Nyerere National Park (Selous)

Nyerere National Park (Selous)


Park Overview.

Nyerere National Park, formerly known as Selous Game Reserve, is one of Tanzania’s most iconic and significant national parks. Named after the country’s first president, Julius Nyerere, the park covers a vast area of approximately 30,000 square kilometers (11,583 square miles) and is located in the southern part of Tanzania. It is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to its outstanding natural and ecological importance.

Biodiversity and Wildlife:

Nyerere National Park is renowned for its exceptional biodiversity and is home to an extensive range of wildlife species, making it a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. The park’s diverse landscape consists of woodlands, savannas, wetlands, grassy plains, and hills, providing a perfect habitat for a vast array of animals. Some of the remarkable species found here include elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, hippos, crocodiles, and giraffes. Additionally, it’s a haven for birdwatchers, as the park boasts over 440 bird species, including the African fish eagle, Pel’s fishing owl, and various migratory birds.

Conservation and Protection:

Nyerere National Park has been dedicated to the conservation and protection of its unique ecosystems and wildlife. Due to its World Heritage Site status, the park is subject to strict regulations to preserve its natural integrity and cultural heritage. Efforts are made to combat poaching and illegal activities, and sustainable tourism practices are promoted to minimize the impact on the environment.

River Systems:

One of the defining features of Nyerere National Park is its intricate network of rivers. The Rufiji River, the largest river in Tanzania, flows through the park, creating an essential source of water for the wildlife and supporting rich aquatic life. The river is flanked by lush vegetation, making it an ideal location for game viewing cruises and boat safaris.

Safari Activities:

Nyerere National Park offers an unparalleled safari experience. Visitors can partake in various activities such as game drives, walking safaris, boat safaris, and birdwatching tours. Game drives are typically conducted in open-sided vehicles, allowing for unobstructed views of the wildlife and landscapes. Walking safaris provide a more intimate encounter with nature, where trained guides lead groups through the wilderness, offering insights into the park’s flora and fauna.


The Park provides a range of accommodation options to suit various preferences and budgets. There are luxury lodges, tented camps, and basic camping facilities available within and around the park, providing visitors with a chance to immerse themselves in the wild surroundings and enjoy a comfortable stay.


Nyerere National Park can be accessed by both road and air. The nearest major town is Dar es Salaam, which is approximately 230 kilometers (143 miles) away. The park can be reached by road from Dar es Salaam, though it is a long journey. Alternatively, chartered flights operate from Dar es Salaam to various airstrips within the park, making it a more convenient and time-efficient option for tourists.

Best Time to Visit: – Nyerere National Park (Selous)

The Park can be visited year-round, but the best time for game viewing is during the dry season, which typically runs from June to October. During this period, wildlife concentrates around water sources, making it easier to spot animals. However, the wet season from November to May brings lush vegetation and numerous migratory bird species, creating a different but equally fascinating experience.


Key Features and Attractions at Nyerere National Park.

Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous Game Reserve) is a vast and diverse wilderness area in Tanzania, offering an abundance of unique features and attractions. Here are some key highlights and attractions that make Nyerere National Park a must-visit destination:

Unparalleled Wildlife Viewing:

Nyerere National Park is renowned for its exceptional wildlife diversity. Visitors have the opportunity to spot the “Big Five” (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros) along with other iconic African animals such as cheetahs, wild dogs, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, and numerous antelope species. The vastness of the park means that encounters with these majestic creatures are often intimate and awe-inspiring.

Boat Safaris on the Rufiji River:

The Rufiji River is the lifeblood of Nyerere National Park and is teeming with wildlife. Boat safaris along the river provide a unique perspective, allowing visitors to observe animals like hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and a rich variety of bird species as they come to the river to drink, bathe, and hunt. The tranquil cruises offer a peaceful and memorable experience.

Walking Safaris:

Nyerere National Park is one of the few places in Tanzania where walking safaris are permitted. Guided by experienced rangers, walking safaris offer an up-close and personal encounter with nature. Exploring the wilderness on foot enables visitors to appreciate the smaller details, learn about medicinal plants, and understand animal tracks and behavior.


With over 440 bird species recorded, Nyerere National Park is a paradise for birdwatchers. Bird enthusiasts can spot a wide variety of avian life, including the African fish eagle, Pel’s fishing owl, saddle-billed storks, and many migratory birds that visit the park during the wet season.

Landscape Diversity:

The Park’s landscape is a fascinating mix of grasslands, woodlands, wetlands, swamps, and rivers, creating a diverse ecosystem. The varied habitats support a wide range of flora and fauna, adding to the allure of Nyerere National Park.

