Entering the Selous Game Reserve you are immediately influenced by its languid atmosphere. It is a place of beauty and peace where the great meandering Rufiji River
Photo by Michael Lund Markussen
sets the tranquil pace. This grandiose river, its tributaries and associated wetlands, lakes and swamps that spread through the heart of the reserve, is one of the largest water catchment areas in East Africa. This makes the Selous home to to an abundance of varied water and bird life as well as to one of the the greatest concentration of big game left on earth.
Along the shores with its conspicuous birdlife, hippos rest languidly in the shallows. Motionless crocodiles line the riverbank, releasing heat through their open jaws.
The grassy plains with their seasonally flooded pans are home to lions, hyenas, giraffes, waterbuck, zebras, wildebeest, buffalos and antelopes. It is also one of few areas in East Africa where you have a fair chance of seeing the endangered African wild dog. Tanzania's largest population of elephant roam the reserve in an area more than four times the size of Serengeti. In the dry season they migrate between the Selous and Mozambique's Niassa Game Reserve in the south. Photos by John Metzger
The Selous possesses a stunning and diverse landscape: hot volcanic springs, Borassus palm fringed channels, oxbow lakes and lagoons, riverine forests with impermeable undergrowth, miombo woodland, billowing grassland and rocky mountains. Stieglers Gorge, where the Great Ruaha River meets the Rufiji River, is just one breathtaking example of Mother nature’s spectacular scenery.
The game reserve was established in 1922 and named in honour of Captain Frederick Courtney Selous - a naturalist, explorer and hunter - who died here in action during the first world war and was buried within the reserve. During the late nineteenth century, when being a "great white hunter" still had a romantic aura about it, he tracked big game throughout southern Africa, including the Rufiji area. Hunting is a big part of Selous’ history and a large part of the area still consists of concessions open for controlled hunting with special permits. One concession, Lukula, in the southernmost part of the park offers photographic safaris. This scenic part of the park, wild and unrestrained, is an area which not many people visit.
The Selous is a World Heritage site and with its more than 50 000 sq km it is the most extensive protected ecosystem, not only in Tanzania but in the whole of Africa. It is classified as one of the very few remaining pristine true wilderness areas in existence. Because it is most easily accessible only by small aircraft, the Selous Game Reserve has remained one of Tanzanias untouched gems. Here you can combine the classic game drive with night game drives, leisurely boatrides, bush walks and even fishing for tiger fish and Vandu catfish in the river, thus enhancing your experience considerably.
Dry Season: The dry season sets in during June to mid November and is the best time for game viewing along the rivers and lakes. Elephants come out of the bush at that time and predators are more commonly seen.
December to February is good for game viewing but can be rather hot and humid.
Rainy Season: mid November to mid December and March to May are wonderful for birdlife and lush scenery but many roads become impassable after heavy rains.
Most of the camps in southern Selous are closed during April and May.
The sun setting over Rufiji River Photo by John Metzger