food.
The camp looked in good shape, Sarah is very efficient, and the tents and furnishing looked clean and tidy and well kept.
Each tent has a comfortable bed, a canvas clothes shelves unit with hanging rail, a lockup chest with key and a safari desk and chair. On the veranda are two chairs and a little table.
There were candles and matches, a torch, fly spray, a flask of boiled and filtered water (though plastic bottles of water are also available on request, free of charge).
Soap is also provided – no shower gel or shampoo.
There are 12 tents, of which 2 can be turned into family tents (with extra room zipped on front in place of veranda) and there are 7 cars each with a driver and a guide, and 4 boats. Walking safaris are part of the activities – usually taken in the morning before breakfast; then a game drive before lunch can also be fitted in, and another one in the evening, or a boat safari. Usually not more than 4 pax are placed in vehicle – except for airstrip transfers, when we use a 6 seater.
The game viewing was quite good, considering the rains were still continuing, and the guiding was pleasant. As at all the Adventure Camps properties, guides are constantly being trained up as good guiding is a top priority.
Rashidi Toboke guided us on the boat safari, which was impressive – the water was high and Lake Manze was really beautiful. He seemed knowledgeable, and was helpful and also discreet. I think the Lake is a good contrast to the Rufiji, for guests who are staying at both Impala and Manze.
Coolboxes with drinks were available on game drives and boat safaris.
Sometimes guests have to be put with other tent occupants, but there is quite a high proportion of trips with one tent per car, though we can never promise this.
Dinner was very nice, at a big table between the lodge and the lake, as usual. Surrounded by fires and oil lamps, and Masaai on guard. It was very convivial and you could tell that all the guests were pleased to be together. Sarah told me she can do “veranda dinners” when requested, for honeymooners, special occasions like anniversaries, or if the guests want to be private.
The Masaai askaris were good, always there when needed. They come for the clients at a prearranged time to escort them to dinner, but can also be called at any time.
Sarah told me that she can do veranda dinners for guests who want that. And of course they do bush breakfast when guests go out on early game drives, and bush lunch when they are out all day.
All the guests seemed very happy.
There is now complimentary bottled water and service generally is very pleasant and efficient.
When guests arrive or leave the camp, there is always someone from the management team to greet them in a friendly way.
Tea and coffee are available in the morning on request – though its not offered unless asked for.