Exploring Deep into the wilderness of the Great Selous Game Reserve : Tanzania as a spectacular destination, must-visit for every safari-goer. It is home to world-famous attractions like the Great Serengeti National Park; the home of the Great Migration, Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in African not to mention the vibrant cultural ethnicities diversely distributed in different regions of this fabulous country. Over 50% of Tanzanian land is protected as conservation areas. Not to forget the 17 national parks, 17 game reserves and various conservation areas; all these are found in Tanzania. Ngorongoro Crater is another breath-taking natural feature found in Tanzania; tens of thousands of tourists visit this world’s largest unbroken caldera annually.
The Great Selous Game Reserve is a largest game reserve in Africa and the Africa’s second biggest protected area. This majestic game reserve was identified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. It is currently known as Nyerere National Park (since 2019) and it holds the title of the largest national park in Tanzania. Its actual size ranges between 50,000 square kilometres (54,600 square kilometres to be exact). Selous Game Reserve is four times bigger than the Great Serengeti.
Selous is accessible through air, road and railway. By road; you can a bus ticket or private car from Dar es Salaam. You will pass through Mikumi National Park and drop by Matembwe gate. This route is 220km long and takes about 4 hours. Traveling to Selous by road makes you enjoy the scenic views throughout your way to the entrance gate. Chartered flights from Ruaha National Park and from Dar es Salaam are also available. A flight from Ruaha takes up to 90 minutes while a flight from Dar es Salaam takes 45 minutes. A railway route from Dar es Salaam to Matembwe gate is also offered by TAZARA. The best time for visiting Selous Game Reserve is from June to October though birders may enjoy better scenes of migratory birds between November and April.
Unlike the Serengeti, Selous Game Reserve is remote and less visited. Therefore, you will explore the untouched wilderness without a crowd. The wilderness of the Great Selous Game Reserve is one of the hidden gems in Tanzania. Your visit to this game reserve will expose you to the following attractions;
Diverse wildlife; Being a large protected area makes Selous Game Reserve to be a home of diverse wildlife residing it. Selous is home to most of the animals making the Big Five. Elephants, lions, leopards and Cape buffalos are frequently sighted while the black rhino is rarely seen. Game rides through dense shrubs, tall grasslands and isolated places may reward you with the sightings of the black rhino, Exploring Deep into the wilderness of the Great Selous Game Reserve.
Grassland plains host large herds of buffalos, zebras, hartebeests, wildebeests, Thomson’s gazelles, antelopes, Grant’s gazelles, elephants and warthogs. Elephants can also be spotted in woodlands and floodplains especially during dry season. During dry season animals accumulate near the Rufiji River and some riverine forests. Predators like lions, jackals, leopards, cheetahs, spotted and striped hyenas and hunting dogs.
Other wild animals encountered in the wilderness of the Great Selous include greater kudu, lesser kudu, gnu, Nyasaland gnu, reedbuck, waterbuck, crocodiles and hippos usually spotted in the Rufiji River.
Birders’ paradise; Selous is home to over 450 bird species offering a beautiful colourful image to birders and ornithologists. Colourful singing birds are more than attractive species you should be staring at. Some of birds which are frequently encountered include broad-billed roller, white-headed vulture, white-fronted bee-eater, palm-nut vulture, African spoonbill, Bohm’s bee-eater, white-backed night heron, Spur-winged lapwing, Pel’s fishing owl, White-fronted plover, African skimmer, Yellow-billed stork, Pearl-spotted owlet, Black-winged stilt, Brown-necked parrot, White-headed lapwing, African wattled lapwing and many others, Exploring Deep into the wilderness of the Great Selous Game Reserve
The magnificent Rufiji River; This river is the father of rivers in Tanzania i.e. it the largest one among all rivers. This gigantic river flows through Selous and nourishes the flora and fauna of this great game reserve. Along this river, riverine forests grow well supporting the lives of colourful birds, hippos, crocodiles and other stunning wildlife.
