Selous Game Reserve is in the southern part of Tanzania about 219 kilometres from the busy city of Dar es Salaam, a 4-5hour drive. It is the largest protected game reserve on the African continent covering an area of 54,600 square kilometres composed of vast wilderness with forests, grassy plains, mountains, and open woodlands. It was established in 1922, declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1982 because of its rich diversity of wildlife.
In 2019, the Tanzania National Parks Authority proposed and declared a change in identity of the northern sector of the reserve, to be known as The Nyerere National Park as a way of honouring the first president of Tanzania, President Julius Nyerere. Today the boundaries of this Nyerere National Park are being properly established but it is believed that this park will encompass the photographic sector in the northern part of the reserve and stretch out all the way to the wilderness area of river Rufiji to the south. Selous Game Reserve offers tourists an unforgettable experience because of its less crowds compared to the famous destinations like Serengeti and is among the hidden gems in the county.
It is divided into two by the largest river in the country-river Rufiji which forms a network of swamps, channels, and lakes to create a unique ecological system that serves as home to a diversity of wildlife. The Northern Selous covering just about 5% of the total area of the reserve, where hunting is completely prohibited has been exclusively set aside for photographic safaris while the southern Selous separated into various hunting blocks each covering an area of approximately 1,000 square kilometres has been used as hunting grounds.
The game reserve has one of the greatest numbers of wildlife in the country. Mammals found within this national reserve include approximately 145,000 buffalos, 4,000 lions, 100,000 wildebeests, large hands of giraffes, 35,000 zebras, 40,000 hippos, 250,000 impalas, large numbers of Lichtenstein’s hartebeests, waterbucks, elands and bushbucks, in addition to leopards, crocodiles and hyenas. It is one of the few places in Africa where you can find the Puku antelopes, the African wild dogs as well as the Sable antelope. Previously Selous Game Reserve used to harbour a very large number of elephants but because of excessive poaching these numbers have greatly reduced.
It is also home to over 445 bird species some of which are migrants that live in the various habitats within the reserve. For example, along the lake areas are the giant kingfishers, the pink backed pelicans as well as the African skimmers; along the sandbanks you will see the white-fronted bee-eaters, fish eagles, carmines, ibises and palmnut vultures. The purple-crested turaco, yellow-billed stork, trumpeter hornbill, white-crowned spur-winged plovers, malachite kingfishers and various small waders are among the other water birds.
Size and accessibility:
The largest protected game reserve on the African continent covers 54,600 square kilometres.
trips connecting from Dar es Salaam can drive about 220km for approximately 4-5 hours via Mikumi National Park.
From major places such as Ruaha and Dar es Salaam, it takes about 90 minutes to reach Selous Game Reserve.
You can also travel to Selous via the TAZARA (Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority) railway system from Dar es Salaam and takes you across the wilderness all the way to Matambwe.