Selous Game Reserve

 Posted by Elizabeth at 6:00 pm
Jun 252011

The road from Morogoro to Selous Game ReserveAfter a morning game drive in Mikumi National Park we headed towards Selous Game Reserve, which is off the beaten path to say the least. A quick stop in Morogoro for fuel and groceries and then we turned off onto a dirt track. The drive was scenic as it wound through mountains, tropical vegetation and villages, but the road was terrible! It was rough and at times quite muddy, yet the trucks and minibuses still travel a million miles an hour along it. Around lunchtime we arrived at Mikuyuni Village which is a small village with shops lining the side of the steeply inclined road. There were trucks parked on either side of the road loading and unloading things, some parked on the correct side of the road, others were not. The road was very muddy and slippery and it was pure chaos. We slowly crept forward, weaving between the trucks and people. The truck ahead of us started to slide sideways, in the process collecting the corner of the roof of one of the shops making the whole shop shake and move. The driver and his passenger got out and tried to move the truck, obviously without success. It took ages before anyone else helped them, and there were heaps of people around, yet no one was going anywhere until he made it up the hill. Eventually he made it past the shop but then had to stop again near the top of the hill as another truck was seriously stuck in the mud and pushed against the embankment and wasn’t going anywhere in the near future. So there we sat in the middle of the village with trucks, buses, people, mud and chaos all around us and waited. In true African style, no one could figure out how they were going to manoeuvre around each other whilst avoiding the parked and stuck trucks and make it through the mud. Every gap was instantly filled by a vehicle of some description regardless of whether their movement helped our hindered everyone else. Wayne went to see what was happening at the top and tried to convey to them that some of the buses trying to come down would need to reverse if anyone was ever going to get moving again. After some time they seemed to get the message and eventually the truck in front of us could move a few metres, although not enough to clear a path through. We stayed where we were as we did not fancy having to stop halfway up the muddy hill, and sure enough, a bus coming down the hill pulled into the gap between the truck in front of us and ourselves. Fantastic! Where he thought he was going to go, or what we were going to do is beyond me. He wanted us to move to the side into the really sloshy, sloping mud. Yeah right! We reversed and moved slightly to the other side so he could tackle the mud and we could get past him when eventually the truck in front was able to move. Eventually we made it to the top of the hill and through the village, taking more than an hour to travel probably 200 metres. Such is Africa!

Mikuyuni Village on the road from Morogoro to Selous Game ReserveMikuyuni Village on the road from Morogoro to Selous Game ReserveMikuyuni Village on the road from Morogoro to Selous Game Reserve

Our intention was to camp about 50km outside the park, but when we got there no campsite appeared to be around, so we decided to continue on and try to make the park before closing and camp inside. The gates close at 6pm and we did not make it in time, so we tried to see if we could camp at one of the lodges. I tried to get them to let us camp, but no go. They rung another lodge that is being built, but they wanted $US50 per person to camp! No way! So in the end we had to spend our first night in a lodge, costing us $200 with dinner. Dinner was nice, but we weren’t happy about having to spend $200.

Our plan was to get to the gate in the late morning, camp inside the park and then exit the following morning. Turning up at the gate we found out what the cost was and they confirmed that we would need a ranger to stay with us if we wanted to camp. No problem, let’s get it organised. Once again, in true African style, there was no ranger available so we couldn’t camp. So we couldn’t obey their rule because they could not supply a ranger, but they would not lets us camp without one. Not happy Jan! If we had known that we would have been at the gate at 6.30am and spent the entire day there, now though it was 11am and the day was wasted. Initially they wanted to charge us the full rate for entry and the vehicle, which is about $180, however after some discussion and getting them to agree that our plans were affected as a result of their inability to supply a ranger. we agreed on $50 for the car and they would charge us Tanzanian citizen rates (about $6) and allow us to transit the park (we did not want to have to turn around and tackle that road again!). We did see a few animals along the way, but unfortunately Selous did not quite turn out as expected!

After leaving the park we stayed at Selous River Camp where we met a couple from England and spent some time chatting to them. We took a cruise along the river in the afternoon and saw lots of hippo, birds, a couple of small crocodiles and monitor lizards. During the night there is an elephant that comes and eats near where we were camped and sure enough he turned up and ate just a few metres from where we were sleeping which was pretty cool.


Monitor Lizard, SelousWhite-fronted Bee-eater, Selous06250672_resize

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