Having spent a day in Dar es Salaam, it was finally time to start our first African safari!
Getting to Selous Game Reserve
We awoke early to head to the airport, though this time we were headed to the smaller, domestic terminal. We had heard that the terminal was small, but we weren’t quite ready for how small. There was a single waiting area of a few benches, a couple passengers sitting around, and an open door out onto the tarmac. Five minutes before our flight was due to take off someone appeared at the door and called for boarding – and off we went with Auricair.
Only a few minutes later all 12 passengers were seated and we were taking off towards the Selous Game Reserve. Named after famous British explorer, hunter, and conservationist Frederik Selous, the reserve covers 50,000 square km (19,000 sq miles) and has been protected for over 120 years. Wildlife populations are high, however less dense than some of the more popular parks in Northern Tanzania (the Selous reserve is almost 4 times larger than the Serengeti).
We dropped off one group of German tourists at Stiegler’s Gorge at another African safari camp, and then it was just Bettina and I for our private 15 minute flight onto the next airstrip. We flew low over the Rufiji River and even spotted our safari camp from the air! The "airport" closest to the Rufiji River camp was everything we had imagined it would be - rustic and outdoorsy. 🙂
Booking and Accommodation
Our dedicated time for our African safari adventure was only 3-4 days. Not knowing where to go with our time and budget constraints, we decided to book with Takims Holidays. Our travel agent Abbas suggested we explore the Selous Game Reserve due to a high possibility of wildlife sighting. He booked our stay at the Rufiji River Camp where we had a private tent nestled in the trees with a view over the river.
If you are thinking about going on your own African safari and don't know where to start, we can highly recommend Takims Holidays. Everything was well taken care of and Abbas made sure we would get the best experience possible given our constraints. Get 20% off your safari with Takims Holidays by using our exclusive discount code: thenexttrip20.
The main area of the camp had a large open dining area, firepit, pool, and a number of places to kickback and relax. Upon arrival, we were escorted to our tent due to known elephants in the area.
Shop Bettina's Safari Look
The tent is definitely towards the glamping end of the spectrum given it had a wooden door, two king-size beds, and a full bathroom.
We were told right at arrival that the cute baboons love to stroll through the guests' camps if you don't keep the door closed and they will make quite a mess looking for food. Sure enough, baboons were walking around our tent at all daytimes, hoping we would leave something for them.
No sooner than ten minutes after, we heard some rustling in the bushes along the path and this guy appeared.
This elephant was munching on a tree on the very path we walked to get to our tent only ten minutes earlier!
African River Safari
One of the thing’s we didn’t realize about safaris until we got here, was that you could choose your activities each day, so whether you were staying for three days or ten, each night you chose your activity for the next day, which could be a walking tour, river safari, various safari drives, or a trip to the local village. We thought it best to start with an easy river safari.
Before we even made it to the boat we could hear a bunch of grunting, splashing, and animal noises coming from the river. These were the hippos, and they are a noisy bunch!
Heading out on the water the hippos live in pods of usually a dozen or more, and all had their heads above water in the distance. As we got closer in the boat they would slowly, one by one, drop under the water until we were nearby and they were all gone! It made photography a bit of a challenge, however since they can only hold their breath for about 5 minutes, they frequently resurfaced.
Further down the river we spotted our first crocodile! Crocodiles often choose to live near hippos as their droppings attract certain fish crocodiles like to eat. However, hippos and crocodiles definitely do not get along. We witnessed one crocodile getting slightly too close to a hippo near the end of our boat ride.
While harder to photograph, everywhere we turned we saw new types of birds that we’ve never seen before.
Further down the river, we were near the border of the Selous Game Reserve, where villagers commute back and forth on the Rufiji River in dugout canoes.
As we were nearing our camp, there was a bunch of splashing and grunting coming from a nearby pod of hippos. We spotted a crocodile that was getting a little bit too close. See for yourself who won this fight!
As this was a slower time of the year, all of our activities were either just the two of us, or with one or two other travelers. No complaints here on our private African safari by boat!
The evening was finished off with a fantastic dinner and African sunset.
We were just getting started, as we heading out on the early game drive the next morning! Is doing an African safari on your bucket list?
Make sure to pin this pin to your favourite personal travel board on Pinterest so that our tips are only one click away!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
What about these ones?