Historical and Cultural Sites:

The park’s history and cultural significance are evident in ancient rock paintings and burial sites found within its boundaries. These archaeological sites provide a glimpse into the lives of early human settlements in the region and add an extra layer of intrigue to the park’s offerings.

Photography Opportunities:

The sheer diversity of wildlife and landscapes in Nyerere National Park makes it a photographer’s dream. From breathtaking sunrises and sunsets to captivating wildlife moments, the park provides numerous opportunities to capture stunning images.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Experience:

Compared to some of Tanzania’s more famous parks like Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, Nyerere National Park sees fewer tourists. This means that visitors can enjoy a more secluded and intimate safari experience, with fewer vehicles and a greater sense of wilderness immersion.

Conservation Success:

Nyerere National Park plays a vital role in wildlife conservation efforts in Tanzania. Its World Heritage Site status reflects its importance in preserving the rich biodiversity and ecological integrity of the area. By visiting the park, tourists contribute to conservation efforts and support the sustainable management of this precious ecosystem.

Overall, Nyerere National Park offers a combination of exceptional wildlife viewing, diverse landscapes, and unique safari experiences that make it a remarkable destination for nature enthusiasts, wildlife photographers, and anyone seeking an authentic African safari adventure.


Activities to do at Nyerere National Park..

Nyerere National Park offers a wide range of exciting activities that allow visitors to explore its diverse wildlife and landscapes. Here are some of the activities you can enjoy at Nyerere National Park:

Game Drives:

Game drives are the most popular activity in Nyerere National Park (Selous). Experienced safari guides lead visitors on thrilling game drives in open-sided 4×4 vehicles. These drives offer an excellent opportunity to spot a variety of wildlife, including elephants, lions, buffaloes, giraffes, and many more. The vastness of the park and its diverse habitats make game drives a truly immersive wildlife experience.

Boat Safaris:

The Rufiji River, which flows through the park, is a haven for wildlife. Boat safaris along the river allow visitors to observe animals such as hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and a plethora of bird species up close. The slow-paced boat cruises also provide a chance to enjoy the tranquility of the river and the surrounding wilderness.

Walking Safaris:

Nyerere National Park is one of the few places in Tanzania where walking safaris are permitted. Accompanied by trained and knowledgeable guides, walking safaris offer a more intimate and immersive experience with nature. You can explore the bush on foot, learning about the smaller flora and fauna, animal tracks, and the park’s ecosystem.


With its rich birdlife, Nyerere National Park is a paradise for birdwatchers. Whether you are a seasoned birder or a novice enthusiast, the park offers fantastic opportunities to spot a wide variety of bird species, including the African fish eagle, Pel’s fishing owl, herons, storks, and migratory birds during the wet season.


For avid anglers, Nyerere National Park (Selous) offers excellent fishing opportunities. The Rufiji River is teeming with fish species, including tigerfish and catfish. Fishing is permitted in designated areas, and visitors can enjoy catch-and-release fishing experiences.


Nyerere National Park provides camping facilities for those seeking a more immersive and adventurous experience. Camping in the wilderness allows you to connect with nature and listen to the sounds of the African bush at night. It’s an unforgettable experience under the starlit sky.

Fly Camping:

For an even more authentic experience, some operators offer fly camping, where you spend a night or two in a temporary camp in the heart of the wilderness. This is a thrilling adventure that allows you to get closer to nature and experience the true essence of safari life.


Whether you’re a professional photographer or just enjoy taking pictures, Nyerere National Park (Selous) offers endless photography opportunities. Capture stunning wildlife shots, dramatic landscapes, and the unique moments that unfold during your safari.

Cultural Visits:

While Nyerere National Park is primarily known for its wildlife, it also has a rich cultural history. Visitors can take cultural tours to learn about the local communities, their traditional practices, and even visit archaeological sites with ancient rock paintings and burial sites.

Hot Air Balloon Safaris (seasonal):

Depending on the season and availability, some operators may offer hot air balloon safaris, providing a bird’s-eye view of the park’s landscapes and wildlife. This unique experience adds an extra dimension to your safari adventure.

Remember that the activities available may vary depending on the tour operator and the time of year you visit. Always book activities through reputable operators who prioritize wildlife conservation and adhere to responsible tourism practices to ensure a positive and sustainable safari experience.


Accommodation at Nyerere National Park.

Nyerere National Park offers a range of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. The lodges and camps within the park provide visitors with an opportunity to immerse themselves in the wild surroundings while enjoying comfortable amenities and services. Here are the main types of accommodation available at Nyerere National Park:

Luxury Lodges: There are several luxurious lodges located within the park that offer high-end amenities and services. These lodges often feature spacious and well-appointed rooms or suites, private verandas or balconies with stunning views, en-suite bathrooms, and modern comforts. Some luxury lodges may also have swimming pools, spa facilities, and gourmet dining options.

