Southern Tanzania is home to the endangered wild dog.

A Luxury Safari in Southern Tanzania

If going on safari is all about getting away from it all, then a luxury safari in southern Tanzanian raises this to an art form. In contrast to the northern part of the country, southern Tanzania receives relatively little attention – which is a shame, as it certainly merits being noticed. This does, however, mean a more intense wilderness experience, far from the madding crowd. And remote needn’t equate to roughing it; although you will leave the beaten track far behind, there are some wonderful luxury lodges and camps where you’ll be more than comfortable.

I’ve always loved spending time in this region’s two great wildlife areas: the immense Selous Game Reserve (almost the size of Croatia) and Ruaha National Park. The Selous is the place in all of Africa where I’ve had the most luck spotting wild dog. And if you still have a hankering after treehouses, you can experience sleeping in one in the Selous.

The Rufiji River loops through the Selous, winding its way between sand bars festooned with Nile crocodile. Exploring the river’s delta by boat is a great way to see these reptiles, as well as the many hippo that live here. Birders are in for a real treat, with many jewel-like species flitting in and out of the mangroves.

Ruaha promises prime elephant viewing, especially when the seasonal Ruaha River is low. Fly camping in Ruaha offers the chance to really get under the skin of the place – nothing beats sitting around a campfire after a game drive, before sleeping under canvas and a million stars.

When to Go

Crowding is never an issue in the southern parks, so you only really need to consider climatic factors when planning your safari. At this time, warm, sunny days give way to comfortably cool evenings. After the long rains, June is very lush, although the vegetation becomes sparser as the dry season continues. This means it’s easier to see and photograph game, and makes this the best time to be in Ruaha and the Selous. If you’d like to see the Great Wildebeest Migration crossing the Grumeti River, combine your southern Tanzania safari with a stop in the Serengeti now too.

These months provide a welcome window between rains, and begin with the savannah at its greenest. It soon begins to dry up, causing game to concentrate at the few places that retain water, making viewing great! In southern Tanzania, the great rivers of Ruaha National Park and the Selous Game Reserve become the focal points for condensed wildlife spotting. Arriving migratory birds (such as the white storks in Ruaha) lifts birding to a new level. If you’d like to pair a visit here now with something particularly special, pop over to the southern Serengeti, where you’ll be able to witness the wildebeest calving season.

These months are the rainiest in southern Tanzania, just as they are in the north of the country. Heavy showers and higher temperatures deter most visitors, although if you really want to have Ruaha or the Selous to yourself, this is the time to go. During the wet seasons you can watch immense tropical storms, and vegetation miraculously springing back to life after each dry season. These are some of the most beautiful times of year to be here, with flowers blooming and young animals being born. Just bring a raincoat!

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