What to expect
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Last 5 reviews
Excellence in every aspect
We visited Selous reserve after completing our Northern national parks Circuit. In the north we stayed at Serena/Sopa lodges at all national parks. The Serena Mivumo Lodge was different than any of the northern lodges we stayed in. How so? Let's start with the "room." It was more than a room - it was huge. A king size bed with large open spaces and a small seating area that included a comfortable chaise longue and a comfortable chair along with a small table. In another area, a desk and plenty of storage space in the room. The room was air conditioned and had a small fridge. The bathroom was large - two sinks and a bathtub/shower combo. The large balcony overlooking the Rufiji River had two chairs, small table, a whirl pool, el fresco shower and two sun lounge chairs with another table and umbrella. There are 12 "rooms" (I was told) - so the lodge feels exclusive and personal. November is not high season - so we pretty much had the lodge to ourselves. On the first night there were two other guests (on a travel agent familiarization trip) and us. On the second night - just us and on the third night - us and one other couple. Service - from the moment we arrived and were met and welcomed with refreshing towels and glasses of juice till we departed service was efficient and extremely responsive in every aspect. Our house keeper was friendly and went out of his way to be helpful and make our stay very comfortable. In the dining room - we had two different servers for our breakfasts, and one of them was our dinner server (and bar tender for sun-downers). Meal service was right on - comparable to what you'd expect in an upscale restaurant. No detail too small - from cutlery to placing and serving plated food. Breakfast and dinner were a la carte and basically western foods. Everything was well prepared and served at the appropriate temperature and requested preparation/doneness. We certainly enjoyed our excellent meals, but I think more local food options would be appreciated by some of the guests. The dining area and adjacent bar/lounge/library area are small but certainly not in confining way and in the right proportion for the number of guest rooms. The lounge ambiance and decor makes it a great spot to enjoy a beverage along with a bowl of warm cashew as the sun sets over the Rufiji. WiFi did not consistently work during our stay. But then again, we literally were in the middle of the proverbial "nowhere." (Note: The lodge did not have a check in/lobby area. We were taken directly to our room and were asked to bring the registration form to the restaurant when we were ready. Settling the final bill also took place at the restaurant as we finished up our final dinner) Everything from the helpful staff, great room, balcony views and location overlooking the Rufij makes this lodge a place to be on the top of anyone's list for lodges in Selous.
As this was our first safari experience, I wanted to pick somewhere that was also comfortable. Serena Mivumo River Lodge proved exactly that and more. Our room was large with a huge comfy bed, and provided the opportunity to see and hear animals from our verandah. Open-air showers a real nice touch. The whole experience was truly serene and we really felt at one with the animals - the boat safari (close ups of hippos and crocs) and the jeep safari. We smelt the elephants before we saw them. A family of five on the edge of the trees. Francis, our guide, thought too that he could smell lion. And sure enough, we came across two lion brothers simply lounging under a tree. I am still amazed at how close we were to them (less than 15ft away although of course we stayed in the jeep). I've heard others say that the Serengeti can be frenetic with 15 jeeps circling one pride of lions. I'm sure we didn't see as many animals in Selous but it felt natural and respectful. No constant drama or kills as a documentary might have you believe. Just animals co-existing and going about daily life. Giraffe, zebra, impala and buffalo looking at us inquisitively from the bush before turning away. We certainly felt like a welcome part of their community. A special note to anyone who has a dietary requirement. My husband is a coeliac and the lodge went out of their way to cater for him. Would highly recommend Serena for anyone looking for comfortable accommodation and a natural safari experience.
Five star in all respects
A beautiful hotel with wonderful staff. The rooms are fantastic - not to mention the outdoor shower! The food was excellent and the staff could not have been more helpful. Well organised safaris, both river and 4x4, with knowledgeable guides. I have no hesitation in recommending.
Very very very..... disappointed!!!
