Walking Safari in Selous Game ReserveBy Ian Williamson
Did you Know? Selous Game Reserve, covering 55,000 sq km (an area larger than Switzerland), is the largest game reserve in Africa.
The walking safaris are usually based around a campsite which will be positioned under tall shady trees close to one of the many lagoons close to the Rufiji River. The Selous is a magical place and simply sitting in front of your tent you are able to watch the endless procession of birds and animals throughout the day. The camps are small with up to about six tents. Some are made from mosquito netting and you are truly sleeping under African skies.
The tents are large enough to stand in and have proper beds with mattresses. It is comfortable by camping standards but remember you are in the wilds of Africa and being prepared to rough it just a little is a requirement.
Showers are usually bucket showers but the water will be hot. Relaxed meals with excellent food are prepared over open fire and the camp cooks are trained chefs.
Another great draw of the Selous is this huge reserve has high concentrations of animals and a low concentration of tourists and is probably one of the best places to see animals in Tanzania.
Fact Selous Game Reserve is the star of the southern safari circuit. The reserve is named after the intrepid Fredrick Courtney Selous, a famous Victorian era explorer and naturalist.
Tanzania does not allow walking safaris in its National Parks with just one or two exceptions, however, the Selous is classified as a Game Reserve and so walking safaris are allowed.
The walks are usually three to four hours long and the game around the river and lake systems act as a magnet for a vast mixture of animals including lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, hippo and crocodile. The area is also home to one of the few remaining wild dog populations in the world. There are more than 300 species of bird here and this is a paradise for any animal enthusiast.
The buffalo population stands in excess of 110,000. Waking in the morning, around the camping area you may be able to witness hundreds of buffalo coming to drink water from the Rufiji River. This alone is one reason [among many] to make the Selous your safari destination. The buffalo have a reputation to be bad tempered and dangerous to humans. This ferocious reputation is a little unfair as like most animals they tend to avoid humans, unless harassed or wounded.
The best time to book a walking safari in the Selous is from June until September when the weather is dry and warm - with animals being drawn to the plentiful water around the Rufiji River. Grazing is also spare on the ground making this time of year easy for spotting the large concentrations of game.
If birds are your main passion then the hotter and greener season of October to March is a good time to come with many young hatching at this time. Be aware that from November through to January there is a good chance of rain.
Tip! Although temperatures vary across the country, the hottest months for Tanzania are October to February.
The Selous is not far from Dar es Salaam and there are air strips to the Selous making access easily. The cost of the regular scheduled flights in light aircraft is not expensive from Dar es Salaam, and most camps will include transfers from the airstrips to the camp as part of their service.
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