Southern Circuit National Parks & Reserves

The Selous is Africa’s largest protected wildlife sanctuary covering around 50.000 sq km, which is about 6% of Tanzania’s land territory or the equivalent of Switzerland. ‘The World’s Largest Unspoiled Wilderness,’ as it is often referred to, was named after a British hunter and writer Frederick Courteney Selous, and is located in the south eastern part of Tanzania.

It is home to the largest population of some of Africa’s most precious wild animals, including Elephant, Lion, African Wild-dog, Leopard, Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Crocodile and herds of different antelopes and gazelles. In its concentration of wildlife it is the world’s second only to the Serengeti.

Due to its unique ecological importance it was designated a ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’. It borders Mikumi National Park and the Kilombero Game Controlled Area, and forms the Selous ecosystem covering an area of 75.000 sq km. Almost 60,000 Elephants, around 160,000 Buffalos, roughly 40,000 Hippos and 5000 lions are found in Selous; as well as Black Rhino, Zebra, Giraffe, Leopard, Cheetah, Spotted Hyena, African Wild-dog, Warthog, Greater Kudu, Liechtenstein’s’ Hartebeest, Impala, Nyasaland Gnu, Brindled Gnu, Reedbuck, Sable Antelope, Sharpe’s Grysbok, Waterbuck, and Wildebeest.

The Selous includes a wide variety of habitats from woodlands, open grasslands, dense thicket, acacia woodland, riverine, ground water forest and miombo woodland. Its extensive area of miombo woodlands (about 75%), is one of the largest forests under protection. The swamps form an important habitat for wetland plants, reptiles, as well as both resident and migratory birds. More than 440 species of bird have been registered including Crested Lark, Green-headed Oriole, African Snipe, Bataleur Eagle, Knob-billed Duck, Kingfishers, Herons, Geese and the Southern Ground Hornbill.

The Rujifi River and its tributaries form a network of lakes in the Selous, ideal for boat safaris. No where else in Tanzania you can combine a game drive with boat trips and walking safaris! Another magnificent feature is the 8km long, 100m deep and 100m wide ‘Stiegler’s Gorge,’ named after a Swiss adventurer who was killed there by an elephant.

Game drives, Boat safaris, Walking safaris, Bird-watching, Fishing for Tiger Fish and Vundu Catfish in the rivers of the Kilombero Game Controlled Area.

When to go
The best time to visit the reserve is during the dry months (June to October, December to March).

Getting there
Fly-in and fly-out from Dar es Salaam or Arusha. For the best all-inclusive game-packages contact us.

This park is often referred to as one of Tanzania ’s best kept wildlife secrets. It lies in the central Tanzania approximately 130 km west of Iringa town and protects an area of 13.000 sq km. The park was named after the Great Ruaha River, which flows through its eastern section and creates spectacular gorges, fringed with tall Acacia Albida, Tamarind, Wild Figs and majestic Baobab trees – a signature of Ruaha.

The stunning scenery is its obvious attraction, however the fact that Ruaha National Park is still relatively unknown and has only just been developed for tourists makes it extra special. It is the second largest Tanzanian National Park and one of the wildest. It is the largest Elephant sanctuary in East Africa with around 8.000 resident elephants. Unique mixture of mammals co-exist here including Cheetah, Leopard, Lion, Hyena, Jackal, African Wild-dog, Eland, Giraffe, Grants’ Gazelle, Impala, Lesser and Greater Kudu, Roan and Sable Antelope, Waterbuck, Zebra, Warthog, and Hippopotamus and Crocodile in the Great Ruaha River. Black Rhinoceros are rarely seen these days due to the massive poaching in the last couple of decades.

Ruaha is the only protected area in Africa where the flora and fauna of eastern and southern Africa overlap. The diversity of its bird-life is extraordinary; with more than 450 species having been recorded in Ruaha, including both northern and southern migrants visiting the park. You can see Red-billed Wood Hoopoe, Violet-crested Turaco, Racquet-tailed Roller, Red-billed Firefinch, Dickinson ‘s Kestrel, Pel’s Fishing Owl, African Snipe, Eleanoras’ Falcon, Pale-billed Hornbill and Secretary Bird, amongst the many.

Game drives, Guided walking safaris, Bird-watching. At Isimilia (near Iringa town) you can also visit one of Africa’s most important historical sites – the Stone Age ruins.

When to go
The best time to visit the park is during the dry season (May to December) when the animals come to the Great Ruaha River and other surface waters to drink . This is also the best time to see predators and large mammals. January to April is the best time for enthusiastic bird-watchers.

Getting there
A drive from Dar es Salaam takes 9-10 hours, or fly from Dar es Salaam or Arusha. Contact us for the current available packages.

The third largest park in Tanzania is situated north of the Selous Game Reserve (and the Tanzania-Zambia Railway and TAZARA line is its boundary). It is approximately 300 km east of Dar es Salaam and is named after the nearby village Mikumi (Mikumi is a Swahili name for the ‘Borassus Palm,’ which once grew abundantly in the area).

