Living up to expectations in every way, Jongomero is an oasis in Ruaha National Park. Several hours drive on rough road away from the nearest village, this beautiful camp provides all one might wish for in a private upscale safari in Tanzania. Our decision to choose Jongomero in the southern part of this beautiful country away from the usual tourist destinations was indeed the right one.
My husband and I arrived tired yet excited to begin the first leg of our African adventure. We had flown Coastal Aviation from Dar es Salaam to Ruaha, a very comfortable flight which treated us to magnificent views as we flew over the African landscape. Noelle, the co-manager and her staff, greeted us with a traditional Swahili welcome song as well as our first sundowner and warm towels. A delightful beginning to what was to become a very special experience.
The bandas were beautifully decorated, spacious and oh so comfortable! The king size bed along with large shower and toilet facilities were a welcome sight at the end of each day in the bush. A large verandah with comfortable chairs and lounge bed opened onto the banks of the seasonal river bed. We especially enjoyed the hot tea and biscuits delivered early each morning to help us greet the day.
Each evening when we returned to our tent following dinner, we were accompanied by our Massai escort. Because the camp is unfenced and animals roam freely, guests cannot walk about at night unescorted. However the Massai are well trained and equipped to deal with the unexpected. We felt perfectly safe. In our absence the bed had been turned down and hot water bottles placed under the covers. In the evenings temperatures can drop to 10 degrees Celsius at night. We’re used to a cooler climate and actually prefer sleeping when it’s cool so didn’t need the bottles … but our new Aussie friends did! Each night was filled with the sounds of animals as they made their way through camp. On our first night we were entertained with lions roaring close by … wow!
The food at Jongomero was among the best we had in Tanzania, always fresh, delicious and varied. The staff was obviously well trained and everyone provided excellent service, both respectful and efficient. We had read lots about Molly, Noelle’s co-manager, and his exceptional guiding skills, humour and story telling gifts. He was fly camping with other guests much of the time we were there but we did get to spend enough time with him to know that he is a major factor in Jongomero’s success. Noelle’s friendly, gracious and welcoming personality completes the management team. They make a dynamic duo.
Each day our guide Anton, a quiet and knowledgeable man, went out of his way to ensure we saw as much as possible. I was disappointed not to have seen a leopard but happy that we did see dozens of giraffe, hundreds of beautiful impala as well as elephant, lion, jackal, dik diks, warthog, crocs, hippo, waterbuck, kudu, baboon and many, many more. I was also amazed at the number of species of beautiful birds.
On our first morning while driving in the bush, an elephant and her baby walked across the road in front of us about 30 metres away. She stopped, looked at us and gently pushed her baby behind her. Her ears went out horizontally from her body, she tucked her trunk in the attack position and faced the Rover. Anton stopped the vehicle as she started towards us. I was terrified. Anton just smiled, told us not to worry and waited. Mother slowed her pace with baby following a short distance behind and then stopped. We stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. Then, having decided we weren’t predators and baby wasn’t in any danger, she continued on her way across the road into the bush. Anton understood elephant behavior and knew exactly what to do … I should have trusted his judgment. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
On another occasion we found ourselves in the middle of a herd of over 1000 … yes, you read right! … over 1000 buffalo. Again Anton stopped and waited while hundreds of them gathered around in a semi-circle, staring with tails wagging. I had read they were the most dangerous of all the animals in the bush and my heart was in my mouth as we waited. After several minutes a couple of buffalo moved away, and with herd mentality, the rest followed. Anton knew exactly what to expect again. It was yet another exciting and heart throbbing experience in Ruaha.
I can write much more about romantic dinners by candlelight in the dry river bed, stories and laughter as guests gathered during dinner as well as the magic of an African sun setting slowly against the backdrop of a million shining stars. It was an amazing and unforgettable safari.
As I write this I also realize I haven’t mentioned anything negative about Jongomero and honestly can’t think of anything I would change. My husband and I were both enthralled with the camp and our experiences. The only thing I can say is that I wish we had stayed longer. Jongomero is a fabulous place in the middle of beautiful Ruaha which more than met our expectations. I highly recommend it.
Bravo Noelle and Molly! Thank you so very much!
Ask for a tent near the lounge/pool.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.