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At around 50,000 square kilometres, the Selous is Africa’s largest game reserve, a wilderness area bigger than Denmark or Switzerland. The reserve actually covers more than 5% of Tanzania’s total land area, and is three times larger than the Serengeti! Although slightly off the beaten track of the more well-worn safari circuits, a visit to the Selous offers unforgettable game viewing in almost completely isolated surroundings.

The park supports enormous numbers of wild animals – 200,000 buffalo, 30,000 elephant (more than half the country’s population), and 80,000 wildebeest, as well as one of the healthiest populations of the endangered African Wild Dog. A successful project is underway to nurture the Reserve’s population of black rhino back to health following their depletion by poachers in the 1970s and 80s, and sightings are now possible in the tourist area.

A part of the reserve’s modern-day area was set aside as a game conservancy as far back as 1905, an area which was expanded and named (after Frederick Courtenay Selous, a nineteenth century hunter and soldier) in the 1920s. Repeated sleeping sickness epidemics during the 1930s and 1940s meant that the area’s human inhabitants moved out, leaving the Selous to the animals. Today, sleeping sickness is a thing of the distant past, but the Selous is still an uninhabited, untamed slice of ‘Old Africa’. In 1982, the Reserve’s unique ecosystem was recognised internationally and the area designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.

The greater part of the northern sector of the Selous is earmarked for photographic tourism, and it is one of the most beautiful and game-rich areas in the whole ecosystem. Three-quarters of the Reserve is woodland of various types, short grassy plains, and seasonally flooded pans. Impressive riverside forests and dense impenetrable thickets are important habitats within the Selous. The wide, meandering Rufiji River is one of the largest water systems in East Africa. With its associated wetlands, lakes and swamps, it is one of the most outstanding ecological systems in the whole of eastern Africa.

Walking and boat safaris, as well as traditional game drives, are on offer to visitors to the Selous’ small and remote camps and lodges, with little chance of bumping into any sign of human life.