Where: Tanzania, East Africa
Top species: Elephants, buffalo, crocodiles, hippos, wild dogs, birds, eland, zebra
Best sight: Elephants bathing in the lagoons
Watch out for: Hippos and crocs while cruising on the river
Where it’s at
At 30,000 square miles, Selous is the world’s largest game reserve, bigger than Switzerland and the second largest nature site in the world. The park gets its name form hunter-explorer Frederick Courtney Selous, a best selling novelist of Victorian England whose grave lies inside the reserve.
What wildlife live here?
This East African wilderness has been largely untouched by people and supposedly contains the world’s largest concentration of elephants, buffalo, crocodiles, hippos and wild dogs. Other species to keep a watchful eye on include lion, giraffe, baboon, zebra and the greater kudu. Over three quarters of a million animals inhabit this great wilderness, and no humans are allowed to settle there.
The park is split into two contrasting grounds, the Selous and the Mikumi, split by the Rufiji River. The reserve combines many types of vegetation, from the Beho Beho mountains to the Rufiji river with lakes, streams and swamps full of buffalo, waterbuck and Borassus palms. Stieglers Gorge is a scenic hilly woodland near a small creek and the habitat of hartebeest, zebra and eland.
The highlight of a trip to the park has to be the river safari on Lake Tagalala. Fishing is allowed on the Lake if you get a permit from the camp. The area is a fantastic site for spotting lions and game. The safaris take a day and the Beho Beho Camp, one of the few places to stay in Selous, will arrange one for you. Beho Beho camp is one of the more luxurious places to stay, costing $200 a night, with all the mod cons and a safari thrown in. Hot sulphur streams just five minutes away from the main lake, pouring down the moutain in streams before joining into a series of pools surrounded by lush vegetation.
Selous is the most remote and least visited park in Africa. It was once home to the biggest concentration of elephants in Africa, but during the “Ivory Wars” of the 1970’s the number were horrifically depleted from 110,000 to only around 40,000 today. Sadly, this is the largest concentrations of elephants in the world. Your best chance to elephant spot and the most divine way to see the reserve is by boat where you can see elephants as they come to bathe in the lagoons. Watch out for hippos and crocodiles!
The reserve is also a haven for bird lovers; there are numerous different species including the goliath heron, fish eagle and kingfishers to excite any keen ornithologist.
There are many types of safari on offer whatever danger factor you seek or interests you have, including game drive, walking, and boat safaris.
– The best time to visit the park is during the dry season from July to October.
– You need a four wheel drive vehicle to get around the reserve. The south gate is around 8 hours drive from Dar Es Salaam and the north gate around the same driving time from the city.
Selous Game Reserve
Go 2 Africa.com’s guide to the natural wonder of the reserve.
By Susi O’Neill