Sand Rivers Selous
Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
At a Glance
Stunning position right on the Rufiji River
Explore The Selous on foot, with a fantastic guide to bring the experience to life
Open fronted rooms taking advantage of the views
Fly camping, with just a mosquito net between you and the vast African night sky
Relax in the pool and take in the immaculate views
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
Sand Rivers is closed in April and May. Tanzania is a large country, with a varied climate. Generally, the long rains run from March to May - the temperature is warm and the humidity is high. June to October is the long dry season, typically considered the best months for game-viewing as the wildlife is more concentrated around water sources and the grass is grazed and trampled down. Selous and southern Tanzania is typically hot and humid from December to May, without a dry period to break up the rains, so travel is not recommended during the British winter months.
To start planning your holiday to Sand Rivers Selous
Sand Rivers is situated in the northern part of the Selous Game Reserve which is one of the largest protected wildlife areas in Africa. Sand Rivers offers stylish, luxurious safari accommodation on the banks of the Rufiji River.
The Selous has been made a World Heritage Site and this huge reserve, at a massive 50,000 square kilometres, has given over 1000 square kilometres in the north to wildlife and safaris. It is the second largest protected wilderness area in the world. It also forms part of the Selous - Niassa eco-system, which covers 155,000 square kilometres across southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique.
One of the Selous’ unique attractions is its diverse habitats, which include open glades, woodland, river, palm fringed lakes and rocky gorges. Sand Rivers is the ideal safari retreat and is situated in the heart of this beautiful reserve. This comfortable and stylish lodge features an open-air dining room, bar and lounge which have been beautifully constructed on a sweeping curve of the great Rufiji River, offering stunning views across the water. There are eight stone and thatched cottages - five Riverside rooms, with en-suite bathrooms, hot and cold running water, flush loos and powerful showers and three Hillside Suites. The Suites have all the above, but also a large living space and a small plunge pool. There is also Kiba Point which is taken on an exclusive basis and has only four open-fronted rooms set back from the river in the forest line, each with a plunge pool - perfect for a group travelling together.
The lodge also has a swimming pool overlooking the river. Sand Rivers prides itself on its high standards of guiding, and for the ultimate private safari experience, guests can spend a night flycamping under the stars with their own private guide and chef.
The Rufiji River provides an utterly unique view of life in the Selous. Upstream from the lodge, the river meanders its way past sand islands and lush forests. You can often see game on the banks as you slowly drift past.
Accommodation at Sand Rivers Selous is in eight spacious, open-fronted cottages made of stone and thatch, and raised up on the banks of the Rufiji with amazing views out across the river. There are five standard rooms, and three suites. The suites and the standard rooms all have large, open, en-suite bathrooms, with flush toilets and powerful showers. There is also Kiba Point which is taken on an exclusive basis and has only four open-fronted rooms set back from the river in the forest line, each with a plunge pool - perfect for a group travelling together.
There are 5 open fronted cottages with large double bed and en-suite bathroom with hot and cold water and flush toilet.
There are 3 hillside suites which are open fronted cottages, with large double bedroom with en-suite bathroom, large living area and small private plunge pool.
There are no specific childcare facilities and the camp is not suited to very young children. However, children over the age of 8 years are most welcome in camp and please note that only children of 12 years and over can participate in walking and fly-camping activities.
Each of the three hillside suites has its own plunge pool for cooling off. There is also a larger pool overlooking the Rufii River for all guests to enjoy.
Activities are tailored to suit each guest, whether its game drives, walking safaris, fishing, boating, or a combination of all of these, it never disappoints and there is always something thrilling to see. Sand rivers can also organise fly camping under mosquito nets on dry river beds with in the reserve - however they do highly recommend that this is booked in advance.
Sophie Levey (Staff)
Sand Rivers has the ultimate wow factor. The location is absolutely breathtaking and the views blew me away. With its open fronted rooms, this camp is not for the faint-hearted but, if you're feeling a little adventurous, you will not be disappointed.!
Eliza Walker (Staff)
The safari company name Nomad is synonymous with the best lodges and guiding to be found and Sand Rivers is no exception to this as I discovered on my recent trip to Tanzania. The lodge is set up on the river bank offering exceptional views of the water, hippos and crocs from the comfort of the main mess area, or from the pool or the privacy of your open-fronted cottage. The food and service provided here absolutely cannot be faulted and the comfort of the lodge itself is greatly appreciated during the heat of the day when you can relax and enjoy the breeze whilst reading a book or playing one of the games on offer, or cooling off in the pool. The cottages are stretched out along the river bank from the main area, with the further ones each enjoying their own private plunge pools and a bit more privacy, although with a greater walk to get to the dining area.
The cottages themselves are beautifully designed with an enormous great bed in the centre of the room surrounded by a mosquito net. They are totally open-fronted and open at the back as well so you can expect a lot of night time visitors such as bats and bush babies offering a truly unique and wild African safari experience.
