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.
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.
The dry season, July to October, offers strong game-viewing opportunities.