Fairend Safaris

Nyerere National Park

Nyerere National Park lies in the southern part of Tanzania along the southern Tanzania safari circuit. It is less crowded compared to the parks in northern Tanzania and was previously known as Selous Game Reserve. The park covers a total area of 50,000 square Kilometers making it Africa’s largest game reserve.

The park was established in 1982 and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its diverse geographical features. These include Miombo woods, open grasslands, riverine forests, and wetlands. In addition, the park is home to many wildlife species like wild dogs, black rhinos, elephant elands, greater kudus, waterbucks, hartebeests warthogs, spotted hyenas and leopards among others including 440 species of birds.

The best game-viewing areas in Nyerere National Park are found along the mighty Rufiji River and are exclusively set aside for photo tourism. The biggest portion of the reserve is set aside for trophy hunting. The Rufiji River offers both boat-based and vehicle-based game drives.

How to get to Nyerere National Park

Travelers can access Nyerere National Park by both road and air.

By road, you can get to Nyerere National Park by driving a 4-hour journey from Dar-es-salaam. Besides this gives you a more adventurous safari since you get to see beautiful and spectacular features as you travel through Mikumi National Park.

By air, is the quickest and most convenient way of getting to Nyerere National Park. It takes a 45-minute flight from Dar-es-salaam to get to the park. There are also some departure flights from Arusha and Zanzibar, which land on different accommodations or public airstrips within the reserve.

Top attractions

Wildlife species

Nyerere National Park is home to a wide range of wildlife species including buffalos, lions, wildebeests, zebras, hippos, and impalas among others. It has the largest population of wild dogs which account for 12 % of Africa’s wild dogs population.
The reserve also boasts large herds of Lichtenstein’s hartebeests, waterbucks, elands, and bushbucks, as well as leopards, crocodiles, and hyenas. Previously, the reserve was home to large numbers of elephants, but due to poaching their numbers have greatly decreased.

Birds

Nyerere National Park is home to about 440 bird species making it an excellent destination for birding. The best places to see birds in this reserve are around the lakes and River Rufiji. The best time to go for birding in Nyerere reserve is November to April when migratory birds are present.
The bird species to look out for include the Common White-headed vulture, trumpeter hornbills Spur-winged lapwing, African wattled lapwing Pearl-spotted owlet, and White-headed Lapwing among others.

River Rufigi

River Rufigi is Tanzania’s largest river which is at the center of the Park.  Besides the river serves as a water point for animals that live in this reserve. It was formed as a result of the confluence of the Kilombero and Luwegu rivers making it about 600 kilometers long. Actually,  Rufigi river is designated solely for photographic safaris.  

Selous Grave

Frederick Courteney Selous whom the reserve was formerly named after was the British explorer and conservationist who was killed in the reserve during World War I. He was buried in Selous Game Reserve.
Selous was killed in the bush war against German colonial Schutztruppen on the banks of the River Rufigi on January 4, 1917. He was shot by a German sniper while trying to creep forward in combat during a minor engagement and died instantly. He was buried near the site of his death, at Beho at the northern edge of the reserve.

Activities to do in Nyerere National Park

Game drive and Animal Viewing

Nyerere game drives are done in the morning, afternoon/ evenings, and at night. These enable travelers to see different animals that call Nyerere National Park home. Game drives are done in a 4WD vehicle with the help of a guide or trained ranger who helps you spot the different animals.
The Nyerere National Park offers excellent game viewing opportunities, with large populations of giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, and elephants, as well as the world’s largest population of the endangered African Wild Dog.

Birding

Nyerere National Park is home to over 400 species of birds making it a great birding destination. Travelers interested in birdwatching will not be disappointed. There are guided birding tours that allow you to see a variety of species including migratory birds and permanent residents. The bird species to look out for include kingfishers, pelicans, African skimmers, bee-eaters, fish eagles, carmine, ibises, plovers, palm nut vultures, turacos, storks, hornbills, and lapwings among others.

Boat cruising

Nyerere National Park has many water bodies including river Rufigi and lakes. These lakes are Lake Tagalala, Siwandu, Mzizimia, Manze, and Nzelekela. More adventurous travelers can engage in a boat cruise which usually begins at 8 am and stops at 6 Pm. You will be able to spot some animals and birds during the cruise.

Cultural encounters

Travelers can engage in cultural encounters where they get to visit locals who stay near the park. Mloka village is only a short drive downriver from Selous River Camp. Travelers get an opportunity to meet locals and get to know the day-to-day ways of living of the locals. Alternatively, tourists may choose to drive or walk around the villages.

Where to stay 

There are many accommodation facilities to choose from when visiting Nyerere National Park. They range from luxury, mid-range, and budget safari camps and lodges.
Some of the Luxury facilities to choose from include Beho Beho, Siwandu Camp, Mivumo River Luxury Camp, Selous Serena Camp, Roho ya Selous. The Retreat Tented Lodge, and Selous Mbuyu Safari Camp.
The mid-range and budget accommodations include Rufiji River Camp, Selous Impala Camp, and Selous River Camp. Selous Ngalawa Camp, African Safari Camp, Selous Wilderness Camp, Selous Mbega Camp, Selous Kulinda Camp, Jimbiza Lodge, and lastly  Sand Rivers Selous Lodge.

When to Visit 

Travelers can visit Nyerere National Park all year long however, the best time to visit is during the dry season from June to October. During this period it is easier to spot animals as they gather at water sources and vegetation is thinner.