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Fever Trees and Baobabs

Separating fantastic fact from the equally legendary fiction in the life of Frederick Courteney Selous is no easy task. Getting a full and accurate account of his life may never be possible, but let’s be frank, it doesn’t really matter.

When you count the likes of Cecil Rhodes and Teddy Roosevelt among your friends, an elite Rhodesian special forces unit is named after you, and your life provides the basis for none other than Alan QuatermainBear Grylls suddenly starts to look like Justin Bieber.

The part of his legacy that concerns us here though, is the game reserve in Southern Tanzania that was founded in 1922, after he fell in battle in the area during World War I. At over 54,000 square kilometers it is the largest and one of the oldest game reserves in the world. Cutting through it is the Rufiji River and on the banks sit my reasons for coming so far into the remote southern reaches of Tanzania—Sand Rivers Selous and Kiba Point.

Until the late 1980s no one was really coming to the reserve except the odd hunter. Then Richard Bonham selected the site that would become Sand Rivers Selous as the base for his portered walking safaris in the area. Since then a few other camps have opened but none match Sand Rivers. The area remains as wild as it has always been and low numbers of visitors help to keep it that way.

Far from the crowds that flock to Tanzania’s Northern circuit, the Selous adds an element of proper adventure to a safari after you’ve been to see the migration and ticked the boxes. This is especially true if you do one of Nomad’s four day walking safaris based out of Sand Rivers, moving from camp to camp each night as Selous himself would have done when he traveled through the area.

Sand Rivers and the neighboring Kiba Point, which is intended for private groups (from two to eight people), achieve that rare perfect balance for safari lodges; they are comfortable without being ostentatious, luxurious without being over the top, and understated in a way that could only be described as a kind of endearing humility, were the camp a person.

I was totally bewitched by the place, including everything from watching the vervet monkeys steal the biscuits from my coffee tray in the morning, to dodging huge pods of hippos in the river, to tracking lions with my expert guide on foot. The whole experience hit all the right notes and made my time in the Selous everything safari should be.

The Selous is a wild and rugged place, with the kind of natural beauty that imparts a sense of peace that will work its way under your skin and never let you go. It’s not difficult to see why it was so totally beguiling to Selous himself.

Follow Dan from the beginning of his research trip:
Smell of Adventure: Kenya Pt. 1
Ol Donyo Lodge: Kenya Pt. 2
Tassia: Kenya Pt. 3
Mara Done Right: Kenya Pt. 4

Dan Achber is sharing the findings of his recent African research trip week by week on The Sounder. 

Far from the crowds that flock to Tanzania's Northern circuit, the Selous adds an element of proper adventure to a safari after you've been to see the migration and ticked the boxes.

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