Anyone been to Selous and Ruaha in Tanzania?

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May 26th, 2000, 08:16 AM
  #1
Celia
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Anyone been to Selous and Ruaha in Tanzania?

We are planning a safari to Tanzania in Sept/Oct but we're not sure which parks to include. The Serengeti is well known(but we visited Masai Mara in Kenya last year and we would like to explore a new area).Selous and Ruaha Game Reserves has been recommended to us as being the "true Africa" and a real wilderness experience with great lodges and guides.There are fewer tour operators offering safaris to these parks,so we wanted to hear from anyone who's been there to check if it's worth the extra travel time and cost?
 
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May 30th, 2000, 02:23 AM
  #2
Ilsa Godlovitch
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Celia,

I cannot recommend these parks enough - particularly Ruaha - stay at the Ruaha River Lodge and make sure you get Esau as your guide - a walking encyclopaedia on birdlife in particular. I went with Explore - transport was quite basic really quite a reasonable deal considering the logistics of reaching these remote areas.
 
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May 31st, 2000, 02:28 AM
  #3
Celia
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Ilsa,I'm curious to find out more about your trip. What are the parks like?
Did you visit both Selous and Ruaha?
What does the landscape look like?
Do you get to see every type of wildlife,or are they particularly good for some type?
 
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May 31st, 2000, 04:15 AM
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mm
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We went to Selous last June, 1999 which was a little early in the tourist season. We stayed at the Mbuyni Camp. It's a tented camp that has its own, but nevertheless wild, resident elephant. We had three kinds of safaris - boat, walking and riding. This allows you to see different animals and at a time that you choose. All you had to do was let the director know what you wanted to do. We thought that the Selous area was rougher than the Serengeti, Manyara and Ngorongoro areas. In fact, the park rangers and guides do carry rifles just in case the worse happens and a wild animal attacks. (It never happened while we were there.) You do see animals that are not in the other areas like the wild dogs and the terrain is definitely different. We did all our booking over the internet through a Tanzanian outfit called Coastal. Their sister company owns the local airline that flies to the game reserve. They do have a web page. I worked with Nahid and she was extremely helpful in working out my travel plans. I think it was worth the time and money to experience a different side to the wilderness. There are also less travellers there so you don't have to put up with the caravans and dust that you get when you go to the more popular northern Tanzanian reserves. I believe that the Mbyuni Camp also has a web page.
 
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May 31st, 2000, 05:58 AM
  #5
Celia
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mm,you mentioned that is was rougher than the Serengeti.Is this rough good,or bad? I do want it to be more of a wilderness experience,but we'd also like a resonably comfortable camp!
The game viewing is the most important thing though.Do you feel that you're getting closer to the animals? What type of vehicles are used for the drives?What's the terrain like? Somebody told me that Selous is a bit like the Aberdares in Kenya and I found Aberdares to be too much like a forest and it was really hard to spot the animals.
 
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Jun 1st, 2000, 04:49 AM
  #6
mm
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When I said rougher, I meant that there wasn't the trappings that you would find in the Ngorongoro or Serengeti lodges like a decorative fishpond or a huge dining area. The Mbyuni tented camp does have a little pool where you can swim and relax after each safari trip. Each tent has a little front porch and bathroom. Essentially they are big tents erected on top of elevated platforms. You are suppllied daily with fresh towels, shampoo, soap and insect repellant (in case you forget to bring your own). I believe that you get as close to the animals as you do in the other reserves (I think this is dependent on your guide who will decide how safe it is to approach). We rode in open jeeps. Sometimes it was just my husband and myself but at one other time another couple was with us. We did get closer to the hippos and crocodiles when we were on the boat safari (maybe 10-12 feet away). Of course, the walking safari might be considered the most adventuresome as you may meet any animal on the way. The guides do give you a drill on dos and don's especially on the walking tour. Usually, one safari is planned for the morning and another for the afternoon. But if you want to do something different just talk to the director so he can make arrangements. A couple for California opted to visit a local village. Also, you can tell your guide how long you want to stay at one spot. I think they just want to make sure you they get you back in time for mealtimes. The lodge was rustic in keeping with its surroundings but yet was comfortable. The dining tent and bar area overlooked the river. The food was good and filling and the staff was very attentive. The director always checks with you to make sure that your needs are met. I don't know what the Aberdares are like but I wouldn't call the areas we went to as forested. From the plane you can see areas that have a lot of vegetation but I thought that the areas we went to have just the right amount of flora native to area without necessarily blocking your view of the animals. By the way, the camp I went to is listed under the Selous Safari Resort in the internet. And I just remembered, since Prince Charles and his sons visited it in 1997, (which may or may not have any bearing on your selection any way)you might say that it might have standards that the other camps don't have. Let me know via this forum if you have other questions.
 