My personal opinion would be that Sand Rivers is best visited during the dry season as it is one of the best game viewing areas in the Selous at that time of year as there is a permanent water supply so the animals all congregate around the river making for some very exciting game viewing. There are also less insects at this time of year as it is when the rains just begin that the termites come out in force and can be rather irritating in camp for anyone who isn't a fan of bugs.
Activities here include game drives, boating safaris, walking safaris and fishing trips. The guides are absolutely brilliant, making your days not only fascinating but also great fun. Take a picnic breakfast on a boating safari down to Steiglers Gorge for a lovely way to start the day and listen out for the rock hydraxes chattering away along the banks of the river.
The conservationist, hunter and walking-safari expert Richard Bonham opened this fantastic camp in the early 1990s on a prime spot in the Selous Game Reserve, where the Rufiji River bends lethargically on its long course to the Indian Ocean. It has been expanded and smartened up over the years, with the addition of suites and a handsome private satellite camp, Kiba Point; but the intrepid spirit of Bonham's original remains. The eight thatched guest bandas, set high on wooden platforms overlooking the river, are open-fronted, low-key and utterly in harmony with the environment; birdsong and the baritone chuckle of hippos is the constant, mesmerising soundtrack. Of course there are vehicles for game drives, but the point of this place is bush walking and learning to see the wilderness through the eyes of knowledgeable guides. The Rufiji River, too, is ripe for exploration: a crack-of-dawn boat safari to Stiegler's Gorge, past crocodiles flopping into the churning water, will paint vivid memories to last a lifetime. As will a night away from camp, sleeping under the stars on the edge of a lake after a hot bucket shower and candle-lit supper. Sweet dreams are indeed made of this.
Anna Hearn (Staff)
With one of the best positions in the Selous, and with a great reputation for both guiding and hospitality, we were excited to visit Sand Rivers. First impressions were excellent - the lodge's main area is a cool, almost cavernous room open all along one side to a wide deck, with incredible sweeping views of the Rufiji River and a couple of sandbanks peeking through with attendant crocodiles. Hippos basked in the sun just a few hundred yards from the lodge.
We were not disappointed at all with Sand Rivers - the main area is full of comfortable, squashy sofas, and steps lead up to the dining area - although we dined outside on the swimming pool deck when we stayed. Meals are a friendly affair, and we sat with the lodge managers - a young and enthusiastic couple who joined us on our boat trip to Stieglers Gorge, an incredible trip well worth doing just to see the towering sides of the gorge and see the hundreds of crocodiles who live there.
The rooms at Sand Rivers - brightened up with whitewashed walls - are very open and each has a lovely view through bush to the river, while retaining utmost privacy. The front of the rooms is totally open, as is the bathroom area, so we were warned to keep our toiletries in the wooden boxes provided to save them from being purloined by the vervet monkeys who often come through camp in the early mornings.
We were shown one of the honeymoon rooms which is much larger than the standard rooms - there is a separate and very comfortable seating area and then a plunge pool in the centre, and a beautiful bedroom with en-suite bathroom - it's essentially twice the size of one of the standard rooms.
The gameviewing at Sand Rivers is exceptional and, rarely, guests are given their own private vehicle and guide here meaning they can plan their days according to their own interests - a huge bonus in this incredible reserve.
Boat safari in the Selous Game Reserve
Get up close and personal with the hippos in the Selous' mighty rivers and lakes on a boat safari, perfect in the late afternoons when the wildlife often comes to the shore to drink.
Fishing in the Selous Game Reserve
While in the main the Selous Game Reserve is an arid area, certain sections are blessed by the permanent waters of the Rufiji River and the northern lakes. These water sources are home to great volumes of catfish, and the fierce fighting tiger fish.
Flycamping in the Selous
For those safari aficionados who are looking for a bit more adventure, there can be nothing more exciting than spending a night in the middle of the African bush. Sleep in a mosquito net dome with all the sounds of the bush around you.
Selous walking safari
Follow your guide on foot as you explore the Selous, focussing on the smaller details that make up the ecosystem which you often miss on a game drive.
Sunsets over the Rufiji
Sunsets on the Rufiji River are some of the most spectacular we have ever witnessed!
Ultimate Oman and Tanzania
Musandam Peninsula, Oman & Selous National Park
from £5800 pp inc flights & transfers for 9 nights
- Two remote countries in one incredible trip, made seamless by the excellent flight connections with Emirates.
- Zighy Bay has a phenomenal location on a golden sandy beach, with emerald ocean on one side and otherworldly mountainous scenery on the other.
- Sand River’s lakeside location means you’ll be spoilt with wildlife sightings, as you laze on your private veranda gazing out with a gin and tonic in hand.
Location & directions
Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
Sand Rivers is situated in the Northern part of the Selous Game Reserve, on the banks of the Rufiji River. The lodge is at the centre of many diverse habitats - from gorges to open plains, woodland to lakes.
How to get there
11 hour international flight to Dar es Salaam via Nairobi, followed by a 1-hour domestic flight to Kiba airstrip and from there it is 20 minutes by road to camp. There are numerous daily flights to Kiba airstrip from Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Ruaha, Mafia, Pemba and northern Tanzania.
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