The Selous Game Reserve

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Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve has gained almost mythical status within safari circles, as the largest game reserve on the continent, home to the most animals and was always renowned as a place with very few visitors.  Great numbers of elephant and lion, as well as hippo and crocs on the Rufiji River.  Named after the famous hunter turned conservationaist, Frederick Selous, it was also home to some action during the First World War.


Where:   Located around a one hour flight or an eight hour drive west of Dar Es Salaam in southern Tanzania, with easy access by scheduled flights to the other southern Tanzanian parks or the island of Zanzibar.

Why:  The scope of the Selous is huge : over 22,000 square miles making it almost four times the size of the Serengeti, with many opportunities for game walks and, boat trips as well as game drives.  It is this range of activities along with the relative remoteness and exclusivity of the safari experience that makes the Selous such a draw.

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When: The Selous is more geographically and climatically similar to Southern Africa than the rest of East Africa, and so its game viewing is at its best during the dry season from June to October.  Even then, be aware that the sheer size of the Reserve makes statistics deceptive: the Selous might have the biggest populations of elephant and lion in East Africa, but the elephant herds are much smaller and often shyer than in other areas and there is a huge amount of cover to hide in – even for an elephant!

Where in the Reserve: Don’t be fooled by the size of the Selous.  Although it’s over 22,000 sq. miles in size, in reality it’s only the portion, around a sixth of the Reserve, north of the Rufiji River which is readily accessible to visitors, whilst much of the southern portion is relatively uninteresting and hard to get through, miombo woodland.   Most camps are therefore located along the river and beautiful floodplains that surround it,  This is also the most game-rich area with good numbers of predators including opportunities to see the endangered wild dog.

How long: You need at least 3 nights in the Selous, 4 or 5 if you want to visit two camps.

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What to do: Game viewing by open safari vehicle, as well as escorted game walks and boat trips on the Rufiiji River.  Longer walking safaris and fly camps are also possibilitiies from some camps.  Terrific bird watching particularly in the flood plain areas and along the river.

My View:  A place for the safari connoisseur!  You need to want to use the activities on offer in the Selous: walking and boats as well as game drives and to be prepared to work a little harder for your game than in the parks to the north. In short, that you are prepared to sacrifice the big herds and easier game viewing of the northern parks to enjoy a more pristine, wilderness safari experience  with extra activities.   Easy access to Zanzibar makes the Selous an ideal choice if you want to combine safari and beach and are short of time.

For more information on the Selous and Tanzania’s other safari destinations visit:

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Next on the Top Ten – Zambia’s Luangwa National Park.

About ajourneyintoafrica

I’ve both lived and worked in Africa in the safari industry and now have over 32 years of safari experience. I first visited Africa as an 18 year old, when I developed a huge interest and love for the continent. I led my first safari in 1986, after gaining an environmental science degree from London University, and have always been captivated by Africa’s animal and bird-life, by its huge horizons and wide open spaces, and by its people and cultures.

2 responses to “The Selous Game Reserve

  1. oh man – I long to go on safari again!!

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