|Young lions resting.
Selous Game Reserve
Selous covers vast 54,500 km2/21,043 sq mi in central/southern Tanzania, and is one
of the largest parks in Africa. Most safari tourism is concentrated to the area north
of the Rufiji River in northern Selous.
Much of Selous is covered by miombo woodland and grass plains. It has a strong elephant
population, and a mixed wildlife including classic safari animals such as lions, hyaenas,
giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, African buffalos and antelopes, for example Lichtenstein's
hartebeest and greater kudu. Sable antelopes can be found in the mountains on the northern
park border, and the rare African wild dogs are present.
Selous is a game reserve, which means that the park rules are less restrictive than
in the national parks. Walking safaris, night game drives, boat tours and fishing are
allowed, in addition to classic game viewing from safari vehicles.
There are a number of good lodges and tented camps, most of them lining the Rufiji River.
Selous is a one-day drive west of Dar es Salaam, on tarmac and (mainly) bush roads.
More about Selous
|Giraffes in Mikumi.
Mikumi National Park
Mikumi is (together with Saadani) is the easiest park in southern Tanzania to reach
by road. A four-hour drive on tarmac west from Dar es Salaam on the coast brings you
straight to Mikumi, where the road cuts trough the park, dividing it in a northern and
a southern half.
The northern part consists of mainly grassland and savanna, surrounded by low mountains,
while the southern part is covered by hills and forests. As a result, game viewing is
easier in the open landscape of the north, where classic savanna wildlife such as lions,
giraffes and elephants may be seen. Baboons, African buffalos, Lichtenstein's hartebeest
and leopards can also be seen. Sable antelope and greater kudu inhabit the more vegetated
areas of the southern part.
Accommodation is available in a couple of camps, of which two are close to the main
entry gate and the road from Dar es Salaam. If combined with other parks, a normal stay
in Mikumi is a full day. The park has a fair size (3,230 km2/1,247 sq mi), though, and
more time can be spent there if you're not continuing to the prime parks Selous or Ruaha.
More about Mikumi
|Herd of elephants.
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha is a remote park, 620 km/385 mi inland west of Dar es Salaam. It is large (13,000
km2/5,019 sq mi) and has fairly few visitors, making it an interesting area for those
searching a wilderness experience.
Much of inland Tanzania, including the Ruaha area, is bushland. The Great Ruaha River
along the southern border of the park is a permanent source of water and attracts many
animals, especially during the dry seasons (June to October). The wildlife includes
greater and lesser kudu, Lichtenstein's hartebeest, sable, roan, oribi, lion, leopard,
cheetah, African wild dog and more, including a strong population of 10,000 elephants.
The park has lodges and camps ranging from tourist class to luxury. A normal stay is
a 24 days. Many visitors combine Ruaha and Selous in a fly-in safari, spending
3 or 4 nights in each park.
Access by road is possible, but most visitors arrive by air. There are scheduled safari
flights from Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
More about Ruaha
Udzungwa Mountains National Park
Udzungwa Mountains isn't a main destination on the southern circuit, but rather a park
that some choose to visit to add the park's special type of nature to their experience.
Udzungwa is set on a mountainside, at altitudes from 300 m/1,000 ft to 2,800 m/9,200
ft. This means a variety of different biotopes, including rain forest, and a varied
wildlife. There are elephants, African buffalos, elands, lions, leopards, bushbucks,
waterbucks and duikers, and local varieties of red colobus and mangabey monkeys. It's
also a good birding area, offering a varied general bird life and endemic weavers and
sunbirds. The park lacks road infrastructure, so visitors explore it on foot, guided
by park rangers.
There are no lodges or camps in Udzungwa Mountains, only some fairly basic hotels in
nearby Mangula. An option is visiting Udzungwa on a daytrip from Mikumi, where better
accommodation is offered.
More about Udzungwa Mountains
Saadani National Park
Saadani is the only Tanzanian park set by the sea, and the only coastal park in East
Africa where you can see the large mammals. The landscape of Saadani ranges from sandy
beaches with palm trees to acacia woodlands, coastal rain forests and mangroves. The
mammal wildlife includes elephants, lions, hyaenas, sable antelopes, hartebeest, zebras,
greater kudus, giraffes, African buffalos, hippos, colobus monkeys and others. Dolphins
and turtles may be seen close to the shores.
A few lodges and camps in and around Saadani offer accommodation and activities, including
game drives, boat tours and bush walks. A normal stay would include 2 days spent exploring
the park, plus any additional days you would like to spend on the beach, fishing, snorkelling
The park is four hours by road or less than one hour by air north of Dar es Salaam.
More about Saadani