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Trip Report Some Thoughts on Selous

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I returned recently from a trip to Selous and wanted to share some thoughts. It was so different from the other places I'd been---many animals actually were skittish and kept their distance. Seeing wildlife less habituated to people, while it sometimes meant not getting as close as I'd like for photo purposes, was refreshing. Selous is definitely the road less traveled.

General Comments

I was there in June, which is the Green season. The bush was thick and water was available in the bush. As a result the animals don’t need to come to the major water ways (the Rufiji River and the surrounding 5 lakes) for drinking (which, of course, makes game-viewing easier and more exciting---predators await the arrival of thirsty animals).

Overall, Selous (pronounced Sel-oo) in June reminded me of a cross between South Africa and Botswana. The river and lakes are beautiful and green, with lots of palm trees, flowering trees and water fowl. Once away from the water, the bush is thick and impressive, studded with lots of baobab trees.

Both camps (detailed below) are open (no fences) so animals can pass through at any time. However, whenever you leave your tent, day or night, Masai employed by the camps appear almost out of thin air to escort you to where you are going.

You won’t mistake Selous for the northern parks and reserves: game-viewing is less active and the animals appear to be less habituated to humans (probably because Selous gets much less traffic). Leopards are hard to see and cheetah are not present. Lions and dogs are likely sightings. On the other hand, Selous offers activities not usually provided in the north: fly-camping, boat safaris, walking safaris (with an armed Tanzanian Ranger) and fishing outings.

The camps were well-equipped with open safari vehicles (Impala had 6 cars for 8 tents), which have only two rows and I believe they will not put more than 4 riders in a car. Because things were quiet I had my own car for all but 1 or 2 rides when only 1 other accompanied me.

You paid for your drinks at each camp. Lake Manze would give you bottled water for free. Impala charged for bottled water because they said their treated water was 100% safe---I tried it with no problems. Prices were very reasonable for drinks: large water, $2; beer, $3.50, glass wine, $4; soda, $2.50.

Lake Manze Camp (12 tents)

This is a budget camp, though I have nothing but good things to say about it. The tent, which was in good shape, was simply furnished, but clean, and the bed was comfortable. The tents had no electricity at all, although the camp had a charging center. The bathroom was attached to the tent but open overhead, which means you SS and S’d under the stars, a unique experience. (It actually proved very useful one night when there was a full lunar eclipse. I could stand in the safety of the bath area of the tent and watch the moon turn orange/red---until I couldn't stand the mosquitoes biting.) The camp said I had hot water, but I never did get to take a warm shower. I think that’s because my tent was a good distance from the boiler and everyone probably showered around the same time during the day (showering in the dark was a bit inconvenient). Nevertheless, the day-time temps were high and the cold water hardly cold so showering was OK.

I think one of the highlights of the camp was the cuisine. The camp manager, a young, smart and very personable Italian woman named Sarah, has a passion for food. As a result she has obviously provided a guiding hand to the kitchen. The food at the camp reflected simple but delicious Italian cooking: e.g., bruschetta, meatballs in tomato sauce, and various spinach dishes.

Views of the accommodations can be seen at: http://www.adventurecamps.co.tz/lakemanze2.htm

Impala Camp (8 tents)

This camp was more on the order of Kichwa Tembo (although Impala has only 8 tents and KT over 40), with the tents being equivalent to KT’s Luxury tents. The furnishings were much upgraded as compared to Lake Manze’s and the tents had full electricity along with your own charging outlet. Hot water at any time of the day was easily available.

Food was on the order of most upscale camps. The camp management did everything to ensure a comfortable stay---they were all very nice. Ironically, Lake Manze had a wifi area, but Impala didn’t. The staff let me use their hard-wired computer to touch base with my wife.

I had a really great guide at Impala for the entire time (and I had a private car the entire time because the camp was not busy). I did game drives except for the last evening when I fished and the guide even joined me for that to give me pointers. There are two main fishing targets: catfish (a woman visiting from Australia caught one weighing 15 kg (33 lb)!!) and tiger fish; the latter will give you a run for your money. I felt good knowing that all fish caught by visitors are eaten by the staff.

Views of the accommodations can be seen at: http://www.adventurecamps.co.tz/selousimpalacamp2.htm

Summary

Selous is a place for those who want a less-congested African safari and who might want to do some activities in addition to game rides. I heard from other visitors that Ruaha and Katavi were great for seeing predators, so I think a visit to Selous would best be done in conjunction with stops at at least one of those two other areas.

I've listed a couple of links with some photos: one is for birds (Selous is a great birding destination), while the other is for just a bit of other wildlife, but mainly wild dogs, the primary reason I went to Selous.

Best to click 'Slideshow' (upper left of screen under PICASA logo) so you can view full screen.

Selous Birds: https://picasaweb.google.com/sbrynes1/BirdsOfSelous?authkey=Gv1sRgCMTg6aTQ6cusqwE

General Selous: https://picasaweb.google.com/sbrynes1/Selous?authkey=Gv1sRgCNuJ_LH5nLj2sQE

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