Southern Tanzania arguably has as much in common with countries like Zambia, as it does with Northern Tanzania and the rest of East Africa, which is one the main reasons it makes such a great combination with the places like Serengeti.
In simple terms, the south is about small bush camps, a feeling of wilderness and a grass roots level of experience. The southern parks - Ruaha and Selous - aren't as well known, or as much visited as the north, mainly because they’re impractical to visit by road (because of distances and time implications).
But the very different style of safari on offer here, in combination with excellent game viewing, make the south well worth a visit, particularly during the dry season months between June and October.
At this time game viewing in Ruaha in particular can be superb; large herds of buffalo and elephant are typical as are sometimes very large prides of lion. The park’s many river lines and small tributaries also make this perfect country for leopard, while cheetah and wild dog are real possibilities in a 3 to 5 day stay.
If you’re looking to see a wide variety of antelope, then Ruaha is quite unusual in this respect – you have a good chance of seeing many of the large antelope well (not just a glimpse as they disappear). Eland, Greater Kudu, Sable and Roan are all common. Lesser kudu and gerenuk are also present as well as host of the usuals. Notable for their absence are wildebeest.
Selous, about a 1 ½ hour flight east from Ruaha is a total contrast to the plains and rocky hills of Ruaha. The northern sector of the reserve, which is the area where most of the tourism happens, is defined predominantly by the massive Rufii River, it’s tributaries, oxbow lakes and a diverse inland delta of sand rivers that area magnet to game in the dry season.
Selous offers excellent game - hippo and croc galore, elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, wild dog to name a few - but it's probably fair to say that it demands a little more patience than Ruaha. In simple terms this just means don't rush it. However, the reward and the great variety of ways that you can experience the game here – drives, walks, boats, fly camps – more than make up for this and overall the quality of experience on offer in the Selous is pretty hard to beat. Definitely one of our favourite places...