Selous had already been spectacular. We had managed to see buffalo – which meant that we had finally seen the famous ‘Big 5’ – and we had even seen a spotted hyena during the middle of the day lounging less than 2 metres from the game viewing vehicle!
A fleeting concern of ‘did we peak too early’ did float through my mind, but luckily, our last 24 hours in the Selous seemed to be on absolute steroids!
On our last sunset drive we found this gorgeous lioness basking completely out in the open and the carcass of her latest kill nearby! Lions can be hard to spot, so to see her literally in the middle of the dried up riverbed was certainly unusual.
As she had just eaten, she was very calm and placid, and she didn’t seem even slightly fazed by our appearance by her side.
This next photo which I took of Dan ended up being one of my favourites from the trip!
Actually, yeah, this is also one of my favourites. How beautiful is this close up of her smiley face?!
After leaving her to chill out and digest her meal, we happened upon a hippo chilling out very close to the river bank, which allowed me to get a much closer photograph than I’d previously been able to.
The time seemed to get away from us, and before I knew it, it was time to crack open a Kili, eat a few snacks and enjoy the sunset.
Our last dinner was set up just as beautifully as all others had been before, and as sad as I was upon realising that this would be my last dinner with Azura Selous, I was still incredibly excited to see what our final day would have in store for us.
Our final day at Azura Selous started much the same as the previous two, with an early wake up call followed by as much coffee as I could physically consume and a morning game drive – however, this drive would prove to be the best of them all.
Immediately after setting off we spotted an enormous herd of kudu and impala at the waters edge, and the sunrise happening behind them made for an absolutely beautiful view.
Then, not more than a few minutes later, we spotted a hippo who was running a little late getting home!
Hippos are quite shy creatures, so they normally stay in their river homes all day long, only emerging to feed after sunset. They usually return to the water at or before sunrise, so to see one walking around the bush was quite a rarity.
We attempted to get a little closer, but true to the shy nature of these enormous creatures, it got a little spooked and started sprinting back to the water.
Now, if you’ve never seen a hippo running, let me tell you right now, it is truly a sight to behold. I honestly would have never believed that creatures with such enormous bodies and such dainty legs could run so fast, but boy, they can move!
Once our hippo friend made it back to the safety of the river, it was time for us to continue onwards and see what else we could find.
Luckily, it wasn’t long before we found another incredible creature, although this time, it wasn’t our eyes that spotted it, it was our ears!
The trumpeting of this gorgeous ellie was what alerted us to its presence, and it didn’t take long for us to find it. Unlike the ellies we had spotted in South Africa, those here in the Selous are much less used to seeing game vehicles, so this not so little guy was quite suspicious of us. He let us observe him for a few minutes before he appeared to reach the end of his comfort zone, and subsequently, responded by semi-charging us!
He never looked like he was actually going to get close, his actions appeared to be more of a warning, so after snapping a few quick pictures, we let him continue eating in peace.
Only a short while later, we spotted this gorgeous face peeking out at us! I have now seen quite a few lions, but this male is definitely one of the most beautiful. Those eyes are just so piercing!
He was surrounded by three females, who seemed utterly unconcerned by us.
This might sound silly, but this particular lioness bore a particularly striking resemblance to Nala from The Lion King. It is quite wonderful when you can start seeing different animals from within the same breed and actually see their unique features.
Our guide then got a call on the radio (the one time that it ever happened) alerting him to the presence of African wild dogs! Despite having quite a large population in the park, these animals tend to roam huge distances each day, so actually finding them in a park as big as Selous is really quite the achievement.
All too soon it was time to finish our last game drive, but not before having one of the most special breakfasts ever.
What made this breakfast so special?
Well, we had it with about 18 hippos!
A table was set up for us right on the riverbank, which meant that we got to enjoy our meal while watching 36 ears pop in and out of the water! It was really quite incredible, and repeating this experience would be enough of a reason for me to return to Selous, which is really saying something!
Our final game drives had been everything you could want in a safari, and much more. We had seen so much wildlife, and had such a unique experience in the process.
The Selous is wild, unpredictable and utterly unique. A safari in this region won’t be like one in the Serengeti, but this is part of the charm.
Our time at Azura Selous was the stuff of dreams.
I can’t wait to go back.
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: Game drives can be quite cold in the mornings, so make sure you bring a jumper or two