The Selous Game Reserve is the largest wildlife area in Africa. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this pristine, uninhabited area is larger than Switzerland. Selous boasts Tanzania’s largest population of elephant as well as large numbers of lion, leopard, African hunting dog, buffalo and hippo. Only in the Serengeti will visitors see a greater concentration of wildlife. Once home to over 3,000 black rhino there are sadly now only a few hundred left. They tend to hide in the dense thickets but sightings are possible. Species commonly seen are bushbuck, red and blue duikers, eland, hartebeest, hyena, klipspringer, impala, giraffe, oryx, reedbuck, waterbuck and zebra. Yellow baboon and vervet and blue monkey are always a common sight while families of black and white colobus may sometimes be seen moving from tree to tree. Endangered red colobus inhabit only the west of the reserve but visits to observe this rare breed can be arranged.
The bird-life in the Selous is prolific and the 400 species recorded include the globally threatened wattled crane and the corncrake. The topography of the park varies from rolling savannah woodland, grassland plains and rocky outcrops cut by the Rufiji River and its tributaries, the Kilombero and Luwegu, which together cover the greatest catchment area in East Africa. The Rufiji, which flows from north to south, provides the life-blood of the Selous and sailing or rafting down the river is a superb method of seeing game, especially during the dry season between June and October. Crocodiles, hippo and a vast array of grazing antelope will be seen. Linked to the Rufiji is Lake Tagalala, where elephant, giraffe, waterbuck, reedbuck and bushbuck gather at the water’s edge. In the long grassland, safari enthusiasts may even get a chance to see rare sable antelope, greater kudu – or lion. The park gets its name from the hunter explorer Frederick Courtney Selous, whose books were best sellers in Victorian England. Walking safaris, game drives and boat trips may be organized. The best time to visit is during the dry season, when game is forced from hiding places to the river to drink. The waters of the Kilombero Game Controlled Area are home to the ferocious tiger fish and vandu catfish, the latter equipped with a primitive set of lungs which allows it to migrate from one landlocked pool to another.