Southern Circuit - Tanzania
Selous Game Reserve
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.
Ruaha National Park
In 2008 the Usangu Game reserve merged its borders with Ruaha transforming it into Tanzania’s largest national park; it now covers more than 20,000km². Despite the size of the park there are still only a handful of camps found here, which has built Ruaha’s reputation as Tanzania’s best kept game viewing secret.
Ruaha’s wild and untrammeled feel is what sets it apart from other reserves, making it a popular choice for regular east African safari. Ruaha is well known for its varied dramatic scenery, which includes rolling hills; large open plains; groves of skeletal baobabs and along its southern border, the Great Ruaha River, from which the park gets its name. This is by far the most dominant geographical feature of the national park and, for the wildlife it is the most important.
Ruaha has a hot, dry climate which means the animals don’t tend to stray too far from dependable water sources. This makes predicting game movements far easier, particularly in the dry season.
Mikumi National Park
This is Tanzania’s fourth-largest national park, with a landscape of baobabs, black hardwood trees and grassy plains, and the most accessible from Dar es Salaam. With almost guaranteed year-round wildlife sightings, Mikumi makes an ideal safari destination for those without much time. Within its 3230 sq km – set between the Uluguru Mountains to the northeast, the Rubeho Mountains to the northwest and the Lumango Mountains to the southeast – Mikumi hosts buffaloes, wildebeest, giraffes, elephants, lions, zebras, leopards, crocodiles and endangered wild dogs, and the chances are high that you’ll see a respectable sampling of these within a short time of entering the park.
Saadani National Park
The Saadani National Park is home to a variable mix of both marine and mainland flora and fauna. The vegetation in the park is quite unique and includes mangrove forests around the winding Wami River and ocean, clumps of palm trees, coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, short and tall-grass savannah and the harsh black cotton plains.
In terms of wildlife, Saadani has a thriving population of waterbucks, wildebeests, hartebeests, reedbucks, buffaloes and giraffes. Warthogs, baboons and colobus monkeys are often spotted, while elephants, lions and leopards are quite shy. But even for ornithologists this place is truly spectacular. A boat safari on the Wami River is a true highlight for any visitor and apart from pods of hippos and huge crocodiles, malachite, pied and even giant kingfishers can also be seen. Other common birds include the woolly necked stork, common sand pipers, lilac-breasted rollers, palm nut vultures, fish eagles and ground hornbills.