Selous Game Reserve
Selous game reserve is located in the southeastern part of Tanzania and it’s the oldest and largest protected area in Africa and the second largest national park in the world. The game reserve was gazetted into a national park in 1896 and declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to its undisturbed nature and diversity of wildlife species. Selous game reserve covers a total area of 55,000 square kilometers which makes it the largest game reserve in Africa that is 4 times bigger than Serengeti national park. Selous game reserve is blessed with diverse landscape including the hot volcanic springs, sporadic lakes and river channels such as RufiJi rivers and the great Ruaha, diverse wildlife species including high concentration of elephants, lions, black rhinos, crocodiles, hippos, elands, greater kudus, waterbucks, sable antelopes, African wild dogs, spotted hyenas, warthogs, giraffes, zebras, reedbucks, various bird species plants, reptiles among others.
What to see in Selous game reserve
Channels and Rivers, Selous game reserve possesses diverse landscapes from hot volcanic springs, to sporadic lakes like Lake Tagalala, Lake Manze, Lake Nzerakera, Siwandu and channels from the great Rhaha and Rufiji river which flows through the game reserve.
Wildlife, Selous game reserve harbors the largest concentration of elephants which are about 110,000, 40,000 hippos, 25,000 impalas, 35,000 zebras, 4,000lion, 120,000 – 150,000 buffaloes and other wildlife species such as the black rhinos, hunting dogs, cheetah which are rarely seen, hartebeests, greater kudus, sadle antelopes, elands, reedbucks, bushbucks, waterbucks, warthogs, giraffes, wildebeest, leopards, spotted hyena, endangered species like the African wild dogs, Nyasaland gnu, brindled gnu, reptiles like crocodiles, lizards, snakes among others.
Birds, Selous game reserve is a home of over 440 recorded bird species which makes it one of the best birding destinations in Tanzania. Birds in the game reserve can be viewed along the river banks of Rufiji River and they include yellow billed stork, palm nut vulture, African skimmer, African wattled lapwing, white fronted bee-eater, spur winged lapwing, pels fishing owl, broad billed roller, brown headed parrot, thick billed cuckoo, white backed night heron among others.
Vegetation, Selous game reserve is dominated by different vegetation types such as savanna wooded grassland, Miombo woodland among others
Selous grave, on your safari in the game reserve you can visit the Selous grave where the British explorer who was killed during the World War 1 was buried and the game reserve was named after Selous the conservationist and British explorer.
Things to do in Selous game reserve
This is the major activity in the park where visitors get an opportunity to explore the park while in the comfort of a safari vehicle. Game drives in Selous game reserve usually start in the morning following various tracks like Rufiji river area which runs through the game reserve. You can go for a full day game drive in the park which gives you an opportunity to explore all the areas. Game drives in the park are best done with a park guide who will show you various wildlife species including giraffes, elephants, African wild dogs, waterbucks, buffaloes, zebras, impala, lions, leopards, bushbucks, elands and some bird species along the river banks.
This is an adventurous activity in the park which gives you an opportunity to move on foot as you explore and enjoy the cool breeze, nature, breath fresh air among others. walking safari in Selous game reserve takes about 2 to 3 hours and it’s done with the help of an armed park ranger who will offer protection as well as conversant with the trails to use for example sandbanks, Rufiji river, riverine forest among others. Walking safaris in Selous game reserve start from Mtemere gate and they are limited to 6 people per group. During the walking safari, you will have spectacular views of the landscapes, plants, vegetation, a close look on the animals like zebras, giraffes, elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, listen to sweet sounds of the birds among others.
Boat cruise in Selous game reserve
Boat cruise is an exciting activity in the park that is done on Rufiji River. On your boat safari in Selous game reserve, you will have an opportunity of cruising near water animals like hippos, crocodiles, and other animals which will be viewed along the water banks because Rufiji river attract large concentration of animals which come to drink water such as the elephants, buffaloes, antelopes and bird species like the Egyptian geese, fish eagle, fishing owl, white backed heron, flamingo orange orb among others. you can go for a half day boat cruise which takes about 2 to 3 hours or a full day boat safari which takes about 6 to 8 hours and on the full day boat cruise you can either return to the lodge for lunch or have it on the boat as you enjoy great views of the animals, birds and beautiful views of the sunset.
Selous national park is one of the listed best birding destinations in Tanzania in that it harbors over 440 bird species including migratory birds, forest birds among other. There are various habitats of birds in the game reserve such as the lake channels, sandbanks, lagoons, islands, Rufiji River among others. birders can view different bird species during the walking safari and boat cruise on Rufiji river therefore on your birding safari you can look out for bird species such as the African spoonbill, African wattled lapwing, white fronted bee-eater, black winged stilt, brown headed parrot, African skimmer, pels fishing owl, rock pratincole, thick billed cuckoo, broad billed roller, yellow billed stork, white backed vulture, white fronted plover, racket tailed roller, mangrove kingfisher, green billed coucal, long tailed fiscal, red winged warbler, wattle eyed flycatcher, yellow bellied bulbul among others.
This is an activity where visitors get an opportunity to interact with the people in the surrounding communities. Cultural tours in Selous game reserve can be done in Mloka village which is situated down the river from Selous river camp or Mwaseni village where you will see their local houses designed using local mud, visit the schools in the community, view craft shops and villagers carrying out their daily activities such as grinding, farming, fetching water among others.
Where to stay in Selous game reserve
There are a number of accommodations where you can stay on your safari in Selous game reserve and they range from luxury, midrange and budget. The accommodations include Sand Rivers Selous, Selous River Camp, Siwandu Safari Camp, Selous Wilderness Camp, Selous Impala Camp, Selous Riverside Safari Camp, Selous Mbuyu Safari Camp, Rufiji River Camp, Selous Kinga Lodge, Retreat Selous Camp, Selous Great Water Lodge, Sable Mountain Lodge, Kiba Point Safari Lodge, Mivumo River Lodge, Beho Beho Selous, Selous Serena Camp, Amara Selous, Selous Ngalawa Camp, Roho Ya Selous Camp, Jimbiza Lodge, Africa Safari Camp, Selous Mbega Camp among others.
When to visit Selous game reserve
Selous game reserve can be visited throughout the year though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January and February. During the dry season there is less rainfall in the game reserve therefore the shrubs and bushes will be short which enables you to clearly view wild animals in the park, access roads to the game reserve will be passable and most of the animals will gather around the water bodies such as Rufiji river to drink water.
How to get to Selous game reserve
Selous national park can either be accessed by road, air or railway transport means
Road transport, when using road transport you will fly to Julius Nyerere international airport in Dar es Salaam and then connect by road to Selous reserve. The road is bumpy and might take a full day drive to reach the park headquarters.
Air transport, there are various domestic flights such as Air Tanzania, Regional Air, Zanair, Precision Air, Safari Air Link, Coastal Aviation which operate charter flights from Dar es Salaam to Selous game reserve and the flights can be booked by your tour operator.
There are a number of scheduled departure flights from Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Zanzibar to Selous game reserve.
Railroad, Selous reserve can also be accessed by TAZARA (Tanzania Zambia Railway) railroad system. The railroad starts from Dar es Salaam to the rail stop in Mtambwe and then connect to Selous park headquarters. When using railroad you will have great views of the landscapes, bushes and the journey takes about 4 to 5 hours.