Usangu — A Family Of Elephants Gather In The Long Grasses
Camps & Lodges

Usangu Expedition Camp

Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

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On the banks of the wetlands, just beyond the reaches of the seasonal high-water mark, Usangu Expedition Camp sits among the woodland shade offering the perfect launch pad from where to enjoy the multitude of activities available across this largely unexplored 6,000km2 wilderness.

About usangu Expedition camp

Boating through the waterways amongst an array of birdlife, walking the wide open grasslands during the dry season months, or sleeping under the enormous canopy of the African night sky, Usangu Expedition Camp offers a safari experience like none other.

The neighbouring Douglas Bell Eco Research Station offers the opportunity to engage with research projects and develop a deeper understanding of the work being performed in the area. From the placement of camera traps and the identification of predators against the research database to contributing to global research. Late afternoon presents the perfect time to explore the surrounding area on foot before enjoying the sunset over the Usangu Wetlands.

  • Calendar

    Open: 1 June to 31 January
    Closed: 1 February to 31 May

  • Airplane

    Closest airstrip: Jongomero, 2-hour drive from camp

  • 1 Families

    Families: children aged 12 and older

Usangu — Make A Gypsum Cast Of An Animal Track To Bring Home As A Souvenir.

Accommodation at Usangu Expedition Camp

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Accommodation

Accommodation & Amenities

Usangu Expedition Camp has been carefully positioned as close to the high-water mark as possible, whilst still maximising the shade offered by the surrounding miombo woodlands. With just 6 guest tents, the camp offers an exclusive experience into this largely unexplored wetland. Simple in its design, the focus sits firmly on the exploratory nature of the experience with meals cooked on the open fire and enjoyed under the African stars.  

  • Tents

    6 tents

  • 3 En Suite Bathrooms

    En-suite bathrooms

  • 24 Flushing Toilets

    Flushing toilets

  • 13 Shower 2

    Hot-water plumbed showers

  • Noun Mosquito Net 26540

    Mosquito net

  • 6 In Room Safe

    In-room lockable box

  • 7 Wifi 2

    WiFi (in research centre)

  • 26 Solar&Generatorpower 2

    Solar and generator power

  • Battery Charging Facilities

    Battery-charging facilities

accommodation

Rooms

The six guest tents at Usangu Expedition Camp are simple yet comfortable, positioned on raised wooden decking with views towards the wetlands and a shaded veranda on which to relax. En suite bathrooms feature flushing toilets and plumbed showers.  

Usangu Expedition Camp Website8

LOCATION

Location of Usangu Expedition Camp

The Usangu Wetland features a permanent water source in its centre, the Ihefu Swamp, surrounded by grassy marshlands and floodplains. During the dry season, only the Ihefu Swamp offers water but, as the rainy season develops, the wetland expands to cover an enormous area. On the outer limits of the wet season high-water mark, the miombo forest thrives and provides the perfectly shaded location for Usangu Expedition Camp. 

The Usangu Wetland is an essential feature to the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem, with major implications for ecosystems thousands of kilometres away from the wetland itself. Its features are unique and under the proper conditions and health, the biodiversity of species is undeniably a treasure trove. Herds of roan and sable roam the vast wetland, and wild dogs run wide along rivers.

Hundreds of ostrich congregate in a way that is not often seen in other places in Africa. Thousands of migratory bird species pass through the wetland as well as unidentified amphibians, still waiting to be discovered.

Location

Experiences

A safari like no other

Ruaha’s wildlife is renowned throughout East Africa and we aim to provide the best opportunities — from game drives to walking safaris — for all kinds of animal sightings. Explore this little-known area within Ruaha: go boating through the waterways, and walk the wide-open grasslands.

Asilia Africa Usangu Expedition Camp Ethanol Powered Landrover

Experience

A typical day on safari at Usangu Expedition Camp

Usangu Expedition Camp offers a wide variety of activities, allowing for your days to be tailored around your preferred interests. Each group in camp has a private vehicle and guide, allowing for complete flexibility within daily structure. Early mornings are typically best for game drives and walking safaris while the temperatures are slightly cooler, and wildlife is more active. Mid-afternoons are the perfect time to relax under the trees with a book or, or the more active, visit the Douglas Bell Eco Research Station for a first-hand explanation about the conservation work and research being conducted in the wetlands. Afternoons offer the opportunity for boating safaris or spending time in the field with a researcher.

