The Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest faunal reserves of the world, located in the south of Tanzania.
It was named after Englishman Sir Frederick Selous, a famous big game hunter and early conservationist, who died at Beho Beho in this territory in 1917 while fighting against the Germans during World War I.
The Selous was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to the diversity of its wildlife and undisturbed nature.
The reserve covers a total area of 54,600 km2 (21,100 sq mi) and has additional buffer zones.
Within the reserve no permanent human habitation or permanent structures are permitted.
All human entry and exit is carefully controlled by the Wildlife Division of the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
Some of the typical animals of the savanna for example African bush elephants, black rhinos, hippopotamus, Masai lions, East African wild dogs, cheetahs, Cape buffaloes, Masai giraffes, Plains zebras, and crocodiles can be found in this park in larger numbers than in any other African game reserve or national park.
The area was first designated a protected area in 1896 by the German Governor Hermann von Wissmann and became a hunting reserve in 1905.
Most of the reserve remains set aside for game hunting through a number of privately leased hunting concessions, but a section of the northern park along the Rufiji River has been designated a photographic zone and is a popular tourist destination.
There are several high end lodges and camps mainly situated along the river and lake systems in this area. Rather difficult road access means most visitors arrive by small aircraft from Dar es Salaam, though train access is also possible.
Interesting places in the park include the Rufiji River, which flows into the Indian Ocean opposite Mafia Island and the Stiegler Gorge, a canyon of 100 metres depth and 100 metres width.
Habitats include grassland, typical Acacia savanna, wetlands and extensive Miombo woodlands.
Although total wildlife populations are high,the reserve is large and densities of animals are lower than in the more regularly visited northern tourist circuit of Tanzania.
Walking safaris are permitted in the Selous, and boat trips on the Rufiji are a popular activity.
A boundary change to allow the use of uranium deposits has been approved. The approval for the boundary change was given by the UNESCO and seriously criticized by environmentalists and organizations e.g., Uranium-Network and Rainforest Rescue.
In 1976, the Selous Game Reserve contained about 109,000 elephants, then the largest in the world.
By 2013, the numbers had dropped to about 13,000 including a 66% drop from 2009 to 2013.
Sources blame corrupt politicians, officials and businessmen who help poachers.
Much as the typical game drives are only allowed during the day time, you will only find some of the best boat safaris in Africa .
The lodges have got the very best of the walking operations on the African continent, particularly that is to say, Beho Beho, Siwandu and Sand Rivers Selous.
Fly camping trips including long walking safaris and very daring mobile camp set ups are also run by a number of operators. This is such an amazing venture for those clients that like to spend a night or two under the stars.
Three of the finest camps in Tanzania are found within the Selous.A number of them also consider themselves as the best in Africa.
Camps such as the Beho Beho and the Sand Rivers are unique lodges that are and for all activities that popularize the Selous.
Realize value for money at the Selous Safari camp .It is a magnificent tented camp and noted as the best game area of the park. Next to it is the no frills Lake Manze.
It is a daring small camp which is famous for its being on the elephant highway. Impala camp is a bit faraway from here but gives you a luxurious level of comfort yet at a very affordable price.
Rufiji River camp, The Retreat, The Amara Selous and the two Serena properties are the others where you can stay.
Time to visit the Selous Game Reserve.
Do not assume this park at any time of the year. The Selous being a classic dry season park. The best time to visit is during the months of July to October as there are many animals that gather in this park.
For the season you visit, the game gradually improves. Game viewing is only very good throughout the year and in particular areas.
The animals move away from the fertile feeding grounds during the months of January to February and this is the time for you to wisely choose your place of camping. Whilst, this is the perfect time for the best birding.
Selous Game Reserve is Africa's largest game reserve and one of favourite game viewing areas in Africa. Covering 50,000 square kilometres, is amongst the largest protected areas in Africa and is relatively undisturbed by human impact.
Africa’s largest and oldest game reserve is one of its most scenic wildlife destinations; the Selous is utterly beautiful. The beauty of the park is matched by the quality of a safari here; boating, walking and fly camping compliment standard game driving in thriving wildlife areas.
This is an outrageously good safari park and an essential component of any southern circuit itinerary.
The Selous is a superb safari destination for both family safaris and African honeymoons, all the better for the ease of getting there and the lack of crowds. The park has the widest diversity of safari activities in the country, offering the boating safaris as well as standard game drives, walking safaris and legendary fly camping trips.
The Northern section of Selous is home to a network of channels and lagoons that run off the Rufiji River. This lush landscape provides a water supply for the region’s game and towards the end of the dry season the concentration of animals around these water sources is phenomenal.
It is here, around the river and lakes, that the majority of the camps are based; successfully relying on the animal’s need for water to provide game viewing areas. Selous is in its peak season from July through to the middle of November - this when the dry season is raging and all the game homes in on the few permanent water sources.
The sheer volume of game in the Selous is outstanding with statistics putting most parks in Africa to shame.
Elephant, buffalo and lion are ‘arguably’ found in no greater numbers year round anywhere on the planet.
But it is the Selous’ reputation as the last true stronghold for African wild dog that draws the enthusiasts.