Continuing to the Udzungwa Mountains there’s time to explore the forest in search of monkeys and chameleons, and swim in plunge pools beneath waterfalls. There’s chance to experience Tanzanian village life in the Uluguru Mountains before entering the wetlands and wilderness of the Selous Game Reserve by a little-used route. Your final days are spent watching wildlife in northern Selous by boat, on foot and by safari vehicle.
This Great Ruaha, Highlands and Selous Safari tour is based on good value superior lodge accommodation and is ideal for small private groups, families, couples and friends. If you’d prefer more or less time in any of the locations we include, or if you'd like to upgrade our chosen accommodation in Ruaha or the Selous, just contact us for a tailored quote. Departing every day throughout the year (subject to availability) except during the long rains of April and May when camps in the Selous close, this itinerary operates on a private departure basis with a minimum of 2 people enjoying an exclusive Great Ruaha, Highlands and Selous Safari experience.
Day 1: Arrive Dar es Salaam; optional city tour. On arrival you’ll be met at the airport and transferred to one of Dar's best located hotels, the Sea Cliff. Depending on your flight arrival time there may be time for an afternoon city sightseeing tour of Dar (approx. 3 hours). Accommodation: Sea Cliff Hotel.
Day 2: Head west to Mikumi N. Park; game drive in Mikumi. Mikumi National Park is just a 4-hour drive from Dar es Salaam. Nestled between the Uluguru Mountains to the northeast, and the Rubeho Mountains, Udzungwa Mountains and Rift Valley escarpment to the south west, the park is part of a much larger ecosystem centred on the uniquely vast Selous Game Reserve. Arriving in time for lunch at your camp and time to relax before heading out on your first game drive.
Criss-crossed by a good circuit of game-viewing roads, the Mkata Floodplain is perhaps the most reliable place in Tanzania for sightings of the powerful eland, the world’s largest antelope. The equally impressive greater kudu and sable antelope haunt the miombo-covered foothills of the mountains that rise from the park’s borders. Hippos are the star attraction of the pair of pools situated 5 km north of the main entrance gate, supported by an ever-changing cast of water birds. Accommodation: Vuma Hills Camp
Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 3: Early morning game drive in Mikumi; drive to Ruaha via Iringa. Enjoy an early morning game drive in Mikumi before travelling west to Iringa, overlooking the Little Ruaha River, the town is a popular stopping point en route to Ruaha National Park. Iringa’s streets are quiet and peaceful, and the market offers a colourful scene of traditional African culture. Your final section of your journey into Ruaha takes around 2 hours along the aptly named ‘never-ending road’.
As soon as you’ve passed through the entrance gate there’s a chance of spotting wildlife en route to your uniquely located accommodation, the Ruaha River Lodge. Occupying a privileged position along the banks of the Great Ruaha River, the lodge offers natural stone and thatch-built bandas, each with a private veranda from where guests can watch wildlife as it descends from the hills to the river. Accommodation: Ruaha River Lodge. Includes: (B, L, D).
Days 4-5: Morning and afternoon game drives in Ruaha National Park. Your next two days are spent enjoying game drives with the option of joining a guided walking safari (this should be requested at check-in). Big game is abundant in Ruaha National Park. Roan antelope, Sable antelope, Greater Kudu, Lichtenstein hartebeest can all be found in the park – all of which are rarely found in Tanzania’s northern parks. Surprisingly, Lesser Kudu and Grant's gazelle can also be found – both uncommon further in parks further south.
During the long dry season wildlife concentrates along the Great Ruaha River, the lifeline of the Park, attracting a whole host of predators including Lion, Leopard, Striped and Spotted Hyena, Side-striped Jackal, Black-backed Jackal and Hunting Dog can be found. Numerous other species, including Cheetah, may be seen on the plains. Accommodation: Ruaha River Lodge. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 6 - Transfer to tea estate and lodge in Mufindi highlands via Isimila. There’s time for one last game drive before exiting Ruaha and heading south towards the hills of Tanzania’s Southern Highlands. En route visit one of the most interesting Stone Age sites in East Africa, the ‘Isimila Stone Age Site’. Here visitors can see remarkable red stone pillars (20-30 feet high!) formed as a result of natural erosion over thousands of years. Once an ancient lake bed, the site revealed Stone Age tools alongside the skeletons of pre-historic animals in a major discovery in 1951.
After a picnic lunch your journey continues up above the Great Rift Valley. Mufindi is a combination of pristine tea estates, dark, thick montane forest and rugged bush land, interlaced with lakes, rivers and streams. At over 6,700 feet altitude, the cold rivers that feed the lakes are the only place where naturally breeding Rainbow trout can be found in the tropics of Tanzania. Mufindi Highland Lodge is located on a private 2,000 acre estate adjacent to the spectacular 2,000 feet Rift Valley escarpment edge, surrounded by rainforest and tea estates. Accommodation: Mufindi Highland Lodge. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 7: Optional walks, biking, horse-riding, fishing and visit to tea factory. Today is spent at leisure at Mufindi. Possible activities include fly fishing, horse riding, mountain biking, bird watching, walking, golf, kayaking, tennis, badminton, croquet and scenic drives. It is also possible to arrange a visit to a local tea factory. The estate is a working farm, providing organically produced fresh and cured meats, dairy products, vegetables and even coffee beans.
