Nile crocodile in Rufiji River, SelousNile crocodile in Rufiji River, Selous

Selous Game Reserve

8 reviews

Safari suitability: 9/10

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Abundance of wildlife but remote location and limited lodging options.

Found in: Tanzania
Companies: 705
Tour packages: 126
Total area: 54,600 km² (21,100 mile²)
Year established: 1917
Anti-malarial: Not required

What YAS members think

Quality of wildlife:
Crowdedness:
Quality of lodging:
Most-visited month:
January
* Crowded parks have a lower rating

Highlights

  • Big five are here, but some are not as easy to spot

  • Thick foliage obstructs wildlife viewing

  • A vast, untrammeled wilderness

  • Largely untouched wildlife and vegetation

  • Opportunities for boat safari on Rufiji River

  • Miombo woodlands

About Selous Game Reserve

Situated in southern Tanzania, 200 km (124 miles) west of Dar es Salaam, the 54,600 km²  (21,100 mile²) Selous Game Reserve is known—among those who know it—for its wide-ranging, untrammeled wilderness and unspoiled wildlife and vegetation. Selous is the largest protected area in Tanzania and home to Stiegler’s Gorge, which feeds the marvelous Rufiji River and its many wandering tributaries and lakes. Grasslands, savannah, wetlands, thickets and swamps constitute Selous’ truly biodiverse acreage, and Miombo woodlands root here. 

Originally set aside by German colonialists, Selous was protected in the late 1800s, in 1917 named after hunter/explorer Frederick Courteney Selous and in 1982 declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, Selous is uninhabited by humans; moreover, the comings and goings of visitors are privy to substantial oversight, allowing the reserve’s faunal processes to unfurl largely undisturbed. Large numbers of animals live, hunt and are hunted within this reserve, most of which is reserved for game hunting and fishing. In addition, a small portion of the park’s northern land is set aside for tourism and photography, and safari in the form of game drives, walking safaris and boat trips down the Rufiji present opportunities for viewing wildlife.

Selous wildlife

Elephant, lion, cape buffalo, black rhinoceros, cheetah and wild dog, giraffe, antelope, hartebeest, greater kudu, eland, wildebeest, crocodile and hippo are among the beasts that roam Selous. 

In two highly-criticized turns of events, 2012 saw UNESCO agree to shrink Selous’ southern boundary to allow uranium mining, and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to begin work toward construction of a hydroelectric power plant and dam at tourist-heavy Stiegler’s Gorge. Critics of each fear that these measures will spoil the currently unspoiled, harming the environment and keeping tourists at bay.

When is the best time of year to visit Selous Game Reserve? 

The dry season, July to October, offers strong game-viewing opportunities. During the wetter months, January through May, the predators are dispersed throughout the reserve and the dense foliage makes it harder to spot them. It is also more humid during this time of the year. 

"A must-visit park in Tanzania"
Safari enthusiast
TanzaniaTanzania
553 kudus
Photos (39)
Reviews (5)
Visited: Jul. 2011 Reviewed: Jan. 11, 2016

Selous Game Reserve is an unmatched, unchallenged and undisturbed game reserve. Selous is among the worlds largest game reserves and has a significant concentration of wild animals like elephants, wild dogs, lions, leopards, black rhinos, hippos and crocodiles. The view of sunset from the Rufiji River is as amazing as anything can be. Once you witness it you will never forget the experience. Selous is not as famous as other northern Tanzania's parks and you will find many vehicles in the reserve and that give you the feeling of actual wildlife and wilderness in the peace of Selous Game Reserve. You will actually feel that the game drives have been specially organised for you due to low density of vehicles in the park. You will love to watch hippos and crocodiles in Rufiji River.You will also witness the hundreds of birds species in the park. If you are going to Tanzania, Selous is among the must-visit parks.

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13People gave this
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Safari enthusiast
TanzaniaTanzania
Visited: Jul. 2011
Reviewed: Jan. 11, 2016

13People gave this
a kudu

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"Exhilarating Experience"
Safari guru
KenyaKenya
68 kudus
Photos (5)
Reviews (2)
Visited: Feb. 2018 Reviewed: Mar. 28, 2018

The largest game reserve in Africa, with lots of attractions such as the Great Rhuha and Rufiji Rivers. A boat ride is amazing. Lots of hippos, different species of birds. Walking with armed ranger in the nature trails. Seeing a pack of wild dogs hunting. It was very rewarding and productive.

