Nyerere National Park

Tanzania’s Nyerere National Park is one of the country’s many fascinating safari destinations. The reserve lies in southern Tanzania along the southern Tanzania safari circuit: Selous offers the best escape from the large tourist crowds in the northern safari circuit such as the Serengeti

Previously known as Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania’s Nyerere National Park is one of the country’s many fascinating safari destinations. The reserve lies in southern Tanzania along the southern Tanzania safari circuit: Selous offers the best escape from the large tourist crowds in the northern safari circuit such as the Serengeti; while providing unforgettable wildlife experiences. Established in 1982, the reserve covers a total surface area of 50,000 km2 (19,000 sq. mi), making it Africa’s largest game reserve. Nyerere National Park is four times the size of the Serengeti National Park and two and a half times the size of South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The reserve is approximately 219 kilometers from the bustling city of Dar es Salaam and may take up to 4 hours to reach.

Nyerere National Park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to its diversity of wildlife and pristine nature. Selous boasts the largest populations of elephants, black rhinoceros, lions, cheetahs, hippopotami, and crocodiles. Nyerere is also home to a range of species such as Nyasaland gnus, sable antelopes, elands, greater kudus, waterbucks, hartebeests, zebras, reedbucks, warthogs, spotted hyenas, leopards, buffaloes among others. Selous also has 12% of Africa’s endangered wild dogs.

The reserve also features a very diverse range of habitats, including Miombo woods, open grasslands, riverine forests, and wetlands, making it an important laboratory for ongoing ecological and biological processes. Moreover, these habitats provide a natural cradle to the park’s 440 recorded bird species; making the reserve a popular destination for Tanzania birding tours.

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, with its interconnected lakes and doum palm forests, defines the Tanzania game-viewing safari experience in Nyerere. The river offers both boat-based and vehicle-based game drives. Nyerere’s wealth of wildlife and stunning riverine scenery never fails to impress. Another fascinating fact is that the Nyerere is less crowded than most of Tanzania’s northern parks.

Getting to Nyerere National Park

There are numerous ways of getting to the wild Nyerere National Park; however, the easiest way to get to the reserve is to fly from Dar es Salaam which takes around 45 minutes by small plane. You can also fly from Ruaha National Park which takes around 90 minutes. You can also get to Nyerere National Park by driving; it is a 4-hour trip from Dar-es-salaam and may take longer, but provides spectacular sights en route. You will get to travel through the equally beautiful Mikumi National Park, giving you two adventures for the price of one.

If you want to explore more of the countryside, there is also the third option of traveling to Nyerere National Park by train. The TAZARA railway line, which runs from Dar es Salaam to Zambia, may transport you to Nyerere. The trip takes around 4 to 5 hours and provides spectacular sights while on a train. However, there are so many delays with train.

Attractions in Nyerere National Park

5 Days Nyerere and Mikumi Safari


This national reserve is home to a variety of wildlife mammals, including approximately 150,000 buffalos, 4,000 lions, 100,000 wildebeests, large herds of over 35,000 zebras, 40,000 hippos, and 25,000 impalas, you name it. The reserve also boasts large herds of Lichtenstein’s hartebeests, waterbucks, elands, and bushbucks, as well as leopards, crocodiles, and hyenas. Furthermore, this is one of the few wildlife sanctuaries on the African continent where you can see puku antelopes, African wild dogs, and sable antelopes in large numbers.

Previously, the Nyerere was also home to a large number of elephants, but due to poaching, their numbers have greatly decreased, and all of this can be seen during game drives on Nyerere Safari Holidays.

Bird life

Nyerere National Park, with about 440 bird species on its checklist, is an excellent location for a Tanzania birding safari. The lakes and River Rufiji channels are the reserve’s most spectacular bird habitats and offer the best bird-watching tours. There are a large number of migratory birds from November to April too. Bird species such as the Spur-winged lapwing, African wattled lapwing, White-fronted bee-eater, Pel’s fishing owl Rare, African spoonbill, Common White-headed vulture, Pearl-spotted owlet, and White-headed Lapwing can all be spotted on a bird-watching safari in Selous.

Other species such as the Pink-backed pelican, African skimmer, and giant kingfishers can also be found in the lakes. Carmine and white-fronted bee-eater colonies live on the sandbanks, and pairs of fish eagles, palm nut vultures, ibises, and palm swifts nest in the Borassus palms. Between the riparian trees, you can also see trumpeter hornbills and purple-crested turacos. The Malagasy squacco heron, a regular winter visitor, is also worth looking out for, as is the elusive Pel’s fishing owl, which often emerges at dusk to hawk above the water.

Selous Grave

The Selous grave is also another famous attraction in Nyerere National Park. Frederick Courteney Selous, after whom the reserve is named was the British explorer and conservationist who was killed in the Selous during World War I and was buried in Selous Game Reserve. Selous was Cecil John Rhodes’ right-hand man in his campaign to annex present-day Zimbabwe to the British Empire; he also gained brief notoriety in 1899 for speaking out against England’s war on the South African Boer Republics.

When the First World War broke out, Selous, then 60, was appointed Captain of the 25th Royal Fusiliers and was awarded the DSO in 1916. Selous, with his intimate knowledge of the bush, led the pursuit of the German guerrilla army that ruled in southern Tanzania.

Selous was killed in the bush war against German colonial Schutztruppen on the banks of the Rufigi river; 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. Selous was buried near the site of his death, at Beho; at the northern edge of the reserve. A simple bronze plaque reads: “CAPTAIN F.C. SELOUS D.S.O., 25TH ROYAL FUSILIERS, KILLED IN ACTION 4.1.17” in a modest, flat stone grave.

