Tanzania Safari – Selous and Ruaha

A great ‘bush camping’ adventure exploring the stunning Selous and Ruaha game reserves. Your opportunity to view a myriad of African animals on your own personal safari. This trip is tailored to suit you.

We had a wonderful time! Loved every minute of it.

– R. Muirhead

Selous Game Reserve, Africa’s largest protected area uninhabited by man, offers the lucky few visitors an experience in absolutely wild and unspoiled bush. The park varies from rolling grassy plains to open woodlands and rocky outcrops cut by the Rufiji River – the lifeblood of the park, whose tributaries form a network of lakes, lagoons and channels that offer a superb method of game viewing especially during the dry season (from June to October). Selous hosts Tanzania’s greatest population of elephants as well as being one of the few areas you can see African wild dogs. You will also get the opportunity to explore Ruaha National Park which derives its name from the Great Ruaha River that flows through the Rift Valley on the eastern part of the Park creating spectacular gorges. Finally visiting Mikumi National park, the 4th largest in Tanzania and a great spot for big game viewing as well as bird watching. Exploring on foot, by boat and by 4WD and sleeping in tents you will get a true appreciation of the best Southern Tanzania has to offer.

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Tanzania Safari Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival (D)

Arrive at airport and be met and then drive down south to Selous Game Reserve. Depending on the time of your arrival you will settle in and later depart for evening boat cruise along Rufiji river. Return for your dinner and overnight at Selous Hippo.

Day 2-3: Camping day at Lake Tagalala (B, L,D)

Adventurous camping day! Check out from the camp then drive into the middle of the reserve to set up your camp at the bank of Lake Tagalala. Later in the afternoon drive through the reserve for sunset game drive. Our professional and experienced cook will prepare African dishes for dinner.

Day 4: Journey to Morogoro (B,L,D)

An early start, break up your camp and drive to Morogoro, stopping for lunch en-route

Day 5: Discovering Ruaha National Park (B,L,D)

An early start from your hotel, transfer to Ruaha National Park with lunch en-route. At Ruaha you will stay at Msembe Bandas. These are basic, but clean rooms located on a bend in the Ruaha River. Giraffe and elephants frequently walk between the rooms and cheetahs have been seen on the river bed. Here you will have dinner and overnight.

Day 6-8: Exploring Ruaha National Park (B,L,D)

Three full days exploring Ruaha. There will be plenty for you to see in this large, visually stunning park. Look for wild dogs and leopard near the kopje or watch large herds of elephants and buffalo coming down to drink.

Day 9: Ruaha to Udzungwa (B,L,D)

After breakfast, drive to Udzungwa Mountain National Park, lunch as you go, dinner and overnight at Hondo Forest campsite.

Day 10: Wonderful hike in Udzungwa Park (B,L,D)

Breakfast then drive to Udzungwa Montain National Park. Make final preparations for your trek into the mountains, including a visit to the park HQ to complete the formalities. The hike up to Sanje Waterfalls is relatively short (max 2hrs) but is quite steep in places. This is the park’s most popular attraction, although it is unlikely that you will meet any other hikers.

Day 11: Udzungwa to Mikumi (B,L,D)

After early breakfast, leave Udzungwa for Mikumi with packed lunch. Proceed with game drive, dinner and overnight at Bastian campsite.

Day 12: Dar Es Salaam (B)

Morning game drive, transfer to Dar and the Mediterranneo hotel for your overnight stay. Here you will stay on a bed and breakfast basis giving you the choice between the excellent restaurant and local pub for your evening meal.

Day 13: Transfer to Airport (B)

Transfer to airport, or why not extend your stay for a few days on a beach or one of the lovely island resorts.

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Pioneer Expeditions
Average rating:  
 8 reviews
byL Evans-Mills onPioneer Expeditions
An Excellent Trip

Private tailormade trip - Tanzania, Zanzibar and Uganda Gorilla trekking in Uganda was amazing. You guys hit it out of the park again.
The Chameleon Inn was so charming and the view of the lake from our private cottage was breathtaking. The gorilla trekking was was such a fun adventure! Seeing a silver back 10' from us was surreal.
Advice to other travellers - take a bush plane in Uganda (like we did) to avoid long African massage rides Overall an Excellent Holliday!
The accommodations were more than we expected. Zanzibar was like out of a dream and the perfect place to acclimate after long flights. Tanzania was such beautiful county! Tarangire Park was beautiful with such different terrain and so much wild life in close proximity. Central Serengeti was the only place it felt crowded, but even then our excellent guide knew where to go. We saw a pride of lions with six cubs! It was more than we imagined by far! Thank you for all your accommodations throughout the trip, you went above and beyond! We certainly got our monies worth!