Breakfast is often a picnic to allow for an early start from camp, but lunch can either be enjoyed in camp under the cool shade, or a picnic can be provided for those who wish to stay out longer. Whether you are in the main camp or a star cube in the Trails Camp, dinner is prepared on the open fire in a communal setting.

Asilia Africa Usangu A Typical Day 2023

Experiences

Game drives

The best times to depart on a game drive are early morning and late afternoon to avoid the midday heat when animals are less active. With your private vehicle and guide, you have the flexibility to explore any (accessible) area of the Usangu wetlands. Usangu has five biozones and offers many different habitat types that are waiting to be explored. Our up-cycled Land Rovers have been re-built from the ground up and are powered by green alcohol fuel (ethanol). This five-seater, safari vehicle offers unobstructed views — built for comfort, bush driving and remarkable off-road capability.

Game Drives

Experiences

Walking safaris

Walking safaris give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, away from the noise of the land cruiser and closer to the ground to observe the smaller and less obvious parts of the African wilderness. This is a completely different way to experience the bush, encouraging your senses to engage as you spot tiny but fascinating creatures you’d never see from the vehicle.  

Walking Safaris

Experiences

Night drives

See a different side of Usangu with a night drive. It’s a special opportunity to spot shy, nocturnal animals and the those that prey on them, and with the night vision camera available to guests, you can snap them in action. With the aid of your knowledgeable guide, keep your eyes out for leopard, genet, serval, honey badger, civet and African wildcats on the hunt; as well as bush babies, mongoose, bat-eared fox, nightjars and owls going about their business. Don’t forget to take a moment to a gaze up at the breath-taking night sky. 

Usangu — Witness The Amanzing Night Sky And Milky Way From Your Tent

Experiences

Boating safaris

The wetland area and the intricate waterways that swell and contract throughout the season create a variety of conditions for boating. Our swamp boat is designed for these marsh-like conditions, offering the opportunity to explore the wetland narrow waterways year-round. Elephant are regularly seen along the shallows, and the birdlife is fantastic.

Usangu — Usangu Is A Seasonal Wetland And Combines Riverine Areas With A Swamp Lake

Experience

Camera Traps

The placement of camera traps in close proximity to frequently used game trails provide useful information about wildlife numbers and the movements of game. On arrival, you will receive a camera trap to place near camp for the duration of your stay. On your last afternoon in camp, retrieve the images to see what your camera has captured.

Usangu — Close Up Of A Beautiful Leopard

Experience

Family safaris

We welcome families with children over 12 years old. If the camp is booked on an exclusive use basis, younger children can be accommodated, but participation in walking activities will not be permitted.

16. Family Safari Walking Safari

WILDLIFE

Ruaha wildlife

 

  • Lion

    Ruaha National Park Lioness With Cub Down Eric Frank MR
  • Leopard

    George Turner Ruaha 22
  • Lesser kudu

    Lesser Kudu
  • Greater kudu

    Greater Kudu Shutterstock 166220447
  • Elephant

    Ruaha 24
  • Giraffe

    Giraffe-Ruaha-National-Park-Marius-Swart-LR-copy.jpg
  • Buffalo

    Buffalos Serengeti Safari
  • Wild dog

    18. Jabali Wild Dogs
  • Roan antelope

    Usangu — Roan Antelope
  • Sable

    Usangu — Common Giant Sable Roam The Area
  • Aardvark

    Aardvark
  • Bat-eared fox

    Bat Eared Foxshutterstock 58267507 (1)
  • Porcupine

    Untitled Design 30

When to go

What to expect during the year

Usangu is open from June to November, when it’s hot and dry. During this time, the Usangu wetlands recede, and the surrounding grasslands dry out into wide open spaces ideal for walking. The rains that fall from November until April transform the landscape, making it green and lush but also creating logistical problems as the road networks become water-logged and the rising floodplains limit land-based activities.

  • June

    Why travel at this time

    The long rains have now passed, and the park is lush and green. The waters are still high, making it an excellent time for canoeing.

    Climate

    June marks the start of the dry season however temperatures are still comfortable at this early stage in the season. The average high is 26°C/79°F, with a low of 13°C/55°F.

    • Min Temp Range

      Low Temp: 13°C / 55°F

    • Max Temp Range

      High Temp: 25°C / 77°F

    • Rainy Seasons

      Rainfall: 109mm / 4.3in

  • July - September

    Why travel at this time

    The wetlands and floodplains recede during this driest time of the year, making it an excellent environment for walking. This is the best time for game viewing as wildlife is attracted to the permanent water source.

