The Start of our First African Safari

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.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Flying 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).

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Flying Auricair

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Flying Auricair

 

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. 🙂

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Selous Game Reserve Airstrip

 

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.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Rufiji River Camp

 

Shop Bettina's Safari Look

 


 

The Start of our First African Safari - Rufiji River Camp

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Rufiji River Camp

 

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.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Rufiji River Camp

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Rufiji River Camp

 

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.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Baboon

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Baboon

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Baboon

 

No sooner than ten minutes after, we heard some rustling in the bushes along the path and this guy appeared.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Elephant at Rufiji River Camp

 

This elephant was munching on a tree on the very path we walked to get to our tent only ten minutes earlier!

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Elephant at Rufiji River Camp

 

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.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - 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!

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo

 

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.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo

 

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.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Crocodile

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Crocodile

 

While harder to photograph, everywhere we turned we saw new types of birds that we’ve never seen before.

 

The Start of our First African Safari

 

The Start of our First African Safari

 

The Start of our First African Safari

 

The Start of our First African Safari

 

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.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - People in Selous Game Reserve

 

The Start of our First African Safari - People in Selous Game Reserve

 

The Start of our First African Safari - People in Selous Game Reserve

 

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!

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo Fighting a Crocodile

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo Fighting a Crocodile

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Hippo Fighting a Crocodile

 

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.

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Sunset at Rufiji River Camp

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Sunset at Rufiji River Camp

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Sunset at Rufiji River Camp

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Sunset at Rufiji River Camp

 

The Start of our First African Safari - Sunset at Rufiji River Camp

 

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?

 

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A One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Travelling to a new country for the first time is always exciting, but it is even more exciting when the trip is to a whole new continent (if you look at our travel map, Africa is looking quite empty)! We took the long way to Tanzania (intentionally), including a 23 hour and 50 minute layover in Switzerland, which allowed us to visit Bettina’s family and spend the night in a real bed. This meant that we arrived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, late at night about two days after we left Chicago.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

We had one day in our itinerary to explore Dar es Salaam and were very fortunate to have a local tour guide, Rumina, show us around. We started at one of the smaller local markets which was full of fresh fruit and vegetables, spices, and an assortment of other household goods.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

We were less than 20 minutes into our day and Bettina had already purchased a new handbag! According to Rumina, this would be one of the best places to pick one up on the cheap.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

The heat and humidity (about 33C/92F and 85% humidity) was quickly getting to us – so why not freshen up with a little bit of coconut water?

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

Dar Es Salaam has an estimated population of over 5 million. With a fairly small city center it certainly does not seem to be that large.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

We enjoyed getting a sense of the city on our driving tour, along with a stop along the coast at Coco Beach to pick up some freshly fried cassava chips.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

When we stopped the car here we were immediately bombarded by everyone hawking whatever food they had to sell. While everyone was friendly, it can be a bit overwhelming when you have 10 or more people all following you around trying to sell you something! The fact that we very much looked like tourists didn't help.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

If you’re interested in getting some great African artwork, there is a market near the Slipway which has a huge selection of locally made goods, where we picked up a few more souvenirs!

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

And when you are tired of shopping, right next door is a couple of great oceanside restaurants for food and drinks with amazing views.

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Her purse is from Aldo and is currently on sale!

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

During our short trip to Dar es Salaam, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Kilimanjaro. (We managed to pay for our stay entirely with Hyatt points which we had collected on previous trips.) The hotel itself is beautiful and everyone made us feel very welcome.

 

Hyatt Regency Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

We loved our room and the city views that came with it.

 

Hyatt Regency Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

After our city tour, we went back to our hotel to cool down in the air conditioning and freshen up before dinner, but not before stopping off at the rooftop bar of our hotel.

 

Hyatt Regency Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

Hyatt Regency Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

With a great view over the harbour, this is one of the many great spots to catch a sunset in Dar.

 

Hyatt Regency Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

Hyatt Regency Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

Hyatt Regency Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

Shop Bettina's Evening Look

 

Another great place to catch a sunset is the Cape Town Fish Market, a restaurant and bar right on the water. The perks of being there on a Sunday night included great live music, including local Tanzanian songs and other popular Western music sung with a very questionable accent, causing us to wonder which language they were actually singing in!

 

Cape Town Fish Market, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

We finished the night off with some great food – we have no idea what was ordered, but it was all delicious!

For only having one day to spend in Dar es Salaam, we feel like we got a pretty good feel for the city, but also can’t wait to return to spend a few more days. For anyone who has safety concerns, as long as you apply typical common sense considerations as you would in any large city in the world, you will have a great time exploring this wonderful city. We were surprised at how incredibly friendly everyone was and how delicious the food was!

 

One Day Taste of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

Have you been to Dar es Salaam?

 

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