byTom Clode onPioneer Expeditions

A well organised and enjoyable trip on which we were extremely lucky!!!
Highlights included; seeing Cheetahs, leopards and a python in Ruaha. Furthermore we saw a total of 87 lions, including cubs!

byBrown and Freestone Family onPioneer Expeditions

Our guide and driver on safari was absolutely fabulous and we saw everything we desired to see. Safari was brilliant and would recommend that.

byRay and Helen Bruno onPioneer Expeditions
Tanzania Safari

Previous experience with the company and wanting to do a unique safari Highlights of the trip - expedition camping at lake tagalala, seeing a leopard, baobabs, kingfishers and many new birds, giraffes, lions roaring at night.
Mansoor was an excellent guide who spotted every movement and was so knowledgeable about the animals birds and the environment. We were well looked after and uhaya cooked under primitive conditions as well as having to cope with monkeys and elephants stealing food. Elephants broke into the kitchen at Ruaha at night. A reliable and safe 4WD vehicle was reassuring. Mansoor was a very good and patient driver.
Everyday was amazing and memorable. To be with the animals in the wild and peaceful game reserves was very special.

byMarilyn and Alan onPioneer Expeditions

Thank you so much for your email which I received last night after returning from our fantastic safari.

It was an amazing time and cannot rate both our guides and chef highly enough.

They were all really lovely, informative and went out of their way to ensure our holiday was brilliant.

I will definitely be recommending Pioneer Expeditions/Wild things to one and all for the perfect holiday.

byAndrea G. onPioneer Expeditions

Thanks for your mail and for your hard work arranging our trip. It was wonderful. All aspects of the trip went like clockwork and all 3 lodges were excellent.

byJim onPioneer Expeditions

First and most importantly, we had a great time. The safari was everything we hoped it would be based on your description of Selous and Ruaha. We saw lots of animals, lots of beautiful scenery, and very few other tourists/cars. One day we spent 15-20 minutes watching a leopard perched on top of a large rock no more than 30-40 meters away, just our car and our friends' car, no one else. Salim said that in the Serengeti, we could have had 50 cars stopped instead of just 2. The whole safari experience was like that - we felt like we had Africa to ourselves, and most of the time we actually did! The only animals we didn't get to see that we really hoped to see were the wild dogs and a cheetah, but we knew going in that the odds were against us considering the scarcity of these two species and the size of the parks. We did get to see numerous lions, the leopard surveying his/her territory from atop the rock, and another leopard securing its impala kill in a tree. The two leopard sightings were a tremendous thrill for us and probably the biggest highlight of our trip. We also saw tons of elephants, hippos, antelope, giraffes, etc as well as many beautiful birds (all of which Salim could identify).

Secondly, our guide Salim and our chef Henry were fantastic! Salim is the best guide we've ever traveled with, as well as an excellent driver, while Henry was very professional and passionate about his cooking and prepared lots of good food for us throughout the trip. It's not necessarily easy to spend almost 2 weeks in close company with people you don't know who come from very different backgrounds, but with Salim and Henry it was always easy and always enjoyable. I should also say that our friends' guide, Mansoor, was equally friendly, easy-going, and nice. We would gladly give each of them our unqualified recommendation and a huge "thank you" for making our trip so great.

The actual organization of our trip went very smoothly with the exception of one minor glitch at the Medical Center Bungalows, which was quickly solved by our guides. Otherwise, everything worked perfectly - our transfers to/from the airport went without a hitch, the drives between the parks were interesting and scenic although they took longer than implied by our itinerary, our accommodation was always ready for us (again, except for the Med Center) when we arrived - no complaints at all. I wish the same could be said about the quality of our accommodation at the start of the trip......

I can only assume that there is a dearth of affordable accommodation in Dar, as otherwise the popularity of Hotel Mediterraneo is inexplicable to me. The transfer from the airport took 2 hours, so a convenient location can't explain it, especially when it took us 3 hours the next morning to get from the hotel to the "city limits" on our way to Selous. Our room could best be described as "cramped", the shower was a trickle of cold water, and the air-conditioner was old, ineffective and very noisy, although not as noisy as the non-oscillating fan. Our friends found their room to be better, primarily because they had an air-conditioner that worked at tolerable noise levels, so I suppose we were just unlucky with our room assignment and too tired to do anything about it by the time we realized how bad it was.