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11People gave this
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Safari guru
KenyaKenya
Visited: Feb. 2018
Reviewed: Mar. 28, 2018

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"Beautiful memory "
Safari guru
TanzaniaTanzania
604 kudus
Photos (38)
Reviews (13)
Visited: Jan. 2017 Reviewed: Feb. 22, 2017

The Selous is the Largest game reserve in all of Africa, named after the great explorer Frederik Courtney Selous, who is incidentally, buried in the park at a grave site that can be visited by guests in the reserve. The photographic area of the Selous is in the northern part of the park, spanning about 3000sq km. The area is mostly flat and steady at about 50-60m above sea level. This means that the Rufiji River which runs through the park is slow and wide, producing a constant water source, which is great for wildlife! The park is located in the southern Safari circuit of Tanzania which is much less visited by tourists, which means no crowds and a much more authentic and pleasant experience. Selous Game Reserve is such a vast area,we spent hours driving around looking for the animals. While the wildlife population density isn't as high as it is in northern Tanzania, We still saw loads of animals including lions, elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, impala, hartebeest, greater kudu, zebras, buffalos, warthogs, hippos and crocodiles. Unfortunately we weren't lucky enough to see any leopards, rhinos or wild dogs during our safaris, but it gives me an excuse to go back there one day.

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23People gave this
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Safari guru
TanzaniaTanzania
Visited: Jan. 2017
Reviewed: Feb. 22, 2017

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"Splendid safari"
Safari guru
TanzaniaTanzania
103 kudus
Photos (8)
Reviews (1)
Visited: Nov. 2015 Reviewed: Nov. 30, 2015

The diverse Selous Game Reserve is one of the few places in the world whose ecology and biological processes are totally undisturbed by man. For that matter Selous Game Reserve is the 2nd largest remaining wilderness in Africa covering 44800kmsq. The life line of Selous is the river Rufiji which flows across the Reserve and covers the large parts of the wooded grasslands of the northern Selous, caused by the seasonal floods of the rising water of the Rufiji River. The grasslands creates a very dynamic ecosystem including a diverse range of wildlife with significant predator/prey relationships. Selous Game Reserve harbours one of the most significant concentrations of elephant, black rhinoceros, cheetah, giraffe, hippopotamus and crocodile, amongst many other species surrounding six lakes as well as hot springs. It is in fact a UNESCO world heritage site due to the diversity of its wildlife and undisturbed nature.

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13People gave this
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Safari guru
TanzaniaTanzania
Visited: Nov. 2015
Reviewed: Nov. 30, 2015

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"Unchallenged wilderness"
Safari enthusiast
TanzaniaTanzania
133 kudus
Photos (6)
Reviews (5)
Visited: Jul. 2009 Reviewed: Oct. 17, 2014

I had been to several of the northern parks of Tanzania numerous times already when I got a chance to explore the southern parks. Oh my, that was something I should have done way earlier! Okay I agree, if you want to go for the abundant wildlife, the incredible Great Migration, you should go to the Northern Parks. But if you already visited the Northern Parks, I would really suggest to try the Southern Tanzania on your next visit! I was lucky to travel to Selous in the time the TAZARA trains (Tanzania-Zambia Railway) were still running by schedule (more or less). A great experience on its own! The train ride felt like one big adventure, meals served in our cabin, having a drink at the bar in the train seeing the landscape passing by, the stops in the little village with the bursting colors of the womens khangas en kitenges who came to our windows to sell us fruits and snacks and of course the occasional stops: sorry a buffalo is on the trail, sorry elephants are blocking our way. And after this fantastic train ride, Selous National Reserve.... Wooow... you sometimes feel it is only you which is driving around. I mean I think on my first game drive in Selous, we actually met four other vehicles, three of which we met at the entrance gate and one when we were having our picnic break with a fantastic view over the lakes! Everything just feels wilder, animals react to the sounds of vehicles, except for the lions who just open one eye! And then, for me the absolute highlight: African Wild Dogs. My most favorite animal which always manage to capture me with their fantastic hunts, their well organised pack life! Oh and did I mention the game walk we did? Once on foot you realize an elephant is a truly majestic animal! And after all this excitement, what would one love better than sipping a cold gin-tonic while watching hippos in the Rufiji River?

Quality of wildlife
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13People gave this
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Safari enthusiast
TanzaniaTanzania
Visited: Jul. 2009
Reviewed: Oct. 17, 2014

13People gave this
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"Less-visited park"
Safari enthusiast
84 kudus
Photos (2)
Reviews (5)
Visited: Oct. 2012 Reviewed: Sep. 17, 2013

We spent a few days in Selous and have mixed feelings about it. It was definitely less crowded than the northern parks and we saw quite a few lions. However, in Selous, we were required to share a vehicle with others and it was an open-sided vehicle, which meant no place to rest the camera lens. Also, the foliage is much more dense here and it's far more humid than up north. I enjoyed the boat rides on the Rufiji River and would have enjoyed my safari more with a private vehicle with sides.

