Selous Game Reserve

Selous Game Reserve is one of the greatest Tanzania safari destinations famous for hosting the world’s largest concentrations of elephants, Selous game reserve is located in the southern region of Tanzania southwest of Dar-es-Salaam.

Selous game reserve is one of the greatest Tanzania safari destinations famous for hosting the world’s largest concentrations of elephants, Selous game reserve is located in the southern region of Tanzania southwest of Dar-es-Salaam. The reserve is a world heritage site listed as on the danger list in 1982 and reconfirmed in 2017, this reserve covering an area of 50,000 square kilometers was first designated as a protected area in 1896 by the German Governor of the then Tanganyika Von Wissmann and in 1905 it became a hunting reserve. 

Selous game reserve is an excellent site for Tanzania wildlife safaris generally because of the many tourist attractions hosted in the reserve, tourist attractions in Selous game reserve include .

selous mapumziko


Selous game reserve is one of the great destinations in Tanzania to visit while on Tanzania wildlife safari, the reserve is rich with a variety of wildlife species including the largest population of elephants in Tanzania recorded to be about 110,000, over 4,000 lion individuals which are more than you could find in any other area on the African continent. In Selous game reserve there are recorded 35,000 zebras, 25,000 impalas, 120,000 Cape buffalo and 40,000 hippos. There are also waterbucks, zebras, reedbucks, crocodiles, hippos, spotted hyenas, leopards, puku antelopes, warthogs, Africa wild dogs, brindled gnu, giraffes, hartebeests, elands among others. 

Animals in Selous game reserve are best spotted 

  • Around lakes most especially crocodiles, hippos, giraffes, waterbucks, zebras, buffaloes among others around the shores, these animals also attract predators such as lions. 
  • Around river Rufji and its tributaries animals like black rhinos, elephants, rhinos, lions, buffaloes among others are spotted. 
  • In the savannah grasslands in the eastern region of Selous game reserve, animals like African wild hunting dog, buffaloes, lions, rhinos, spotted hyenas, leopards, lions among others. 

The best time to visit Selous game reserve for a Tanzania wildlife safari is in the dry season experienced from June to August. 


Selous game reserve is among the best destinations for Tanzania birding safaris, the reserve boosts over 440 bird species habiting in various regions of the reserve such as lakes, river Rufji, savannah grasslands and miombo woodlands. Different bird species are spotted in Selous game reserve such as Spur-winged lapwing , African wattled lapwing, White-fronted bee-eater, Pel’s fishing owl Rare, African spoonbill, Common White-headed vulture, Pearl-spotted owlet, White-headed lapwing , African skimmer , Böhm’s bee-eater, Yellow-billed stork, Pel’s fishing owl , Broad-billed roller, White-fronted plover , Brown-headed parrot , White-backed vulture, Brown-necked parrot , Black-winged stilt , Palm-nut vulture , Dickinson’s kestrel , Racket-tailed roller, Thick-billed cuckoo , White-backed night heron , Carmine bee-eater, Rock pratincole among others. 

Tanzania birding safaris in Selous game reserve are best done from November to April, in this period migratory bird species from northern region of Africa and Europe are present in the reserve. 

birds of selous mapumziko

The vegetation 

The reserve is dominated by a very unique vegetation cover comprising of savannah wooded grasslands and the miombo woodland thus making the reserve a great deal for Tanzania safari tours most especially nature viewing. Miombo woodlands are a very fascinating vegetation type classified as among the tropical, subtropical grasslands, savannas and shrublands. Miombo woodlands comprises of beautiful trees which shed off their leaves during dry season as a way of reducing water loss, Miombo is a predominant tree in this vegetation and it is eaten as food by various animals such as African elephants, sable antelopes, African wild dogs, hartebeests among others.  

River Rufji 

River Rufji is a 600 kilometers long river, the largest river in Tanzania and a great tourist attraction in Selous game reserve flowing through the heart of the reserve, River Rufji creates a network of channels, lakes and swamps as it flows which are great ecosystem in both Tanzania and Selous game reserve. 

The reserve is fed by Selous game reserve and the river bisects the reserve into two that is northern Selous and southern Selous, northern Selous is a great site for Tanzania photographic safaris and in this region no hunting is allowed as opposed to Southern Selous with a series of hunting blocks. 

River Rufiji attracts a huge population of wildlife and bird species crowding the river banks to drink water and cool off, the river is ideal for Tanzania boat safaris in Selous game reserve. River Rufji is also a home to the largest mangrove forests in the world, the mangrove forests on this reserve are famously famous for allowing the German super battleship the “Konigsberg” to stay undercover while wreaking havoc on the British ships in the Indian ocean during the First World War. 

river rufigi

 Boat rides on river Rufji in Selous game reserve is relaxing and thrilling while enjoy the cool breeze of the river and sighting many animals on the banks of the river such as elephants, zebras, buffaloes among others. 

Lake Tagalala

Lake Tagalala is one of the largest oxbow lakes in Tanzania and a great tourist attraction in Selous reserve ideal for visiting while on Tanzania walking safari, Lake Tagalala is situated on the northern side of Rufji River flood plain. Lake Tagalala is a home to array of species such as hippos, crocodiles, zebras, lions, leopards among other predators which are attracted to the lake, the lake is bordered by skeletons of trees drowned as the waters rose. 

Lake Tagalala is a good site for Tanzania birding safaris as there is a huge concentration of birds such as African spoonbill, white-headed vulture, pearl-spotted owlet, white-headed lapwing, African skimmer, Bohm’s bee-eater, yellow-billed stork, Pel’s fishing owl, Broad-billed roller, white-fronted plover living on along the lake and the banks of Rufji River. 

Stiegler’s gorge 

Stiegler’s gorge is a scenic feature of 100 meters of depth, this gorge was first explored in 1901 by German Engineer Stiegler and during his expedition he was charged and killed by an elephant near the ravine as he was measuring the gorge. In honor of his death, the gorge was named Stiegler’s gorge.

The expedition of Stiegler’s gorge were considered for the potential construction of  a power station by the Tanzania government since 1960’s and the construction of this power station will make it the largest power station in Tanzania. 

Selous grave 

Selous grave is a historical site in Selous game reserve, the grave is where Sir Courtney Fredrick Selous from whom the park gets its name is buried. Sir Fredrick Courtney Selous was a British explorer, conservationists and a right hand man to Cecil John Rhodes during his campaign of annexing Zimbabwe to the British Empire, Selous was rewarded a brief notoriety in 1899 for speaking out against England’s war on the Boer Republic of South Africa. 

At the time of the First World War I in 1914, Sir Fredrick Courtney Selous was made a captain of the 25th Royal Fusiliers and at that time he was aged 60, Selous was so knowledgeable about the bush and because of this he led the chase after the German guerrilla army in southern Tanzania.  Selous won a DSO and on 4 January 1917 he was fighting in the bush war on the banks of the Rufji River against German Colonial Schutztruppen, during the war he was outnumbered five to one. Early in that morning as Selous was creeping forward in combat he raised his head as he was trying to locate the enemy and in this minor engagement he was shot by a German sniper in the head thus dying on the instant.

Following his death during the World War I, Selous was buried in a tamarind tree near the place where he was short dead at Beho on the northern edge of the Selous game reserve. Selous’ grave features a flat stone with a simple bronze plaque reading “CAPTAIN F.C SELOUS D.S.O., 25TH ROYAL FUSILIERS, KILLED IN ACTION 4.1.17”, the grave is visited on a Tanzania walking safari in Selous game reserve.

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