Luxury Safaris and Vacations in Southern Tanzania
Southern Tanzania is one of African Explorations’ favourite regions. Pristine, remote, uncommercial, amazing landscapes, few tourists. What could be better? Well, add to that private, tented camps purely for your family or group of friends led by one of Tanzania’s top guides and the appeal becomes greater. Days are entirely flexible, decisions made on the hoof. What shall we do today? A combination of game viewing by vehicle, on foot, by boat, perhaps a private fly camp erected for half of the party for a single night, sleeping beneath the stars? Canoeing along the lake? Going for a morning walk, culminating with a bush breakfast? Or perhaps a private house, overlooking the Rufiji River. Sleep in a bohemian styled, Moroccan tent with just the two of you. Fly camp beneath the stars on the sandbank for a night or two; Undertake a five day walking safari in the Selous or perhaps Ruaha; Track chimps in the Mahale Mountains before bathing in Lake Tanganyika, more akin to the Mediterranean. Have a private camp set up for you in Katavi so that you are the only people in the park as you watch the birds all returning to roost at sunset. Equally there are so many really beautiful camps and lodges in Ruaha, Katavi, Selous, Mahale Mountains, Gombe, Saadani and the Highlands that we can arrange a fabulous and diverse safari for you.
Highlights of southern Tanzania:
- Chimpanzee trekking with the largest group of habituated chimps in the Mahale Mountains as well as Gombe
- Snorkelling and fishing in Lake Tanganyika, the second deepest lake in the world
- romantic, tented camps which are small and personal with expert guiding
- Private houses and tented camps in the Selous purely for your party or family
- Canoeing in the Selous
- Walking safaris in the Selous and Ruaha
- Fly camping in Katavi, the Selous and Ruaha
- Gorgeous coastline with lovely lodges to stay
- Owner managed camps and lodges
- Saadani Game Reserve with Turtle nesting sites
General information on southern Tanzania
Ruaha: is one of Africa’s most exciting game reserves covering a vast area of wilderness almost the size of the Serengeti. The vegetation is mainly miombo woodland, acacia bush and open grassland. Huge, ancient baobab trees dot the landscape and the park is rich in wildlife, centred on the Ruaha River. There are not many camps here which means that, whilst choice is limited, one seldom comes across other people. Like the Selous, Ruaha is off-the-beaten-track which is synonymous with southern Tanzania.
Mahale Mountains: rise from the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika, the world’s longest, second deepest, and quite possibly least explored lake. The rampant tropical rain forest that covers the slopes of the mountains is home to the largest group of free living chimpanzees in the world, over a hundred strong. Each chimp has been named, its family ties identified and its individual behaviour studied. They can be approached to within a few feet as they feed, groom and wrestle across the forest floor. Palm-nut Vultures, Fish Eagles and Goliath Herons are common along the lake shore where one can fish or bird watch. Fish abound in the lake, many of them unique to Lake Tanganyika, which makes for interesting diving and snorkelling.
The canvas and mahogany tents here are of tropical ottoman design, well suited to the surprisingly dry heat of the lake. Goggling is excellent off the beach and the lake is clean, clear and safe to swim in. This is the most amazing area, whether simply to have the opportunity of seeing the magnificent primates at close quarters, or to relax on the lake after a safari – few places in Africa are as heavenly as Greystoke Camp on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. On the other side of the shore is a new lodge called Lupita which offers sheer luxury and relaxation at the end of a safari.
Katavi National Park: The Katavi / Rukwa area of southwestern Tanzania is second only to the Serengeti in number of wildlife species. The seasonal Lake Katavi is a gathering point for buffalo, elephant, topi, zebra, reedbuck, waterbuck and roan antelope. Apart from the two distant ranger posts, Chada Camp is one of very few signs of human presence in the park. This small camp accommodates only a handful of guests in simple safari style. Katavi offers another primeval atmosphere, with concentrations of hippo and buffalo unseen elsewhere in Africa. We offer a week long journey combining Katavi and the Mahale Mountains. This is the ultimate walking, swimming, flying safari: big game on the open plains combined with tropical forest and chimpanzees. And certainly, for honeymoons and something completely different, Katavi and the Mahale Mountains offer an unbeatable experience. Fly camping is a must at Katavi, too where one has the entire park to oneself – watching the birds come to roost in the trees in the evenings.
The Selous: For those seeking true wilderness, very little compares to southern Tanzania, and the likes of the Selous, Ruaha, Katavi and the Mahales. The Selous Game Reserve (named after Frederick Courtenay Selous) is one of the largest wilderness areas left in the world and is easily the largest Reserve in Africa. It is also one of the least known and accessible as much of the land’s black cotton soil is impassable to land vehicles when wet. Covering 55,000 square kilometres (or an area, with surrounding ecosystem, roughly the size of Ireland and four times the size of the Serengeti), there are large herds of elephant, buffalo, roan and sable antelope. The Rufiji River is filled with hippos, crocodiles and prolific bird life. One can either stay at a tented camp or lodge, or have a private camp erected purely for your party where you can walk, canoe and game drive with one of Tanzania’s top guides.
The Selous is vast and raw: in places open and inviting, in places almost “closed” and brooding; a hangover from thousands of years ago so that life itself seems fundamental; an environment where one is glad to be with the most professional of guides who can help our clients get the most out of this unique environment. Once you are in the Selous you are in a most privileged place – the African bush as it has existed for thousands of years.
Fly camping is a great feature of the Selous and allows you to get really close to nature, with just your guide and the stars for company. There are a small handful of delightful properties, ranging from open fronted cantilevered rooms (so one wakes with the dawn light flooding the room) to the more traditional tented camp.
The joy of the Selous is the variety of activities – apart from being one of the prettiest places in all of Tanzania, with its Doulm and Borrasus palms dotted at intervals and creating a punctuation point as one’s eyes scan the scenery. Walking is encouraged here (we organise dedicated walking safaris) and there are boat safaris, fishing and game drives in open vehicles. The region is particularly good for elephant and wild dog.
Saadani Game Reserve: This is a wildly beautiful area for those who want a break from the traditional ‘safari’ activities. It is on the coast and one can either have a private camp on the coast or stay at the owner managed lodge. Fine guiding, wonderful food, awesome views. There are turtle nesting sites and your own private beach!