Primate Holidays

Selous Game Reserve

Tanzania’s Selous game reserve is located in the Miombo woodlands between 130 and 500 kilometres south-west of Dar es Salaam. In northwest, Selous Game Reserve borders Mikumi National Park, Udzungwa Mountains National Park, and in the west, Kilombero Game Controlled Area.

The 50,000 square kilometre Selous National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park’s area is divided into different tenure and vegetation zones. Selous game reserve’s central area is made up of a flat, undulating topography with alluvial basins, protruding inselbergs, and confined woodlands and thickets. The southern part is steep, forested, and rough; in the south-western corner are the Mbarika Mountains, which climb to a height of 1300 metres. While the east and north of the Selous Game Reserve are made up of tree grasslands and are flooded by the Rufiji River during the rainy season, the west of the reserve is mountainous and forested with intervening wet lowlands.

Selous game reserve is home to a wide variety of animals and birds, as well as the 110,000 elephants that make up the biggest population of elephants on the African continent and the greatest population of lions anywhere on the continent. Other animals found in Selous game reserve to see on a Tanzania safari includes buffaloes, zebras, impalas, giraffes, greater kudus, waterbucks, bushbucks, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, elands, African wild dogs, brindled gnus, Nyasaland gnus, sable antelopes, warthogs, leopards, spotted hyenas, crocodiles, and many others.

There are several lakes in Selous Game Reserve that is a home to various wildlife and bird species, including Tagalala, Mzizimia, Siwandu, Manze, and Nzelekela. Additionally, animals are drawn to the Rufiji River and its tributaries, particularly during the dry season when they come to the river to drink.

A great home for over 440 kinds of birds, Selous game reserve is one of Tanzania’s most well-known birding locations. These birds can be found largely along the banks of the reserve’s lakes. Selous Game Reserve has a large bird population, including migratory bird species that arrive from November to April. These species include the African skimmer, Broad-billed roller, Brown necked parrot, Dickson’s kestrel, Pel’s fishing owl, Rock  pratincole, Thick-billed cuckoo, White-headed lapwing, pearl-spotted owlet, Yellow-billed stork and among many others.

Selous Game Reserve’s history. 

Under the direction of Hermann Von Wissmann, the German Governor of Tanganyika, which is now Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve was initially designated as a protected area in 1896. In 1905, the reserve was designated as a hunting reserve, and in 1922, its boundaries were expanded.  After British explorer Fredrick Courteney Selous, who died fighting in the First World War and was buried there, the region was given the name Selous Game Reserve. Visitors can now visit Selous’ tomb as a memorial in the reserve on a Tanzania safari. Selous Game Reserve was designated as a lion conservation unit in 2005 after the reserve’s limits continued to be expanded over time, all the way up to 1975. Due to increased poaching and uranium mining in the reserve’s southern part, the reserve was added to the list of World Heritage in Danger in 2014 and the decision was reiterated in 2017.

Safari activities in Selous game reserve. 

Game viewing.

One of the top safari activities is game viewing in Selous Game Reserve, which is a home to a wide range of animal species, including the largest population of the endangered African Wild Dog, which may be seen there while on a safari. Zebras, impalas, giraffes, leopards, spotted hyenas, waterbucks, bushbucks, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, elands, African wild dogs, brindled gnus, Nyasaland gnus, sable antelopes, warthogs, and many other animals can all be seen from the comfort of your 4X4 safari vehicle. The banks of the river Rufiji are frequented by a large number of animals for great views of wildlife when hunting.


One of the best safari places in Tanzania to go on a birding safari is Selous Game Reserve, which is home to over 440 different bird species that live around islands, channels, sandbanks of the River Rufiji, and lagoons. Due to its location in a migration route for migratory bird species from Europe and northern Africa, Selous game reserve begins to receive migratory bird species in April. Birding in Selous game reserve offers sights of bird species like white-fronted bee-eater, mosque swallow, purple-banded sunbird, African skimmers, palm-nut vulture, Layard’s black-headed weavers, Sterling’s barred warbler, red-throated twin spot, green-capped eremomela, spotted-flanked barbet, red-billed helmetshrike, Arnot’s, rock pratincole, giant kingfishers, spur-winged plovers and many more.

Walking safaris.

 Walking safaris are conducted in Selous Game Reserve along the banks of the majestic River Rufiji and through riverine woodlands, providing the ideal opportunity to fully appreciate the Selous Game Reserve. An expert armed safari guide will lead groups of no more than six people on walking safaris. Expect to encounter a variety of species on walking safari, including lions, giraffes, waterbucks, elephants, and many others as they graze, as well as hippos and crocodiles as they play in the River Rufiji, without forgetting the bird species.

 Boat safaris.

One of the few national parks in Tanzania that allows visitors to see wildlife in water is Selous Game Reserve. Selous River Camp organizes boat safaris on River Rufiji and Lake Tagalala. There are two types of boat safaris: the short boat safari, which lasts for two hours and is available twice daily from 7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 6 pm. Boat safaris are the ideal way to see aquatic creatures like crocodiles and hippos as well as other wildlife like lions, giraffes, impalas, and waterbucks congregating around water bodies to drink. Full-day boat safaris last all day and are available from 10 am to 6 pm.

Fishing safaris.

Selous Game Reserve is a fantastic place to go on a fishing safari because of Rufiji River flows through it and is home to many different fish species that can be caught there. You will be happy to catch fish species like Rufiji Tilapia, Oreochromis Urolepis elephant fish, Marmyrus Longirostris, and Heterobrancus catfish, among many more, on fishing safaris. Fishing excursions often include a boat journey to the fishing locations.

Cultural tours.

A trip to Mloka village, which is close to the park and downstream of Selous River Camp, is a must for any safari in Selous Game Reserve. On a cultural tour, visitors have the chance to engage in cultural and local activities like meeting the locals and visiting primary schools, markets, and other places. Cultural tours can be as long or as short as desired, depending on the visitor’s preferences and available time.

 How to get to Selous game reserve.

Selous Game Reserve is reachable by road, air, and rail, all of which are reasonably priced for those taking a safari through the park. Selous game reserve is located 240 kilometres, or around 6 hours, by car from Dar es Salaam to Mtemere gate through Kibiti and Mloka. By train, it takes 4-5 hours to reach Selous Game Reserve; the train stops in Matambwe, from where you may access the park. From Arusha, Dar es Salaam, daily scheduled chartered flights are available to Selous wildlife reserve. Domestic airlines such Air Tanzania, Precision Air, Regional Air, ZanAir, Safari Air Link, and Coastal Aviation offer these services. The Mtemere airstrip that serves the Selous game reserve is where flights to the reserve land.

Where to stay in Selous game reserve.

Numerous accommodation facilities of various status have been established in Selous Game Reserve to provide tourists with a wonderful place to stay. These accommodation facilities include Sand River Selous, Jimbiza Lodge, Selous Kulinda camp, Selous Mbega camp, Selous wilderness camp, Africa safari camp, Selous Ngalawa camp, Selous river camp, The Retreat, Roho ya Selous, Selous Serena camp, Mivumo River Lodge, and many others are available for tourists to stay during a Tanzania safari.

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