Beyond the Serengeti…

May 1st 2019  |   Travel, Tanzania  |  by   Richard Smith
Beyond the Serengeti - Jabali Ridge, room view, Ruaha, Tanzania

For most visitors to Tanzania, their safari takes part in East Africa’s iconic landscape of the north: perhaps watching millions of wildebeest streaming across the Serengeti, or admiring wildlife in the perfect volcanic caldera of the Ngorongoro Crater. However, there’s a world of safari away from the east-west road from Arusha to Lake Victoria and its queues of 4WD vehicles. Access to the wildlife reserves of the south and west is by light aircraft and some of these parks have as many visitors in a year as the Serengeti has in a day.

Selous Game Reserve

It is a short flight away from Dar Es Salaam and twice the size of the Serengeti, but Selous Game Reserve is still much less well known than its northern counterpart. At its heart, the Rufiji River’s riverine landscape is dominated by doum palms, distinctively curved over the river itself, Lake Tagalala and countless oxbow lakes and deep lagoons.

Hippo on the Rufiji River, Selous Impala

Hippo on the Rufiji River, Selous Impala

The wildlife is superb and can be viewed by boat, vehicle or on foot.

Selous Impala was once described by a colleague as ‘probably Africa’s best value safari camp’ and has been a favourite of our clients ever since.

Wild dog in Selous, Selous Impala

Wild dog in Selous, Selous Impala

Ruaha National Park

Heading west from Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park is both further inland and at a much higher altitude (over 1,000m above sea level). Its wet and dry seasons tend to follow Southern Africa’s rainfall patterns rather than East Africa’s. The vegetation varies too as typical East African acacia savannah thins to miombo woodlands, offering a wonderful contrast to Selous. The two combine well on the same safari.

Bush breakfast in Ruaha National Park, Jabali Ridge

Bush breakfast in Ruaha National Park, Jabali Ridge

Ruaha National Park has 10,000 elephant, the largest population of any East African park, and very good wildlife in general. Lion hunt in big prides here, finding easy meat in the dry season as the water sources fade, and there are plentiful cheetah and leopard.

Jabali Ridge is a recently built camp set on a rocky promontory. It’s architecturally stunning, but more importantly has great guides and hosts.

Luxurious accommodation at Jabali Ridge, Ruaha National Park

Luxurious accommodation at Jabali Ridge, Ruaha National Park

Katavi National Park

Katavi is one of Africa’s best kept safari secrets. The landscape includes floodplains, mixed woodland, river valleys, rugged escarpments and forests, and the park is so big it’s measured in square kilometres, rather than acres, of undiscovered wilderness. Undiscovered by humans that is, since this is home to Africa’s animal giants with some of the greatest populations of elephant, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, and giraffe in East Africa.

Wildlife in Katavi National Park, Chada Katavi

Wildlife in Katavi National Park, Chada Katavi

The Aardvark Safaris’ favourite here is Chada Katavi, a tented camp whose luxury is achieved through a wonderful location and well-designed tents rather than the gadgets and expensive fittings of some of its competitors.

Accommodation at Chada Katavi, Katavi National Park

Accommodation at Chada Katavi, Katavi National Park

Mahale Mountains National Park

The other great treasure of Tanzania’s far west is Mahale Mountains National Park. This is a spot arguably even more remote than Katavi.  After your light aircraft lands next to Lake Tanganyika you board a boat to ferry you along the lake to your camp.

The big wildlife draw here is access to wild chimpanzees in the forested hillside that rises up from the lake. Guests accompany knowledgeable guides and trackers into the forest to find the chimpanzee families and enjoy an hour with them as they go about their daily lives.

Chimpanzee at Greystoke, Mahale Mountains

Chimpanzee at Greystoke Mahale, Mahale Mountains

On the beach, in the shadow of the mountains, is Greystoke Mahale, with just six rooms and a main building with winged shaggy thatch and open sides.

Greystoke Mahale on the shores of Lake Tanganyika aerial

Greystoke Mahale on the shores of Lake Tanganyika

Any questions?

If you’ve got this far and not found an answer to a question you have that we should have included, please ask in the comments section below, or pop us an email. We’ll be sure to reply and may amend the article to include our answer.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions if you’re at an earlier stage. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris.  If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

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