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Selous & Nyerere National Park

Size

Nyerere National Park 30,893 km² (11,928 mi²) | Combined: 54,600 km² (21,000 mi²)

Founded

1922 (Selous Game Reserve) | 2019 (Nyerere National Park)

Best time to visit

June to October

A large African wilderness

The Selous Game Reserve and Nyerere National Park have been recognised by UNESCO as one of the largest remaining wildernesses in Africa. In particular, the Miombo woodlands have a higher diversity and density of species than anywhere else. Expect to see some of the largest populations of elephants, buffalo, hippo and even lion here. As well as the rare Black Rhino and Wild Hunting Dog. Explore this diversity on foot with a ranger or on a boat trip on the Rufiji River. A safari here will be an unforgettable experience.

Boat safari at sunset Roha Ya Selous

Nyerere National Park: A haven for wildlife

One of the largest protected areas on the African continent is located in Southwest Tanzania: Nyerere National Park and Selous Game Reserve. Combined they cover an area larger than Switzerland. They are home to a such a wealth of wildlife and different habitats that it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.

The Selous Game Reserve was established in 1922. However, in 2019 the Game Reserve was divided into two parts. The northern section was named Nyerere National Park and the southern section continued to be called the Selous Game Reserve.

The protected area has many diverse habitats including Miombo woodlands, rolling hills, savannahs, rocky outcrops, swamps, lakes and rivers. The Rufiji River is Tanzania’s longest river, and it is an important water source, playing a vital role in the ecosystem.

Today, Nyerere National Park is purely dedicated to photographic safaris. Whilst the southern Selous Game Reserve has been split-up into several hunting concessions and leased out to professional trophy-hunting companies.

When going on a safari to Nyerere National Park you can expect to see large concentrations of buffalo, hippo, wildebeest, impalas, zebra, gazelle, hartebeest, giraffe, waterbuck, kudu, crocodile and roan and sable antelopes. What’s more, the park is considered to have half of Tanzania’s elephant population within its boundaries, which makes for exceptional elephant watching.

Numerous predators can be seen along the Rufiji River, such as lions, leopards, cheetah, hyenas and jackals. It is also home to the endangered African Wild Hunting Dog and Black Rhino.

Excellent bird watching is on offer thanks to the ~440 resident bird species. Common species include the African spoonbill, white fronted bee-eater, white-headed vultures, African fish eagle, spur-winged lapwings and francolins. Rare birds include the pel’s fishing owl.

Nyerere National Park offers a variety of activities for guests to choose from, such as game drives, boat safari or a guided walk with an armed ranger.

Nyerere National Park map
landscape

A UNESCO world heritage site

One of the largest remaining wildernesses in Africa with a range of habitats and vast numbers of wildlife, this area was classified as a World Heritage Site in 1982.

Buffalo

Elephants, hippos & buffaloes

There is believed to be one of Africa’s largest populations of elephant, hippo and buffalo present in this park. During the dry season large numbers gather along the Rufiji River.

rhino

The Big Five

Nyerere National Park is one of the best places to see the Big Five in Tanzania. The Black Rhino, the hardest to see, is easier to spot during the dry-season.

Buffalo herd Sand River Selous Camp

Selous Game Reserve and Nyerere National Park are known for their large herds of buffaloes.

Beho Beho Baileys Banda

You can find camps in stunning locations in the area - like the Beho Beho Camp.

Hippos at sunset Roho ya Selous Rufiji River

Spot hippos on a boat cruise with Roho ya Selous on the Rufiji River.

African Wild Hunting Dogs Selous Game Reserve

The vast expanse of Selous Game Reserve and Nyerere National Park are ideal habitat for African Wild Hunting Dogs.

WHEN TO GO

Best time to go to Selous Game Reserve & Nyerere National Park

The best time to go to Nyerere National Park is during the dry season, from June to November. During this period, the animals congregate near water sources, making it easier to see them. The best weather occurs in this season, with daytime temperatures ranging from 27°C (80°F) to 30°C (86°F). All areas of the park are accessible at this time. From October to February, the temperatures rise in the park. The rainy season in Southern Tanzania starts earlier than in the north of the country. The rains can start as early as mid-December. Some lodges and camps close during the long rains, so good planning is important.

dry season

Dry Season

June to November

Ideal for game drives, boat trips and guided walks to see the wildlife.

rainy season

Green Season

December to May

Some camps and lodges close during some of this time.

