Tanzania : The Selous
The Selous is a vast 54,600 square kilometre swathe of untamed wilderness in Southern Tanzania, teeming with game. Its size and location means this remote and beautiful area hasn't opened up to tourism in the same way as much of the rest of Africa, and it’s an excellent destination for the safari connoisseur as well as first-timers who would like to explore the wilderness by boat and on foot as well as on vehicles.
The Great Rufiji River meanders through the reserve, and a highlight of staying in the Selous is a peaceful cruise down the river along doum-palmed banks abundant with crocodiles, hippos and a wide variety of birdlife. Another highlight is the walking safaris, which teach you about the habitat and flora and fauna, giving you a fascinating and different dimension to your safari.
The animals in the Selous are not used to seeing many people and are therefore quite wild but you are seeing them in a totally natural and unspoilt environment. Elephant and giraffe are commonly seen, as well as lion, kudu sable and the more rare wild-dog, for which the Selous is famous. Part of the Southern Circuit, the Selous combines well with Ruaha and the Spice Islands.
Siwandu is a charming, luxury tented camp on the banks of Lake Nzerekera, which is in the northern Selous Game Reserve and an area with the highest density of game. The camp has 13 tents, divided into two camps, North and South, each with their own dining room, bar and swimming pool. The smartly decorated tents are under thatch and set on stilts. They each have lovely colonial-style decor with enormous wooden beds and dark indigenous wood furnishings including a writing desk on the deck overlooking the lake bound to inspire! The bathroom is spacious and inviting, with a big al fresco shower. The bar and sitting room are also timelessly furnished with large sofas and coffee tables, and in both north and south camp they have great views out to the lake, where you can enjoy spectacular game viewing. Activities include walking and boat safaris as well as game drives and for those who want to enjoy a real sense of the wilderness you can spend the night far out in the African bush in a specially set up camp.
Sand Rivers is the most luxurious lodge in the Selous, as well as being regarded as one of the best in Tanzania. It is set in a wonderfully romantic position with spectacular views over the magnificent Rufiji River, and has beautiful rooms and good guiding. There are four standard cottages, two suites and the Rhino House, which is set slightly away from the main lodge and is ideal for a special occasion. The main dining area and bar are under thatch and there is a swimming pool for cooling off in the heat of the day. The site was carefully chosen for its isolation, diversity of game, ecosystems and landscape, and as well as game drives, you can learn about the local flora and fauna with a guide on foot, or cruise down the Rufiji River on a boat to see the bird and water life. The Rufiji is home to a variety of fish, most common being catfish and tiger fish, and the lodge has a small selection of rods and fishing tackle. Sand Rivers offers fly camping for those who want to explore deeper into the reserve, walking during the day and spending the nights camped in the bush along your route. You sleep under the stars under mosquito-net tents that offer protection but give an uninterrupted panoramic view of the night sky from your soft linen pillow.
Beho Beho was the first camp in the Northern sector of the Selous Game Reserve, and is one of the most luxury camps in the Selous. It was completely refurbished in 2004, and its eight stone-and-thatch cottages, perched on the lower slopes of Namikwera Hills, offer panoramic views over the Rufiji river flood plain while also taking advantage of the cooling breeze. Each cottage has an en-suite bathroom with a dressing room and open air shower. The front of the banda is totally open and extends on to a spacious veranda which has a telescope so you can view the game on the plains below. The main lodge is furnished in the style of a private country house (it has been in the Bailey family for almost 30 years), but is open and breezy as it has very few walls. There is a full-size billiards table, a swimming pool, the Eagle's Nest for private dining and lots of cosy nooks and crannies. The excellent guides will take you on game drives and game walks which are a particular speciality. You can also visit the natural hot springs, go boating on the lakes or on a trip to see Fredrick Courtney Selous grave, the man after whom the reserve is named.
Sable Mountain Lodge is just outside the western boundary of the Selous Game Reserve, and is a great base to explore the northern areas of the reserve. The camp is spread out over a hillside of the Beho Beho mountains and surrounded by forest. There are eight stone cottages and four luxury tented rooms, all with spacious bathrooms and tremendous views of the Uluguru Mountains. The restaurant is on top of the hill with the Cup'n'Bucket bar, a new natural spring water swimming pool, and a tree-house overlooking a waterhole. Although outside the park, there is plenty of resident game in the area, and you will see a great variety on game drives. To explore deeper into the Selous, you can take a picnic lunch and stay out for the day. Walking safaris are also a highlight and often produce the unexpected such as dens and resting nocturnal animals, as well as teaching you about the local flora. Boat trips on Lake Tagalala are also very rewarding.
Set on the Rufiji River amidst borassus palms and tamarind trees, Selous Impala Camp is a lovely little camp. It’s not as chic as some of the other camps within the Selous but it has every comfort you could need and has a very friendly and intimate feel to it. There are eight very comfortable en-suite tented rooms, set up on decks and with small verandas. The restaurant is on the deck and dining is at individual tables, overlooking the river. The Rufiji River, with its network of channels, lakes and lagoons, offers the special opportunity to go on safari by boat as well as on game drives, excellent walking safaris and out fishing.
“Everything about this camp was excellent – very good and personal service, good food, friendly and very good guide. Lots of animals including two sightings of wild dog. The whole area is so pretty.”
James and Fiona, Buchlyvie
"Lovely situation, the staff were incredible and our highlight was the impromptu elephant visit at breakfast."
Caroline and Mark, Abergavenny
Lake Manze Camp is a great no-frills bush camp on the banks of Lake Manze, one of the richest game areas in the entire Selous, both in the dry and wet season. It is a fairly new camp (built in July 2007) and has 12 comfortable meru-style canvas tents, with double-zip locking and mesh windows. Set in the shade of doum palms and terminalia, the tents are spacious and all have a stone veranda from where you can watch the wildlife on the lake including families of hippos, sunbathing crocodiles, plentiful elephants and herons. The simplicity of the camp and the surroundings gives a great sense of being in the wilderness.
“I would and am thoroughly recommending Lake Manze to everyone and anyone who will listen. The guides were absolutely fantastic as were the staff in camp. All your basic comforts were catered for to the highest standard without feeling that you were living in unacceptable comfort compared to your environment.”
"Every time we thought we had seen it all something else appeared. It is the nearest we are ever likely to come to being at one with nature."
Pamela and Guy, Cambridge