Accommodation is in log cabins overlooking a lake and golf course. After a day's exertion, a long hot soak can be enjoyed before a sundowner on the bar balcony before moving inside to sit around a roaring log fire. Meals of wholesome farm cooking accompanied by plenty of freshly-picked vegetables are eaten in the octagonal dining room. For those still with energy there is a snooker table in a separate room. Accommodation: Mufindi Highland Lodge. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 8: Scenic drive to Udzungwa Mountains National Park. Descending from the refreshing highlands of Mufindi you’ll retrace your route to Iringa before continuing to the Udzungwa Mountains. Here you’ll be accommodated in ‘Hondo Hondo’, Udzungwa Forest Lodge, in comfortable en-suite forest tents. Located on the edge of the forest, Hondo Hondo is within easy walking distance of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park main gate.
The forest edge is popular with Silvery Cheeked, Crowned and Trumpeter Hornbills. Primates including the elegant Black and White Colobus Monkey and the endemic Iringa Red Colobus are both regularly seen from the camp. After an aperitif in the authentic mud hut bar/lounge, dinner is often served outside in the picnic area under the stars. There is also an attractive fire pit surrounded by comfortable natural seating, and the village drumming group can be requested for an evening of live entertainment. Accommodation: Udzungwa Forest Lodge.
Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 9: Monkey spotting in Udzungwa; optional walk to Sanje Falls. Udzungwa Mountains National Park covers 1,900 sq. km and was created in 1992 from several forest reserves. There are six species of primate in Udzungwa, two of which can be found nowhere else on earth – these are the Iringa Red Colobus and the Sanje Crested Mangabey. Also look out for buffalo, elephant, red-legged sun squirrel, Red duiker, Abbot's duiker, Livingstone's suni, bush pig, bushbuck, tree frogs, spiders and elephant shrew. The only way to experience this beautiful African rain forest is on foot as there are no roads inside the park.
Udzungwa is thus a hiker’s paradise with an extensive network of walking trails available. Accompanied by an experienced local guide, the most popular walk is a half-day trail to and from Sanje Waterfalls Campsite. The 2 hour ascent is quite steep in places but once at Sanje there will be time to explore the forest and waterfalls, and even go for a swim in one of the plunge pools before returning to Hondo Hondo. Guided bike rides in the local ‘shambas’ and villages can also be arranged through the lodge. Accommodation: Udzungwa Forest Lodge. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 10: Drive to Morogoro; explore Uluguru Mountains and villages. A four hour drive will take you to your next destination - Morogoro and the Uluguru Mountains. The Uluguru Mountains are part of the Eastern Arc range, the scenery itself consists of waterfalls, forests, streams, grasslands and coastal forest making this an incredibly diverse and spectacularly beautiful environment for visitors to explore. In the afternoon you may like to visit the village of Nugutu to learn about Luguru culture, see locals producing crafts and listen to traditional Luguru music. Tonight you’ll stay in a cottage at Mbuyuni Farm Retreat. Accommodation: Mbuyuni Farm. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 11: Enter Selous with game viewing en route. Today is a day of adventure and scenic contrasts as you enter the Selous, road conditions are rough on this little-used route into one of Africa’s largest protected wilderness areas. Spend the afternoon slowly traversing the northern part of the Selous, stopping to watch wildlife and enjoying the scenery as you head for your tented camp accommodation on the banks of the Rufiji River. Accommodation: Rufiji River Camp. Includes: (B, L, D).
Days 12-13: Choice of game viewing activities in the Selous. Enjoy a variety of game viewing experiences with a choice of boat safaris, walking safaris or game drives available. You can arrange your final schedule with camp staff but a typical day includes a morning game viewing activity followed by lunch back at camp then a late afternoon activity, sundowner and dinner. On each activity you’ll be accompanied by a highly experienced game ranger/guide.
With a multitude of destinations, ranging from the main course of the river to the many lateral canals and various lakes, boat safaris are a particular highlight of the Selous – and at least one should be made at sunset. Perhaps the most exciting of all activities, Selous is one of the very few parks in Tanzania where you can undertake a walking safari accompanied by an armed ranger.
On a game drive the destinations are quite varied but are normally directed towards one or more of the lakes where animals group to drink. A typical game drive lasts for a half day, but a full day safari can easily be organised and will take you deeper into the Reserve. The Sand River, Selous' Grave, Lake Tagalala and the hot volcanic springs are popular local destinations. Accommodation: Rufiji River Camp. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 14: Fly to Dar es Salaam where holiday ends. Your safari ends today after check-out from your camp and a short flight aboard a light aircraft from Mtemere airstrip to Dar es Salaam. Includes: (B).
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Africa Tanzania Nature & Wildlife National Parks