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Everything you need to know about the Selous Game Reserve

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Antoinette Booyse

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Antoinette Booyse

Author: Antoinette Booyse - 11 September 2017

Last Update: 30 January 2024

  • The Selous Game Reserve is one of Africa’s oldest protected wildlife areas and was proclaimed a protected area in 1896. 
  • It was established as a game reserve in 1922 and named after Sir Frederick Courtney Selous, a famous big game hunter, British officer, conservationist and explorer. Selous was killed while fighting the Germans in WW2, in the Beho Beho area of the game reserve.
  • The reserve reached its current shape and size in the 1940’s, and in 1982, it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • It is one of the largest faunal reserves in the world, covering 50,000 km2. 
  • The reserve is bigger than Switzerland, three-times bigger than the Kruger National Park and twice as big as the Serengeti.
  • The reserve has a higher density and diversity of species than any other Miombo woodland area in Africa.
  • Only a 50 min flight from Zanzibar, it's great for an add-on to the islands.
  • The Selous Game Reserve is one of the only places you can combine both land and river safaris. With the Rufiji river running through it, game sightings are prolific.
  • Being a game reserve and not having the restrictions of a national park, you are allowed to leave the roads and drive cross country. This gives you better access to wildlife sightings.
  • This off road driving is monitored by the authorities and done in a responsible manner. All of the camps offer half-day walking safaris, with an armed guide (please note walking safaris are for age 12 and above).
  • Over 400 species of birds have been recorded in the Selous, and with some patience, the elusive Pels fishing owl can be found along the river.
  • It is estimated that there are more hippos in the Rufiji River and the lakes than any other wildlife area in Tanzania.
  • The crocs are some of the biggest in East Africa.
  • The Selous has the highest concentration of wild dogs left in the world. With around 2500 of these highly endangered predators in the Selous, the game reserve holds around half of the world's wild dog population. 
  • With the size of the Selous, you do not have the same numbers of tourists as the Serengeti and the Masai Mara. 
  • With a very good population of giraffe, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest and impala, there is always some interaction with predators like lions, leopards, hyenas and wild dogs to be found. There is also a large giraffe population in the north of the reserve.
  • The Selous has arguable the highest density of lion in Africa, according to the last wildlife census conducted.
  • All levels of accommodation is available in the park, with great mid-range and luxury camps available.

Contact our East Africa travel expert, Karl Svendsen at karl@discoverafricagroup.com if you are considering travelling to Selous or beyond.


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