Covering 45,000km² of wilderness, with grassy plains, open woodland, mountains and forests, the Selous Game Reserve (pronounced Selooo and named after the great explorer and hunter, Frederick Courtney Selous) is Africa’s largest game reserve. It’s about three times the size of South Africa’s Kruger National Park, and twice the size of the Serengeti National Park. In a fitting tribute, it is also one of Tanzania’s three World Heritage Sites.
Selous contains about one third of all the wild dogs (often called painted dogs), in the world. Their need to roam vast areas and their formidable hunting skills have caused many to be shot by farmers, but here in Selous they have boundless woodlands and savannahs in which to roam.
Along the Rufiji River, an array of grazing antelopes, crocodiles and hippos are commonly seen as well as black and white colobus monkeys in the riverine forests. During the dry season from June to October, the concentration of animals along the river is astonishing. Linked to the Rufii is Lake Tagalala where waterbuck, reedbuck and bushbuck gather at the water’s edge. Magnificent sickle-horned sable and curly-horned greater kudu tend to keep to the longer grass and wooded shrubby areas.
In the dry season an ancient migration of elephants takes place between the Selous and Mozambique’s Niassa Game Reserves. This is one of the largest natural trans-boundary eco-systems in Africa and at the last consensus it was estimated that 64,400 elephants roam the two parks, with 84% on the Tanzanian side.
Fierce tiger fish and smooth slippery vandu catfish are caught in the rivers. The latter is equipped with primitive lungs allowing it to cross land for short distance in an attempt to find water water during the dry season.
Activities in Selous
One of the main attractions of the Selous is the variety of game viewing activities available here. They all offer trips through the reserve by boat, vehicle and on foot. Boat safaris allow you to drift on the lakes and channels, approaching birds and animals closely, including crocodile and hippo. All of the lodges also offer guided game walks for those aged 12 and over (16 at Lake Manze and Impala), which come with a real likelihood of encountering big game such as; elephant, buffalo and even lion on foot. Game drives are reliably rewarding, especially towards the end of the dry season, when large mammals concentrate around the five lakes. Better still are the overnight fly-camping excursions offered by some of the camps, which entail sleeping out beneath a glorified mosquito net in the middle of the bush.
Located in southern Tanzania, this is Africa's largest park and the second largest in the world. To put this into perspective, it is twice the size of Denmark. However, this statistic is misleading as a great proportion of Selous is off limits to visitors, who are restricted to the area north of the River Rufiji. Yet even though the accessible parts of the park only account for around 5% of its total size, Selous is a fantastic place to visit. Comprising dense tracts of miombo wilderness, palm-fringed channels of the meandering Rufiji, sweeping sandbanks and marshy islands it is a pretty park and attracts a plethora of exciting game and stunning birds.