    Climate

    There’s no rainfall in the dry season with temperatures rising to an average high of 26°C/79°C in July, up to 28°C/82°F in September. The average lows are 13°C/55°F to 15°C/59°F.

    • Min Temp Range

      Low Temp: 12°C / 54°F

    • Max Temp Range

      High Temp: 25°C / 77°F

    • Rainy Seasons

      Rainfall: 42mm / 1.7in

  • October - November

    Why travel at this time

    October is the peak of the dry season, delivering excellent game viewing and walking conditions. The rains usually arrive in November, bringing respite from the heat and starting the transformation as Usangu returns to a wetland.

    Climate

    October is hot and dry, with increasing humidity as the rains approach. November continues to be hot, but the arrival of afternoon showers and thunderstorms offer some relief to the parched landscape. The temperature hits a maximum average of 30°C/86°F in October and November, dropping to an average low of 17°C/63°F.

    • Min Temp Range

      Low Temp: 13°C / 55°F

    • Max Temp Range

      High Temp: 27°C / 81°F

    • Rainy Seasons

      Rainfall: 99mm / 3.9in

  • December - January

    Why travel at this time

    More rain in December means that the landscape is greener. Wildlife viewing is good, particularly for plains game and big cats. In January, the rains are likely to increase, but the game viewing is still excellent.

    Climate

    Rainfall is infrequent and light at the beginning of December, increasing into January. It's still hot, with temperatures reaching 28°C / 82°F.

     

Rates

When would you like to go?

Usangu is open from June to November, when it’s hot and dry. During this time, the Usangu wetlands recede, and the surrounding grasslands dry out into wide-open spaces ideal for walking. The rains that fall from November until April transform the landscape, making it green and lush but also creating logistical problems as the road networks become water-logged and the rising floodplains limit land-based activities.

Below, choose your travel dates for an estimated accommodation cost per person sharing, or scroll down for a table of high and low season rates.

Additional information

  • Rate includes

    Full board accommodation, all house drinks (except champagne), game drives, night drives with thermal camera, guided walks, star cube sleepout, Trails camp, boating and fishing, camera trapping and contributing to biodiversity audit data collection, transfers to/from Jongomero Airstrip, TDL.

  • Rate excludes

    All park and camping fees, Asilia conservation charge, transfers other than to/from nearest airstrip or Usangu Expedition Camp, flying doctors/medical evacuation insurance, flights & airport taxes, gratuities, items of personal nature.

  • Budget factors

    Special offers may apply. Contact us for the best available rates. Last minute offers and long-stay rates may apply.

Rates and Seasonality

  • High season: 01 Jun 2024 - 31 Jan 2025 Rate: US$750

    What to expect

    • Dry season, high concentration of animals around water, great for cats

    • Plenty of elephants and big herds of buffaloes

    • Leopards become more arboreal as the grass thins

    • Min Temp Range

      Low Temp: 17°C / 63°F

    • Max Temp Range

      High Temp: 28°C / 82°F

    • Rainy Seasons

      Rainfall: none

  • Closed: 01 Feb 2025 - 31 May 2025 Rate: US$0

    Seasonal closure

  • High season: 01 Jun 2025 - 30 Nov 2025 Rate: US$790

    What to expect

    • Dry season, high concentration of animals around water, great for cats

    • Plenty of elephants and big herds of buffaloes

    • Leopards become more arboreal as the grass thins

    • Min Temp Range

      Low Temp: 17°C / 63°F

    • Max Temp Range

      High Temp: 28°C / 82°F

    • Rainy Seasons

      Rainfall: none

GUEST REVIEWS

A different kind of safari! We were attracted by the remoteness of Usangu Expedition Camp and its focus on conservation and research having only relatively recently formed part of the national park. We were not disappointed with all that the camp delivered during a 4 night stay.
Keith M
Tripadvisor 1
What a magical place. Incredible location and the rooms team and food was amazing. The views from the room were something else and loved eating around the fire at night. Whilst you might not see the number of animals at more popular destinations this is a much more personal approach and makes it all the more magical. Whole heartedly recommend and it feels like we have left friends behind in the team there.
DuncanWalling
Tripadvisor 1
Absolutely incredible experience from start to finish. Such a unique opportunity and experience - extremely special if you're interested in research. Staff were utterly incredible and feels so exciting being a part of such a new project. Cannot recommend enough.
Laura B
Tripadvisor 1
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