Tanzania Safari Guide | Selous Game Reserve

Two young bulls duke it out near Impala campTwo young bulls duke it out near Impala camp

The Selous Game Reserve in Southern Tanzania is a true African Eden of prolific wildlife and vast wilderness, and is a name that is becoming legendary in African Safari travel circles.

Selous Highlights

  • Africa's largest game reserve - remote, wild wilderness
  • Large populations of elephant, buffalo, crocodile, lion, leopard and wild dog are found in Selous
  • The topography of the park has wonderful scenic variety
  • Selous is a World Heritage Site
  • Game-viewing by boating/walking safari and night drives
Best time to visit Selous: The best time to visit Selous is in the dry season between June and February. All the lodges close down their operations in the months of March and reopen in June. Once solely the preserve of hunters the Selous Game Reserve of today has been divided into regions - the northern region, along the Rufiji River is used for photographic tourism and the central and southern parts are still utilized as a hunting area.

The Largest in the World

Sundowners on the banks of the Ruaha RiverThere are two reserves that lay claim to 'the largest reserve' in Africa title, the Selous and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana. Both are more than 50 000 km2 and, interestingly, both are relatively under-developed and under threat from possible mining activity - tanzanite in the Selous and diamonds in the Central Kalahari.Gamedrive out of Selous Safari Camp

The 'largest reserve in Africa' debate will rage for a long time yet but what should be taken into account is that 50 000 km2 is larger than many countries around the world and to be in a wilderness area as large is, not only awe-inspiring, but quite intimidating.

Rumours of War

Selous Game Reserve is named after the legendary hunter and adventurer Frederick Courtenay Selous, who spent the last years of his life fighting the Germans during World War 1 in east Africa, much of the fighting taking place in the area of what is now the Selous Game Reserve. In fact he was killed by a snipers bullet and is buried where he died in what is today part of the reserve.On the top of my 'to do' list when in the Selous was to visit the grave of the man who gave the reserve its name. The grave is in the Beho Beho region of the reserve, and while there I felt comforted in the knowledge that Selous himself would be content with how the region has been preserved. The grave and a collection of empty rifle cartridges at the lodge we were staying at are the only reminders that the area has not always been the pristine wilderness it is today.

Courtney Selous lived a life of adventure in southern Africa before returning top England. At the outbreak of WW1, at the age of 64, he joined the army and headed to east Africa to fight the Germans - the colonial masters of the region at time. It was under the German occupation that the area was proclaimed a reserve - one of the first in Africa. It was renamed after Selous in the 1920's.

World Heritage Site

Due to its natural diversity and pristine state the Selous Game Reserve was proclaimed a world heritage site in 1988 and today it still lives up to its status. A comment from a member in our travelling party that the bird and animal calls sounded louder and more pronounced in the Selous than in any other place in Africa - a fact that I can back up - made me realize what an amazing place the Selous is.

Despite the threat mining endeavours the future of the Selous Game Reserve is secure. More safari lodges are planned for the reserve and this will ensure the survival of the area for future generations to enjoy.Dining on the river bank at Sand Rivers fly camp
African Safaris Guide to South and East Africa
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