Selous Game Reserve

The second largest game reserve in Tanzania yet much quieter than the northern parks, with tremendous game viewing. Large numbers of giraffes, wild dogs, big herds of buffalo, elephants and predators.

Selous Game Reserve

This huge reserve covers almost 5,000,000 hectares and is named after Sir Frederick Selous, an early pioneer of conservation. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Within a short flight from Dar es Salaam you can be in this vast wilderness. Easy access, diverse wildlife and varied activities make this an excellent safari destination, one that appeals to both novice and seasoned safari-goers. It’s also less visited than the popular northern circuit parks and reserves, so feels uncrowded, a definite plus.

Things to do in Selous

  • Game watching – in Selous you can spend a morning, afternoon or full day on a game drive. Due to the reserve’s size there’s much to see and in a 4x4 vehicle you can travel to different areas each day. You are likely to see large numbers of elephants, giraffes, zebras, impalas, buffalos and elands, and there are healthy populations of lions, too. A classic safari experience.
  • Take to the water – you can go boating on the Rufiji River delta and a number of lakes including Manze and Tagalala. Crocodiles and hippos are much in evidence, as are fish eagles and storks, plus other animals at the water’s edge, particularly in the dry season. Boat trips are often combined with a 4x4 drive to form an all-day safari.
  • Take to your feet – led by an experienced guide and armed ranger you leave the vehicle behind for an up-close nature walk. The immediacy of the bush is powerful, you really feel a part of your surroundings. Details you that might otherwise elude you are pointed out: tracks, insects, plants, and their significance explained. Fascinating and enlightening.
  • Wild dogs – very much a prized viewing, even some safari aficionados have not ticked these elusive creatures off their list. You stand as good a chance here as anywhere else in Africa, as Selous has strong populations of wild, or painted, dogs. The camps in the east of the reserve offer the best sightings.
  • Maasai villages – spending time with local people adds a human element to your stay in Selous. See the Maasai in their community and learn how they use the relatively scarce resources to make a living. You are escorted by a guide from your lodge, often a Maasai, who helps you meet different individuals and can give you an insight into daily life.
  • Fly camping – a popular option and one that brings you close to nature. Fly camps vary in nature, but most involve a walk or ride to the sleep-out platform, where you are served sundowners followed by dinner, and time for stargazing before you ascend the platform to fall sleep to the sounds of the bush. Awaking at dawn is just as magical. After breakfast you return to camp. Longer fly camping trips combined with walking safaris are possible.
  • Bird watching – Selous is a birding hotspot with over 440 species, and both keen amateur and professional ornithologists will find much to delight them. The waterways and lakes offer some of the best bird sightings. Birding is good year-round, and outstanding when the migratory species arrive from Europe and northern Africa in April.

When to visit Selous

From June to October the climate is warm and dry, and the lack of water in this dry season means wildlife is more easily spotted by water sources. There are short rains in November, but these have little effect on safaris. After this the weather gets hotter towards the long rains in April and May when most properties are closed.

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  • Wildlife viewing is always best in the dry season, less vegetation makes for easier spotting
  • Wildlife will congregate around water sources
  • Rain is not likely and when it does rain it doesn’t rain for long
  • The dry season has fewer mosquitos, always a plus
  • Early mornings and evenings can be cold
  • Certain areas can be prone to crowding
  • It is very dry and dusty


  • Lush green scenery makes a good backdrop for photos
  • Birding is excellent at this time of year with many migratory species moving in
  • It’s always less crowded in the rainy months of March, April and May
  • Special offers can often be grabbed at this time of year
  • Some lodges will close in April and May
  • Roads can be muddy and treacherous during the rains
  • The rain is often accompanied by high temperatures and humidity
  • Wildlife viewing is not as good as the dry season

Where to stay in Selous

Despite having only a handful of lodges and camps, there is a good range of styles and prices. You don’t get large lodges here, with most places having between 6 and a dozen guest rooms or tents. In terms of luxury there are top range camps and simpler options spanning a variety of budgets. Most, though not all, properties have swimming pools, and most offer a mix of activities.