Mikumi National Park covers an area of 3.230 sq km and because of its accessibility it is becoming one of the most popular parks in Tanzania. It is also an important education centre where students study ecology and conservation.

The park is best known for its diversity and abundance of wildlife. For some animals such as Elephants, Buffaloe and Zebras, it forms a part of the Selous Game Reserve ecosystem, with game migrating to and from the Selous into Mikumi National Park. Very rare tree-climbing Lions can be spotted here as well as Giraffes, Elands, Hartebeests, Impalas, Leopards, Warthogs, Wildebeests and rarely seen elsewhere – packs of African Wild-dogs.

Mikumi is divided into three zones: woodland, grassland and swamp areas. The Hippo Pools are occupied by a large numbers of Hippos as well as flocks of Open-billed Storks fishing for Molluscs. Common residents of the swamps also include Crocodiles and Water Monitors. Over 300 species of birds have been registered here, including Eurasian migrants; the Saddle-billed Stork and Hamerkop. The park is also famous for its many Baobab trees, Hyphaene (Doum) and Borassus Palms.

Guided game drives, Walking safaris, Bird-watching. Your trip can be combined with the bordering Selous Game Reserve, and nearby, the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, as well as Ruaha National Park.

When to go
The Park is accessible all year round but between the longer rains (March to May) a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle is a must.

Getting there
A drive from Dar es Salaam takes 4 hours, or fly from Dar es Salaam or Arusha.

This recently established park was officially opened by HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in 1992. It is situated between the Iringa and Morogoro regions of southern central Tanzania. It protects an area of 1.900 sq km and together with the Uluguru, the Pare and the Usambara mountain ranges, it constitutes the Eastern African Arc of mountains.

The Udzungwa Mountains National Park lies between altitudes of 300 and 2800m. The vast range of altitude results in a huge diversity of habitat from rainforest, wooded grasslands, rock faces, rivers and waterfalls. The Sanje River Waterfall drops some 170m through the forest to the valley below. The eastern escarpment of this range is claimed to be the only place in East Africa with unbroken forest cover, ranging from the lowland right up to high montane areas. The forest is rich with unusual species of flora that vary from tiny, ‘new African violets’ to 30 meter high trees. Many rare plants have been identified here, which are found nowhere else in the world.

As well as being home to about ten types of primates including four endemic (the Iringa or Uhehe Red Colobus Monkey, the Matundu Galago, a subspieces of the Amani Mountain Dwarf Galago and the Sanje Crested Mangabey), there is also a large mammal community with resident populations of Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, African Wild-dog, and different antelopes including Sable, Eland, Waterbuck, Red, Blue and Abbots Duikers and Bushbuck. Udzungwa has also Tanzania’s richest forest bird habitation with several endemics. Some new species have been discovered in just the last few years, including Francolin and the Rufous-winged Sunbird. This places the Udzungwa forests in the top three areas for bird conservation in the mainland Africa.

A program to involve the local community in conservation of natural resources has been initiated by the National Park. The existence of the Park provides financial assistance for schools, roads and other projects, as well as protection of the water catchments in the area.

Hiking and Climbing on designated areas. Your trip can be combined with the near Selous Game Reserve and Mikumi National Park, as well as Ruaha National Park.

When to go
Park is accessible all year round.

Getting there
Drive from Dar es Salaam or Arusha. Please ask for more details.

Located on the north coast, roughly 100km (60 miles) northwest of Dar es Salaam, and a similar distance southwest of the port of Tanga, Saadani is “where the beach meets the bush”.

Protected as a game reserve since the 1960s, in 2002 it was expanded to cover twice its former area. The reserve suffered greatly from poaching prior to the late 1990s, but in recent years a marked turnaround has been seen, due to a concerted clampdown on poachers, based on integrating adjacent villages into the conservation drive.

Today, a surprisingly wide range of grazers and primates are seen on game drives and walks, among them include giraffes, buffaloes, warthogs, common waterbucks, reedbucks, hartebeests, wildebeests, red duikers, greater kudus, elands, sable antelopes, yellow baboons and velvet monkeys.

Herds of up to 30 elephants are encountered with increasing frequency, and several lion prides are inhabitants, together with leopards, spotted hyenas and black-backed jackals.

Boat trips on the mangrove-lined Wami River come along with a high chance of sighting hippos, crocodiles and a selection of marine and riverine birds, including the mangrove kingfisher and lesser flamingo. The beaches form one of the last major green turtle breeding sites on mainland Tanzania.

Game drives; guided walks; Boat trips and Swimming. Visit Saadani fishing village, which lies within the reserve, where a collection of ruins pays testament to its 19th century heyday as a major trading port.

When to go
The Park is not accesible between the longer rains (March to May).

Getting there
Flights from Dar, Zanzibar and Arusha. No road access from Dar es Salaam along the coast – Follow the surfaced Moshi road for 160km (100 miles), then 60km (36 miles) on dirt. Road access from Tanga and Pangani except after heavy rains. 4×4 is required.