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Mdonya Old River Camp

Mdonya Old River Camp is situated in a remote area of central Ruaha National Park, overlooking the former river course of the Mdonya River.

Mdonya Old River Camp is a rustic tented camp offering simple, but comfortable accommodation with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The camp has a wonderful adventurous feel to it with animals often wondering through, and as such will appeal to enthusiasts. Mdonya is not trying to be a luxury camp, though the accommodation, food, service and guiding is all perfectly good. The immediate location around camp is excellent for game (though tsetse fly are present), whilst longer morning drives will usually take you down into the core game viewing areas of the park. This camp will suit less demanding guests who are looking to combine fantastic game viewing with superb value for money.


Mdonya caters for around 24 guests in 12 comfortable and simply furnished walk-in tents, each set on a concrete plinth. Each tent has a plumbed en suite open air bathroom attached to the rear with a flush toilet and shower. At the front is a furnished verandah overlooking the dry river course, a haven for wildlife. Two of the tents can be extended as required to create a family tent with extra beds. There is no electricity in camp although camera batteries can be charged in the main area. Lighting is provided by paraffin lanterns, candles and torches.

Central Areas

The central lounge and dining areas are also under canvas. The dining area is more commonly used for breakfast and lunch, whilst communal dinners are often taken alfresco under the stars after drinks around the camp fire.


Wi-Fi – No
Power for Charging – Yes
Swimming Pool – No

Habitat & Wildlife

Ruaha National Park was previously part of the huge Rungwa Game Reserve, with which it shares its north-western boundary. In 1964, it was gazetted as the National Park. The terrain within the park is well wooded and undulating. The Great Ruaha River gives the park a permanent supply of water, but there are also numerous sand rivers which become raging torrents during the rains (from December to April). In addition to the Great Ruaha River, there are also numerous waterholes, swamps and seepage areas which provide water throughout the year.

Generally speaking, the park is divided into four different habitats consisting not only of Miombo, but also of undulating hills dominated by baobabs, the albida woodland along the main river courses and areas of open ‘black cotton’ grassland. Mammal viewing is superb particularly in the dry season (June to October) when the animals are forced to congregate around water sources – elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, impala, zebra, giraffe, hippo, waterbuck, roan and sable antelope, eland, greater and lesser kudu, and Grant’s gazelle are just some on the many species to be seen.

Local birdlife is exceptional as Ruaha lies in the convergence zone of species found both to the north and south of the region. Amongst the 570 or so species recorded in the park, you can expect to see bateleur and fish eagles; ostrich; spurwing and Egyptian geese; crowned cranes; guinea fowl; yellow-billed, saddle-billed, Abdim’s and open-billed storks; and numerous species of ibis, plover, kingfisher, bee-eater, parrot, duck, barbet, dove, francolin and roller. The local red-billed hornbill has recently been recognised as its own species. Tsetse fly are present in Ruaha but more in some areas than others. The core game viewing region around the Mwagusi River is not seriously affected by Tsetse.

Although sometimes on offer, we do not countenance extended walks in Ruaha unless you are escorted by a professional guide carrying his own firearm. We do not recommend walking safaris where security is only provided by park rangers, as in our opinion the rangers who take the walks do not have sufficient skills/experience. There is no off-road driving.


The main activity from Mdonya is game drives in open vehicles with shade roofs. Morning and afternoon game drives in the Mdonya River vicinity as well as full day drives further afield to the Mwagusi River the Ruaha River areas. Please note that tsetse flies are encountered in the Mdonya River area in particular.


Mdonya is open from June through to March each year, though game viewing is best between July and October.

With its remote and adventurous feel and the fact that animals are often in camp, we feel Mdonya is best suited for children over 12 years old. Two of the tents have extensions where a second bedroom can be added to the front and bathroom shared with the parents.

To minimise their carbon footprint, Mdonya use solar power as their main source of electricity and rechargeable batteries to reduce waste. Candles and kerosene lanterns are used to light up the camp when it’s dark. They not use plastic bottles and provide a refillable flask for guests to use and take home with them. Their vehicle carbon emissions are offset donations to Carbon Tanzania who work to protect an equivalent amount of forested areas. Vegetarian only lunches are served at the camp to reduce excessive meat consumption and the apparent impact this has on the environment.

Where possible, Mdonya try to source local fresh produce, often organic, to both support their local economies as well as reducing the consumption of fuel for unnecessary long distance transportation. The Kipera village is supported through the weekly purchasing of fresh and dry goods. The jams served in camp come from Vijana Iringa Products, which are produced by the Iringa Young Women’s Project and various cheeses are supplied by the Njombe Milk Farm community project.