Tanzania Safari Guide to Selous

Rufiji River sunset boat safari from Selous Riverside CampRufiji River sunset boat safari from Selous Riverside Camp
Africa's largest game reserve, which at over 55, 000 kilometres is twice the size of Kruger National Park. It is home to the largest concentration of Buffalo in the World.

Access

This is one of the remotest reserves in Africa. There are daily flights from Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Arusha to a number of different bush airstrips in and around the Selous Game Reserve.

Visitors can drive to the Selous Game Reserve from Dar es Salaam. The drive takes 7 hours to cover 250km. The road is only tarred for about 100km and thereafter is dirt and you will need a 4x4 vehicle to navigate it. There is also access to the Selous Game Reserve by rail, and visitors can catch the train from Dar es Salaam. This is quite an experience and is really only recommended for those with an adventurous spirit.

Airport

Most visitors will fly into Dar es Salam and the catch a light aircraft flight to a bush airstrip on the edge of the reserve.

Highlights

  • Walking safaris in a pristine wildlife area the size of Switzerland
  • The only place in Tanzania where visitors can do a river safari
  • Track down the rare and endangered Wild Dog

Selous Landscape

The vegetation in the Selous Game Reserve varies from rolling grassy woodlands, marshes and plains, to rocky outcrops. Acacia, ebony, baobab and shrubs are prolific. The Rufiji River's tributaries form a network of lakes, lagoons and channels in the reserve. The Rufiji River is home to a plethora of varied water and bird life, a place where Hippos and Crocodiles sun themselves on the shores. Fierce tiger fish and vandu catfish are caught in the river. Catfish are equipped with primitive lungs allowing them to cross land for short distances in an attempt to find water during the dry season.

Climate

Selous has a warm wet, tropical climate. The rainy season is normally from November to May. January to April is wonderful for birdlife and lush green scenery, but many roads become impassable after heavy rains. The heavy rains, normally from the end of March to May, make certain part of Selous inaccessible and so many lodges and camps are closed.

The dry season (June to November) is usually the best time for game viewing along the rivers. Animals are attracted to the few water supplies around the river and the river itself. As the vegetation is sparse, this is also ideal for walking safaris. During the dry season an ancient migration of elephants takes place between the Selous and Mozambique's Niassa Game Reserves. This is one of the largest natural trans-boundary eco-systems in Africa and at the last consensus it was estimated that 64,400 elephants roam the two parks, with 84% on the Tanzanian side.

The Selous Experience

Due to its remote location, the Selous Game Reserve has remained a pristine wilderness gem in which visitors can experience a safari in totally wild and unspoiled bush. Selous Game Reserve was designated a 'World Heritage Site' by the United Nations in 1982 due to its unique ecological importance.

The Selous Game Reserve was named after Frederick Courteney Selous, a British conservationist, hunter, explorer and author, who wrote a book about East Africa and his travels. He was killed by a sniper towards the end of the First World War and the reserve was named in his honour. Selous' grave remains at the site where he died in battle, close to the Beho Beho Hills.

Selous Game Reserve has a large Buffalo and Elephant population, as well as herds of Zebra, Impala, Nyassa wildebeest and Lichtenstein's hartebeest. There are greater Kudu, Sable, Eland, Giraffe, Vervet and Blue monkeys, Black and White Colobus monkeys. Large prides of Lion are present and Hyena, Cheetah, Wild dog and Leopard are also seen.

Activities

As the Selous is a game reserve and not a national park, there is a greater range of activities permitted. The area is huge, being larger than the size of Switzerland and is dominated by the Rufiji River. This means you can enjoy a safari away from the crowds, go on game drives, walking and boating safaris.

Game drives

Game drives are operated in open four-wheeled drive vehicles, specially adapted for close-up game viewing. Expert, well trained guides accompany guests to explain everything found in the bush during the game drive. The boat safaris are conducted in strong metal boats with a powerful outboard motor. Guided by boatmen that have grown up on the river, guests can be assured of their safety all the time. Boat safaris provide some of the best water birding in Africa as well as getting up close and personal to Hippos and Crocodiles that are in the water or basking on the river banks.

Walking Safaris

A unique opportunity is to experience a walking Selous safari through the bush. These guided walks are accompanied by a watchman and a fully qualified armed guide. The pace is gentle and the emphasis is placed on ecology, tracking, dung identification, medicinal uses of trees and plants, birds and generally interpreting the bush. The possibility of seeing Lions or Wild dogs on foot is minimal, but Elephant sightings are common and to walk up relatively close to Elephants is an experience never to be forgotten.

Fly-camping Excursions

For the adventurous traveller, the possibility of a one or two night fly-camp where guests will 'rough it' in the bush, accompanied by their own walking guide, is popular. The fly-camps have good-sized tents, a hot bucket shower and a toilet; yet retain a feeling of being very remote. Dinner is cooked on the open fire and enjoyed outside.

Go on a relaxing Selous safari in Tanzania
African Safaris Guide to South and East Africa
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