The Rufigi River

The Rufigi river is Tanzania’s largest river and is a must-explore while on a Tanzania safari to the reserve. At the center of the reserve, the river forms a range of tributaries, lakes, and swamps, creating one of the most outstanding ecological systems in East Africa. River Rufigi also divides the reserve into two sections: The northern Selous which covers only about 5% of the total area of the reserve. This area is designated solely for photographic safaris. The southern part, south of the Rufiji, is divided into several ‘hunting areas,’ each covering approximately 1,000 square kilometers.

The Rufiji River attracts large herds of Tanzanian elephants, and other wildlife for example. The boat trips along the Rufiji River are the most popular on Tanzania tours. The river was formed as a result of the confluence of the Kilombero and Luwegu rivers. It is about 600 kilometers (370 miles) long, with its headwaters in southwestern Tanzania and its mouth on the Indian Ocean at a point called Mafia Channel between Mafia Island. The Great Ruaha River is the ocean’s main tributary. It is navigable for approximately 100 kilometers.

However, the River is not only a draw for animals, it has also played a significant role in the fortunes of humanity over the centuries. The navigable Rufiji Delta is home to the world’s largest mangrove forests, which allowed the German super battleship, the ‘Konigsberg,’ to remain hidden while wreaking havoc on British ships in the Indian Ocean during WW1. However, with the help of a legendary hunter, Pretorius, the Germans were later defeated. Pretorius was a very skilled hunter and he used his knowledge of the Rufiji Delta to search for the ship until he finally located it, calling in the British forces to destroy it.  

Activities in Nyerere National Park

A safari in Tanzania’s Nyerere is a very authentic and uncommercialized experience. Listed below are the safari activities that visitors can partake in while on vacation in Tanzania. All activities are completed after paying the park entrance fee of $76.70 for adults (18 years and above) and $53.10 for children (5 to 17 years). The most popular activities include; game drives, birding, boat safaris, and fishing trips and visitors can also take a Tanzania cultural tour to Mloka Village during their Tanzania trips to Selous. Most camps and lodges in the reserve provide these safari activities.

Game Drives

Nyerere game drives are the highlight of Tanzania wildlife tours to Nyerere National Park. These safaris are permitted in open 4WD safari vehicles, and self-drive safaris are also available. A popular game drive area is the Rufiji River, which runs through the middle and forms five lakes. Game drives in Nyerere National Park include morning game drives, afternoon/evening game drives, night game drives, and full-day game drives. The full-day game drives usually begin after breakfast and last approximately 8 to 9 hours. Game drives are the classic Tanzania adventure safaris, allowing you to see a wide variety of wildlife from the comfort of a 4WD safari vehicle. 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. You’ll discover the outstanding abundance of wildlife and the beauty of the African bush as you drive through the vast wilderness of the Selous with passionate, knowledgeable safari guides.

The dry season which lasts from June to October is the best time to watch the game in Nyerere National Park. The wild animals are easier to see during this time because the vegetation is less dense and the animals have congregated around well-known water sources. The roads tend to be impassable just after the heavy rains have stopped, and the majority of the camps are closed during the wet season from November through April. The best time to observe the rare wild dogs is during their denning season, which lasts from June to August.

Bird-watching Tours

Travelers interested in bird watching will not be disappointed in the Nyerere National Park, which has a bird list of over 400 species. These guided tours will allow you to see a variety of species such as kingfishers, pelicans, African skimmers, bee-eaters, fish eagles, carmine, ibises, plovers, palm nut vultures, turacos, storks, hornbills, lapwings mention but a few.

3 Days Fly-in Safari to Nyerere National Park

Cultural Encounters

Cultural tours in Nyerere National Park are enjoyed in Mloka, a nearby village. Mloka village is only a short drive downriver from Selous River Camp. A Tanzania cultural tour here is a very personal experience, with an emphasis on meeting locals, learning about their daily lives, and visiting places such as the primary school, market, and police station.

The tour can be as long or as short as you want and can take place at any time of day (though it is recommended during the cooler hours of the morning and late afternoon). You can either drive around the village or stretch your legs and walk around the village. Local artists, tailors, and shopkeepers are always delighted to be visited, and the children are always eager to greet you. Cultural village trips are organized by Selous River Camp for a fee of $ 20 per person.

Boat Tours

Nyerere National Park has numerous water bodies including river Rufigi and numerous lakes such as Lake Tagalala, Siwandu, Mzizimia, Manze, and Nzelekela. A boat tour in the reserve is an exciting activity offering you a thrilling adventure and a tour of various sources of water in the reserve. Boat tours in Selous Game Reserve are offered in sessions: short boat safaris which start from 7:00 am – 4:00 pm and 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm and full-day boat safaris from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.


Accommodation in Nyerere National Park

As one of Tanzania’s most thriving and entertaining tourist destinations, Nyerere National Park is home to some of the world’s finest and most stylish camps, which provide lodging for visitors to the reserve. The reserve’s lodging options are divided into three categories including luxury, mid-range, and budget safari camps and lodges.

Luxury safari accommodations in Nyerere National Park 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, Selous river camp, Selous Ngalawa camp, African Safari camp, Selous Wilderness camp, Selous Mbega camp, Selous Kulinda Camp, Jimbiza lodge, Sand Rivers Selous Lodge.

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