After an incredible arrival to Azura Selous and a truly phenomenal nights sleep, it was time to explore the wonder and wilderness of the Selous.
As with most game drives, our morning started before the sun had made an appearance. Mornings and evenings are the coolest parts of the day and as a result, it is during these times that the wildlife is most active.
Unlike all other game drives I had been on, this game drive wouldn’t end when the heat became oppressive. The Selous is so unimaginably enormous that Azura offer both half and full day game drive options. The full day drive is very long, but it allows you to venture to parts of the reserve which would otherwise be completely unreachable.
Despite a seriously early start (something that feels completely unnatural to me) the morning started off on a great note, within twenty minutes we had spotted a bunch of giraffes!
It was really quite amazing how well that such huge animals can blend in with their surroundings! I honestly thought that giraffes would be totally easy to find, but that was definitely not the case – most of the time our guide would point them out and it would still take me a while to actually see them.
After we left these gorgeous giraffes, we went a seriously long time before spotting anything new. We drove for well over an hour to reach a different area of the reserve, and other than seeing about a million impala, it was relatively uneventful.
That is, except for the veritable invasion of Tsetse flies! Despite wearing strong insect repellent, I still ended up getting bitten by these demon flies a bunch of times! They are not the kind of bites that hurt and itch for long afterwards (at least in my experience) but the bite itself hurts enough to make you jump in shock – they are nasty little critters!
However, braving those horrible little creatures became completely worth it when we spotted this lone creature in the distance.
Whilst on safari in South Africa we had successfully seen elephants, rhino, lions and leopard – an amazing feat for just two nights in a smaller game reserve – but we had not seen buffalo, which meant we were just one animal short of spotting the famous ‘Big Five’.
Before this trip I had been under the impression that the term ‘big five’ referred to the five African animals that people most wanted to see whilst on safari, but alas, it actually refers to the five African animals who are the hardest and most dangerous to hunt on foot.
We eventually came to a massive waterhole, and it quickly became obvious where all the wildlife had been hiding.
Within minutes we had spotted giraffes…
…an entire pride of sleeping lions…
…at least one hundred hippos…
…and so many huge nile crocodiles!
We ended up eating lunch on the banks of this river, around ten metres from the waters edge. You might think that sounds crazy, especially with all the dangerous wildlife around, but our guide was sure that the spot he picked out was safe, and in the end, I was completely relaxed throughout our delicious lunch.
After we had finished eating it was time to start heading back towards camp.
After driving for around thirty minutes, completely out of the blue, our guide slammed down on the brakes and exclaimed ‘no!’
Initially I was worried that something was wrong, but it soon became apparent that this exclamation stemmed from a place of pure shock and surprise.
Somehow, he had spotted this face in the bushes!
A spotted hyena!
These dog-like creatures are usually holed up in dens during the day, so seeing one alone and relatively out in the open was a true rarity. Our guide said that he had never seen a hyena in this kind of scenario before, which is saying a lot, as his experience as a guide extends many years.
Soon after, we came across another semi-strange sight. Baboon sightings in and of themselves are quite common, but seeing one feasting on intestines from a nearby caracas? Yep, that was a first for me.
Oh, and then just to top it all off, a whole bunch of lionesses and some cubs!
This gorgeous older female is blind in one eye, which made for a seriously striking appearance.
By this time it was getting quite late in the day and we needed to start heading back to camp in order to get there before it got completely dark, but of course, we couldn’t spend the ninety or so minute drive back to camp without doing or seeing anything else!
Luckily, the wildlife of Selous seemed more than happy to indulge us a bit, and in addition to many zebras and impala, we also spotted a huge herd of buffalo and a pair of gorgeous giraffes.
In the end, we didn’t make it back to camp until much later than we were meant to (whoops) but this meant that we got to drive right into the sunset, and wow, what a sunset it turned out to be!
The full day game drive is extremely long and very exhausting, but I’d recommend it without hesitation, because it allowed us to see such a vast array of wildlife in just one day.
The final (and most exciting) installment of this Selous series is coming up next, so as always, stay tuned.
Getting to Dar Es Salaam: This international airport is incredibly basic, but does have connections all over Africa as well as to Dubai and Doha
Getting to Azura Selous: From Dar Es Salaam the best option to travel to Selous is via air transfer. These transfers can be organised through Coastal Aviation
Azura Selous: One night in a tented villa starts at $1400 USD for two persons including all meals and drinks. For more information about Azura Retreats, click here
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lenses
Remember: Tsete flies are the devil! Bring clothes that are not blue or black to minimise their fondness for you