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14People gave this
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Safari enthusiast
Visited: Oct. 2012
Reviewed: Sep. 17, 2013

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"Watch the sunset as you take a peaceful boat trip in the Rufiji river"
Safari enthusiast
United StatesUnited States
259 kudus
Photos (11)
Reviews (13)
Visited: Apr. 2011 Reviewed: Apr. 15, 2013

My fondest memory of Selous was spending the evenings watching the sunset in the amazing African skies as I took a personal boat ride in the murky waters of the crocodile-infested yet calm part of the Rufiji River. I don't think you need to spend more than three days here but it is worth visiting this place simply to experience things most parks don't offer. For example, walking safaris are permitted in Selous unlike most parks. I remember the excitement flowing through me as we quietly followed a safari guide armed with a rifle on a 3-hour walking safari. The majority of your safari will consist of game drives so the opportunity to get out and walk in nature and stretch my limbs was a welcomed one. The highlights for me were the boat ride and the walking safari. Selous also has several high end lodges and camps if you're looking for luxury on your safari.

Quality of wildlife
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Crowdedness rating
Overall rating
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14People gave this
a kudu

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Safari enthusiast
United StatesUnited States
Visited: Apr. 2011
Reviewed: Apr. 15, 2013

14People gave this
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"Much more isolated than the north. But, much fewer animal sightings"
Safari enthusiast
United KingdomUnited Kingdom
618 kudus
Photos (37)
Reviews (13)
Visited: Jan. 2010 Reviewed: Apr. 14, 2013

I visited the Selous after having spent nearly two weeks in northern Tanzania. We had to take a very small (it was just the pilot and us) plane into the Selous from Dar es Salaam, so it's not as easy to get to as the northern parks are. As we were landing, a boy had to run out and chase a giraffe off the 'landing strip' (which was essentially soil). I will never forget my entrance into this park. The first thing that struck me was the difference in climate. Selous is very, very humid, unlike its northern Tanzanian counterparts which are arid. There are only a few camps that operate here, so you are limited on choice and nearly all of it is expensive. We stayed in Selous Safari Camp and it was great. We especially were fond of Andrew (aka Molly) who always put a smile on our face. What I was not fond of was the fact that we had to use the lodge's vehicles and guides. This meant sharing vehicles with other guests and using guides who were, for lack of a better word, apathetic. Because the humidity is much higher, the foliage was also much denser. This made animal sightings much more difficult. We did see many lions and hippos, but the calibre of animal sightings here is far inferior to that of the northern parks. What I loved about this park was its remote location. Aside from the other couple in our vehicle (who were cool), I saw no other vehicles. A big difference from the Serengeti.

Quality of wildlife
Quality of lodging
Crowdedness rating
Overall rating
* Crowded parks have a lower rating

14People gave this
a kudu

 Like this review? Go on, give it a Kudu!
Safari enthusiast
United KingdomUnited Kingdom
Visited: Jan. 2010
Reviewed: Apr. 14, 2013

14People gave this
a kudu

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Getting to Selous from Dar es Salaam

Most people who visit Selous do so via plane. All domestic flights go through Dar es Salaam, so even if you are coming from Arusha or Zanzibar, you will go via Dar. The flight is about an hour, non-stop, and the views en route are of gorgeous, thick treetops. The Rufiji River will then come into view and, if you're lucky, you'll see hippos in the water.

The following airlines travel to Selous Game Reserve


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As Salaam Air has grown to be a leading air carrier between the Tanzanian Islands. Our experienced team understands that customer satisfaction is important to the creation of a successful flight operation. Thus, we go above and beyond to satisfy our clients. The airline plies eight routes to promote tourism within and outside the country. We have two fuel-efficient aircraft – Cessna 208B Grand Caravan and Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, which are good for the environment and the safety of our clients.We would like to help you discover more about our Islands here on our website and at every step of your journey Visit website

Also flies to:


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Auric Air Services Ltd is Tanzania's preferred corporate and safari airline with a wide network of domestic scheduled services with daily scheduled services to more than 30 destinations and handles approximately 8500 passengers every month. From its bases at Mwanza Airport—Mwanza, Julius Nyerere International Airport—Dar-es-salaam and Arusha Airport, Auric Air provides scheduled charter flights to some of the most remote and otherwise inaccessible destinations (parks & game reserves) within Tanzania. Visit website

