Article and photos by Josette King
Rufiji River Camp was stretched high on a bluff
After a visit to Katavi in the farthest reaches of western Tanzania, I flew to the Selous Game Reserve. It was a long way back east from Katavi to Selous, several hours including a stop-over in Ruaha, which gave me time to collect myself and re-enter the 21st century. Located in southeast Tanzania, the Selous Game Reserve covers more than five percent of Tanzania’s total landmass. It is the largest protected and one of the oldest wildlife reserves in Africa. It was first established over a century ago as a hunting reserve, and large portions to the south of the Rufiji River are still set aside for hunting, while the northeastern part of Selous is dedicated to photographic tourism.
The river was filled with hippos
The remote location limits the number of visitors, although I found Selous to be relatively more crowded than anywhere else I visited in the Southern Circuit. In addition to being home to the Rufiji River and to its remarkable abundance of game and bird life, what made Selous unique was its status as a game reserve. It permitted a larger range of activities than in the more regulated national parks.
The dining area at Rufiji
The Rufiji River Camp made the most of this advantage. Stretched along a bluff overlooking the river, the camp delivered an outstanding variety of game viewing activities. Game drives in the camp’s open-sided vehicles were especially rewarding as it was possible to go off-road for optimum viewing. The camp also offered river safaris in open-sided pontoon boats, and walking safaris. A favorite activity of mine was the siesta time armchair safaris I enjoyed on my private veranda which overlooked an active pod of hippos and the riverbank where elephants came to drink and crocodiles lazed in the sun. Meanwhile every rustle in the trees above my tent was a new birding opportunity.
A thatched roof shaded the bell-shaped pool