Mdonya Old River Lodge, Ruaha, Tanzania


Mdonya is one of the few lodges around Ruaha National Park that is actually located within the boundaries of the park. This has great advantages for accessibility, but there are also some downsides to contend with.

Being more than 40km from the park gate, the camp is about as far off-grid as it is possible to get. The only power is from solar, and oddly this is only used in your tent to power a fan, rather than having a light. If you do need light, then using the supplied rechargeable torch, candles or the couple of provided paraffin lamps are the only options at night.

The tents are set in some open grassland, deep in the bush and are well furnished, with an excellent shower and flushing toilet. There are the usual Masai guards to provide security, as animals can and often do wander throughout the camp. Food was excellent and the beer and soft drinks were always cold.

The road from the more frequented parts of the park out to the camp is long, but fairly smooth. It can, however, make it seem like you are travelling a long way to get to the "proper" park. This couldn't be further from the truth, as the seemingly quiet parts of the park that you pass through are full of life and varied landscapes.

This would have been an eight, if not for the issue with the electricity. I'd rather have a light - even a small one - than a fan. While I accept that the fan makes the hot nights much more bearable, a light makes everything simpler, especially considering the need for early starts sometimes.