Selous Game Reserve

A luxury train journey through the wonders of Tanzania isn’t complete without a visit to the famed Selous Game Reserve. It is one of the largest animal reserves in the world and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982 thanks to its large variety of wildlife and pristine natural environment. The name came from Sir Frederick Selous, an English game hunter and conservationist. Selous covers a total area of 54,600 square kilometres free from any permanent human infrastructure or presence. The reserve is dedicated to maintaining the natural order of predator/prey relationships without negative human impact upon the eco-system and food chains. This means that most of Selous is dedicated to game hunting and has been so since 1905. These regulations are tightly controlled by the Wildlife Division of the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. In addition, the Selous Game Reserve is functionally linked with the 42,000 km2 Niassa Game Reserve in Mozambique, another reserve committed to sustainable eco-systems and biological processes.

Here, one can find the largest numbers of elephants, hippos, African wild dog, cheetah, giraffe, Cape buffalo and crocodile than any other place in the world. The animal population is broken down as follows:

  • African elephant: 106,300
  • Black rhinoceros: 2,135
  • Hippopotamus: 18,200
  • Cape buffalo: 204, 015
  • Sable antelope: 7000
  • Lichtenstein’s hartebeest: 52,150
  • Greater kudu, Nyasa wildebeest and eland: 80,815

Along with these animals, big cats such as the lion, leopard and cheetah are found in great numbers all over Selous. The park’s main source of pride is its large population of the endangered African wild dog; 50 percent of the species is found in Selous. The bird population is just as impressive, with 440 species available for viewing, both resident and migratory. Birds that can be spotted include the endemic Udzungwa forest partridge, rufous-winged sunbird, knob-billed duck, southern ground hornbill and bateleur eagle.

Along the Rufiji River, located in the northern part of the greater Selous eco-system, is a reserve where tourists can visit and take photographs. This area makes up 8 percent of the greater Selous eco-system and boasts luxury lodges and camps along the river which are mainly accessible by railway or small aircraft. The park is made up of open grasslands, Acacia trees, wild savannah, swamp and wetlands, riverine forests and Miombo woodlands, allowing the perfect environment for a walking safari. The seasonal Miombo woodlands are the dominant vegetation within Selous. During the rainy season, many normally dry rivers flood to capacity and flood the grasslands of the northern part of the reserve. More than 2,100 plants have been recorded within the reserve with more being discovered in the south. As it is a dry season park, game-watching is excellent the later in the season one visits. However, there are certain areas where game is almost always found. January to February is when the game tend to migrate to more fertile feeding grounds. The bird-watching at this time is phenomenal.

Tourists are encouraged to visit the Stiegler Gorge, a canyon which is both 100 m deep and wide. The diversity of game-viewing is what sets Selous apart from the rest. Guests can enjoy a leisurely boat safari along the Rufiji River, with the sound of wildlife emphasising the stunning tranquillity of this unique reserve. Walking safaris are also encouraged, where one can enjoy the beauty of the landscape and take advantage of bird-watching. All of these activities are organised by some of best expert guides in Africa.  

Selous Game Reserve is renowned for its peaceful and remote wilderness, allowing for the ultimate African safari dream for both first timers and safari enthusiasts. Rovos Rail passengers are promised a memorable African journey with Selous definitely a precious part of it.