Selous and Ruaha. Tanzania's best kept secrets

Boat Safari at Selous Game Reserve. Photo by Eduardo Sagüés

Selous and Ruaha. Tanzania’s best kept secrets

January 18, 2011  |  Africa
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Following my previous post about the best safaris in Africa, now I will talk about Tanzania. While most visitors head straight to the amazing, famous but also usually crowded “northern safari circuit” (Serengeti, Ngorongoro…), very few others head down to the beautiful and unspoiled southern National Parks: Selous and Ruaha.

Selous Game Reserve

Selous Game Reserve, Africa’s largest protected area uninhabited by man, offers the lucky few visitors an experience in absolutely wild and unspoiled bush. The park varies from rolling grassy plains to open woodlands and rocky outcrops cut by the Rufiji River – the lifeblood of the park, whose tributaries form a network of lakes, lagoons and channels that offer a superb method of game viewing especially during the dry season (from June to October). Selous hosts Tanzania’s greatest population of elephants.

We stayed at Selous Safari Camp (Camp’s website and other useful info), a luxurious camp tucked away beside the beautiful Lake Nzerakela (we were told that the Prince of Wales stayed there with his family). Some of the safaris are done by boat so you can get really close to the wildlife, spotting not only lions, elephants, giraffes but also hippos, crocodiles, … The camp organizes fly-campings for a night or two (luxury walking safaris where you sleep out in the open with only a mosquito net between you and the sky).
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Ruaha National Park

Due to its’ distance from any major city, very few tourists visit this park. Ruaha National Park has a varied and fascinating terrain with wild fig trees, rare baobab forests and gorges of glowing orange sandstone. Compared with Selous, here you won’t find big grassy plains nor lakes (so you won’t be able to do safaris by boat). The Great Ruaha River contain swirling rapids and deep pools crowded by dozens of crocodiles and hippos fighting each other. Ruaha is a good place to spot predators. In fact, apart from lions, jackals and hyenas, we saw a group of wild dogs hunting.

We stayed at Jongomero, probably the most comfortable way to experience Ruaha. The camp stands beside the ephemeral Jongomero River. At the time we visited the camp, the river was dry. If you have the time and you convince the camp’s manager, he can take you to visit sculptor Robert Glen and Sue Stolberger, top class artists that live together in tents in the middle of the bush and fly to Europe and America for the opening of their exhibitions in major museums. Take a look at the art work and Robert’s giant monuments.
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Ras Kutani. End of the trip at the beach

After visiting Selous and Ruaha, we head to the coast and we enjoyed a couple of days at the beach before returning to Spain. We wanted to avoid touristic Zanzibar, so we went to Ras Kutani. The lodge is situated only 35 kilometers South of Dar es Salaam but offers the perfect hideaway, far from the maddening crowd. The setting ensures that feeling of being on one’s own tropical island. There is not much to do but swimming in the sea and sunbath on the beach just for yourself.
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Photo credits: Pedro Sagüés, Iñigo Sagüés and Eduardo Sagüés

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