Tanzania's Selous Game Reserve is one of Africa's greatest wilderness areas, and is today fast gaining a deserved reputation as one of the best safari destinations in Africa.
The Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania is, unlike the iconic names of north, relatively unknown among safari travellers. Still the haunt of trophy hunters the reserves is, however, opening up to photographic tourism more and more.
The vast bush stretched to the horizon. Down below I saw giraffe, elephants, zebra and wildebeest and as the plane banked over the shimmering waters of the Rufiji River a sense of excitement gripped me. After many years of dreaming I was finally experiencing the Selous Game Reserve.
As our aircraft was taxiing down the runway I thought back on the book I had read many years ago entitled Secret Eden. It was about the Selous Game Reserve and page after page spoke of the large tracts of untouched wilderness filled with large numbers of game. The book was written in the late 1970's.
The book states "... although virtually unknown is the world's greatest game reserve. Twenty-one thousand miles of plain, forest, lake and mountain are the home to more than a million creatures including the largest African elephant population on earth and the continent's biggest concentration of crocodile, hippo, wild dog and buffalo".
The book continues 'All human settlement is banned so that the Selous Game Reserve is indeed a Garden of Eden where no species is endangered, where ecological problems are unknown and where nature remains in the balance."
Rufiji River Camp
Since the time of the publication of the book much has changed, not only in the region but in Africa in general. The elephant population was badly affected by rampant poaching in the 1980's and 1990's, as were the other species but recently, however, more protection has resulted in a stabilizing of the animal numbers.
Game-viewing from the river bank at Rufiji
On the drive from the airstrip to the lodge we saw a number of animals in a seemingly pristine environment and it was difficult imagining anything else but a wilderness that has been free of man's interference for centuries.