Stretched out among a grove of palm trees on the edge of the Rufiji River and Lake Nzerakera, Siwandu combines the best of bush and river experiences, with just a select few “glamping” tented rooms providing pure luxury. Pathways cut through the bush, past a shaded pool to reveal wooden deck verandas on which sit spacious and well-appointed canvas tents. In the twilight hours, guards escort you to a raised lounge and dining area where you sit under a sky of stars around the bush fire, close enough to feel the grunt of the hippos reverberate through the grove of palm trees. From the comfort of your king-size bed, you can hear the crunch of herds of elephants moving past your canvas windows as they make their way through the camp to the shoreline. The unique, friendly touches and excellent service make this a standout choice, as do the glamorous lunch on the riverboat and informative bush walks that will inspire the young and young at heart. Visit selous.com/siwandu/camp
Sands River is your home away from home. Well, it would be if your home was like that of Robinson Crusoe and peppered with effortless, natural style. Sleep in one of eight open-fronted, white washed and light wooden cottages in what could arguably be the most comfortable and largest beds south of the Serengeti. You are immersed in the natural environment, with panoramic views of the thick riverine bush following the bend in Rufiji River. This is the ideal spot for stellar fishing trips if you’d like to tackle the infamous tiger fish in waters that are packed tightly with hippos and crocodiles. Visit nomad-tanzania.com/south/sand-rivers-selous
Located at the far southern tip of Selous, a short drive over Naminkwera and Fuga Hills, Azura combines 12 boutique tented villas and classic Tanzanian safari style on the banks of the Ruaha River. It’s a hippo hotspot far from the other lodges, as well as the home range for a few shy leopards, denning wild dogs and an abundance of riverine birdlife. The lodge maximises its location, with a lush, tiered main swimming pool or your own private outdoor plunge bath, where you can view hundreds of hippos wallowing and grunting a few metres from your chalet. Open-sided 4×4 vehicles take you along the dirt tracks where you spend your evening hours dining under the stars by the camp fire and fly camping amidst the open grassy plains.
Selous is not without its challenges. In recent years the elephant population, once the largest in East Africa, has reached a historic low, thanks to industrial levels of poaching. Added into this mix is uranium mining in the far southern stretches of the reserve and government confirmation in mid-2017 that the Rufiji River will be dammed, in the northwestern part of the reserve, due to a planned hydro-electric project. Despite these issues the reserve is slowly coming into its own. It is one of the few big game areas in which visitors can explore on foot and camp. This unique area must be preserved for future generations to enjoy and treasure. Visit azura-retreats.com/selous-introduction
by Linda Markovina