Selous & Ruaha

About Selous & Ruaha

The Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park are the principal stopping points on Tanzania's less celebrated Southern Safari Circuit. The route is increasing in popularity, especially with seasoned safari goers who are looking for a more wild experience off the beaten track, which these two definitely offer. The Selous is Africa's largest game reserve and has few lodges, and the low number of flights to Ruaha means that you will find far fewer visitors in these parks compared to those further north giving a true feeling of getting away from it all. The game viewing in both is extraordinary and the Selous, in particular, offers a fantastic variety of activities such as walking and boat trips, where Ruaha offers the chance for extended walking and fly camping safaris.

Despite their isolated locations, both parks offer a fantastic range of luxury accommodation to rival the choices in the more popular parks to the North. In the Selous, you can enjoy the splendour of Azura Selous with its wonderfully spacious suites and lovely swimming pool area which commands a fantastic view out across the rapids of the Ruaha River. Siwandu has a more traditional safari feel to it and the large lounge area with a thatched roof is the perfect place to relax in the afternoons. It also boasts a smaller private camp which can be taken on an exclusive basis for families or small groups. In the Ruaha, Jongomero offers one of the premier safari experiences in the park and also has its own walking and fly camping operation. This means you can explore the park on foot before setting up camp for the evening and enjoying dinner under the stars.

In the Selous, you will be able to see elephants, buffalos, leopards and large prides of lions as well as wild dogs. As the Selous is a game reserve as opposed to a National Park, you are able to enjoy day and night drives, as well as walking safaris and boat trips along the river so you get real diversity in how you enjoy your game viewing. In the Ruaha, you get similarly strong numbers of predators and the reserve has large numbers of hyenas as well. The really interesting thing about Ruaha is that it has many of the animals that you would more commonly associate with Southern Africa, including rare roans and sable antelopes. Whilst night drives are not permitted in the Ruaha, some camps offer walking safaris and Jongomero has the aforementioned fly camping safaris for you to enjoy. 

Ruaha is a really great option if you are looking to get away from the crowds and enjoy one of Africa's most scenic parks.


  • Fly camping from Jongomero is a wonderful way to spend a couple of days exploring Ruaha - you walk during the day before setting up a simple yet comfortable camp for a night under the stars
  • Selous is famed for its large lion prides as well as strong wild dog numbers and good leopard sightings. If you are interested in seeing predators then there are few destinations better than Selous
  • Take a boat cruise along the Ruaha River (it flows through the Selous as well) to get a totally different perspective of the reserve
  • The Ruaha National Park was once the homeland of the Hehe people and it is still believed to this day that it holds many secrets of their great Chief Makwawa who led the battle against the German troops in the late 19th century. Visit the places of importance and gain insight to the southern Tanzanian tribes


  • Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffalo, Wild Dogs, Roans, Sables and the rare Greater Kudu. Crocodiles and hippos are found in the deeper pools and rivers
  • There are over 570 bird species recorded in the park, including migrating species from Europe, Asia, Australian rim and Madagascar
  • Species of interest in the park include Ruaha Red-billed hornbills (Tokus Ruaha) which is dominant in the area
  • The Great Ruaha River as other rivers like Mwagusi, Jongomero and Mzombe serve as the lifeline of the park bringing water into an otherwise dry area and ensuring wildlife and bird life is adequately sustained


  • January to March - An excellent and much overlooked time of year for safari, it can get quite hot in the middle of the day but cool mornings and late afternoons make for ideal safari conditions.
  • April and March - The rains that affect Tanzania at this time of year are especially strong in the South and many camps in both parks close at this time of year as access is very difficult.
  • June to October - Peak season for a safari in both parks. The dry conditions make for superb game viewing and afternoons can be spent lazing in the sunshine around the pool.
  • November and December - Another good time of year to be here, some rains in November but they aren't major and can be very refreshing in these warm months.

In The Know

    • Selous and Ruaha are best combined on the same itinerary starting with Selous and then heading on to Ruaha. This optimises your game viewing experience and works out best, owing to the limited flight options to Ruaha
    • Azura Selous works really well for families - the spacious suites can comfortably accommodate a family of 4 and we have some superb offers for this lodge
    • Night drives aren't available in the Ruaha and walking safaris are limited owing to the large elephant population, but Jongomero's fly-camping option allows you to be out in the bush at night and is a magical experience
    • Ruaha has a number of historical sites in the park which include the old Arab trade routes and the battles between the Hehe people and the Germans. Places of interest can be visited while exploring the park

Africa Travel Latest

A rare experience of game viewing spiced up by the fascinating landscape.

Laura Miles Sales Advisor, London

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