Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
At a Glance
Beautiful tented rooms
Watch elephants walking to the lake from your private deck
Swimming pool to cool off in during the midday heat
Fabulous views over Lake Nzelekela
Fantastic variety of activities available
The first camp in the Selous to reach FGASA guiding level 1 qualification, recognising their high standards of safari guiding
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
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.
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Siwandu, formerly Selous Safari Camp, is a luxury tented camp located on the banks of Lake Nzerakera in the most prolific game viewing area of the Selous Game Reserve in Southern Tanzania. The tented accommodation is authentic and beautifully designed.
The Selous is the largest protected reserve in Africa, three times larger than the Serengeti and with one of the highest concentrations of wildlife. At Siwandu the camp is split into North and South camp with a total of 13 spacious luxury tents raised on wooden platforms under palm canopies, with side and front verandahs to maximize the views over Lake Nzerakera. Each tent is spacious, with an octagonal shaped bedroom, and dressing area and ensuite bathroom to the side with open air shower.
North camp has six tents and the South camp has seven tents, each with its own swimming pools, dining and comfortable lounge areas, providing a very personal and intimate safari experience. It is possible to book either North or South camp on a private basis, ideal for family groups wanting a totally exclusive safari experience.
Siwandu prides itself on the highest standards of service, from the attentive waiters and bar staff, delightful tent attendants and the chef who provides delicious meals. The safari guides here are professional and highly knowledgeable, ensuring you get the most out of your game-viewing time here.
One of the highlights of a stay at Siwandu (formerly known as Selous Safari Camp) is to explore the lakes and tributaries of the Rufiji River by boat, with the occasional stop for a spot of fishing. Other activities include morning and afternoon game drives, and guided walking safaris. Guests can take their pick from these activities each morning and afternoon, allowing flexibility and ensuring every day here is different.
There is a total of 13 vast luxury tents raised onto wooden platforms with palm canopies and views. All the tents are designed with widest side to front, to maximize views and breeze, and with 6ft wide double beds with bedside tables & lamps and ceiling fans. Each tent has an en suite bathroom with double brass basins, cupboard space and dressing area. Adjoining is the shower area, which is open to the stars, and two verandas - one to the front off the bedroom, second off rear of tent.
Although there are no specific childcare facilities available in the camp, children aged 8 years old and over are most welcome to come and stay and an extra bed can be added in tents. It should be noted that children under 16 years of age are not permitted to take part in walking safaris in the Selous, but Siwandu do offer walks for kids around camp with fun quizzes to complete along the way.
Siwandu offers a dining area and bar raised on a viewing platform, with large comfortable sofas, and wildlife reference library. Table d’hote dining makes the most of African influences and local fresh fruit, vegetables & spices. There is a private swimming pool set in shade with day beds and towels. Wifi is not available but there is a laptop in the main area for guests use.
Game drives are in open-sided 4-wheel drive vehicles and led by expert guides. Other activities include boat safaris and fishing trips on the lake. It is possible to do game walks from camp or, for the more adventurous, walking safaris in pristine surroundings can be arranged.
Sophie Levey (Staff)
Photos of Siwandu just do not do it justice! The attention to detail is second to none and the staff are some of the friendliest I've ever come across. The lodge is a bird-lovers paradise and sunset drinks on "crocodile island" is not to be missed.
Eliza Walker (Staff)
My visit to Siwandu really was the highlight of my recent trip to Tanzania. It was simply the most beautiful and comfortable camp I have stayed at. The tents are enormous and spacious, with a huge great bed centred in the middle of the room and unexpected additional touches such as a beautiful stand alone full length mirror. The en suite bathroom is then incredibly spacious as well with his and her sinks, a large wardrobe with cosy dressing gowns, a safe, and then the opening out to the beautiful outdoor shower. There are enormous spacious decks at both the front and back of the tents, the tents themselves are situated beneath an enormous thatch roof so you are sheltered from the sun/rain wherever you are. The deck at the back has a lovely desk for anyone who wants to get some writing or work done whilst enjoying the view, as well as some very comfortable bean bag chairs to relax in. The tents look out to Lake Nzelakela and offer a view that almost seems more deserted paradise island like than bush lodge. It really is exceptionally relaxing.
The camp itself is actually split into two: North Camp and South Camp. This is very cleverly done so that they have a large capacity but the two camps are separate so that it never feels like there are too many people there. North Camp is probably more suited for families or large groups whereas South Camp is a paradise for couples and honeymooners. Both have swimming pools, although North Camp's is next to the communal dining and lounge areas whereas South Camp's is set back from the lodge in a more private area. The dining, bar and lounge area in North Camp is set high up on stilts offering a great view of the lake and providing a welcome breeze during the heat of the day.
Activities here centre around game drives and boating safaris. My advice would always be to do a game drive in the morning when the predators might still be on the move before the day gets too hot, and then in the afternoon enjoy a boating safari watching the animals on the river banks and all of the hippos and crocs in and around the river and lakes as well as the huge numbers of birds that flock around the water. Then stop for sundowners somewhere overlooking the water and witness a spectacular African sunset.
