We booked a relatively inexpensive "Banda", a thatched mud hut with a big bed. This was perfect for us, enough luxuary without seeming too removed from our location. The bed was big and comfortable and came with an effective mosquito net. It was wonderful to lay in bed and listen to the forest. Our banda was right on the forest edge, and we generally self catered and so could sit behind the banda watching the birds (and monkeys) in and over the forest. In fact troops of three species of monkey regularly visited the trees just next to the huts. Many birds (but especially Hornbills - Hondo hondo lives up to its name) but the forest path in camp requires patience to see the more interesting ones.
The camp is well organised, helpful in aranging and giving advice, although we thought a map of the local village and area would have been useful for alternative places to eat, and exploring the village. All the staff were very friendly but we must highlight Emanuel for such helpful organisation of our travel out!
In terms of visiting the nearby Udzungwa National park I can`t recommend enough the "idden valley"walk. This is a long days trip, especially if you are stopping to spot and watch. We saw forest elephants and some amazing birds including two of the Udzungwa endemics. All this was in part due to an excellant guide Huruma, I would recommend asking for him in person.
Anway back to the camp. I was surprised by the lack of insects, although this made it pleasant; maybe it was the season. We had one "interesting" night when during a heavy rainstorm our roof leaked and we had a rather soggy night with water dripping rather heavily onto the bed, however we were moved to a dry banda the next day and the roof was repaired. The only real negative comment I have is on the packed lunch, whilst just ok and "local" food, it was very expensive for what it was and could have been put together for a fraction of the cost in the local village, and it was a pity the restaurant meals were a little out of our budget, although they would have been cheaper if booked with our accomodation.
We were impressed by the local involvement; another similar place we stayed in the Usumbara mountains was managed and staffed largely by white Europeans, with the attitude apparently that locals did not have the right qualities. Hondo hondo proved this wrong, and local involvement seemed good.
Overall a wonderful place and I hope go back soon!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hondo Hondo (Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp) is on the border of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park. We offer comfortable accommodation in well equipped en-suite tented rooms in our atmospheric grounds. For those on a budget, there are traditional thatched huts or a campsite. Our restaurant serves good quality meals catering to all tastes, and ice-cold drinks are available from the comfortable bar. The lodge grounds are often visited by troops of colobus monkeys and up to 86 species on birds have been identified onsite. A great base from which to explore the Udzungwa Mountains National Park and the little visited Kilombero Valley. ... more less
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