Tented Camps: Tented camps provide a more authentic safari experience while still offering comfort and convenience. These camps typically consist of well-furnished canvas tents with en-suite bathrooms, comfortable beds, and sometimes even private decks. Tented camps are often located in scenic spots, providing an immersive experience with nature.

Semi-Luxury Camps: Semi-luxury camps strike a balance between luxury lodges and basic camps. They offer comfortable accommodations with essential amenities, including en-suite facilities, but in a more rustic setting. Semi-luxury camps still provide a genuine bush experience without compromising on comfort.

Fly Camps: For those seeking a more adventurous and intimate experience, fly camps offer a chance to stay in temporary and lightweight mobile camps deep in the wilderness. These camps are set up for a short duration and provide basic amenities, allowing guests to be even closer to nature.

Basic Campsites: Nyerere National Park also offers basic campsites for visitors who prefer a self-catering or budget-friendly option. These campsites generally have shared bathroom facilities and may require visitors to bring their own camping equipment. However, they provide an opportunity to experience the wild under the stars.

Lodge-Outskirts: In addition to the accommodations within the park boundaries, there are lodges and camps located just outside the park, offering a more diverse range of options. These accommodations often provide game drives and activities within the park, making them a convenient choice for visitors.

When planning a trip to Nyerere National Park, it’s essential to book accommodations well in advance, especially during peak safari seasons. Each accommodation option offers a unique experience, and the choice depends on individual preferences, budget, and desired level of comfort. Regardless of the accommodation type, staying within or near the park ensures you have ample time for game drives, boat safaris, and other activities, maximizing your wildlife encounters and overall safari experience.


When to Visit Nyerere National Park.

The best time to visit Nyerere National Park depends on your preferences for weather, wildlife viewing, and overall safari experience. The park offers a unique experience throughout the year, but different seasons have distinct advantages and considerations. Here are the main factors to consider for each season:

Dry Season (June to October):

This is the peak tourist season in Nyerere National Park, as it offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. The dry season typically runs from June to October, with July to September being the driest months. During this time, the vegetation is less dense, and wildlife gathers around water sources, making it easier to spot animals during game drives and boat safaris. The cooler temperatures also make the safari experience more comfortable. However, being the high season, the park may be more crowded, and accommodations might be fully booked, so early reservations are essential.

Wet Season (November to May):

The wet season in Nyerere National Park brings lush greenery and a burst of life. The rain usually falls between November and May, with heavy rainfall occurring from March to May. The wet season is an excellent time for birdwatching, as migratory birds arrive in the park. The landscape becomes more vibrant, and newborn animals are abundant. However, the rain can make certain areas inaccessible, and some lodges and camps may close during this period due to flooding or maintenance.

Shoulder Season (November and May):

The months of November and May fall between the wet and dry seasons, and this shoulder season can be a great time to visit. The park is less crowded compared to the peak season, and you can still enjoy good wildlife viewing. The landscape is lush and green, and there is a sense of renewal as the park transitions from the wet to the dry season. Additionally, some lodges may offer discounts during this time.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Nyerere National Park depends on your personal preferences and interests. If you prefer comfortable weather, great wildlife sightings, and don’t mind the higher number of tourists, consider visiting during the dry season. If you enjoy lush landscapes, birdwatching, and a quieter experience, the wet or shoulder seasons may be more suitable. Regardless of the time of year, Nyerere National Park offers an unforgettable safari experience with its diverse wildlife, stunning landscapes, and authentic African wilderness


Geography and Geology of Nyerere National Park.

The geography and geology of Nyerere National Park (Selous) play a crucial role in shaping the park’s diverse landscapes and supporting its rich biodiversity. The park’s location in southern Tanzania and its positioning along the Rufiji River contribute to its unique features. Here’s an overview of the geography and geology of Nyerere National Park:

Geography: – Nyerere National Park (Selous)

  • Location: Nyerere National Park is located in southern Tanzania, covering an extensive area of approximately 30,000 square kilometers (11,583 square miles). It lies between the Rufiji River to the south and the Great Ruaha River to the north.
  • Rufiji River: The Rufiji River is the largest river in Tanzania, and it flows through the park, creating an essential water source for wildlife throughout the year. The river’s wide floodplain and numerous channels contribute to the park’s varied landscapes.
  • Habitats: Nyerere National Park features diverse habitats, including woodlands, savannas, grassy plains, swamps, wetlands, and riverine forests. The variety of habitats supports a wide range of plant and animal species, making it one of the most biodiverse areas in Africa.
  • Selous Game Reserve and Mikumi National Park: The park borders the Selous Game Reserve to the west and Mikumi National Park to the northeast, forming part of the larger ecosystem that supports wildlife migration and conservation efforts.


