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Selous Game Reserve

Selous is Tanzania's richest, yet little known and unfrequented wilderness area, where it is still possible to feel the isolation, the vastness and the splendor of authentic travel in Africa as it once was.

Nyerere National Park in southern Tanzania is part of the Selous Game Reserve that covers 55,000 square kilometers of pristine wilderness designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. In 2019, Selous was split into Nyerere National Park in honor of the founder and first president of Tanzania, and had over 30,000 square kilometers allocated to it. It has been recognized as an important wildlife sanctuary since 1905. Four game reserves in the area were conjoined in 1922 to form the pioneering Selous Game Reserve, named after an English hunter, naturalist and soldier, who died in action there in 1917.

After Tanzanian independence, the reserve was expanded to include elephant migration routes and now boasts arguably having one of the largest elephant populations in Africa. No permanent human settlements are allowed within its boundaries although Tanzania cultural village tour activities are encouraged outside the Selous reserve boundary.

Apart from its massive herds of thousands of elephants and Cape buffalos, the reserve boasts a varied population of large mammals including huge pods of hippos and prides of lions as well as packs of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus in Latin) and families of black rhinoceros, both fast disappearing in other parts of East Africa

The greater game reserve wilderness is centered within the 90,000 square kilometers of the Selous ecology which includes other conservation areas, notably Kilombero Game Controlled Area to the west and Mikumi National Park to the north. This is very varied terrain. Disdainful giraffes feed delicately on acacia trees in deciduous miombo woodlands. Herds of wildebeest and antelopes graze on the lightly wooded grasslands north of the majestic Rufiji River, ever alert for prides of lions snoozing in the sun.

The Great Ruaha River runs into Nyerere National Park (Selous) near the Matambwe Gate, north of Beho Beho Hills, through a landscape of volcanic hot sulfur springs, fast running rapids and river gorges where long-crested eagles hunt for shrews or even baby monkeys: dropping feet-first from the skies with high, keening shrieks. Over 440 bird species have been recorded on this stretch and others expanses, making it a Mecca for twitchers on an avian-seeking trip in Selous.

It joins the stately Rufiji River with its navigable network of stunning oxbow lakes and tributaries forming an inland delta which rejoins to become a mighty waterway running to the Mtemere Gate and Airstrip to the east.

The flora is also special with flat-headed acacias in the savannah giving way to wide-trunked mahogany and root-headed baobab trees in deciduous forests, and doum palm trees rearing above spectacularly scenic Lake Manze, where flotillas of gray-green-eyed crocodiles float with lazy flicks of their powerful tails, or bask on the banks in noonday sun.

The rest of the area is deciduous miombo, riverine forest and palm groves, haunted by packs of round-eared, brightly patched African wild dogs, not to be found in such numbers anywhere else on expedition safaris in Tanzania. It is Tanzania’s richest, yet little known and unfrequented wilderness area, where it is still possible to feel the isolation, the vastness and the splendor of authentic travel in Africa as it once was.

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