We recently paid for 5+ star hotel package at Mivumo, but just got 2 star service overall. What a waste of money! We wanted the long weekend away, and explored a few mid-range to high-end accommodation options. We chose the most expensive high-end one, just to see what it is like. Our last safaris was an unforgettable more than perfect experience with a mid-range hotel in Serengeti, where we were treated with amazing service!!! This time I wanted to have a change, so I didn’t choose the same hotel, and instead chose Serena, a well known high end name. However: A. Very bad safari experience: Unfortunately our arrival set the scene for our stay. We arrived by plane after lunch. We were greeted with an offer of cheap instant coffee, a sandwich on soggy tasteless bread and everyday cake you can readily buy in Dar. We then waited for quite some time to leave, for reasons that never became clear. When we arrived we asked for the boat safari; the tour guide called the hotel and said no. He told us that all 7 boats are being used, so boat safari can’t be arranged. But the whole 2-night/3-days we were there we didn’t see 7 boats in the river. We only saw an occasional boat in use. We explained to the tour guide what we would like to do during our stay (which is the only reason we are happy to pay the most expensive option): focusing on the uniqueness of Selous can offer, e.g. boat safari, walking safari; picnic by the lake or somewhere in the bush, sundowner (late afternoon) sandbar chill out….. not much game drive since we have done that in Serengeti and Mikumi. I was told the lake is too far to reach by boat… I then asked the boat man and was told they don’t go there… while I am getting detail info from them, I was told by the tour guide that it only takes 30 minute by car to get there!!! So I didn’t bother to request to get to the lake by boat anymore, and expect it can be easily arranged by the tour guide next day. However our 2nd day, after lunch, when we asked to take us to see the lake area, the tour guide was trying to tell us it’s not possible due to the rain, it will take a few hours to get there…. While we didn’t really understand how come (he told us the day before it only takes 30 minutes), he just left to ask the manager to talk to us . The manager said there is no road access and that people that have been at Mivumu for a day should not say where they want to go and instead should just do what the driver says. We explained we just wanted to know where were going and wanted to avoid a return to the nearby dam site, explosions and truck queues of the previous day. We spent more than half an hour negotiating; it was even tougher than past the taxi drivers at the Zanzibar ferry! We were very unhappy, and the tour guide eventually drove off, we were still unclear where to. We managed to get to the lake without much difficulties at all….. The thing is the lake area is one of a big factors that attract people to Selous. If the road is too bad, we won’t persist. But no one in hotel bothered to check and gathered updates re road situation. We actually met another Serena safari car on the road coming from the lake direction. Either those early morning safari guide could give an update, or this expensive hotel should used its car radio to get road updates to make sure best safari routes can be arranged accordingly. A good lake tour could have been arranged… We are the guests that have to risk to find out… eventually due to we started late… and we didn’t have enough time at all to enjoy the beautiful nature lake scenery, we had to head back to hotel before darkness. The tour guide didn’t follow usual arrangement to ask us what’s our plan for our last day the 3rd day (our flight only leaves 12:50 pm in the afternoon). Next morning breakfast time, tour guide came to say good bye.. we were shocked that no tour is arranged by him even though we planned with him on the first day to use the morning for a game drive. After he got feedback from manager, he then went to find a car to take us out and drove somewhere we had already been without many animals, and then a new area that is nice but unfortunately on the way to the airstrip…… We didn’t see a single elephant for this trip. Is it common this month for Selous visitors? I am not sure? Re. the boat safari, as we were told again by one of the boat men or the hotel people that lake is not linked with the river due to not enough water yet, but from the airplane from Selous back to Dar, we saw a big lake is connected to the river, while a few others not. I am not sure if that lake is really not reachable by a full day boat safari. The overall experience is that: the tour guide and the hotel manager don’t seem to have knowledge of why people visit Selous; no knowledge of what Safari tour is about. They simply don’t care about what experience we are looking for by paying such a high price to them! They have no plan to understand visitors’ specific purpose of coming to Selous, which our purpose is what average visitors want, nothing ridiculous. Other than that while waiting for airplane, I saw the safari cars from other hotels are much cleaner than ours. Our car looks like any no name safari operator, with rubbish left over from day to day. B. Not well served at the restaurant at all: The breakfast, lunch, dinner meals are just ok, but certainly much lower level than what we have paid for 5+ star price! First, food is OK, but it’s the very boring old fashioned food. E.g., the breads look to have been pre-frozen and reheated, our daughter’s pizza was one the pre-prepared base of little taste. We asked if we could have a snack on the game drive (none was planned) and were provided a half-eaten packet of Pringles.. and 2-3 pieces of small everyday cakes. Nothing healthy for our daughter. Even though there were only 3-4 guests at times we had to forage for the menu and food. Second, without asking for if cocktails and a glass of wine is included, they never showed hospitality to ask if we would like to have some drinks, cocktails, or glass of wine…. We are not a big drinker; but just they are showing almost zero hospitality and it seems that they are trying to control the cost! The wine was the $5 a glass variety available in Dar so we didn’t miss much as it turns out. The waiter would serve us with sweaty shirt and smell. Is that a 5 star hotel price we are paying for?! The outlook from the chateau/room is good, but the room was tired, the promised jacuzzi was empty, and no wifi as advertised. C. In Summary: We had a very very very… disappointed experience!!! Not a worth the money at all! We have traveled a lot around the world in no star ~ 5 star places; This is probably the only time that is so disappointing!
My stay at the Mivumo river lodge, was without doubt one of the most memorable travel experiences I have encountered so far. From the moment you arrive, you are made to feel as if you are their first ever guest. The location is breathtaking, the lodge where you stay is just so special, I was looked after by Bashir, who was an absolute credit to the lodge. Simon was my safari guide & what he didn’t know about the Selous was probably not worth knowing, his knowledge & passion for his job, is clearly his vocation in life. I also went on a couple of river cruises & I’m sorry but cannot remember the guides name, but he was also excellent. They really don’t mind how many questions you ask about the animals or your surroundings. The food is excellent. Last but by know means least a big thank you to the Manager of the lodge Alex, who always comes to talk to you everyday, himself & his staff are a very close knit working family & it shines though. Mivumo lodge thank you very much, don’t ever change.
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