Nyerere National Park (Former Selous Game Reserve) Safari Guide

safarigo   Tanzania  

Nyerere National Park (Former Selous Game Reserve) is one of Africa’s largest parks, but most of it has been set aside for hunting. The animal viewing area that is open to the public is relatively small but very rewarding, with many predator sightings and excellent boat safaris on the Rufiji River.

Pros & Cons

Top wildlife viewing in the Dry season
Guided walks and boat safaris available
Lion are easily found at the lake shores
Excellent mid-range and luxury lodges and no large-scale accommodations
Hunting concessions make some animals skittish
The wildlife-viewing circuit is relatively small
Animals are scattered during the Wet season
Most lodges are closed from March to May

Wildlife & Animals

Nyerere offers very good wildlife viewing, in general. The string of lakes along the main circuit is a good place to see unusually large groups of giraffe alongside other ungulates (animals with hooves) such as buffalo, waterbuck, impala and zebra. Opportunistic, hungry lion are often found near these waterholes, and seeing a kill here isn't unusual.

Wildlife Highlights

Nyerere is home to several unusual antelope species such as the majestic sable and puku, a localized wetland special. Black rhino is rare but can sometimes be tracked down in some remote areas. Wild dog are present in the park and can be spotted when they are denning in the area accessible to tourists.


With over 440 species recorded, Selous is an excellent birding destination. The most conspicuous birdlife is attracted to the sandbanks, lagoons, islands and channels along the Rufiji River. A good way to enjoy the birdlife is on a boat safari. Common birds include yellow-billed storks, kingfishers, lapwings and colorful bee-eaters. Fish eagle and palm-nut vulture can be found perched high in the trees and skimmers can sometimes be seen flying across the water. Migratory birds are present from November to April.

Best Time to Visit

Wildlife viewing in Nyerere National Park is best from late June to October. It is Dry season and wildlife is easier to spot since animals gather at water sources and vegetation is thinner. The scenery is lush and green in the Wet season, from October to May, but afternoons can be unbearably hot. Many lodges close from March through May.

June to October – Dry Season

Spotting animals is easier since they congregate around waterholes and rivers and there is less vegetation
It rains very little and most days are sunny
There is less risky of contracting malaria since there are not as many mosquitoes
Humidity is lower, and the heat isn't overpowering
Dust and drought are common
Some areas can get quite crowded

October to May – Wet Season

Scenery is beautiful and green
Crowds are less during March, April and May – prices might be lowered to attract tourists
It is peak bird watching time since migratory birds are present
Roads become muddy and hard to travel
Wildlife viewing is not as good as during the middle and end of the Dry season
Many lodges close from April to May
Heat and humidity can be a burden

Weather & Climate

The climate of Nyerere can be described as warm to hot and humid. Being so close to the equator, temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the year. The period of October through March consists of the warmer months, while June to August are cooler.

The Wet season occurs from November to May. It rarely rains all day long.

Dry Season – June to October

June, July, August, September & October – Most days are full of sunshine and have a clear sky. Afternoon temperatures are usually around 28°C/82°F. Night temperatures drop to about 19°C/66°F.

Wet Season – November to May

In the Wet season, high temperatures are common, along with great humidity. Afternoons are usually around 29°C/84°F and nights drop to 22°C/72°F.

November & December – November is the beginning of the Wet season, although the exact start is hard to predict. Rainfall tends to be occasional and short (mostly in the afternoon) and probably won’t hinder your safari.
January & February – It is further along in the rainy season, and there will be several days with short intervals of rain, usually in the afternoons. Daytime temperatures range close to 30°C/86°F, while night and early mornings average 22°C/72°F.
March, April & May – March and April are the rainiest months. Most days are wet, although it hardly ever rains for the entire day. The average maximum temp is usually 28°C/82°F and the minimum 21°C/69°F.

Getting There

Most safaris to Nyerere National Park are fly-in packages from Dar es Salaam.

Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) just outside Dar es Salaam is the main international airport and entry to the country. In most cases, your tour operator will pick you up and handle all further arrangements.

Nyerere is often visited as a safari extension to a beach holiday on Zanzibar Island, or one of the beaches around Dar es Salaam. To accommodate this, there are daily scheduled flights from either departure point to both  Nyerere  and 
Ruaha. Flights from Arusha town, the base for the northern safari circuit, are also available.

Another option is to drive to Nyerere from Dar es Salaam on a road safari, but the trip is bumpy and uncomfortable and will take a full day. Time permitting, there is the option of a stopover at 
Mikumi National Park to break up the trip.