Using research and safaris to better understand the area, property-owner and supplier Asilia Africa’s goal is to formally establish the Usangu region of Ruaha National Park. Only recently brought into the protection of the national park, this is a new frontier that is refreshingly underdeveloped.
ACCESS & LOCATION:
Usangu Expedition Camp is named after the wetland in which it is located, within Tanzania’s second-largest park, Ruaha.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES AT USANGU EXPEDITION CAMP:
Built surrounded by the shade of a miombo woodland, Usangu Expedition Camp is incredibly intimate, with just four guest tents. The camp is designed simply yet comfortably, which helps add to the authenticity of this property as the true focus is on the natural surroundings. The tented rooms are raised on wooden decking with views out towards the wetlands. They feature en-suite bathrooms with flushing toilets and hot water safari bucket-fed showers.
Prepared by the camp’s chef, meals are cooked on the open fire and enjoyed al fresco under the stars. These include a large breakfast and dinner, with lunch being a light buffet during the midday heat.
ACTIVITIES AT USANGU EXPEDITION CAMP:
Usangu Expedition Camp offers a mix of classic safari activities, as well as research-based adventures:
Expertly guided game drives– Wildlife in the Usangu region includes lion, leopard, elephant, and buffalo (that’s four of the Big Five), as well as kudu, roan, sable, and wild dog. A typical day on safari at Usangu Expedition Camp sees guests going on early morning and late afternoon game drives. Usangu has five biozones and offers many different habitat types, just waiting to be explored. The vehicles are open-sided six-seaters, with removable canvas roofs and sides for unobstructed views.
Walking safaris– Walking safaris are typically best to enjoy in the early morning while the temperatures are slightly cooler, and the wildlife is more active.
Night drives– Night drives are a great way to see a different side of Usangu. This is when typically shy wildlife species make an appearance. With an expert guide, guests will have the opportunity to see leopard, genet, serval, honey badger, civet, and African wildcat on the hunt, as well as bushbabies, nightjars, owls, and bat-eared fox.
Boating safaris– As the camp is located in a wetland, boating safaris are offered all year round. The different seasons create a variety of boating conditions, whether that is to follow narrow waterways or to explore large swamps. Elephant are regularly seen in the shallow waters, and the birdlife in fantastic.
Trails camp– Taking a step further into the adventurous category, the Trails Camp offers guests a night out in the wild. Here, guests will sleep under thin meshed walls of a ‘star cube’ or small canvas dome tent. If that’s a bit too adventurous, the star cube can be set up in front of the main tent at Usangu Expedition Camp, for the same experience, but a bit closer to home.
Camera traps– On arrival into camp, guests can take a camera trap and place it near or around the tent. On the last afternoon of the stay, guests can retrieve the images to see what the camera has captured. These can then be uploaded into the Predator ID Hub at the Douglas Bell Eco Research Station for identification and tracking.
Douglas Bell Eco Research Station– This is the central hub for all research and conservation efforts that take place within the Usangu Wetland. Escape the midday heat by engaging with the researchers at the station to learn more about what is taking place. Experiences on offer will vary slightly depending on which researchers are on the ground at any given time.
Telemetry tracking– Here guests can join researchers for a half-day activity of tracking collared animals, using radio telemetry to locate them. Collared species differ over time depending on advancing research but usually focus on key species in the area such as lion, wild dog (yet to be collared), roan, and sable antelope.
*Please note that Usangu Expedition Camp welcomes families with children over the age of 12 years old. If the camp is booked on an exclusive use basis, younger children can be accommodated, but participation in walking activities and canoeing will not be permitted.