Southern Tanzania – Linger Longer

May 15th 2024  |   Tanzania  |  by   Jo Ainscough
Southern Tanzania – Linger Longer

Our trip started in the huge Ruaha National Park; the second largest park in Tanzania (with Nyerere, formerly Selous Game Reserve, being the largest). The number of visitors annually is similar to the number that visit Serengeti in just a single day. We enjoyed three nights at the fantastic Kigelia Camp, a small and authentic bush camp located in a grove of sausage trees overlooking the sandy Ifuguru riverbed. Our days were spent viewing the incredible wildlife in open 4×4’s with our private guide Mel, who was passionate about conservation and gave us a well-rounded view of the efforts of Southern Tanzania. As a keen photographer, he was able to get into the best position to take pictures.

Kigelia Camp tented room

Kigelia Camp Ruaha National Park

One day we tracked an elusive leopard with Mel our guide, it was a long morning and took patience. Having a private vehicle and guide meant we took our time and persevered, and were eventually rewarded with a beautiful sighting.

Hot air ballon ride Ruaha National Park

A real highlight was the early morning hot air balloon – an exciting morning drive to the launch site, listening to lion roaring all around us. After watching the crew inflate our balloon, we lifted off at sunrise, just in time to watch the blood-red sun beaming through the towering baobab trees. Lion were hunting beneath us, ostriches, giraffes, and a huge herd of buffalo. But the real joy was being able to view this unique and varied landscape from the air, flying over the confluence of the Great Ruaha River and Mwagusi River with the escarpment in the distance. The wind speed in the south is gentler meaning you use the burners less allowing you to travel effortlessly, offering a quieter and more serene experience. I think this might be one of the most scenic flight paths in East Africa.

Jo and her husband enjoying a hot air balloon ride over Ruaha National Park

Jo and her husband enjoying a hot air balloon ride over Ruaha National Park

The afternoon was spent tracking elephants on foot and finally finding them in a dry riverbed digging for water with their trunks. It was a thrilling experience crossing the riverbed upwind of them.

Elephants at Ruaha National Park

Elephants at Ruaha National Park

Nyerere National Park

Sand Rivers Lodge Southern Tanzania

Sand Rivers Lodge Nyerere National Park

Next up was Sand Rivers in Nyerere National Park, our home for the next four nights. This beautiful lodge was a fantastic contrast from the rustic feel of Kigelia. The rooms overlook the Rufiji River which is full of life and going to sleep to the sound of hippos honking is, in my opinion, one of the best things in the world. Wildlife here consisted of lions on a hunt, narrowly missing out on taking down a hyena, and a separate pride on a fresh buffalo kill. Though not anglers ourselves, we thoroughly enjoyed fishing for tigerfish, catfish, and squeakers (so named because of the noise they make). Nick catching plenty of tigerfish and a terrapin, and me catching a whopping 36lb catfish that our guide was convinced was a crocodile.

My last visit here was in 2007 and this trip lived up to my memories, perhaps even surpassing them. This is an area that should be visited by those wanting to experience a raw and untouched wilderness.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday encompassing any of the stays and trips mentioned here. Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and can offer expert advice  from family and beach holidays to city escapes and riding and primate safaris. Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally, we make suggestions. If this is your first time in Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.

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