Wish to step off the beaten path and venture on an African safari experience that provides excitement, intimacy and romance. Look no further, we have the place for you – Nyerere National Park.
Wild and ruggedly beautiful, Nyerere National Park (formally known as the Selous Game Reserve) is located in the south-eastern part of Tanzania in a remote and little-visited part of the country. Nyerere National Park covers more than 5% of Tanzania’s total area, its rivers, hills, and plains are home to roaming elephant populations, the area’s famous wild dogs, and some of the last black rhino left in the region. Due to its remote location, and because it is most easily accessible by small aircraft, Nyerere National Park has remained one of the untouched gems of Tanzania’s national parks and game reserves. It offers visitors a chance to see a wild and expansive Africa far from the throngs of safari goers that flock to the northern parks of Tanzania.
The landscape of the Nyerere National Park is quite unlike the long grass plains of the northern parks such as the Serengeti. Bisecting the region and breathing life into the area is Tanzania’s largest river, the mighty Rufiji River, and the corresponding networks of meandering channels, tributaries, and lakes are the defining features of Nyerere. You can expect an array of landscapes. Tall, borassus palms line the waterways, and verdant green swamps cover much of the riverside land. Away from the river, the landscape changes once again and rocky, acacia-clad hills are strewn over open plains, whilst vast swathes of miombo woodland stretch to the horizon. Exploring through these diverse habitats are part of what makes a safari in Nyerere National Park so incredibly rewarding.
History of the Selous and Why Has the Name Changed?
The Selous Game Reserve was established in 1922, named in honour of British naturalist, explorer, author, hunter and soldier Frederick Courteney Selous, who lost his life close to the Rufiji River fighting German colonial forces in the First World War.
The Selous Game Reserve was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to the diversity of its wildlife and undisturbed nature. At 54,600 km2 (21,081 m2) the Selous Game Reserve is larger than Switzerland, and remains to be Africa’s largest remaining wilderness areas.
The Reserve bore the name of the Selous for 97 years until 2019, when it became Nyerere National Park, after Tanzania’s founding father Julius Nyerere. Nyerere was known as ‘Malimu’; which means teacher in Swahili – but he is also called ‘Father of the Nation’ for leading Tanzania to independence and holding the honour of being the countries first president. Nyerere was also a great conservationist; in his 1961 Arusha Manifesto that would outline independent Tanzania’s stance on conservation, Nyerere stated:
“The survival of our wildlife is a matter of grave concern to all of us in Africa. These wild creatures amid the wild places they inhabit are not only important as a source of wonder and inspiration, but are an integral part of our natural resources and our future livelihood and well being. In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife, we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure that our children’s grand-children will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance.”
The diverse habitats and waterways of Nyerere National Park is a magnet for wildlife. Along the Rufiji River, Jurassic-size crocodiles line the riverbanks, enormous pods of hippos gather in the shallows, and large herds of elephants are often be spotted on the swirling sandbanks.
On land, the high numbers of large animals support the claim that Nyerere is one of the greatest remaining wildernesses on the continent. Buffalo numbers are estimated at 150, 000, lions 4,000 and there are still a great number of elephant, despite the recent years of poaching. There are an outstanding number of Masai giraffe in the park, and lurking in the shadows of the forests are leopard and hyena. You will find wildebeest crisscrossing the plains alongside puku, waterbucks, impala, greater kudu, eland, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest and sable. Nyerere National Park is also an important sanctuary, and one of the last strongholds of the endangered African wild dog.
With over 400 recorded bird species, Nyerere is a birder’s paradise. On the lakes, you will find Pink-backed Pelicans, African Skimmers and Giant Kingfishers. The riverbanks are home to magnificent colonies of Carmine and white-fronted bee-eaters, whilst pairs of Fish Eagle, Palmnut Vulture, Ibises and Palm Swifts nest in the borassus palms. Other water birds found in the Nyerere include: Yellow-billed Stork, White-crowned and Spur-winged Plovers, various small Waders, Pied and Malachite Kingfishers. Pairs of Trumpeter Hornbill and Purple-crested Turaco can also be seen between the riparian trees. Also worth looking out for among a catalogue of Egrets and Herons is the Madagascar Squacco Heron, a regular winter visitor, while the elusive Pel’s Fishing Owl often emerges at dusk to hawk above the water.
When to Visit
Wildlife viewing in Nyerere National Park is best from late June to October, where the park experiences its dry season with little to no rain. The wildlife is easier to spot since animals gather at the last remaining water sources and vegetation becomes thinner.
There are short rains in November that sometimes trickle into December and January. After this, the weather gets hotter towards the long rains in April and May. Most roads get extremely muddy and very challenging to dive through and many lodges are closed.
Nyerere National Park is an excellent destination for the truly adventurous and the seasoned safari traveller looking for intimate, and up-close encounters. Nyerere National Park offers a more authentic and exclusive safari experience as it is entirely off the beaten track. You have the rare opportunity to ignite all of your senses with both land and water-based safari activities. Every day on safari in Nyerere is different and invigorating; from exhilarating game walks and boating safaris, to fishing and fly camping.
About Origins Safaris
At Origins Safaris we are passionate about wildlife, cultural heritage, adventure and exploration. We customize each and every safari to your personal requirements and expectations, ensuring an exclusive, unique and authentic experience every time.
Origins Safaris is a family business, founded in 1963 by Don and Margaret Turner. It is managed today by two subsequent generations of the family, and predominantly by Don’s son, Steve. We are so much more than just a travel broker – our years of experience, professionalism and reliability means that we go the all important extra mile, to make sure your dream safari is safe, memorable, educational and most of all great fun. We are renowned for our meticulous safari planning from start to finish, and the highest standards of natural history interpretation.
Let Origins Safaris help you to experience this extraordinary untouched African wilderness. Contact us on www.originsafaris.com for more information.
Origins Safaris – Authentic African Experiences Since 1963