Ruaha National Park Mdonya Old River Camp

Mdonya may be basic and simple but this is what Ruaha National Park is all about. Set in acacia woodland in the heart of the National Park, Mdonya Old River Camp was designed with a conscious desire to remain simple, and keep within its surroundings. It makes no apologies for sticking to safari basics – in fact it rather revels in the idea – and this results in a camp with a clear focus where you always know you're on safari and in the wilds.

Many camps that offer high levels of luxury can feel quite detached from the bush, but the simplicity of the Camp feels closely connected with its surroundings – and the game that walks through seems to feel the same! The natural theme that is key to the camp's charm and character is augmented by a fun and attentive team.

Mdonya Old River Camp also has a very small curio shop selling traditional Tanzanian material, jewellery and a few postcards. It is run entirely by members of the staff who share out the profits. If only to support the enterprise, it really is worth buying a necklace or two to take home, to remember your Tanzanian adventure by!
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Full Board
At A Glance
CampingGame ViewingNo WiFiHikingOff Road / 4x4



Accommodation at Mdonya Old River Camp is in 12 walk-in Meru-style tents. Each is spacious, airy and cool, with an en-suite bathroom, including a hot shower – yet with none of the frills of luxury camping.

There is no electricity, no fan, and no air-con (however batteries can be charged in the main office). The furniture – including large double or twin beds, and a writing desk and chair – is simple and practical. Brightly coloured duvets add character, and woven makuti mats cover the floor. There is hanging space for clothes, a lockable large wooden trunk for valuables, and plenty of candles as well as a torch to light up the evenings.

At the back of each tent is a functional rather than stylish en-suite bathroom: the floor of polished stone, the walls of strong canvas, and the ceiling … open sky to gaze at the stars. A simple steel bowl on top of wooden surface serves as a sink; when finished simply tip the contents into a bucket underneath. Behind a dividing wall are a flush toilet and hot-and-cold shower.

Each tent has a large, private veranda with deck chairs – a great place to sit and listen to the sounds of the bush all around you.

Dining & Entertainment

Mdonya’s main lounge and dining areas are open-sided tents, which are decorated with gnarled wood, flowers and feathers from the bush.

In the lounge, comfortable sofas and chairs covered in brightly coloured fabrics are set out around coffee tables dotted with wildlife books and interesting artifacts from the bush. There is plenty of space, a shelf of wildlife books, and quiet corners studded with canvas directors’ chairs.

The dining area is furnished with long wooden tables and directors’ chairs which, in the evening, are set out under the stars, by the light of candles and storm lanterns.

The menu at Mdonya Old River Camp reflects the different cultures in Tanzania: Indian, Mediterranean, Swahili and Arab. Expect pasta, fresh salads, home-baked breads, fish casseroles and stuffed vegetables. Meals are tasty, wholesome and full of flavour.

In front of the lounge is Mdonya’s ‘bar’, formed by a gnarled old tree stump, which sits next to the campfire, surrounded by directors’ chairs. This is where guests gather for a pre-dinner drink and to swap stories of the day.

Safari activities at Mdonya focus largely on game drives in open-topped 4×4 vehicles. Game drives here usually go out with two guides, one as a driver and the more experienced standing up to spot wildlife; this maximises your chances of great game sightings, and frees up the guide to chat with you without having to concentrate on the driving. Mdonya’s guides have a good level of knowledge and know the park very well; if you have a particular interest, we’d expect them to do their best to take it into account.


Ruaha was recently expanded by incorporating adjacent wildlife reserves to become the largest National Park in Tanzania. Ruaha lies in the convergence zone where northern and southern hemisphere birds and mammal species overlap. This results in an overwhelming number of birds (530 recorded) plants (1400) and a correspondingly large number of mammal species.

Mdonya Old River Camp is located in a remote region of southern Ruaha National Park. The main area of the park is the southern boundary by the Ruaha river. Mdonya is luckily north of the few other camps in this area. It is a 45 minute drive from the airstrip.

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