Asilia Africa has opened its most pioneering safari project yet — Usangu Expedition Camp — in a remote corner of Ruaha National Park, Tanzania. The four-tent camp will be the first tourism operation in the area and offer guests the chance to be part of a hands-on conservation experience.
The four-person tents are designed with panoramic views of the floodplains with shade cloth walls to give 180-degree views. Featuring king-size beds, hot showers and biodegradable amenities, all the creature comforts expected of an Asilia safari are included.
Usangu can be explored on game drives, on foot and on boating safaris. With the nearest camp over 60km away, guests will not see another vehicle as they explore an area four times the size of Kenya’s Maasai Mara. The floodplains are home to the largest herds of topi (antelope) in Africa — groups of over 1,000 are often seen. Moving with them are large groups of eland, sable and roan and flocks of ostrich. Predators include lion and leopard.
The camp’s two safari vehicles are upcycled old Land Rovers that have been re-built from the ground up in Tanzania. Purposebuilt for comfort, bush driving and remarkable off-road capability; the vehicles are powered by green alcohol fuel made from molasses, a by-product of the existing sugar industry, sourced from a nearby plantation.
At night the bush comes alive thanks to handheld thermal monocular cameras. Guests or the guide can scan the bush, causing no disturbance to any game, and imagery is relayed back to an iPad in the vehicle The camera allows an in-depth view of the bush after dark, opening up a whole new world of sightings including porcupine, serval, African wildcat and hyena. Unlike traditional spotlights, the thermal monocular is undetectable by wildlife and causes no disturbance to behavior.
In addition to the traditional safari activities, Usangu Expedition Camp offers the rare opportunity to partake in hands-on conservation activities. Usangu Expedition Camp is part of an ambitious program to understand the health of the Usangu ecosystem and what lives there. The first-ever three-way partnership between a tourism company, Tanzania National Parks Authority and TAWIRI (the Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute), was launched in 2018 to conduct a comprehensive biodiversity audit of the area. The Usangu wetlands are an area of critical conservation importance; they are the source of The Great Ruaha River, the lifeblood of south-eastern Tanzania. The river provides water to Ruaha National Park then joins the Kilombero River to create the Rufiji Delta which is at the heart of Nyerere National Park. The water is not just essential to the wilderness and wildlife but is also the water source for the communities along its watercourse and via a network of hyrdro electric dams provides electricity to much of the south of the country. Despite its importance, the area was an unprotected hunting reserve for almost 100 years until it was added into Ruaha National Park in 2006.
Usangu Expedition Camp’s mission is to prove that wild areas have value and that when wild places thrive so do the communities living alongside them.
Book your trip at asiliaafrica.com.