Sand Rivers Selous
Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
Camps & Lodges
View images of Sand Rivers Selous: Sand Rivers
SAND RIVERS SELOUS -
SELOUS GAME RESERVE, TANZANIA
But many of our guests quickly realise that a few hours spent relaxing on the verandahs of their open-fronted rooms, or cooling off in the pool, surrounded by Kingfishers and Bee Eaters, listening to the grunts of hippos on the river, can be time equally well spent. Sit around the bar at the end of the day, the drinks are cold and there's always good stories to be told.
The main mess is spacious, open-fronted and cool. There's a chill-out area near the library and then acres of dining spots - around the main pool, privately tucked away in a quiet corner of the mess or on the social managers table.
images of Sand Rivers Selous, click Sand Rivers
We designed our 8 open-fronted rooms here for maximum comfort - wonderful beds, plenty of space and probably the best showers you'll have come across for a while - but we didn't want to lose that connection with the African bush which has so inspired us.
Which is why each room has panoramic views out over the river, why we go to great trouble to make sure that the only noises you hear are those of the wildlife and why we took particular care to make the most of the natural light, space and cooling breeze that comes off in the water.
Sand Rivers Selous has just 8 stone and thatched cottages, all are open-fronted and raised on decks overlooking the river. There are 5 Riverside rooms - with en-suite bathrooms, hot and cold running water, flush toilets and powerful showers - and 3 Hillside Suites. The Suites have all the above, but a large living space and a small plunge pool.
At Sand Rivers our open-sided 4x4 vehicles are a great way of seeing things. For covering a bit of distance when that's what's needed. And of course there are times when they give you the best views, access and photographic opportunities. But we like to retain spontaneity wherever we can. Often the best way to see things, to avoid scattering animals from the lakeshore, or spooking a herd of elephant as they feed their way through a stretch of lush grassland, is to hop down and quietly work our way into a good position on foot.
The same goes for our boats. Just being on the river - never mind the game - is a fantastic contrast to time spent in a vehicle. Drifting silently down stream, gently spiraling in the current, watching the river banks unfold is hard to beat. But here again we like to take time to stop. Creep carefully through paths in the thick riverine bush and you'll emerge - unseen - in magical secluded flood plains. More often than not there are treats in store; vast flocks of great white pelicans fishing in dwindling pools, wallowing families of elephant socialising, prides of lion sleeping off a meal.
Sometimes the best way to see game is to let it come to you. Breakfast on a sand bank in Stigler's Gorge watching elusive monkey-hunting crowned eagles, and listening to shrill cries of Hyraxes as you dangle a hook in the water. Or lunch in the deep shade of palm trees, watching the comings and goings on at the lakeshore: half watching, half reading a book and perhaps even dozing off.
All in all, days at Sand Rivers aren't about box ticking, or endless driving in search of the next animal. It's a sense of gradual absorption in this corner of the natural world that we'd love you to feel.
Walking in the Selous has more to do with state of mind than the state of your body. It's about an approach to game viewing - a receptiveness that's just hard to get in a vehicle - rather than a question of fitness.
Since Richard Bonham first came this way on his walking safaris in the 80's, to us the Selous has always been synonymous with being on foot. But it's never about distance, or "hiking." Time on foot is an opportunity to engage your senses and this is something you'll quickly pick up on as we leave camp - accompanied by an armed ranger - in the cool of the early morning or late afternoon.
The best walks are those where you travel at a gentle pace and probably don't cover much distance - a few kilometres in an hour - stopping often to listen and look.
Learning even a few of the myriad bird calls can be deeply satisfying, finding and identifying fresh tracks brings with it a sense of expectation and suspense. Nowhere is it truer that to travel is as rewarding as to arrive.
And when you do arrive in the softening evening light, there can be few things as exciting and plain different from every day "modern life" as our flycamp.
This is a peculiarly East African passion and the way things were done in the old days; with the minimum of fuss, but not scrimping on any of the comforts. As is so often the way, when you limit the frills, it allows you to really see what's special and what's going on around you.
Watching elephant as they pass by your camp in the moonlight, silent feet in the warm sand, or simply gazing through the mosquito net roof of your tent from the comfort of your bedroll.
We've been doing this now for close to 20 years. People's reactions vary, some find it quite emotional, others feel a child-like sense of freedom and release (one man ran round in small circles crying like a 5 year old) and of course quite a few admit to feeling a little scared.
But it's simply no exaggeration to say that in all those years, virtually nobody regrets trying this most special of experiences.
It was while leading a portered walking safari through this part of the world in the 80s that Richard stumbled upon this particular bend of the Rufiji River. Straightaway he knew he'd found somewhere special.
He'd spent months crossing the whole African continent by river and walked extensively throughout the Southern Selous, so he had some grounds for confidence in his judgement.
Building a lodge was far from his mind at that point, but when - many years later - with many more miles of the Selous under his belt, the chance came to replace his beloved old (and by that time decrepit) base camp with something a little more permanent, he knew for a fact that there was nowhere better to be.
It's been a few years now since the first stones for Sand Rivers were laid at the beginning of the 90s and much water has passed in front of the lodge since then, but we like to think that the spirit of Sand Rivers remains the same. This is somewhere that gets under the skin and rewards those with time to take things...well, a little slowly.
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