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Spanning 50,000 square kilometres of uninhabited wilderness, Selous Game Reserve is the largest wildlife sanctuary in the whole of Africa. To put its size into perspective, it’s four times bigger than the Serengeti. With its unspoilt scenery and rich variety of animals, safaris here never fail to impress. The reserve is slightly off the tourist radar too, which means it’s refreshingly unmarred by human impact and, as clichéd as it sounds, has a hidden-gem sort of feel.
If you’re looking for an authentic wildlife experience, Selous fits the bill. In fact, it’s probably as close as you’ll get to experiencing Africa as it was back at the time of the famous 20th-century game hunters, including Frederick Selous - the reserve’s namesake. Hunting is still permitted in the south of the reserve, while the north is open for photographic safaris. The Rufiji River, which cuts through lush woodlands and open grasslands, is a bustling hub of animal activity, which can also be explored by boat.
Though the wildlife is undeniably spectacular, it’s only half of the story here. Compared to many of the northern parks in Tanzania, where the landscapes can become crowded with tourists, the peaceful and pristine countryside is a big part of the appeal at Selous. The miombo woodlands, borassus palms, acacia savanna and wetlands are a breathtaking backdrop to your safari, offering fantastic photo-ops at every turn. You’ll have to be quick to see Selous at its best though - much of the reserve’s abundance is at risk due to poaching and plans for mining and power projects.
Selous Game Reserve is paradise for naturalists and wildlife photographers. The diverse landscapes support a rich variety of mammals, reptiles, birds and plant life. It also attracts both eastern and southern African wildlife, including resident and migratory species. It’s no wonder the reserve is one of Tanzania’s three UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites.
A major selling point are the big-tusk elephants (though poaching has significantly decreased their numbers).You’ve also got a good chance of seeing lions, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, hippos and buffalos. Sightings of these big mammals are almost guaranteed with a safari, especially near the end of the dry season around the lakes and river. The reserve is also known for hosting some rare and endangered species, including a large proportion of Africa’s wild dogs and black rhinos. Bird-lovers won’t be disappointed either, with more than 450 species to spot.
As well as game drives, Selous offers a range of other activities that aren’t available at the more tourist-heavy national parks in Tanzania. Walking safaris offer the chance to enjoy an up-close view of the flora and fauna, while boat trips along the Rufiji River allow you to see the wealth of water-based wildlife, including hippos, crocodiles and aquatic birds. Self-drive and open safari vehicles are also allowed here, as well as fly-camping excursions where you can sleep beneath the stars in the middle of the African bush.
If you’re looking to venture off the beaten track and explore East Africa’s unspoilt wilderness, Selous Game Reserve is the place to go. Want to find out more about this captivating destination? Have a read of our blogs.
Our East Africa expert, Phillip Adams, is bringing you all the facts about why a flying safari is the hottest way to travel this year.
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