Nov-Dec 2012 Safari Diary
- by Alan Montgomery

Part 2: Lake Manze

photos by Flo Montgomery

link back to Alan Montgomery Safari Diary


Wednesday and Thursday 28/29 November
- Lake Manze Camp, Selous Game Reserve

For the next two days of our Safari, we are moving on to another Adventure Camp in the Selous, based on Lake Manze, one of the very large lakes formed by changes in the course of the Rufiji. The Selous itself is the largest game reserve in Africa, a huge area about the size of Wales, originally set aside by far-sighted Germans during the 1880's, and its status was confirmed by the British when they took over German East Africa as Tanganyika after the First World War. Until about fifteen years ago it barely figured on the Safari map, but now, with the opening of numerous camps at or near the Rufiji, it is the most accessible game area in the South of Tanzania.

Selous Grazers

The Selous is the homeland of some of the largest remaining herds of elephant and antelope in Africa as well as many predators, including rarely seen wild dogs and practically invisible rhinos that hide out from the poachers in the most inaccessible areas of the reserve.


Since only a small fraction of the reserve is open to the public, there is much that visitors cannot hope to see, but there can be few better opportunities of seeing large groups of grazers, the predators who live off them and a quite phenomenal range of exotic birdlife representing the interface of both northerly and southern species.
After breakfast on our third morning in the Selous we set out on the drive from Impala to Manze. The journey takes between one and two hours, depending on how much you stop on the way. We have been told that we may well see some more interesting game en route, but we are not counting on this.

Selous Wild Dogs

However, the guides suddenly seem more animated and head over to a dusty area where we can see a number of animals resting in the shade under some thorn bushes.

Selous Wild Dogs 

Selous Wild Dogs

Once the vehicle has stopped and I can focus my binoculars, I can see that we are looking at a small group of wild dogs. Their unmistakeable beige, yellow and black piebald markings leave no doubt as to our luck. There are five adults and three youngsters. The guides point out that three of the adults are limping, but explain that the pack will work together to ensure that both the injured adults and the pups survive. Wild dogs are among the most group-oriented of creatures and consistently work together for the survival of the pack as a whole.

Lake Manze Camp Dining and sitting area

The rest of the transit journey is uneventful and we reach the camp in time to settle in before lunch. The camp itself feels more enclosed than Impala, being set among thick clumps of Doum palms, with attractive views through to the lake. We are warned to watch out for animals moving right through the camp and indeed it is soon apparent that this is a regular through route for elephants, which stroll past close to the tents.

Lake Manze Tent
Our tent is shaded and comfortable, with a solar fan, and a bathroom at the back which is open to the sky.

Manze tent interior 

View from tent

There is a veranda and it looks out over the lake.

Ellie at dining 

Manze lunch

An elephant wanders by as we eat lunch in the Lodge dining area.
After lunch I join a boat trip on the lake. The boatman invites us to choose between going onto the lake and exploring the "tunnel" a broad water corridor running alongside the lake from which it is separated by an island that leads down to the open water in front of the camp itself. We opt for the tunnel and gently cruise down the densely foliated banks, covered with flowers and weaver's nests.

Lake Manze

The lake is full of Hippos. I see many of the water birds I have already observed on the Rufiji as well as a number of birds that are more likely to appear on the lakes than on the river. I see a Great Egret, Yellow-Billed stork, and Sacred Ibis.

Selous weavers 


I am delighted to spot a couple of African Jacana, the small waterfowl that live on and around the floating weed beds that are one of the striking features of the lakes as opposed to the rivers. Then on the shoreline I identify an African Spoon-bill, one of only two I see during the trip as a whole.
Among the striking features at Lake Manze are the many islands with which the Lake is studded. Since the waters are relatively shallow many interesting animals can reach and be observed on these islands. Apart from the Hippos and Crocs that one expects to see, there are various game animals, such as Giraffe, Elephant and Buffalo.


Selous Fish-Eagle

The boat enables us to approach considerably closer than is often the case when encountering these animals on dry land. For example we are able to observe a solitary Buffalo bull irritably working his way along the bank of a small island and I find myself looking up at the tusks of quite a sizeable elephant.
A lone Fish eagle looks down on him, calling his haunting cry from time to time.
The terrain around the lakes is very similar to that around Impala as is the game one can find there. As usual what one actually sees is down to luck and the skill of the guides. We have a very pleasant evening game drive from the camp at Manze, with some interesting sightings of birds of prey, as well as Impala, Dik Dik, Giraffe and Waterbuck.

Saidi Toboke 

Lake Manze

Our Boat Safari Guide and Driver – Said Toboke steers us round the beautiful 20km square Lake.

Our tent from the Lake

Lodge area in the evening 

Lodge area in the evening

Back at the camp we enjoy a drink in the candle-lit lodge, as the prelude to an interesting meal based upon local ingredients such as Ugali. The chefs prepare an evening of Tanzanian specialities about once a week.

Ellie at the tent

In the morning we have difficulty leaving our tent, as an elephant has decided to feast off the nuts in the doum palms that shade us. Masaai askaris come and nonchalantly wave him away so we can get to the lodge for breakfast.

Manze staff say goodbye
Phil, Tricia and Pippa say goodbye as we leave for Ruaha.

It is time to move on. Our next destination is the second biggest game park in Tanzania, located in the middle of the southwest quarter of the country.

Continue to Kwihala Camp in Ruaha National Park....

Follow these link to jump to the different sections of the Diary:

Selous Impala - Selous Game Reserve

Lake Manze Camp – Selous Game Reserve

Kwihala Camp - Ruaha National Park

Mdonya Old River Camp - Ruaha National Park


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