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Just West of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, lies one of the wildest conservation areas – the Selous Game Reserve. Four times the size of the Serengeti and largely undiscovered, this really is one of the last real wilderness areas. When I was given the opportunity to go and experience the Selous for myself I had no idea what to expect, having grown up in Africa and with a relentless passion for discovering Africa, I have had the good fortune to go on countless game drives… but no area has left me with such an authentic and original African wildlife experience. Knowing the sheer size of the Selous and that the reserve is off the beaten track, I was truly taken aback by what I found. Ultimate luxury and the total seclusion I had been craving!
Instead of telling you how mind blowing it is to go on a game drive for hours and to not see another vehicle, or how incredible the landscape is that I couldn’t have dreamed up anything more beautiful. I thought I would rather share one of the days with you from my diary…
In the morning..
My room at Beho Beho is a palace on a hill, well my idea of a palace anyway. Not the shiny gold kind, but the kind I lay awake dreaming about…
Literally half my room was opened up to the bush, all that separated me from the bush was a wooden banister so from my king size bed I could look out over the bush, stretching for miles and after I’m nudged awake by the call of the fish eagle I laze on over to my outdoor shower where I probably spend far too long getting ready. We are then taken out on a boat cruise on Lake Tagalala, our Ranger warns us that sometimes the fish in the lake get a fright from the engine and can jump out of the water. So with elephants drinking in the reeds and crocs ducking beneath the water on every turn and fish jumping out the water beside the boat as we cruised along, this was truly an original and worthwhile alternative to a game drive! After the cruise we are treated to a feast for breakfast next to the lake under the shade of an old tree.
Once our bellies are full and settled we head off to Maji Moto (Fire Water), these are spectacular hot volcanic springs in the middle of the one of the world’s largest game reserves. When I thought about the Selous, I didn’t picture spending the morning swimming in warm volcanic springs surrounded by untouched African bush – but here we are, jumping from pool to pool, enjoying a warm shower under the waterfall and after what I am sure was one of the best mornings of my life, we head back to the lodge for a light lunch and an afternoon nap.
In the afternoon…
After such a spectacular morning, an afternoon game drive almost seemed mundane … how were they going to top it? We head out and not far from the lodge we come across a sleeping pack of Wild Dogs. Now I knew the Selous was home to a number of wild dogs, because the reserve offers them the space they require for their vast territories, but what are the chances we would run into a pack in such an expansive wilderness with us being the only vehicle on the look-out for miles? So when we stumbled across them, I was so excited I almost leaned over and hugged our ranger. He gives us a choice, stay and wait for them to wake up and perhaps catch them performing their “greeting ceremony” or carry on and try out one of the walking safaris the Selous is also famous for… Having to make this decision was probably the toughest thing I had to do all week – we decided to wait.
Our ranger pours us a G&T. About 5 minutes later the dogs are up and the greeting ceremony begins!!! What a sight – all the dogs are up and about, pouncing and playing. After the greeting is done the pups decide to stalk the Zebra in the distance and chase them as they learn how to hunt. When they get bored of that, they decide to come right up to our vehicle to check us out – all of us on the vehicle are novice photographers and this is a dream come true, we watch the dogs until the sun goes down. And best of all – no other vehicle in site! We had these amazing hours all to ourselves! Sitting on a hill, camera in one hand, G&T in the other, spending endless uninterrupted time with Africa’s endangered Wild Dogs… it truly doesn’t get better than this, or so I thought…
In the evening..
After an incredible afternoon, we head back to the lodge for dinner, I’m still on a high from the fantastic day we have just had and then the chef serves us fresh Lobster Thermadore flown in from Zanzibar that morning! There I am wrapped up in sheer luxury, in one of Africa’s last true wilderness areas eating possibly the best meal of my life – all while watching hippo and buffalo come to drink from the waterhole below…. Who would have guessed? I know I didn’t.
Cathrine stayed at Beho Beho Lodge in the Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania.
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Matt discovered a passion for writing in the six years he spent travelling abroad. He worked for a turtle sanctuary in Nicaragua, in an ice cream factory in Norway and on a camel safari in India. He was a door-to-door lightbulb-exchanger in Australia, a pub crawl guide in Amsterdam and a journalist in Colombia. Now, he writes and travels with us.
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What a fantastic post about the Selous! It really does capture the essence of what the Selous is all about – vast, wild, beautiful…
I absolutely ADORE the wild dogs… and I think that there isn’t enough said about them. It really annoys me that the Cheetah gets so much publicity and help and the Wild Dog is ignored. So thank you for bringing them to the eyes of the world!
Best wishes, Katie
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