Selous Game Reserve
Only 200 km West of Dar es Salaam lies the mighty Selous Game Reserve, one of Africa’s least known yet wildest conservation areas. At an unbelievable 55,000 sq km Selous is almost twice the size of Belgium and four times larger than the famous Serengeti in the North, covering 5% of Tanzania’s land area. The Selous’ ecosystem as a whole is made up of a few conservation areas, namely Mikumi in the North and the Kilombero game controlled area in the West, covering in total over 90,000 sq km of pristine wilderness devoid of human influence. Fed by the mighty Rufiji River, the largest river in East Africa which drains most of South Western Tanzania’s water, this reserve is home to over 1,000,000 large animals and is home to over half of Tanzania’s elephant population. Selous is unique among reserves in Tanzania as it encompasses an area exclusively devoted to tourism in its Northern part, making up for about 10% of the reserve’s total size. This sector North of the Rufiji River is mostly open wooded grassland and is dominated by Terminalia spinosa trees – ‘flat topped’ trees, in classic African fashion. However this section of the reserve is unusually diverse, comprising dense hardwood forests in the East, open plains in the centre, and rocky arid hills and volcanic springs in the West. The reserve is also crisscrossed by a multitude of dry riverbeds surrounded by dense riverine vegetation where many of Selous larger animals spend their days. –
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park covers an area of 12,950 sq. kms and is Tanzania’s second largest National Park. It forms the core of a much larger (45,000 sq. kms) ecosystem including Rungwa and Kisigo Game Reserves and although it was established in 1910 as part of the Saba Game Reserve it’s present boundaries were demarcated as recently as 1964.
The central spine of the Park is the watershed between the Nzombe and Ruaha rivers, with its dramatic escarpment above which are large stretches of miombo woodland. Below this lie undulating plains with vegetation ranging from dry bush country to treeless grasslands, swamps and evergreen forests intersected by the many sand rivers that are such a feature of this area. Ruaha represents a transition zone where eastern and southern species of flora and fauna overlap and in all some 1,650 plant species and over 450 bird species have been recorded within the park itself.
Ruaha is known for its large elephant and buffalo herds and one of its principal attractions lies in being able to see greater and lesser kudu as well as the majestic sable and roan antelope within the same area. As well as an abundance of lion, leopard and cheetah it is also home to the increasingly rare African Hunting Dog
Human existence in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area goes back beyond the dawn of history as evidenced by the numerous remains of hominids, mankind’s earliest recognizable ancestors. The world’s two famous pre-historic archaeological sites Gorge and Laetoli are in the area. The Laetoli footprints of our remote ancient ancestors lived about 3.5 million years ago, are found in the area. The Zinjanthropus man lived about 1.8 million years ago, Homo Habilis to Homo Sapiens were found in Olduvai Gorge.
The story of our ancient ancestors told in the fossils of Olduvai and Laetoli confirms that the humans and hominids have been living in the area for millions of years. In historic times, humankind in Ngorongoro includes the Hadzabe and pastoral Maasai numbering 52,000 with their strong insistence in their tradition and customs, which attract many visitors to the area.