The Selous Game Reserve can be found in Tanzania’s southern area and it is the largest game reserve in Africa. It is not as popular as some of the other national parks and wildlife reserves in Africa, but it is just as beautiful and sadly underrated. Game viewing, bird watching, safari, fishing, and admiring landscapes are all attractions that bring people from all over the world around to visit the beautiful Africa and all its gems.
- +Tens of thousands of elephants
- +Walking safari
- +Bird watching (450+ species)
- +Bird watching
- +Spotting wild dogs (endangered species)
About Selous Game Reserve
Selous Game Reserve is the perfect place for you if you wish to admire natural, wild, undisturbed Africa. From gorgeous sights and vegetation to hundreds of wild animals that can be viewed in their natural habitat, Selous is one of the most beautiful and interesting places to see in Tanzania. Different from many of the other national parks and wildlife reserves, but equally breathtaking, Selous cannot be skipped on any trip for Tanzania safari.
As far as the game viewing aspect of Selous, you will have the opportunity to see hippos, antelopes, waterbuck, kudu, white and black colobus monkeys, reedbuck, crocodiles, lions, hyenas, zebra, impalas and others.
The presence of elephants is quite special here, as the dry season is the time for their migration from Selous to Mozambique’s Niassa Game Reserve. As many as 64,400 elephants are estimated to migrate between the parks.
Also of significance is their concentration of wild dog population (which is an endangered species) namely 1/3 of all the wild dogs on the planet. At the Selous Game Reserve, they are safe to roam free and hunt, without running the risk of being shot and killed by farmers or villagers.
Aquatic life is also vast in Selous, with rivers populated with hundreds of species of fish and other creatures, including the vandu catfish and the tiger fish. For visitors interested in bird watching, the good news is that more than 450 bird species are available to admire in the game reserve, although they are more likely to be seen during the wet season, so plan your trip accordingly.
Fishing is also significantly better during the wet season, as well landscape viewing. But while the park is open all year round, transportation may be limited during the wet season (especially in April), so be mindful of that.
Selous Game Reserve can be easily accessed, especially compared to other similar parks and reserves. There are daily Dar and Ruaha flights, each 45 and 90 minutes long.
When to Go & Weather
- June-November: this period is known to be the dry season, which is also the best for game viewing and safari, because there is a bigger chance for animals to be seen around rivers and watering holes; however, note that this is also the most crowded (and most expensive) time
- January-April: the wet season falls during this period, with April being the month with the highest amount of precipitations; the atmosphere is hot and sticky, which you may want to be aware of when planning your trip
The climate in the Selous Game Reserve is very hot and humid all year round, due to its positioning on the coastal plateau. Because of this, precipitation levels are higher and the dry season is felt less than in other African parks that are located at higher altitudes. Temperatures range between 14-18°C and 36-37°C, depending on whether you are in the east or west.
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The Selous Game Reserve was granted the status of protected area in the year 1896, courtesy of Hermann von Wissman, a German Governor. It later (1905) turned into a hunting reserve. Today, the Selous Game Reserve is one of the world’s biggest and most important of its kind and it can be found in southern Tanzania. The name comes from Sir Frederick Selous, who was passionate about both conservation and big game hunting. Its wide range of wildlife, as well as untouched natural habitat, made the Selous Game Reserve a contender for becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a status it acquired in the year 1982.
The Selous Game Reserve extends across 54,600km2, plus buffer zones. There are no permanent structures – meant for habitation or otherwise – in the reserve, and human activity and entry (as well as exit) is closely monitored by the Wildlife Division of the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
The administration is very serious and dedicated to protecting the reserve in its natural state, untouched by human activity, which is why such control is necessary. Its high concentrations of large mammals need these provisions in order to be able to thrive in an ecosystem undisturbed by external factors.
Vegetation is very diverse in the reserve, with the dominant type being Miombo woodlands, but lowland rainforest, gallery, acacia, swamps and ground water forests are also present. In fact, the Selous Game Reserve is one of the most valuable habitats which present Miombo woodlands, so it is important on a global level. During the wet season, when the rains are heavy, the soils erode, which causes the usually dry rivers to flood the wooded grasslands in the north – especially the Rufiji River. The Selous Game Reserve is the Miombo woodland region with the largest species diversity and density, sitting at over 2000 plant types.
The wildlife is nothing to sneeze at, either – large mammals, especially, live here in large numbers, particularly African elephant. This is actually a very valuable habitat for them, at a global level. The same with wild hunting dog, black rhinoceros, and buffalo. Very significant is the hippopotamus, which is found here in the highest numbers in the entire world. Other wildlife includes eland, greater kudu, sable antelope, Nyassa wildebeest, and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest. In addition, birds are present in 350 different species, including the rufous-winged sunbird and the Udzungwa forest partridge. The Nile crocodile is also present in large numbers.
The Selous Game Reserve is a very important region, not only due to its size but also because it provides a natural, untouched habitat for a wide range of different animals. Its protection and preservation is extremely important, and it is ensured by the fact that it pertains to the major Selous Ecosystem. Its integrity is also supported by the fact that it is connected to the Niassa Game Reserve, found in Mozambique. There are no people settling in the areas surrounding the game reserve, so there is little chance of human activity disturbing or compromising the ecological integrity of the habitat.
Conservation efforts are intense, and although hunting is permitted, it has no negative impact on the overall numbers of the animals. On the contrary, it creates the necessary financial support, so endangered species can be better protected and so that the administration can work to preserve the habitat in conditions that are as good as possible. This small token, together with photographic tourism, is what ensures that the Selous Game Reserve can continue to be sustainable. In addition, there are projects on the roll addressing dangers such as poaching, mineral extraction, infrastructure plans and other such activities that can impact the environment.
- Selous Game Reserve is among the biggest wilderness regions that are left not only in Tanzania, but in the whole of Africa. Wildlife is diverse (both flora and fauna), and the biological and ecological processes are not impacted, including predator/prey dynamics.
- Due to the protected status of the Selous Game Reserve, any activity taking place in the surrounding areas needs to be studied and assessed for any kind of possible negative impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the reserve, as well as the ecological integrity and the bio and eco processes in existence in this ecosystem.
- The population of wild dogs in Selous accounts for a full third of the world’s population of wild dogs. They exist in high density in the reserve, and the habitat is extremely important to their well-being.
- Elephants migrate between the Selous and Mozambique game reserves during the dry season; the joint elephant population stands at more than 64,000. This represents the biggest (natural) trans-boundary ecosystem on the continent.