Why Travel Here?
Named after British hunter and writer Frederick Courteney Selous this pristine Reserve was declared a World Heritage Site in 1982. This is the worlds’ largest Game Reserve and is second only to the Serengeti in its concentration of wildlife.
In spite of its magnitude Selous is little visited with only around 4000 visitors a year. This adds tremendous appeal to visitors as it gives a true sense of being in pristine wilderness away from the trodden tourist routes. It has been labelled“The World’s Largest Unspoilt Wilderness”.
Situated in the south eastern part of Tanzania. Selous Game Reserve covers around 50,000 square kilometres, which is about 6% of Tanzania’s land surface. Almost twice the size of Belgium it is the world’s largest game reserve. The Selous Game Reserve is part of the Selous ecosystem (area of 75,000 square kilometres), which includesMikumi National Park and Kilombero Game Controlled Area.
70% of Tanzania’s elephants are found in this reserve, approximately 60 000. Impressive buffalo herds combine to a total of 160 000, while around 40 000 hippo inhabit the river systems and 5 000 lion patrol the Reserve. Other animals found here include leopard, African Wild Dog, and rhino, Burchell’s Zebra, bushbuck, cheetah, giraffe, Greater kudu, Liechtenstein’s’ hartebeest, impala, Nyasaland gnu, brindled gnu, reedbuck, sable antelope, Sharpe’s grysbok, Spotted hyena, waterbuck, warthog, and wildebeest.
Of the impressive 440 species of bird identified here, this includes African snipe, Bataleur eagle, Crested lark, Green-headed oriole, Knob-billed duck, herons, kingfishers, geese and Southern Ground hornbill.
The altitude varies from 100 metres in the northeast to 1,200 metres in the southwest. A large area of the reserve is drained by the Rufiji River and tributaries, which include the Luwegu, Kilombero, Great Ruaha, Luhombero and Mbarangardu (the only permanent flowing streams). The Rufiji is formed by the Luwegu and Kilombero which join at the Shughuli Falls. The Rufiji River naturally splits the ecosystem into two distinct parts.
Beho Beho is where Frederick Courtney Selous, the famous naturalist and hunter was killed. Lake Tagalala and the beautiful hinterland around it are the major attraction in the area.
Stiegler’s Gorge, 100 metres deep and 100 metres wide, is a magnificent feature 8 kilometres long. The road to the Gorge follows a very scenic route through hilly woodland where kongoni, zebra, buffalo and eland are common. The Gorge was named after a Swiss adventurer Stiegler was killed there by an elephant at the turn of the last century. A rickety cable car ferries safari vehicles across the Rufiji River at the Gorge and is not a journey recommended for the faint hearted!
Selous encompasses a wide variety of habitats but there are two dominant types: the eastern sector (17%) is mainly woodland grassland, and the western sector (about 75%) is deciduous miombo woodland. The other vegetation types found include open grasslands, dense thicket, acacia woodland, riverine and ground water forest. With its extensive area of miombo woodlands, the Selous is one of the largest forests under protection. The swamps from an important habitat for wetland plants, reptiles and resident and migratory birds.
Annual rainfall ranges from 750 mm in the east to 1250 mm in the west, and falls mainly during the winter and spring months. Temperature ranges from 13 - 41 degrees Celsius. The best time to visit is during the dry season from July to October.
Nowhere else can one make walking or boating safaris through more spectacular wildlife concentrations. The Rufiji river and adjacent lakes provides a unique way to observe wildlife and see some of the best scenery in the Reserve. A trip on Lake Tagalala is a must for visitors to Beho Beho.Other activities include bird watching, game drives, and fishing for Tiger fish and Vundu (catfish) in the rivers of the Kilombero Game Controlled Area to the west of the Reserve.
A 4WD vehicle is essential for self-driving within the Reserve. The south eastern access is a 250km drive (7–8 hours) from Dar es Salaam via Mbiti, Mkongo and Mloka to Mtemere Gate, from where all the tourist camps can be reached.
The northern access a 350km drive (8–9 hours) from Dar es Salaam to the Matambwe gate. Matambwe is the headquarters of the Reserve and around 70 rangers live there.
most guests fly in on fully catered fly-in safaris to the private lodges. The airstrips at Mtemere, Mbuyu, Beho Beho, Sand Rivers, Stiegler’s Gorge and Selous Safari Camp can be reached by chartered light aircraft or scheduled flights from Dar es Salaam within an hour.
By train: The TAZARA railway passes through the northern edge of the Reserve. Trains run 4 times a week and it takes about 4 hours to reach either Fuga Station or Matambwe Halt Station. Visitors must make prior arrangements to be met there.