Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
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SIWANDU CAMP -
SELOUS GAME RESERVE, TANZANIA
Siwandu (formerly Selous Safari Camp) is delightfully situated within an open palm forest on the shores of Lake Nzerakera, a massive lake adjoining the Great Rufiji River. Blending in superbly with its natural surroundings in what is one of the most photogenic areas of the Selous Game Reserve. All safari tents are widely spaced along the lake shore ensuring maximum privacy and wonderful views. Each tent sits atop its own raised timber platform with two large verandahs on either side where one can sit with a cup of tea in the morning watching the bush come to life at sunrise, or nursing a gin and tonic as the bush gets ready for the night at sunset.
The camp has prime position at the centre of this unique riverine and lake complex, with the highest concentration of African wildlife and myriad birdlife. There are no fences and no artificial modifications so animals may wander freely through the camp and often do. Hippos moving through the camp are a nightly occurence and some of Selous elephant frequently meander between the tents looking for a late night snack. The African sound of whooping hyenas and bellowing hippos is a constant background medley throughout the night causing the more wary traveller to check tent zips are secured.
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Much as guests are encouraged to become at one with the bush surroundings, full consideration has been given to comfort within the camp itself. The spacious tents are luxuriously appointed, with en suite bathrooms and open air hot water showers. Ceiling fans are present in all the rooms situated above the king sizes beds where guests can rest away the exertions of the morning activity and cool down during the heat of the day before heading out again later.
The camp as a whole is comprised of two separate camps, North and South. North camp possessing 6 tents and South camp with 7 tents. In this way, there is never the feeling of having too many people around and each camp can provide a high level of seclusion enabling guests to become familiar with all their fellow travellers as well as the staff. Each section has its own swimming pool, well stocked bar and dining area, and each has its own well supplied kitchen where our chefs produce the finest cuisine. All meals are complimented by a good wine selection. No movement between camps is required as each has its own host, game viewing vehicles, jetty for boat safaris and walking guides.
For that intimate, quiet, wild feeling, Siwandu is perfect for forgetting all the troubles of the modern world and immersing ones self in nature with just the right amount of luxury in a very remote wild location.
While our guests find that game viewing and communing with nature can readily be achieved without moving from the camp itself, we offer full opportunities to get out into the bush to explore more of the Selous Game Reserve, its intriguing topography, its fascinating flora and its teeming wildlife.
Siwandu (formerly Selous Safari Camp) offers an exceptionally large array of activities to choose from be it by boat, vehicle or foot, your guides will personally taylor all activities to suit the guest so that they get the most out of the Reserve in the time they have available. All Selous activities generally go out after breakfast, quite different to other places due to the topography of the land and the animals dependance on drinking water. The main game movements in Selous occur a little later in the day as most animals make their way down to the lakes to drink only after the sun has come up, before this time most of the animals are far inland where there is little road networks for driving. In this way our guests can relax and after a nice leisurly breakfast embark on a drive or boat with a full stomach and then can stay out in the reserve all the way until lunch. After some more food and a small siesta, guests can then go out again in the late afternoon from about 16h00 when animals generally come back to life again providing more interesting game viewing. All activities must return to camp after sunset for about 19h00 as this is the rule of the park. Night Drives are not allowed in Selous.
For drives there are open four-wheeled drive vehicles, specially adapted for close-up game viewing, which make for exhilarating early morning and evening forays into the surrounding bush. Each vehicle is in the charge of expert well trained guides who are on hand to explain everything from unusual animal behaviour to rare and elusive species of birds and even the life cycle of termites. This is the most common activity and lets you get nice and close to some of the most spectacular animals which walk the earth.
The boat safaris are conducted in sturdy metal boats with a powerful outboard motor on the back and a covered canopy. Each boat safari is guided by a boatman who has grown up on the river and knows all the little nooks and crannies where a boat can sneak through like the back of his hand. They are also well aware of hippo and crocodile behaviour having spent so many years safely guiding people between them. The boat safaris provide some of the best water birding in Africa as well as getting up close and personal to hippos and crocs which swarm through the river system, be they wallowing in the water or basking on the banks.
