Often overlooked by many safari operators in favour of the northern parks, the southern parks of the Selous and Ruaha are worth serious consideration and are the preferred destination for most who are really keen on their safari. The benefits of heading to the south is that, where the very north of the Serengeti gives the numbers of game, along with some seclusion, the southern parks are still very much “frontier” parks and so are noticeably less busy (they also feature the same spread of species as the north, but more like a thousand, rather than 2 million).
This is probably the most important question to ask when considering a trip to the southern parks for safari as, unlike the open grassland plains to the north of Tanzania, the southern safari parks are much more seasonal due to the riverine topography of the area. On the whole, the best months for normal game viewing are considered to be from June until November, when the parks are at their driest and so the game is condensed around the river banks. This being said, for a few specialist activities, such as bird watching and walking, the window between January and March can also be very rewarding if a little humid and hot!
Unlike the road based itineraries to the northern parks, the southern parks of the Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park are easily accessed by small plane with the Selous being around a 30 minute flight from Dar es Salaam, and Ruaha being another hour and half on from there.
With access into and out of the parks being nice and easy, and the fact that it is possible to connect from the Selous to Zanzibar within an hour, it is definitely possible to go to the Selous for as little as 2 nights. We tend to recommend that you consider between 3 and 5 nights in each park as a good number. Please have a look at the links below for more in depth information on each of the parks.