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Jun 2nd, 2000, 12:28 AM
  #7
Celia
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I have a few more questions if you don't mind?! What type of game do you find in Selous? I read somewhere that it was particularly good for birdwatching. We don't mind a varied birdlife of course,but I think we're more interested in the predators and the bigger game,elephant,hippos etc. If you compare Selous to the Serengeti-where would you say the best game viewing where?
We're actually choosing between a safari visiting Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti or Selous and Ruaha.
What would your preference be?
 
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Jun 2nd, 2000, 03:59 AM
  #8
mm
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The Selous area has elephants, hippos, giraffes, buffalos, wild dogs, crocodiles, various species of gazelles, etc. I don't remember seeing any big cats. I need to check photos we took to see what Selous had that the northern circuit did not. You definitely get to see lions, hyenas, leopards and a possibly cheetahs in the north in addition to the elephants, giraffes and zebras. I'll get back to you on this.
 
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Jun 2nd, 2000, 10:05 AM
  #9
Ilsa Godlovitch
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I haven't been to the Northern Parks - our priority was avoiding jeep pile-ups and seeing true wilderness - and we certainly got that from both Selous and Ruaha - Ruaha in particular.

From our own experience and from talking to other people on the trip that had been to the Northern parks we gathered that:

- The range of animals is similar (except for some southern specific species such as Roan and Sable antelope), but that herds in the South are smaller and more dispersed. Predator sightings are good in the South - in Ruaha we saw a pride of 8 young lions.

- The landscape in the South is dense, but more varied than the North, sometimes turning the corner takes you to an entirely new setting (thorn acacia, palm groves). Seeing animals in this can be more difficult, but the scenic background makes for some lovely photo opportunities.

- The South is much less travelled and visited than the North, and there are more safari modes available - boat safaris (in the Selous) and walking safaris are available and vehicles unlike in the North are open.

We felt we had made the right choice - but of course there are pros and cons to each. Essentially, if you want a feeling of wilderness and being able to get out of a vehicle and explore the surroundings the South is unbeatable - but animals are more likely to be in small groups and the terrain is rugged.

Hope this helps
 
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Jun 5th, 2000, 04:07 AM
  #10
mm
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Celia,
Took a look at my papers. They do have the big cats in the Selous area but for some reason we did not come across them except for a some large paw prints which meant they wee somewhere in the area.
 
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Jun 5th, 2000, 10:34 AM
  #11
Celia
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mm,as you seem to have visited both the northern circuit and the southern,which area would you recommend for the most memorable holiday? I am really struggling to make up my mind as both areas sounds lovely! The southern parks are the only ones offering walking safaris,isn't that the case?Is this as exciting as it sounds,or is it even a bit too exciting for comfort?
 
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Jun 6th, 2000, 04:31 AM
  #12
mm
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We spent comparatively more time in the northern circuit. We chose to spend a day each at Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro as there were some slight differences in each site. We saw flamingos, jackals and warthogs in Ngorongoro but did not see them in Serengeti or Manyara. On the otherhand, we saw a leopard and cheetah in Serengeti as well hyenas and lions. The wild dogs are only in the south though. Maybe if we stayed longer in Selous (we stayed only 2 days) we would have seen the big cats too as they are also listed as being in the area. As Ilsa said, the animal groups tend to be smaller in the south. On the otherhand, there are less people (no crowds, no mini dust storms, no traffic jams). Also, the animals are more skittish than they are in the north which indicates that they have not adapted to people the way the wildlife have to the north. As far as I know, there are no walking tours in the north (probably because of the amount of tourists). I don't know if the western circuit have walking safaris as we opted to take some time off to go diving off Mafia Island. I'll e-mail with you any other information I can think of to help you make a decision.
 
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Jun 6th, 2000, 06:00 AM
  #13
Celia
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Thank you both of you for all the great advice ! I still need to do some more research before we make the final bookings. I think we might try the southern parks this time as September/October is supposedly not the best time to visit the parks in the north.If there any further information that you think might be useful(and help me make that final decision!)please email me on the following address:
[email protected]
 
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Sep 7th, 2001, 12:21 PM
  #14
Laura
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Were the tsetse flies a problem in this park?
 
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Sep 9th, 2001, 06:38 AM
  #15
Anna
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We have used an excellent agent a couple of times - Marc Harris at Africa Archipelago (www.tanzaniaodyssey.com). He specialises in the more remote parts of Tanzania (Selous, Ruaha). We have actually booked trips to Zambia through him, he's very clued up on Zambia too but his main expertise are Tanzania. You might find it helpful to drop him a line.
 
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