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Journeys with Insight
Southern Tanzania Discovery

Southern Tanzania Discovery

The East African safari circuit is on the verge of a major transformation. For too long, this area has suffered under the weight of mass tourism in overcrowded areas. This type of tourism has led to areas becoming over utilized and the environment, as well as the overall experience of the traveler, has suffered greatly. East Africa certainly does not lack superb wildlife destinations. Home to some of the largest, most pristine and scenic areas in Africa, East Africa offers a treasure trove of discoveries waiting to be witnessed and experienced.

Black Rhino Sand Dunes Kunene people Base camp Skeleton Coast Cheetah
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So why the crowds in so few locations, when there are so many other magnificent destinations? The answer is simple. Many of the tourism enterprises that utilize the East African destinations, have become too set in their ways. It is easier to market the blazed trails and direct travelers to follow. The ease with which East African safaris can be put together has not been conducive to creative safari itineraries. These ventures run the risk of losing support from key stakeholders in the government and private sector, if they are not proven to be profitable.

There are however extraordinary and deserving destinations that practice sound and sustainable conservation tourism in Tanzania. Piper & Heath, together with the most dynamic operators and lodge owners in Tanzania, is on a path to illuminate and support these regions.

Brief Itinerary

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Detailed Itinerary

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Day 1:Today you will arrive in the beautiful and historic city of Dar Es Salaam and will spend the night at the Southern Sun Hotel.

Day 2:This morning we will have some time to shop for last minute supplies, before our private transfer to the Dar Es Salaam airport for our private charter flight to the Selous Game Reserve. Our aircraft will be a C208B, Grand Caravan, well known for being one of the most versatile and strong bush planes in Africa.

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At over 20,000 sq. miles, the Selous is Africa's largest game reserve. It is a wilderness area bigger than Denmark or Switzerland. The reserve covers more than 5 % of Tanzania's total land area, and is three times larger than the Serengeti. Located in southern Tanzania, this game reserve is well off the beaten track of most visitors, even though it hosts some of the densest numbers of animals on the continent.

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The vast wilderness, which comprises the Selous Game Reserve, offers respite to some of the largest populations of wildlife in Africa - one-third of all African wild dogs, and huge herds of elephant and buffalo. The Lukula sanctuary, with numerous perennial rivers and a variety of ecosystems, upholds the Selous' reputation. It attracts the widest range of prey - from the rare Nyassa wildebeest and Lichtenstein's hartebeest to the stunning Greater kudu, sable and eland. Predators wait on the fringes, where lion stalk and wild dog strategize. The sandy substrates are home to busy bee-eater nests with Giant kingfishers hunting from the banks. Other frequently spotted species include waterbuck, impala, klipsringer, hippo, Nile crocodile, leopard, and duiker. Birdlife abounds as well, with common sightings of the rare Pel's Fishing owl, Wattled crane and Palmnut vulture among the 350 recorded species.

During our stay we will be lodging at Lukula Selous camp. This conservation project by Great Plains Conservation, aims to promote true conservation tourism by establishing a sustainable tourism model in a pristine environment, that benefits communities, wildlife and government. The success of this venture will ensure that this area will be allocated for non-hunting land use, and serve as a model for other conservation areas.

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Lukula Selous offers an enhanced wilderness adventure. Instead of a set schedule of morning and afternoon game drives, the focus is on a close connection with the landscape and its wildlife. This is possible in a vehicle or a kayak, but the real experience of Lukula is on foot led by experienced porters, trackers and professional (and armed) guides. Following the paths of buffalo and elephant forms the foundation of the day and reveals unique natural phenomena. Using traditional tracking techniques and temporary "grass hides", we can safely observe and photograph animals while leaving them undisturbed.

Day 5:After our last morning activity at Lukula Selous, we leave the Selous Game Reserve for Ruaha National Park. We will once again have a private air charter to Kigelia Camp where we will spend three nights exploring a very different ecosystem.

Ruaha National Park is Tanzania's largest national park, a vast wilderness in the south-west of the country visited by only a handful of travellers each year. At the park's heart is the aptly-named Great Ruaha River, a massive watercourse that dwindles to only a few pools in the dry season, but bursts its banks and roars over boulders at the height of the rains.

Converging with the Great Ruaha are hundreds of sand rivers, which function as natural game corridors when dry and form sparklingly clear streams during the rains. Waterbuck, impala and the world's most southerly Grant's gazelle risk their lives for a sip of water from the crocodile rich waters. The shores of the Great Ruaha are a permanent hunting ground for lion, leopard, cheetah, jackal, hyena and the rare and endangered African wild dog. Ruaha's elephants are recovering strongly from ivory poaching in the 1980's and remain the largest population in East Africa. Ruaha represents a transition zone where eastern and southern species of flora and fauna overlap. For example, Lesser and Greater kudu co-exist with northern species such as Grant's gazelle.

Between the rivers lies a massive, completely unspoiled landscape of plains, rocky gullies, thick miombo woodland and distant purple hills. Ruaha is a dramatic park, its scenery ever-changing and full of detail: the white blossoms that appear on the bald, stark branches of baobab trees, the gigantic blue-black granite boulders that lie in tumbled plains in the river valleys, and the cloudy springs that bubble up in green, pungent swamps.

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Set in a secluded grove of Kigelia or “Sausage trees”, high on the banks of the Ifuguru sand river in the Ruaha National Park, Kigelia camp is an exclusive seasonal camp offering a tailor made and private experience, giving our guests a chance to step off the treadmill and connect with the soul of Africa. This small, discreet camp operates in a socially and environmentally responsible way, placing a minimal footprint in these precious areas of natural beauty.

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Day 8:This morning we will start with a final game drive in Ruaha to the camp airstrip for our private charter to remote Katavi National Park. Here we will be staying at the very special Chada Katavi camp for three nights.

Chada Katavi camp is situated in the core of Katavi National Park, in western Tanzania. It's said to be one of the wildest places on earth. Filling the floor of the Rukwa Valley - a minor fault of the western rift - Katavi National Park spans over a million acres, and due to its remoteness is one of the least visited parks in Tanzania. Across these plains run the last great herds of buffalo in East Africa.

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From July to October, the weather is getting hotter as the plains dry out. The rivers and pools are drying up which concentrates the game in specific areas making for amazing sightings of animals, particularly the crocodiles and hippos who congregate in their masses in the pools.

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Day 11:This morning, the group will meet for our safari debriefing before we enjoy one more drive to the Katavi airstrip and board the Safari Airlink shared charter to Dar Es Salaam. Upon arrival in Dar Es Salaam participants will be transferred to the various connections to international flights; Dar Es Salaam overnights; or any of the possible. I recommend gorilla trekking in Rwanda, chimp trekking in Mahale National Park or a beach respite on the Tanzania coast.

If you are ready to get started planning your journey, click here to fill out our travel questionaire.