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My top tip for Tanzania
Overall rating

The Selous is my favourite game area in Tanzania, and possibly the whole of Africa. The landscape, with its emerald-green swamplands, dead trees submerged in water and shaggy-topped palms, is ravishingly beautiful. You have to work a bit harder for your game sightings – this isn’t the Serengeti – but that’s half the thrill or being in such a huge area – 55,000 square kilometers of uninhabited bush, only a fraction of which is open to the public. If you have a competent driver and guide, you can quite easily pass a whole day out here without seeing another soul.

A walking safari here is a must, even if only for a morning – the thrill of getting near elephants or giraffe on foot is incredible, and without the noise and smell of a car, you’ll spot the smaller often overlooked birds, insects and mammals that you’d miss in a vehicle. If you can, I highly recommend a multi-day walking safari - camping on the banks of a river, sleeping in a bedroll or a small tent and emerging at dawn to a steaming mug of coffee in the African dawn. You’ll wonder why you ever went anywhere else…

Boat Safaris, Wild Dogs & Wilderness
Overall rating

For repeat Tanzania visitors, Selous tops my list of recommended safari destinations. Attractions include the sublime riverine scenery, year-round greenery and the complete climate and topographical contrasts from the northern circuit. Wildlife is not present in the same concentrations as in Tanzania’s northern circuit parks, but there is still plenty of it. Elephants, hippos and crocodiles are guaranteed, and species variety is excellent. Boat safaris are a highlight unique to Selous, and an experience not to be missed. Another essential Selous experience is a walking safari, exploring the bush on foot by day and sleeping in the wild by night. The chance to see wild dogs is a draw too, although sightings shouldn't be counted on; I've only seen them once in numerous sojourns.

For those on safari for the first time, a northern circuit itinerary will likely be more satisfying due to the greater abundance of wildlife, the ease of animal spotting and the north’s more developed roads and facilities. For visitors who have already experienced the northern circuit, or for those who want to combine a coastal or island-based itinerary with rewarding wildlife watching, the Selous is ideal.

True Wilderness – and wild dogs
Overall rating

If you’re after a true wilderness sensation that goes beyond the confines of a Land Cruiser, then come to Selous Game Reserve. The size of Switzerland, it is mostly untamed bush. A vast chunk of Selous, most of the land south of the Rufiji River, is sadly out of bounds for photographic safaris, set aside for private concessions specializing in trophy hunting. But the small section north of the river, with beautiful grassy plains and acacia woodlands, is still wild enough and unfrequented enough to feel that blissful bush solitude. Don’t expect to see wildlife around every corner – this isn’t Ngorongoro – but do expect an exhilarating experience, walking, canoeing, fly camping and hopefully seeing the rare and elusive wild dog, along with elephant, buffalo and a host of hungry predators.

It took me 16 years of travelling to Africa to finally see African wild dogs – or painted wolves as they’re now called. And I saw them in the Selous. For that reason, it has very special memories for me. I’d become almost obsessed with trying to see them, so when we came across a pack of 23, from very young pups to the alpha male and female, all resting by a muddy pool, I didn’t want to leave. We stayed with them for three hours, watching them greeting each other and socializing, playing, hunting, feeding, sleeping and squealing: it was one of our best-ever wildlife sightings, and well worth the wait.

Average Expert Rating

  • 4.3/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Rating Breakdown

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