Editor’s Note: The property reviewed below has now closed.
East Africa is famous as a place of 50-mile views and immense grasslands, on which tens of thousands of grazing animals can be seen in a single glance. The region’s most celebrated landscape is that of the Serengeti — specifically its southern short-grass plains — where every January and February, the wandering herds of wildebeest converge to give birth to the next generation. But there is another East Africa. Much of the Serengeti lies at an elevation of more than 5,000 feet, but a little lower, the savannas are replaced by a mysterious and secretive world of tangled bush, where huge herds can hide away in the thick vegetation.
The Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania is Africa’s biggest game reserve, and its 21,081 square miles make up an area significantly larger than Switzerland. Through it flows the Rufiji River (and its major tributary, the Great Ruaha River), which empties into the Indian Ocean, 120 miles south of Dar es Salaam. Much of the landscape is miombo woodland (“miombo” is the Swahili word for “Brachystegia,” a genus of tree comprising a large number of species), but this is interrupted by open grassy areas and punctuated by isolated hills and enigmatic rocky outcrops. Truly wild regions of Africa are shrinking year by year, under relentless pressure from an exploding human population. But the Selous is one of the continent’s surviving wilderness areas — like the Kalahari or the Congo Basin — a vast tract of uninhabited land that in most respects is the same now as it was 10,000 years ago.