Southern Circuit


Tanzania’s Selous (Nyerere National Park), which is 200 kilometers inland from Dar es Salaam, is the only significant wildlife reserve on the humid coastal plateau. It has a distinctively laid-back and tropical feel, a good variety of wildlife, most notably wild dogs, and a top-notch motorboat safari.



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In southern Tanzania, there is a very significant conservation area called Selous Game Reserve.

The only significant safari reserve that is situated on the coast is Selous. It has a very relaxed atmosphere as a result, and its unusually humid climate may be oppressive to some.

In 2020, a sizable portion of the Selous Game Reserve to the north of the main river was divided off and given the new name Nyerere National Park. This action significantly increased the level of protection offered to the landscapes and wildlife while also giving the various lodge operators greater tenure security.

The Great Rufiji River motorboat safari in the Selous region is particularly well-known, though walking safaris are also widely available.

Selous is a particularly stronghold for African wild-dogs in addition to the usual assortment of savanna animals.

Selous most frequently appears as a brief safari add-on in trips to Zanzibar that are more beach-focused. For a longer and more varied safari, it can also be combined with Ruaha.

Selous History

Under Hermann von Wissmann’s German colonial administration, the Selous region was first designated as a protected area in 1896. In 1905, it was turned into a reserve for wildlife trophy hunting.

The reserve was renamed in honor of Frederick Courtney Selous, a renowned British soldier, big game hunter, and conservationist. Selous had fought alongside Cecil Rhodes in the British Empire’s attempt to annex Zimbabwe and had gained notoriety in 1899 for speaking out against the Anglo-Boer war in South Africa.

Selous hunted throughout Africa, but especially in this region starting around 1871. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, however, he began to focus more on wildlife conservation than on its continued eradication.

When the First World War broke out in 1916, the sixty-year-old Selous was appointed Captain of the 25th Royal Fusiliers and was awarded the DSO that year. Selous led the pursuit of a small German guerrilla force that was wreaking havoc across the Tanganyika Territory thanks to his in-depth knowledge of the bush. Selous was assassinated on January 1, 1917, by a sniper not far from the Beho Beho River’s banks, and his grave can still be seen today.

The British colonial administration expanded the protected area in 1922 and gave it the new name of Selous Game Reserve in his honor.


The Selous is actually larger than Switzerland, four times the size of the Serengeti National Park, and three times the size of South Africa’s enormous Kruger National Park, at 54,600 square kilometers. It contributes significantly to the enormous Selous-Niassa ecosystem, the largest expanse of wild bush in Africa at 150,000 square kilometers and extending into northern Mozambique.

The only significant game reserve in East Africa to be situated on the humid coastal plateau is Selous, which results in an uncharacteristically relaxed and tropical atmosphere.

Parts of the reserve, which is dominated by the Great Rufiji River, which meanders through a system of oxbow lakes and channels, are incredibly scenic.

There are many different vegetation zones on the largely flat terrain, including acacia, miombo, and palm forests, marshlands, and wide open grasslands. Distant hills provide perspective.

A very large and contentious new dam that is currently being built inside the reserve is anticipated to flood 1.8% of this enormous reserve.


With an estimated 120,000 buffaloes, 100,000 wildebeest, 35,000 plains zebras, 40,000 hippos, and 4,000 lions, the Selous is renowned for having a prodigious amount of wildlife.

Elephants, black rhinos, Maasai giraffes, greater kudus, waterbucks, bushbucks, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, elands, sables, African wild dogs, spotted hyenas, leopards, and Nile crocodiles are some of the other prominent species.

Lions are the most frequently sighted predator, while leopards and wild dogs are only occasionally seen.

Although not in the quantities and concentrations of a place like the Serengeti, you should see a wider range of major species during the dry season of June to October than most other reserves in East Africa.


There are more than 440 bird species known to exist in the Selous Game Reserve.

Highlights include pink-backed pelicans, giant kingfishers, ibises, palm swifts, carmine bee-eaters, white-fronted bee-eaters, African fish eagles, trumpeter hornbills, purple-crested turacos, egrets, herons, Malagasy squacco herons, and Pel’s fishing owls.


Daytime vehicle safaris, which are typically taken as morning and afternoon excursions, are the main activity in Selous.

Some lodges also provide full-day safaris, and we think the park is interesting and varied enough to warrant venturing outside of your camp’s immediate vicinity.

Off-road driving is allowed, which is unusual for Tanzania, making it much simpler to maximize significant sightings.

The motorboat safari in Selous is a true highlight. This reserve in East Africa might not be the only one to provide this kind of river safari, but it is unquestionably the best.

Elephant sightings along the riverbank are not uncommon, in addition to the obvious chance to see hippos and crocodiles, and the birding can be excellent. Some camps have access to Steigler’s Gorge, an atmospheric location where the river is surrounded by wooded hillsides.

A very enjoyable change of pace and opportunity to form a slightly more personal connection with the landscape is provided by the Selous safari operators’ ability to offer walking safaris.

Most camps set out on their walks in the morning, before the sun has fully risen, and occasionally finish with a bush breakfast in a remote area before continuing by car.

However, deliberate approaches to potentially dangerous animals like elephants and lions are rare during this walking safari; for those, you must travel to the nearby Ruaha or to Zimbabwe or Zambia.

For visitors looking for a slightly more personal and possibly thrilling bush experience, some lodges also offer overnight bivouac camping in far-off locations.

Interestingly, the majority of locals call this activity “fly-camping,” which is a throwback to the time when hunters would travel to and camp in “fly country,” a reference to the tsetse flies that once infested these wildlife areas and kept them free from human habitation.

Selous Tours

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