The Selous Game Reserve is Africa’s largest game reserve. Despite what you might imagine, the area is not considered a tourist hot spot. We’ll give you a full rundown and explain why you should consider visiting the Selous Reserve on your next safari adventure.

Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

What is the Selous Game Reserve?

The Selous Game Reserve is a protected reserve area in Southern Tanzania. It is the largest game reserve in all of Africa, covering roughly 50,000 square kms (19,000 square miles). For perspective, that’s almost four times as big as the Serengeti, the popular game reserve in Northern Tanzania.

In 1982, the Selous Game Reserve was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it contains extremely diverse nature and wildlife.

Many measures are taken to preserve the wildlife and nature in this area, including a ban on permanent human habitation.

The result is that the Selous Game Reserve has a much denser and healthier concentration of wildlife than many of the northern destinations, which makes it a great place to visit.


Though touched upon above, the wildlife population in the Selous game reserve deserves a section of its own. The Reserve contains a healthy, diverse, and robust wildlife population. It’s a great place to see the big five game animals of Africa.

You can expect to see elephants, black rhinos, Nile crocodiles, giraffes, Cape buffalos, hippos, zebras, lions, and much more.

Best Time to Visit the Selous Game Reserve

The Selous Game Reserve has a high season and low season.

High season is considered the best time to visit and occurs from June to October. This is dry season in Southern Tanzania.

Due to the lack of rain, water supplies are sparse, and the animals will gather around watering holes, making them much easier to spot. It is also not as hot during these months, as you find yourself in winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

Low season tends to coincide with rainy season, and lasts from November to May. During this time, many resorts will close, as torrential downpours make access to the reserve impractical.

There are many deals for tourists during low season in Selous, and you can still find bookings during this time. Keep in mind that crowds are never much of an issue anyway, so accommodations are always easy to find.

Why Visit the Selous Game Reserve?

Now that we’ve given you some background information on the Selous Game Reserve, let’s get into the main reasons you might want to plan a vacation there.

These are our favorite aspects of the Selous Reserve, and the reasons we think it deserves your consideration over the more popular safari destinations of Northern Tanzania:

Selous Game Reserve

Less Crowds

This has been touched upon throughout this article, but it’s simply one of the top reasons to visit the Selous Game Reserve. The park is much less crowded than Tanzania’s northern safari circuit.

The area is wide, vast, and almost endless. You’ll never have a problem finding accommodation in Selous, and often you’ll find that you’re the only visible group out in the wilderness.

This sense of solitude is so important in a safari trip, where the goal is to get in touch with nature. Since humans have not impacted this area as much, the animal populations are healthier and more robust.

On-Foot Tours

The Northern safari circuit of Tanzania is subject to quite a few guidelines which regulate human activity within many of the conservation areas and national parks. Selous Game Reserve is not subject to the same rules and regulations.

One of the main activities permitted in Selous are on-foot tours of the reserve. Guided walking safaris are permitted in the Selous reserve, where a guide will take you on foot to see many of the sites the park has to offer.

Trips range from single day to multiple days in length, and can take you deep into the wilderness, where you will set up fly-camps at night.

These trips are the ultimate adventure. You will gain a new respect for these areas and the wildlife that inhabit them. You can’t get much closer to the African safari experience than this.

The Rufiji River

Many adventurers would tell you that the main attraction in all of the Selous Game Reserve is the Rufiji River. The Rufiji River runs through the park, where it eventually empties into the Indian Ocean. The river bends and winds, and connects to a series of lakes throughout the reserve.

Rufiji River, Tanzania

The river is perhaps most notable for the amount of life that is drawn toward the water. You’ll see animals of all sorts gathering for a drink, crocodiles lining the banks, and aquatic birds and marine life in the shallows.

The Rufiji is an extremely popular destination within the reserve, and there are many boat tours geared toward exploring it.

Lake Tagalala

Lake Tagalala is an oxbow lake in the heart of the Selous Game Reserve. Lake Tagalala becomes a major water source for animals during the dry season, which make it very special.

When most of Selous dries up, the animals are drawn to this lake and it becomes a fantastic place to spot the diverse array of wildlife that call the reserve home.

Lake Tagalala

The animals drawn to Lake Tagalala include zebras, elephants, buffalo, impalas, and more. Additionally, the presence of this prey draws some of Selous’s top predators, including lions.

It’s a great opportunity to see the food chain in action. Lake Tagalala also becomes heavily populated with Selous’ diverse bird population. To top it off, there’s a natural hot spring situated very close to the lake. Don’t miss it!

Selous – A Hidden Gem

Thanks for reading our guide to the Selous Game Reserve. Our goal was to show you that Tanzania has a lot to offer safari-goers outside of the northern safari circuit. Selous Game Reserve is only one example of this, but it’s a good one.

Remote, quiet, and full of life, it’s a great place to be truly secluded and gain a new appreciation for nature. Consider it for your next safari adventure.

Kitson J

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