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Selous Game Reserve

A safari in the Selous Game Reserve is a rewarding experience, with vast tracts of wilderness, huge wildlife populations and the opportunity for game viewing by boat on the Rufiji River. Located on a coastal plateau in southern Tanzania, the Selous is the largest protected area in all of Africa, offering unrivalled animal encounters without the crowds.

About Selous Game Reserve

The Selous Game Reserve (pronounced Sel-oo) is Africa’s largest safari area in terms of uninterrupted natural habitat at around 50,000 km². Arid flats, dense woodland and five hippo-filled lakes connected by the palm-fringed Rufiji river make up the majority of the Selous landscape. The reserve has seen almost no human disruption and as a result, tailor-made Selous safaris are an exhilarating East African wilderness experience. The reserve is an important area for conservation, with the broad biodiversity earning the Selous UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1982.

Selous Game Reserve and the nearby Ruaha National Park make up Tanzania’s southern safari circuit. There is an abundance of wildlife to see on a luxury Selous safari and the camps and lodges here are superb. Despite this, the area remains little visited compared to many of the safari parks in the north of Tanzania, with less than 1% of tourists coming to this region. It is therefore ideal for those seeking an off-the-beaten-track Tanzania safari experience. As the Selous National Reserve is so large it offers a real sense of a true safari adventure.

Flights from Dar es Salaam and Ruaha National Park operate daily, at 40 minutes and 1.5 hours respectively. It’s also possible to fly from Arusha. Travel by road is possible but not recommended.


Selous Game Reserve Wildlife Safaris

Game drives are the best way to see wildlife in the Selous, since covering ground is quick and easy in a 4×4 which increases the chances of wildlife encounters. During the dry season game drives focus on areas with water to maximise the likelihood of seeing something special. Walking safaris in the Selous Game Reserve can be an exhilarating experience, with elephant and lion amongst species seen by guests whilst out on foot. All camps offer walking safaris but often have a minimum age of between 12 and 16 years old.

A boat safari along the Rufiji River and its lake network is a real highlight of a tailor-made safari in the Selous, with hippos and crocodiles as well as land animals often spotted. Game viewing from a boat is less disturbing to the animals than a vehicle, which means the chance to get close is greater.

The Selous is renowned for supporting massive wildlife populations and there are over 120,000 buffalo and 100,000 wildebeest in the reserve, as well as plentiful populations of other plains game, giraffe, elephant and hyena. Rare antelope species such as the sable and the puku can also be found here. Predators are relatively abundant in the Selous, with lions numbering over 4,000, one of the largest populations in Africa. The Selous also has the highest concentration of rare African wild dog in the country with over 1,300 individuals. Leopard, cheetah and rhino are also present but sightings are rare.

Birding Safaris in Selous Game Reserve

Recorded species of birds in the Selous exceed 440, with the best viewing typically around the water. During the wet season between October and May migratory birds can be found in the Selous area and birding is at its best. Keen ornithologists will enjoy watching abundant water birds including the African skimmer, goliath heron, and Pel’s fishing owl. African spoonbills, white-fronted bee-eaters, and common white-headed vultures are often spotted too.

Best Places to Stay in the Selous Game Reserve

There are a number of excellent Selous safari camps and lodges to choose from, with options for honeymoons as well as Selous family safari holidays. To the east of the reserve properties such as Siwandu Camp are ideally located in an area renowned for high concentrations of wildlife. 

To the west of Selous are beautiful luxury lodges like Sand River. This part of the park receives very few visitors and there is a true sense of exclusivity and adventure. There are authentic mobile tented camps in the Selous too, so there’s something to suit all budgets and tastes. 

Hand-picked Camps and Lodges

Talk with one of our experts today to discuss the best options for you.

Where to Stay

Best Time to Visit the Selous Game Reserve

A bespoke Selous safari is best during Tanzania’s dry season between June and October. During these months, animals rely heavily on water from the river and lakes and so are easier to find, with thinner vegetation making wildlife easier to spot.

Tanzania’s wet season between October and May is the best time to see birds in Selous, and many migratory species are present in the reserve at this time. The temperature during these months can be intense and rainfall heavy, especially between March and May, and many camps will be shut.

Weather During the Year


How to Book a Selous Game Reserve Safari Holiday

To discuss your Tanzania safari holiday, Selous safari packages and tailor-made itineraries, speak to one of our Tanzania experts today by contacting us.

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