Selous & Ruaha

Far, far from the madding crowd, these enormous, little-known game reserves in South West Tanzania are raw and wild. Pervaded by a sense of solitude that's difficult to find in busier safari destinations, Selous and Ruaha National Park are exclusive safari destinations known only to the finest operators and keenest wildlife enthusiasts. Painted African wild dogs thrive, mighty herds of elephant wander and the rugged terrain is perfect for leopard. This is nature's full spectrum on display and you’re in the thick of it.


Selous is an enormous game reserve with World Heritage listing. Three times larger than the Serengeti, it is the largest protected reserve in Africa and boasts one of the highest concentrations of wildlife on the continent. Its greatest drawcard is that people simply don’t come here. Any tracks are beaten not by visitors but by the feet of generations of hippos and elephant whose influence has shaped the landscape for millennia.

The scenery changes quickly, in a matter of a few miles miombo woodland - home to hartebeest, zebra and herds of buffalo - gives way to wide grassy valleys strangely reminiscent of English park land and thick stands of doum palms part to reveal glittering lakes burgeoning with life. By air, the Northern Selous is defined by the Rufii River. A mile wide in places, its courses past and present are deeply carved in the soft sandy soil and visible for miles as you approach by light aircraft.

The river draws wildlife from far and wide, attracting great herds of elephants and immense pods of hippos plus the beautiful sable antelope and the endangered African painted wild dog, especially during the dry season (Jun-Oct) when concentrations peak and interactions are heated! During the green season (Nov-May) the landscape comes alive with fireflies lighting up trees at dusk, baobabs groaning with huge flowers and fruit for elephants to gorge on, and massive thunderheads rolling across dramatic skies.

Ruaha National Park

No other National Park in Tanzania has the diversity of Ruaha. Elephants thrive in huge numbers, giraffe, zebra and impala are everywhere, both the greater and lesser kudu occur, as do the magnificent eland, sable and roan antelope. The predator populations naturally reflect this abundance and lion populations are some of the highest in Africa - it's not uncommon to see a pride with twenty or more and the males are large with magnificent manes. The rugged terrain is perfect for leopard, painted African wild dogs roam across vast ranges and even cheetah are seen. Hyena and jackals are a common and their cries are often heard after dark – a sound truly evocative of an African safari.

The landscape is one of low hills and an impressive escarpment that is actually part of the Great Rift Valley. At the centre of the Park is the Ruaha River which flows into the Rufiji River in the Selous, and on to the Indian Ocean. The river, along with a number of smaller seasonal tributary rivers, creates its own ecosystem with huge Nile crocodiles and pods of hippos . The mosaic of riverine habitats that line the many watercourses host baobab forests, jackalberry and ebony, sausage (Kigelia Africana), tamarind, acacia and Sycamore fig trees. The whole are is alive with birdlife and the park is thought to host more than 570 species – a birder’s paradise!


In the Press




Why we like it

  • Wild & untouched
  • Remote with very few visitors
  • Huge herds of elephants and high predator concentrations
  • An adventurous safari destination for those in the know
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Top Pick - Selous & Ruaha

Travel advice, information and inspiration from the team at The Classic Safari Company.