The Rufiji River also divides the great Selous into two parts; the Northern part and the Southern part. The former takes about 5% of the total area while the latter takes the rest of remaining area. The northern part was dedicated for photographic safaris while the Southern part was dedicated for hunting purposes. Hunting activities are not conducted in national parks. Therefore, after being upgraded into a status of a national park i.e. Nyerere National Park, hunting activities have been prohibited.
River Rufiji have a huge network of swamps, “small lakes”, tributaries and channels. This network serves as water sources during the dry season. You will enjoy the sightings of large herds of buffalos, elephants and antelopes which accumulate in these water sources. Boat rides, canoeing and swimming are some superb activities that can be done along the Rufiji network.
Lake Tagalala; This is another hidden gem inside the wilderness of the Great Selous. Lake Tagalala is like a “lifeline” in the game reserve as it serves as a source of water during the dry season. Large herds of elephants, buffalos, antelopes, impalas, warthogs, zebras and other animals gather close to this lake for water. The most interesting animals are the Tokitoki prides of lions which gather close to this lake for easy hunting. Other predators like hyenas, leopards, hunting dogs, jackals and cheetahs gather close to the shores of this lake looking for easy preys.
Water birds like flamingos and ducks decorate the shores of Lake Tagalala. Photos with a background of birds are worth a post to your social media accounts. Yes, you will get more double taps, tags and retweets, Exploring Deep into the wilderness of the Great Selous Game Reserve.
Superb vegetation; Selous Game Reserve is mainly made up of woodland savannah grasslands, rocky outcrops, kopjes and thick shrubs with thorns. Lush forests also stretch from one area to another and are made of deciduous Miombo trees (a Swahili word for baobab) and acacia trees. These trees harbour different birds and primates. Rocky outcrops made of thick shrubs, have thorns and spines.
You may be wondering on what you should be doing in the wilderness of the Great Selous Game Reserve. Here are some activities you can do at this Selous Game Reserve;
Paying tribute to the grave of Fredrick Selous; Selous Game Reserve was named after the British conservationist and explorer, the late Fredrick Selous. He was murdered by a German sniper in this reserve during the First World War. Selous was Cecil Rhodes’s right hand man in his operation to conquer the Southern Rhodesia (currently Zimbabwe). They were outnumbered by German soldiers and was shot dead and Selous Game Reserve was named after him.
Guided nature walks; An armed ranger will accompany you through wilderness of the great Selous Game Reserve. Two types of walking safaris are offered by various tour operators; short walks and long walks. Short walks take 1 to 4 hours while long walks take more than 4 hours.
You should be informed on the charges for either a short walk or long walk. Adult East African citizens are charged a fee of 5,000 Tanzania shillings for a short walk while children of or above the age of 12 years are charged a fee of 2,500 Tanzania shillings. Adult non-East African citizens are charged a fee of 20 USD while children of or above the age of 12 years are charged a fee of 10 USD for a short walk. The fee for adult East African citizens is 10,000 Tanzania shillings for a long walk while for children of or above 12 years are charged 5,000 Tanzania shillings. The fee for adult non-East African citizens is 25 USD for a long walk while for children of or above 12 years are charged 15 USD, Exploring Deep into the wilderness of the Great Selous Game Reserve
On your walking trip, you will encounter small animals like rabbits and reptiles like lizards and hyraxes. Impressive birds are also encountered during walking safaris. You will also observe flora species like giant baobab trees in close distance.
Hot air ballooning; Have does it feel to view wildlife in a bird’s eye view? The answer to this question is booking a hot air balloon safari on your own. You will capture the scenic views of wildlife, vegetation and natural features while floating on air very slowly.
A safari through the wilderness of the great Selous Game Reserve is cheap and affordable. An average price for a safari starts from 500 USD to 1500 USD per person per night. The price also vary depending on the type of accommodation.