Why to go

A huge African wilderness awaits you

You go to Nyerere National Park not only because it is one of the largest and undisturbed places in Africa, but also because of the exceptional wildlife and unique habitats that can be found here.

A trek or a riverboat trip offer a different way to see the wildlife. These experiences change everything. You become not just a passerby. You touch, see, hear, and take in every sound, smell and colour along the way.

The Big Five can be seen here, but nature lovers will be amazed by the park’s ~2100 plant species and ~440 bird species. Lower visitor numbers compared to parks on the Northern Circuit offer you a more secluded experience.

Why to go to Selous and Nyerere
"We travelled with Tanzania-Experience for the second time and were so happy once again. John Urio was a great guide! From the first moment he convinced us with his winning smile. John was the best companion we could have wished for. He was an excellent driver and taught us a lot about the animals and the culture. He showed us the Big Five and many other rare animals. We thank John for this great trip! We have become friends and hope to see him again."
Petra, Victoria, Christian & Matthias Reichart | Lodge Safari

Experience the Selous Game Reserve & Nyerere National Park

Camp view at Sand River Selous
Warm hospitality & service

Stay in beautiful accommodation.

Siwandu Selous Camp classic game drives
Classic game drives

Take a game drive to seek out the Big Five and more.

Rufiji River boar trip sunset
Boat trips

Take a boat trip up the river for an unforgettable experience.

Bush walk with Roho ya Selous in Nyerere National Park
Bush walks

Explore the park on foot on a bush walk.

Things to do

Exceptional game viewing options awaits you

The area offers a diverse safari experience: classic game drives in a 4×4 safari vehicle, bush walks on foot and boat safaris on the water – not many parks in Tanzania offer all three!

  • Warm hospitality & service
  • Classic game drives
  • Boat trips
  • Bush walks
Young lion in tree in Selous Game Reserve
Lions

Some lions have adapted at climbing on trees.

Crocodile Southern Tanzania
Crocodiles

See impressive crocodiles in the Rufiji River.

Bee Eater bird Nyerere and Selous
Birds

You can spot colourful birds like this Bee Eater.

Buffalo standing in water
Buffaloes

This member of the Big Five can often be spotted here.

Wildlife in Selous Game Reserve & Nyerere National Park

Diverse and plenty - exceptional game viewing

This ecosystem is of outstanding importance. UNESCO valued the vast undisturbed land, the diversity of habitats, and the plethora of wildlife. Interestingly, the area has a higher diversity and density of species than any other Miombo woodland. Plant (~2100) and bird (~440) numbers are high, but so are the populations of elephants, hippos, buffalos, and lions. Rare species such as the Black Rhino, Wild Hunting Dog, and Pel’s fishing-owl also reside here.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN NYERERE NATIONAL PARK & SELOUS GAME RESERVE

Roho ya Selous

Roho ya Selous

Sand River Selous

Sand River Selous

Beho Beho Camp

Beho Beho Camp

Siwandu Selous Camp

Siwandu Camp

Rufiji River Camp

Rufiji River Camp

Kiba Point Safari Camp

Kiba Point Safari Camp

Sable Mountain Lodge

Sable Mountain Lodge

Selous Kulinda Lodge

Selous Kulinda Lodge

Location

To break up the long journey, you could drive to Nyerere National Park from Dar es Salaam and stop en route at parks like  Mikumi National Park or Udzungwa Mountains National Park. However, most visitors take a chartered plane that leaves from Dar es Salaam or Arusha. Matambwe Gate (park entrance) can be found near a small town called Kisaki in the northwest of the park. Most of the incredible accommodation on offer is located along the Rufiji River. The effort to get to this park is definitely worth it.

Lion paws closeup
Arno Snellenberg Tanzania Travel Expert
Tanzania-Experience safari vehicle

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