I actually visited Siwandu at the very beginning of December which is during the short rains season. The bush is a magical place at this time of year with everything turning green all around you and Siwandu is the perfect camp to visit at this time because if the rain is heavy enough to necessitate remaining in camp for an afternoon then you couldn't find a more comfortable and beautiful camp to be in. It is certainly a place where guests will enjoy the luxury of their tent so much that they will find it very hard to leave. Siwandu's two sister lodges, Jongomero in the Ruaha and Ras Kutani on the coast are also incredibly beautiful and combining two or all three of these gives marvellously discounted rates and really allows you to experience three extraordinarily different parts of Southern Tanzania.
Anna Hearn (Staff)
I loved Siwandu when I visited in June; it's in a fantastic position on the shores of Lake Nzelakela with the rooms set a little further back in shade (perfect in the Selous heat!) but still with lovely views of the lake. From the moment I arrived, nothing was too much trouble and the camp felt incredibly welcoming.
Siwandu is actually split into two camps, the North Camp and the South Camp. They are practically identical and have been separated to give more of an intimate feel, which works well. I stayed at North Camp, whose main area is large, and set under thatch with a pool to one side, shaded and surrounded by sun loungers. It's a lovely pool, if not that private. Breakfasts are usually served on the pool deck.
By contrast South Camp has a main area which is set high on stilts giving lovely views over the lake, and has a separate decked area for dining. It also has a swimming pool and a small shop, something North Camp does not have, although guests from North can visit very easily on request.
In front of the main area at North Camp is a fire pit for evenings; after our safari we sat round the fire while the askaris were keeping an eye out for hippos but we did have some come fairly close which was lovely to see. One thing to remember is that unlike most other camps in the Selous, Siwandu does charge extra for drinks so you will have a bill to settle when you leave.
Siwandu's rooms are beautiful; large and tented, with a huge bathroom and outdoor shower, and each has its own butler. I left my tent flaps up at night which kept the tent lovely and cool and also meant I could hear all the noises of the night; in the early morning the hippos return to the water after a nights foraging and it's really exciting to sit on your deck with your freshly brewed coffee and watch quietly as they pass by!
Activities at Siwandu revolve around gameviewing, whether on foot, on vehicle or on the water, and the water activities are a real treat. The lake is beautiful and we were able to drift up very close to a family of elephant just browsing along the waters edge, before wading across to forage further. While breakfast is usually served before guests depart on their safaris, the usual time for departure is 8am and I'd recommend guests request an earlier departure if they are keen gameviewers; it can be easily organised and earlier in the morning is when the wildlife tends to be more active, before the heat of the day sets in.
Siwandu is a really lovely, luxurious option in the Selous, perfect for honeymooners and families alike, and with a great position on the shores of the Lake.
Miss Joanna Bright (Guest)
Siwandu was wonderful and we should have stayed longer
Stay for a week Selous Safari Camp is wildly romantic, remote and lovely, new and exquisite. This is safari, but on a slow, slow burn. Stylish and sophisticated, yes, but totally in keeping with its surroundings, and thats why you love it so much. Add to that the fact that staff are pretty much all Tanzanian and have worked their way up from barman or waiter to full hosts, and are hugely engaging at the table. Everything at this camp is a cut above the rest: the tent just that bit smarter, the food unbelievable fresh tuna wraps, prawn kebabs, chicken breast stuffed with feta and wrapped in bacon and, most wonderful of all, you can eat privately and not as part of the group. Sofas on decks, a cool pool everything is fairly dark and protected, which is just what you need since it can get very hot in the Selous. Each tent has a butler assigned to it and he looks after you in the main area as well. But the best thing about this spot is that its possible to do everything right here: go on walks, drives and boat trips, fish and watch elephants swim! So you can spend a proper chunk of time without feeling the need to move lodges. The river is sublime: drift down it in the evening with the engine off and a cold beer in your hands, and wait for a snuffle, a snort or a curious harrumph.
Ms Clare Hine (Guest)
The Selous Safari guides were extremely knowledgeable and we were happy to go out slightly earlier and get back later in order for us to see more animals. The service and food were amazing!
Mr Ryan Moscow (Guest)
We absolutely loved the Selous, it was a great experience. We got on really well with the other honeymoon couples there and had a great time. We thought Jenny, the manager, was lovely and had lots of interesting stories to tell us!
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.
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!
Location & directions
Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
Siwandu, previously known as Selous Safari Camp lies amongst trees on the banks of Lake Nzerakera, only 200 km west of Dar es Salaam in the mighty Selous Game Reserve, Southern Tanzania.
How to get there
11 hour international flight to Dar es Salaam via Nairobi. From there it's then just a 45-minute light aircraft flight to Siwandu airstrip. Transfers from here are approximately 20-minutes by road with game viewing en route.
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