Geology: – Nyerere National Park (Selous)

  • Rift Valley Formation: The geology of Nyerere National Park is influenced by the East African Rift, a geological fault system that runs through eastern Africa. The park is situated within the Rufiji Rift, which is part of the broader East African Rift. The formation of the rift has resulted in the creation of diverse landscapes and habitats in the park.
  • Rufiji Basin: The park is primarily situated in the Rufiji Basin, which is a large sedimentary basin formed by the Rufiji River and its tributaries. The basin’s sediments contribute to the fertile floodplains and support the park’s vegetation, attracting a wide variety of wildlife.
  • Volcanic Activity: The region also has a history of volcanic activity, which has influenced the geology of the area. Volcanic ash and lava flows have contributed to the formation of certain rock formations and soils in the park.
  • Alluvial Plains: The Rufiji and Ruaha Rivers have shaped the landscape over time, depositing alluvial sediments along their banks and creating vast floodplains. These alluvial plains support lush vegetation, attracting herbivores and predators alike.

The combination of the East African Rift’s geological processes, the influence of the Rufiji and Ruaha Rivers, and the diversity of habitats within the park contribute to the extraordinary landscapes and wildlife richness found in Nyerere National Park. Understanding the geology and geography of the park is crucial for appreciating its ecological significance and the delicate balance that sustains its natural treasures.


Getting to Nyerere National Park.

Getting to Nyerere National Park involves traveling to the southern part of Tanzania, where the park is located. The primary gateway to access the park is through the country’s largest city and major international airport, Dar es Salaam. Here are the main ways to reach Nyerere National Park:

By Air:

  • Dar es Salaam International Airport (DAR): If you are arriving from abroad, the most common route is to fly into Dar es Salaam International Airport, which is well-connected to various international destinations. From the airport, you can proceed to the park by road or take a domestic flight to a nearby airstrip within or close to the park.
  • Airstrips within Nyerere National Park: The park has several airstrips that cater to domestic flights. Some lodges and camps within the park offer chartered flights directly from Dar es Salaam to their respective airstrips. These flights provide a convenient and efficient way to reach the park, especially for those with limited time.

By Road:

  • From Dar es Salaam: Nyerere National Park is approximately 230 kilometers (143 miles) from Dar es Salaam. You can reach the park by road from the city. The journey takes around 5 to 7 hours, depending on the road conditions and the specific location within the park you are heading to. It’s essential to use a reliable and experienced safari operator or arrange for transportation with your lodge/camp to ensure a safe and comfortable journey.
  • From Other Locations: If you are traveling from other parts of Tanzania, you can also reach the park by road. However, the distance and travel time will vary based on your starting point.

By Boat:

  • From Selous Game Reserve: If you are already in the Selous Game Reserve, which borders Nyerere National Park to the west, you can access the park via boat safaris on the Rufiji River. This option provides a unique and scenic way to enter the park and explore its riverine habitats.

Combination of Transportation:

  • Many safari operators and lodges offer packages that include a combination of flights and road transfers to and within the park. This can be a convenient way to make the most of your time and experience different aspects of the park’s landscape.

When planning your trip to Nyerere National Park, consider your budget, travel preferences, and available time. If you are unsure or want a hassle-free experience, it’s best to work with a reputable safari operator or lodge that can arrange all the necessary transportation and logistics for your journey to the park


Conservation Measures and Challenges at Nyerere NP.

Conservation measures at Nyerere National Park are crucial for preserving its unique biodiversity and ensuring the sustainability of its ecosystems. However, the park also faces various challenges that pose significant threats to its wildlife and natural habitats. Here are some conservation measures and challenges at Nyerere National Park:

Conservation Measures:

