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  • Selous Game Reserve
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    Selous Game Reserve
    Far from the madding crowd and at the three times the size of the Kruger National Park and double the size of the Senegeti National Park, Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania maintains its title as Africa’s largest reserve. It is a fitting tribute then that it is also one of Tanzania’s three World Heritage Sites. The Game Reserve reached its present size and shape in the 1940′s, when the colonial government moved the remaining tribes out of the area to combat a sleeping sickness epidemic. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.

    Selous is named in honour of the Englishman Frederick Courtney Selous. During 1871 Selous lived and hunted in the area for approximately four decades and during that time he gained a reputation as the most accomplished hunter of his age. He was also known for writing, most notably he was the author of “A Hunter’s Wanderings in Africa”. Selous assisted Cecil John Rhodes in his campaign to annes present-day Zimbabwe to the British Empire and he also achieved brief notoriety in 1899 for speaking out against England’s war on the Boer Republics of South Africa.

    As Captain of the Royal Fusiliers at the age of 60 and with detailed knowledge of the African bush, Selous led the chase after the German guerilla army that presided in Southern Tanzania. On New Year’s Day in 1917, Selous was shot dead by a sniper close to the banks of the Beho Beho River where he remains buried today, near Beho Neho Safari Camp. Five Years after his death, the British colonists incorporated a number of existing game reserves south of the river to extend the plains of the aptly named, Selous.

    Fauna and Flora:

    An area of 45,000km2 of unspoiled African wilderness, the Selous game reserve boasts a variety of biomes – grassy plains, open woodland, mountains and forests – all classified by their climate and dominant vegetation type, and representing large communities of plants and animals in distinct regions.

    The reserve is split into two different regions by Tanzania’s largest river, the Rufiji. The northern Selous covers only around 5% of the reserves total area. No hunting is allowed here; this area is dedicated exclusively to photographic safari’s and accommodation in exclusive camps and lodges. Hunting blocks of approximately 1,000km2 each make up the Souther section of the Selous reserve.

    Large numbers of sought after game, predators, crocodiles and hippos are resident within this massive reserve. Buffalo numbers are estimated at 120,000 – 150,000. with lion numbers estimated to be around 4000 individuals. Historically, Selous was also home to Tanzania’s largest elephant population, but sadly, due to increased poaching incidents over the years, the number of elephants have reduced dramatically.

    The birdlife here is prolific with more than 440 species of birds being recorded in the Selous. Pink-backed pelicans, African Skimmers and giant Kingfishers, carmine and white fronted bee-eater colonies just to name a few. In the Borassus Palms, pairs of Fish Eagle, Palm Nut Vulture, Ibises and Palm Swifts nest. A myriad of water birds are discovered in their thousand’s – various small waders, egrets and herons as well as the famous Pel’s Fishing Owl.

    Access to the Selous Game Reserve:

    Selous is a six to seven hour drive towards the Southern part of Tanzania, south of Dar es Salaam and is served by light aircraft from Dar es Salaam and Ruaha daily, both of these flights being under an hour in duration. Park fees and Conservation fees are normally included in the price of one’s safari and are estimated at around USD75 per person per day.

    One may chose to take a road trip from Dar es Salaam that involves taking a normal circuit route which would include a trip through the Mikumi National Park and entering the Matambwe Gate. It is such an exhilarating experience, even more so in the mornings, to take the road from Morogoro as it gives visitors the chance to enjoy the drive through the Morogoro town and the opportunity to view the town with the “Ulugulu Mountains” as the scenic backdrop. As one heads out of Morogoro town, you will have the chance to witness how the rural peopl live and work within the villages. Experience a traditional market day in rural Tanzania. Another option is to take the access road from Dar es Salaam past the Tanzanian countryside filled with scenes of tall palms and lush grassland in the hilly areas and enter into Selous that way.

    Activities:

    Tanzania offers numerous options for specialist safaris and activites, whether you wish to drive, walk, ride, fish, fly camp, ride in a hot-air balloon, dive, kite surf or go trekking after chimpanzees.

    Accomodation in the Selous:

    For nature enthusiast seeking an intimate environment and warm hospitality, the Selous offers a wide variety of accommodation types ranging from enchanting and intimate safari camps to tented camps and luxury lodges.

    Seasons in the Selous:

    Wildlife viewing in the Selous Game Reserve is best from late June to October. It is dry season and wildlife is easier to spot since animals gather at water resources and vegetation is thinner. Many lodges close from March through May.

    Quick facts:
    Best time to go: June to October
    High Season: June to Cotober (The tourists area around the Rufuji River gets quite crowded)
    Low Season: March, April and May (Many lodges are closed)
    Best Weather: June to October (Little to no rainfall)
    Worst Weather: March and April (Peak of wet Season)

    From June to October:

    Spotting animals is easier, as they congregate around waterholes and rivers and there is less vegetation. It rains very little and most days are sunny. There is less risk of contracting malaria, since there are not as many mosquitos. Humidity is lowered and the heat isn’t overpowering.

    October to May:

    Scenery is beautiful and green. Crowds are less in the low Season months (March, April, May). This period is peak bird watching time, since migratory birds are present. Roads however, become muddy and are hard to travel on.

    Malaria:

    Be aware that malaria is a health concern in Tanzania. You should protect yourself by wearing clothing with long sleeves in the dawn and evening hours. Also, wear a mosquito deterrent that contains at least 20% DEET and take anti-malaria medicine. Several vaccination are recommended as well. Please check with your local GP for precautions against Malaria.
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