It is a tough job I have. A few months ago I was informed that I was to depart on a trip to Tanzania. I failed to convince any of my friends that I was in fact 'working' and not going on holiday but I nevertheless packed my bags for my 'business' trip. After a week in the North and in Zanzibar I headed to the largest area of protected land on the continent, the Selous Game Reserve in Southern Tanzania.
The area hosts large populations of wildlife but is most famous for hosting 30% of Africa's population of the rare wild dog. This park has an incredible landscape, the focus of which is the meandering Rufiji River. The advantage of a safari in the Selous is that you can get out of the vehicle and explore the region by boat or on foot.
From Dar es Salaam I had an exhilarating flight by light aircraft over the Selous into the airstrip, shooing away a giraffe as we landed. During my five night stay I had four boat excursions along the Rufiji which is teeming with grunting pods of hippos and crocodiles. Along shore in the swampy inlets we also saw giraffe and elephant. But it is the bird life evident along the lakes and the river which is really appealing. Inevitably these boat trips culminate in a spectacular sunset casting the tall borassus palms and baobabs into brilliant silhouettes.
My game drives in the Selous were also particularly rewarding. Besides seeing tons of Masai giraffe, lions, waterbuck, impala, white-bearded wildebeest, greater kudu, spotted hyena amongst others, the absolute highlight of my visit was an encounter with a pack of 14 wild dogs.
Towards the end of my trip I was offered a walking safari. With my highly specialist guides I set off for a three hour walk. My heart was in my throat when we encountered a family of elephant passing in front of us. My guide let us know that the male had picked up our scent and we had to hide behind a tree until he had passed. My excitement was at a premium but I felt completely safe in the hands of my guides. It was just wonderful to view these incredible creatures on foot. My walk ended with me sharing a bush breakfast with my guides and a pod of hippos from the nearby lake.
As I had spent a lot of time sleeping in the larger lodges up North I was so pleased to finally sleep under canvas. There is nothing like putting the light out and lying listening out for the slightest of noises outside your tent, or being woken up in the morning to a chorus of hippos and the cry of the fish eagle. One evening I even had a bushbaby join me for my shower!
I will never forget spending my evenings in the Selous, joined by other guests, gin and tonic in hand, watching the African sun go down behind the horizon as the moon and stars make an appearance. Always excited to see the Southern Cross again I remember looking up and thinking I had never seen so many stars! This is when the stresses of the city seem another world away and you truly relax.
Until my next visit to Tanzania, I will continue to explore this wonderful continent of Africa. It's a tough job but someone has to do it.
Sarah stayed at the following accommodations in her trip: Impala Camp, Lake Manze Camp, Sand Rivers and Selous Safari Camp all at Selous Game Reserve.