  • Protected Area Status: Nyerere National Park holds UNESCO World Heritage Site status, which highlights its global significance for conservation. The park’s protected area status ensures that it receives attention and support from international conservation organizations and authorities.
  • Wildlife Monitoring and Research: The park authorities and conservation organizations conduct regular wildlife monitoring and research to better understand the ecosystem dynamics and assess the health of animal populations. This information helps in making informed conservation decisions.
  • Anti-Poaching Efforts: Poaching poses a significant threat to wildlife in Nyerere National Park. Conservation agencies, park rangers, and anti-poaching units work diligently to combat illegal hunting and trafficking of wildlife products. Efforts include patrols, using technology for surveillance, and increasing penalties for poachers.
  • Community Involvement: Engaging local communities in conservation efforts is crucial for the long-term success of protecting the park. Initiatives that provide alternative livelihoods, education, and awareness about wildlife conservation help build support and reduce human-wildlife conflicts.
  • Sustainable Tourism: Promoting responsible and sustainable tourism practices is vital for minimizing the impact of visitors on the park’s ecosystems. Eco-friendly lodges, controlled visitor numbers, and low-impact safari activities help preserve the environment and minimize disturbances to wildlife.
  • Invasive Species Control: Invasive plant and animal species can disrupt the native ecosystem. The park authorities and conservation organizations work to control and eradicate invasive species to maintain the natural balance of the park.


  • Poaching: Poaching remains one of the most significant challenges for wildlife conservation in Nyerere National Park. The illegal hunting of elephants and other iconic species for their tusks and body parts continues to threaten their populations.
  • Human-Wildlife Conflict: As human populations encroach upon wildlife habitats, conflicts between people and animals can arise. Crop damage by elephants and livestock predation by carnivores are examples of such conflicts.
  • Habitat Loss and Degradation: Human activities, such as agriculture, logging, and infrastructure development, contribute to habitat loss and degradation within and around the park. This diminishes the available space for wildlife and disrupts their natural behaviors.
  • Climate Change: Climate change can lead to alterations in rainfall patterns, temperature extremes, and changes in vegetation distribution. These impacts may affect wildlife migration, breeding patterns, and overall ecosystem health.
  • Illegal Logging and Mining: Illegal logging and mining activities can result in deforestation and soil erosion, negatively impacting the park’s biodiversity and water resources.
  • Insufficient Funding: Adequate funding is essential for effective conservation efforts, including anti-poaching operations, research, community engagement, and infrastructure maintenance. Insufficient funds can limit the park’s ability to address conservation challenges adequately.

Addressing these challenges requires collaboration among government authorities, conservation organizations, local communities, and international partners. Sustainable conservation practices, community involvement, and increased awareness about the park’s ecological importance are essential for safeguarding the future of Nyerere National Park and its magnificent wildlife.


What to Pack for Nyerere NP.

Packing for a safari in Nyerere National Park requires careful consideration to ensure you have all the essentials for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. The park’s remote and wild nature means that you’ll need to be well-prepared for various conditions. Here’s a packing list to help you make the most of your trip:


  • Lightweight, breathable, and neutral-colored clothing (avoid bright colors that may startle wildlife)
  • Long-sleeved shirts and trousers to protect against sunburn and insect bites
  • Light rain jacket or poncho for unexpected rain showers
  • Warm layers for early morning and evening game drives (temperatures can get cool)
  • Wide-brimmed hat or safari hat for sun protection
  • Comfortable and sturdy closed-toe walking shoes or hiking boots for walking safaris
  • Sandals or comfortable shoes for relaxing at the lodge or camp
  • Swimwear if your accommodation has a pool or if you plan to take a boat safari

Personal Items:

  • Valid passport and necessary travel documents
  • Binoculars for wildlife viewing (8×40 or 10×42 are recommended)
  • Camera and extra batteries/charger for capturing memorable moments
  • Sunscreen with high SPF and lip balm with UV protection
  • Insect repellent with DEET or natural alternatives
  • Prescription medications and a basic first-aid kit (band-aids, antiseptic, pain relievers, etc.)
  • Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
  • Reusable water bottle (hydration is crucial in the African wilderness)
  • Flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries for evening activities


  • Small daypack for carrying your personal items during game drives and walking safaris
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Personal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)
  • Travel adapter and chargers for electronic devices
  • Bin liners or dry bags for protecting camera gear and other valuables from dust and moisture
  • Cash (small denominations) for tips and purchases in local communities
  • A good book or journal for downtime at the lodge or camp

Important Note:

  • Pack light but efficiently, as most safari flights have luggage weight restrictions (usually around 15-20 kg/33-44 lbs per person). Check with your specific airline or charter flight operator for their luggage policy.
  • Many lodges and camps provide laundry services, so you don’t need to pack excessive clothing.

Remember that Nyerere National Park is a remote and wild destination, so it’s essential to be well-prepared for the safari adventure. Pack carefully, and make sure to prioritize comfort and practicality while respecting the environment and wildlife.


Remarks on Nyerere (Selous) National Park.

Nyerere National Park offers an authentic African safari experience, where visitors can witness incredible wildlife, stunning landscapes, and immerse themselves in the raw beauty of nature. It remains a crucial bastion of conservation in Tanzania, safeguarding its natural treasures for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.