Another unique opportunity the Selous has to offer is the possibility of doing a walking safari through the bush. These guided walks are the only activity which leaves very early due to the need to avoid the sun and the heat of midday. Walks leave at 6:30 am accompanied with a watchman and a fully qualified armed guide. The pace is not fast and the ground covered is nothing great. It is a gentle stroll through the wilderness with emphasis more on the little things which are very much neglected from vehicle. The possibility of seeing lions or wild dogs on foot is greatly reduced however elephant sightings are very common and to walk relatively close and safely with these animals is one of natures greatest thrills. The walking concentrates more on ecology, tracking, dung identification, medicinal uses of trees, birds and generally interpreting the bush giving guests a much greater, broader understanding of nature. Not to be missed!!
For the exercise orientated or more adventurous, please enquire about the possibilities of a one or two night walking safari where one or two nights are spent "roughing it" in the bush accompanied by your own walking guide.
Selous Game Reserve
Only 200 km West of Dar es Salaam lies the mighty Selous Game Reserve, one of Africa’s least known yet wildest conservation areas. At an unbelievable 55,000 sq km Selous is almost twice the size of Belgium and four times larger than the famous Serengeti in the North, covering 5% of Tanzania’s land area. The Selous’ ecosystem as a whole is made up of a few conservation areas, namely Mikumi in the North and the Kilombero game controlled area in the West, covering in total over 90,000 sq km of pristine wilderness devoid of human influence.
Fed by the mighty Rufiji River, the largest river in East Africa which drains most of South Western Tanzania’s water, this reserve is home to over 1,000,000 large animals and is home to over half of Tanzania’s elephant population. Selous is unique among reserves in Tanzania as it encompasses an area exclusively devoted to tourism in its Northern part, making up for about 10% of the reserve’s total size.
This sector North of the Rufiji River is mostly open wooded grassland and is dominated by Terminalia spinosa trees - ‘flat topped’ trees, in classic African fashion. However this section of the reserve is unusually diverse, comprising dense hardwood forests in the East, open plains in the centre, and rocky arid hills and volcanic springs in the West.
The reserve is also crisscrossed by a multitude of dry riverbeds surrounded by dense riverine vegetation where many of Selous larger animals spend their days.
However, one of the major attractions has to be the mighty river itself, home to one of the largest crocodile and hippo populations in Africa, swarming with fish which in turn bring about some of the world’s best water birding. The River has also formed several large lakes on its Northern bank, navigable by boat. Siwandu (formerly Selous Safari Camp) is situated on one of these lakes, sheltered in a grove of one of Selous’ many beautiful palm forests.
This wonderfully diverse, vast and well watered habitat has the right ingredients to enable the land to hold an unusually high number of animals of all shapes and sizes as well as support an extraordinary array of different vegetation types.
Selous has over 2,100 species of plants, 350 species of birds, 60,000 elephant, 108,000 buffalos and an estimated 1,300 of the worlds’ approximately 4,000 remaining rare wild dogs giving guests an opportunity to glimpse all of these exotic animals in true unspoilt wilderness.
As early as the 1890’s, Selous Game Reserve was thought of as a place of enormous natural value and has since been subjected to management and conservation measures. From 1905-1912 it was made up of four reserves established by German colonial administration. In 1922 these four smaller reserves were merged to form the Selous Game Reserve named after the legendary hunter/explorer who died in the area in 1917.
Between 1936-1947 this area was enlarged several times over so as to include major animal movement corridors, particularly those of elephants who wander over vast distances throughout their lives. In 1974 the Park reached its present glory and became one of Tanzania’s three World Heritage Sites along with Zanzibar and Olduvai Gorge. This status will hopefully ensure Selous long term survival!
Frederick Courteney Selous was born in 1851 in London and from an early age developed an obsession for the old day explorers like Livingstone himself. At the age of 19, Selous landed at a South African port and was determined to make a name for himself as a hunter/explorer. The indefatigable Selous had a strength, stamina and passion that was unrivalled and with only limited funds he took on the great outdoors. During his wanderings, Selous discovered several butterfly species and recorded valuable information regarding natural history and conservation, as well as befriending some of the times most influential characters such as Theodore Roosevelt the 26th president of the United States.
During the first world war, at around the age of 60, Selous joined the 25th Royal Fusiliers in which he made Captain due to his extensive bush knowledge and hunting experience on foot. Responsible for pushing the Germans out of that area of Tanzania or Tanganyika as it was then known as, Selous met his end on the 4th of January 1917 when he was shot by a German soldier. He was 66 years old and is now buried at the base of the Beho Beho hills in the Northern Sector of the reserve.
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