Selous Game Reserve
Visit the largest uninhabited protected area where Tanzania’s largest population of elephants roam an area larger than Switzerland! Selous (although originally pronounced Selu) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and only a lucky few can go on safari here in the completely wild, unspoiled nature.
The park got its name in honor of the Englishman Frederick Courtney Selous, a conservationist, hunter, explorer and writer, whose travel books in Africa became bestsellers in Victorian England.
The landscapes of the park are very diverse, from hilly grassy forests and plains to rocky outcrops, polished by the Rufiji River – the lifeblood of the park, whose tributaries form a network of lakes, lagoons and channels. Volcanic hot springs even break out in places. Rufiji offers an excellent method of observing wildlife, especially during the dry season when animals congregate near the water.
ANIMALS AND WATER DIVISIONS
Selous is home to one third of all wild dogs in the world. Their need to roam over vast areas and their fearsome hunting skills have led many of them to be shot by farmers, but here in Selous they have boundless forests and savannahs to roam as long as they like.
Along the Rufiji River, you can often see many grazing antelope, crocodiles and hippos, as well as the colobus monkey in the riverine forests. During the dry season from June to October, the concentration of animals along the river is amazing. Lake Tagalala is connected to the Rufiji River, where waterbucks, redunks and bushbucks gather at the water’s edge. Magnificent black antelopes with their sickle-shaped horns and great kudu, whose horns are curled like curls, tend to stay near the taller grass and wooded bush areas.
During the dry season, ancient elephant migration occurs between the Selous National Parks in Tanzania and Nyasa National Parks in Mozambique. It is one of the largest natural transboundary ecosystems in Africa, with a recent consultation estimating that 64,400 elephants move between the two parks, with 84% of them on the Tanzanian side.
In the rivers they catch the ferocious African tetra and the smooth slippery catfish vundu. The latter possesses primitive lungs which enable it to come ashore for short distances during the dry season to search for water.
Dry season: Starts from June to November and is the best time for safari along the rivers. At this time, elephants come out of the bushes, and predators are observed more often.
Rainy Season: The period from January to April is great for birdwatching and the densely vegetated landscape, but many roads become impassable after heavy rains. The period from December to February is still good for safaris, but it can be quite hot and humid during this time. Safari lodges are usually closed from March to May.
- Rare and endangered wild dog
- Safari on the river
- Thousands of migratory animals
- Walking safaris
- Huge expanses of virgin nature
This massive piece of land is the second largest nature reserve in Africa. Covering an area of 55,000 km², it is almost four times the size of the Serengeti.
The only human habitation allowed here is a limited number of tourist sites.
You can get here by car only during the dry season, most visitors fly here from Dar es Salaam on a charter flight.
Safari lodges are prohibited in the top 20% of the reserve.
This is a malaria zone.
Mafia Island Marine Reserve
Mafia is a large island located off the southern coast of Tanzania, near the Rufiji River Delta. In size, it reaches 48 km in length and 17 km in width at its widest point. It is thus equal to almost half of the island of Unguja (Zanzibar) to the north and, like Zanzibar, is a protrusion of the continental shelf rather than a coral island. Mafia’s soil is predominantly sandy and the terrain is very flat. There is a ridge that forms the base of the northern tip of the island, but its highest point does not exceed 200 m above sea level. Along this ridge, the clay soil is strong and fertile, and it is possible to grow annual crops on it. On the eastern shores there are coral rocks on which crops are also possible.
Mafia Island is the first marine reserve in Tanzania, which was established in 1995. Mafia Island Marine Reserve covers an area of 822 km². It occupies the southern part of Mafia Island and includes the inhabited islets of Chol, Juani, Jibondo and Buehuu and some other islets and associated waters.
The area included in the park is one of the most important marine habitats in the world. It has mangrove forests, seabed vegetation, coral reefs, intertidal reef surfaces, lagoons and coastal forest. However, as its importance grows, so do its problems, especially overfishing (including large numbers of fishermen from other places sailing into Mafia waters) and destructive and unsustainable fishing practices ( like fishing with dynamite).
Mafia Island Marine Park was established in 1995 to protect the archipelago’s reefs. The shallow reefs within Chol Bay are ideal for snorkelling or learning to dive. Outside the bay, the entrance is guarded by a long coral wall where more experienced divers gather. There are more than 50 species of corals and more than 400 species of fish.
This is one of the best places in Tanzania in terms of diving. Here you will always see something incredible, from rainbow clown fish to octopus, rays and giant grouper. Sharks and dolphins can be found in deeper waters, while turtles crawl to remote beaches at night to lay their eggs. (Please note that due to local winds and currents, dive sites outside the bay are often only safe from around mid-September to late February).