We just got back from an epic three-week adventure in Tanzania and came home absolutely smitten with Asilia’s new Usangu Expedition Camp in Ruaha National Park. For travelers who are looking for a true wilderness safari experience that blends unusual wildlife sightings, excellent guiding, and hands-on conservation activities that are WAY off the beaten track - look no further! Here are our top five reasons to visit Usangu Expedition Camp on your next East African safari:
1) Ruaha National Park is One of the Wildest, Most Remote Parks In Tanzania
Our two-hour bush flight from the Serengeti to Usangu Expedition Camp helped put in perspective the remote, wild location of this camp, as vast, mostly-roadless expanses of scrubby forest stretched across the landscape for as far as the eye could see. Covering an area of over 20,000 square kilometers, Ruaha National Park is Tanzania’s largest protected area, measuring 40% larger than the Serengeti while receiving 90% fewer visitors. Usangu Expedition Camp is a small camp with only four tents, with the next nearest camp located well over 40 miles away. Usangu’s low visitor numbers, secluded location in one of Africa’s wildest parks, and exclusive nature ensure that you will enjoy a private safari experience free from the crowds.
2) Usangu Expedition Camp is One of the Best Rustic Safari Camps in Africa
If you are looking for a rustic yet elegant camp that allows you to feel immersed in nature without compromising on your creature comforts, then Usangu is for you. Opened in late 2022, Usangu’s simple yet gorgeous facilities combine modern, place-based design with ultimate relaxation and style. There is nothing more tranquil than viewing a crimson sunrise from the comfort of your bed each morning, gazing out of your panoramic-screened tent while listening to a cheerful chorus of doves outside. Dine under the stars on sumptuous meals hand-crafted over an open fire by a professional chef, or just relax under the shade of the open-air dining tent while sipping an ice-cold beer in the afternoon. Nestled along the edge of the Miombo woodlands and punctuated by several colossal Baobab trees, Usangu Expedition Camp provides the perfect ambiance to escape and unwind.
3) Usangu Expedition Camp Provides Some of the Most Unique Wildlife Viewing In Africa
During a visit to Usangu Expedition Camp, you are likely to encounter four of Africa’s Big Five, including buffalo, elephant, leopard, and lion (fun fact- Ruaha National Park sustains nearly 10% of the world’s lion population!). You may also encounter wild dogs, leopards, kudu, and other various antelope species, plus hundreds of species of birds. But it’s not the usual suspects that made our safari experience so memorable, it was the unique sightings that captured our interest. We will always remember our surprise and delight at seeing a huge flock of ostrich parading single-file across the distant horizon; the suspense at sneaking closer and closer to a herd of three dozen sable antelope while on foot; and most impressive of all, the confusion (what is that?!?) and then elation (holy sh*t- it’s an AARDWOLF!!!!) at seeing an aardwolf loping off into the night during an evening drive. Our night drives at Usangu were some of the best we have experienced anywhere on the African continent, revealing bat-eared foxes, night jars, bush babies, porcupines, lions, African wild cats, genets, and owls.
4) Usangu Expedition Camp is One of the Best Safari Camps for Families
Usangu Expedition Camp goes above and beyond the traditional safari camp offerings to provide guests with active, engaging, educational experiences that marry world-class wildlife viewing with hands-on conservation work. This makes it a perfect destination for families, as the camp welcomes kids ages 12 and older and offers a plethora of activities to keep everyone active and engaged. Guests can swing by the Douglas Bell Eco Research Center to chat with researchers about their latest projects; walk on foot with an expert guide to study animal tracks and identify local plants; use thermal monocular technology to view nocturnal wildlife (so cool!); and set camera traps to learn about the things that go bump in the night. Additional possibilities include setting live (humane) rodent traps on the periphery of the camp, live-trapping and identifying insects, and tracking animals using radio-telemetry.
5) Usangu Expedition Camp Allowed Us to Connect with the Local People
One of the best parts about our stay at Usango Expedition Camp was the kindness and openheartedness of the camp staff, many of whom shared freely about their cultures and their lives, bringing depth and perspective to our travel experience. Whether it was chatting with our Masaai guide about the coming-of-age circumcision ritual he endured as a young teenager, talking to one of the researchers about his wildlife encounters all over Africa, or hearing from another local guide about his grueling journey from poor subsistence farmer to professional safari guide, our travels were greatly enhanced by the personal connections we made. Telling stories around a campfire under the towering branches of a centuries-old baobab tree was an absolutely magical way to wind down our stay at Usangu, and it was tough to say goodbye to all of the new friends we had made when it was time to leave this wondrous place.
Ready to visit this wild place? Ask me how!
Your wild adventure aficionado,