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Coastal Aviation is an airline operating out of Dar es Salaam - charter flights. Coastal Aviation flying to some 100 strips located in some of the most isolated pockets of the East African Region. The scheduled Coastal network also connects visitors to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda with the world-famous Serengeti, links the emerging tourism destinations of Mozambique with the Southern Tanzania parks of Selous and Ruaha, and unites the tropical island paradises of Pemba, Zanzibar, Mafia and Fanjove Private Iaslandwith the National Parks and towns of the mainland. Our state of the art fleet is composed of 20 aircraft and has been expertly-adapted to the African safari environment, without compromise to safety and comfort. Visit website

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Flightlink is a scheduled airline with Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and Air Service License (ASL) granted by Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority & Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to conduct Private & Scheduled Flight under Public Transport category within the region. All the aircraft in our fleet are chosen for their excellent safety records and their ability to perform in even in the most hostile conditions, so landing be it in the bush or on tarmac is not at all taxing. Visit website

Also flies to:


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Premium Charter Service is an air charter broker based in Tanzania. We offer our valued clients a truly exclusive flying experience, one that combines luxury with the convenience of flying privately. Our network of domestic and international operators adheres to strict standards of quality. We deliver a superior experience to our clients with a high level of professionalism. Visit website

Also flies to:


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Affordable Flights now connect the most remote and exciting parts of Tanzania - Zanzibar/Dar/Selous/Mikumi and Ruaha to Katavi and Mahale National Parks. Daily Flights from Zanzibar or Dar to Ruaha National Park via Selous or Mikumi. Visit website

Also flies to:


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Safari Plus is Tanzania’s first, Premium Charter operator in Tanzania positioned to offer unique flying experience while giving our customers flexibility and total control over their travel needs around the country and beyond. The Airline was established in 2009. 1 x Beechcraft King Air 350 with 8 Seats configured in executive club seating. 2 x Beechcraft 1900D with 18 Seats. Head office based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Operating base at Julius Nyerere International Airport. Approved by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority to operate both; Scheduled Air Services and Non-Schedule Air Services (Charter Services). Visit website

Also flies to:


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Premier safari airline and charter. Safarilink is Kenya's premier safari airline with a network of connecting domestic scheduled services to all the best safari destinations within Kenya and across the border into northern Tanzania. From it's base at Wilson Airport, Nairobi SafariLink provides daily scheduled flights to Masai Mara, Amboseli, Tsavo West, Naivasha, Nanyuki, Lewa Downs, Samburu, Lamu, Kilimanjaro, Loisaba, Migori and Diani Beach. Additionally it can also provide private charter flights if a client's particular requirement as regards destination or timing cannot be met by the scheduled services. Visit website

Also flies to:


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TANZANAIR was formed in 1969 and pioneered aviation throughout Tanzania. Today it continues to live up to its slogan as the“Complete Aviation Company”. It was founded by Dinos J Samaras who managed the Company until he passed away in April 2010. It is now headed by his son John Samaras who was his deputy since 1983. With 45 years’ experience, TANZANAIR offers tailor-made air travel to suit the needs of its customers. With a modern fleet of twin and single-engine Cessna and Beechcraft turbine aircraft, TANZANAIR’s well-established reputation leads the way in air charter services throughout the region. TANZANAIR operates out of its own purpose-built Passenger Terminal located between Terminal I and II at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. The passenger lounge is adjacent to the two hangars. It is housed within a secure wall enclosed compound with ample parking facilities. Visit website

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ZanAir Limited is a domestic airline based in Zanzibar. Since their inaugural flight in 1992, ZanAir has continued to establish a quality reputation, serving esteemed clientele. ZanAir is an acknowledged expert within Tanzania serving all destinations, including remote unpaved bush locations. Visit website

Also flies to:


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Flown by an international team of pilots, Zantas Air has one of the youngest fleets of Cessna Grand Caravans in Tanzania. These are maintained to the highest safety standards and comply with the ICAO, CESSNA, and TCAA directives. We have an exclusive lounge at Arusha airport. Guests can relax in our comfortable lounge while they wait for their flight. Our operations are designed to suit our client's needs with a customized itinerary based on their schedule. Zantas Air works with its sister company, Mbali Mbali Lodges and Camps, to offer shared charter flights. We fly passengers from Northern Tanzania to Western Tanzania twice a week on Monday and Thursdays. Visit website

Also flies to:

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