Our opinion of Hotel Meds is nothing compared to our opinion of the Hippo Camp. Our "wooden hut" was in fact a canvas tent partially enclosed by concrete block walls. Our friends got a real wooden hut, which wasn’t much nicer than our canvas tent. I guess the other wooden huts were already occupied when we arrived, although no explanation for our “downgrade” was offered. The shower was take-your-breath-away cold and drained into a depression immediately in front of the toilet where the water stayed for the rest of the day as no squeegee was provided to direct it towards the floor drain, the concrete patio in front of the tent overlooking the river was not equipped with a single chair, bench or tree stump to sit on and enjoy the view, and the bathroom was separated from the bedroom by a similar curtain - perfect for listening to other family members use the toilet, but not for any sense of privacy. There are obviously a number of other camps in the same general area - if the Hippo Camp truly represents the best option, then I feel very sorry for people staying at any of the other camps as they must be absolutely awful. We would suggest that if any of your future clients inquire about an "upgrade" at the Hippo Camp, you should do everything possible to dissuade them.

Fortunately, our experience at the Lake Tagalala campground was far superior in every respect, at what I imagine was a distinctly cheaper price. Your description of the wild campsite is outdated - instead of long-drop toilets, there is now a beautiful new toilet block that features everything the Hippo Camp should have had, but didn’t - water that wasn’t freezing cold simply by virtue of placing the storage tank on a platform in the sun, hooks (!) in the shower stalls for hanging towels/clothes, a mirror over the sink, toilet stalls with actual wooden doors that closed, and a squeegee and push broom provided to keep things clean and relatively dry. In addition, there are now very nice covered seating areas for eating/relaxing. Our stay there was so superior to that at the Hippo Camp as to defy belief - we loved it! We were accompanied by an armed ranger named Moses, who was just a lovely person. To be there alone our first night, listening to lions roaring in the distance and hippos bellowing at the lake, was truly magical. Our tents were large and comfy, the facilities great for such a remote spot, and the atmosphere very special – we’d love to go back some day.

Similarly, our room at Hotel Oasis in Morogoro was everything that the Hotel Meds should have been - spacious, well appointed, with an efficient and quiet air-conditioner supplemented by an equally efficient and quiet fan, a shower that featured both hot water and water pressure, etc, all provided at probably half the cost of Hotel Meds, if that. The cottages at Msembe were fine, although with just minimal attention to detail they could be spectacular. The setting is certainly lovely, with expansive views across the African bush. We were visited at night by elephants nibbling on a tree directly outside our bedroom window, our son saw a hyena walking through the area at sunset - a very nice place to stay although a bit inconvenient for our guides as our cook was not allowed to prepare meals at the cottage area, but only at the campsite/banda area, which necessitated a pair of 8 km round trips every evening before and after dinner to ferry us back and forth. Otherwise, we loved Ruaha and had a wonderful stay there. We even met two lionesses and a cub on our walking safari, who forced us into taking multiple detours before they finally gave up following us and growling at us from the bush - pretty exciting!

Our stay at the medical center bungalows was short-lived as they only had one lovely large room available and a second room that resembled a prison cell - 6 feet by 8 feet in size with one single bed and a set of bunk beds, no fan, no windows, no furniture, no toilet. No one was willing to stay in the cell, a fact that our guides quickly recognized. They called the Wild Things office, and it was agreed that we would move to a nearby motel instead, which was fine. The setting of the bungalow was very nice and quiet, and supporting the medical center would be great, but there was no way to accommodate two families in just one nice room. In any event, I was impressed by the quick resolution of the problem to everyone's satisfaction.

Finally, we came to Amani Beach - paradise!! I don't know why anyone would stay at a place like Hotel Meds rather than Amani Beach. The setting and gardens are lovely, the ocean-view rooms actually have a view of the ocean, the beach is endless, clean and empty, the rooms enormous, the staff and management remarkably friendly and attentive, and everything works - the shower, the toilet, the lights, the air-conditioning, everything! It was a great way to end our trip, and the airport transfer took the same 2 hours as to the Meds. Next time, we would choose to stay at Amani Beach.

So, that's our detailed review - I hope that you will find our experiences interesting. The main advice I would give to your future clients would be "travel with Salim and Henry, and you will have the time of your life"! I would also like to compliment you, and thank you, for your excellent job in arranging our safari and in answering our never-ending questions. Everything went off without a hitch, the safari experience was magical, and we will have wonderful memories of Tanzania. I can absolutely recommend a visit to Selous and Ruaha for anyone who wants to experience the African bush and its animals without the crowds, just as you describe in your trip summary. Thank you very much for making it happen for us!

byR. Muirhead onPioneer Expeditions
Tanzania Selous/Ruaha camping safari

We had a wonderful time! Loved every minute of it. Thank you for arranging such a good tour at such short notice. We have been very impressed by all involved in the planning and delivery of the tour.

  • Duration13 days / 12 nights
  • Price£3,195$3,895
    Based on 4 pax. Supplement applies if less than 4 pax | Excluding international flights |
  • Upcoming Group Departures

    2021: 3rd-Oct

  • Tailormade DeparturesJun - Nov // on request

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