Nyerere National Park is Africa’s largest game reserve and; also a UNESCO World Heritage Site (incorporating the northern part of the old Selous Game Reserve); in Tanzania. Its staggering size of 30,893km2 hosts one of the world’s largest concentrations of wildlife. The collection of wildlife both in diversity and abundance is just remarkable! Visitors to this vast sanctuary will be able to see an astounding volume of wildlife both rare and common species.
The Rufiji is East Africa’s largest river. It flows through the northern part of the Park; which is slow-moving and wide; has created several oxbow lakes in its northern flood plains, creating a beautiful landscape of plains and woodlands; interspersed with expanses of water. The mighty Rufiji with its renowned population of hippo and crocodiles flows to the Indian ocean. The river has been designated as a photographic zone and is popular for tourists.
Although slightly off the beaten track of the more well-worn safari circuits; a visit to the Nyerere National Park offers unforgettable game viewing in almost completely isolated surroundings; one of the best ‘secrets of Africa’.
Nyerere National Park wildlife
The park host the famous ‘’Big Five’’ and some rare species of antelopes like Roan Antelope, Brindled Gnu, Lichtenstein hartebeest, roan, and sable antelopes, Kudu, to name a few! The park supports enormous numbers of wild animals: 200,000 buffalo, 30,000 elephants (more than half the country’s population), and 80,000 wildebeest, as well as one of the healthiest populations of the endangered African Wild Dog. During a game drive or walk one might be lucky enough to see a pack of African wild dogs, disappearing throughout Africa but thriving in this area. These complex and fascinating mammals show little fear of vehicles, and it is often possible to observe their intense social life; from a close distance.
Three-quarters of the Reserve is woodland of various types, short grassy plains, and seasonally flooded pans. Impressive riverine forests and dense impenetrable thickets are important habitats within the Nyerere. The wide, meandering Rufiji River; with its associated wetlands, lakes, and swamps; is one of the most outstanding ecological systems in the whole of East Africa.
Walking and boat safaris, as well as traditional game drives; are on offer to visitors to the Nyerere’s small and remote camps and lodges; with little chance of bumping into any sign of human life. Boat trips and longer safaris; down the spectacular Rufiji River offers visitors a chance to see hippos, birdlife, and crocodiles up close.
Fly camping, or mobile walking safaris, are becoming a popular option for intrepid visitors intent on seeing the best of Africa on foot, unhampered by the closed-in atmosphere of a safari van. The Nyerere National Park is one of only a few locations in Tanzania where night drives are permitted at certain ‘concessions’ in the park.
Best known for its spectacular large mammals; it is equally celebrated for its abundant and varied birds; found around the constantly changing pattern of sandbanks, oxbow lakes, lagoons, and channels; along the Rufiji River. The river scenery is made all the more spectacular by the groves of Borassus palms; an indigenous species with tall fronds that sway majestically in the African breeze. Ancient baobabs, a tree held sacred by many tribal groups; stand majestically against the far-reaching horizon. Their dead, hollow, leafless trunks provide vantage points for Fish Eagles and nest sites for Egyptian Geese and Dickinson’s Kestrels.
Best time to visit Nyerere National Park
Game viewing in Nyerere National Park is good all year round. There are no migratory patterns that affect the chances of having exceptional game viewing. However, the weather can play a factor in your planning, and often camps close during the rainy season; due to the airstrips being unusable. Because Nyerere is at a lower elevation than the parks in Tanzania’s northern circuit; it can become hot and humid. From October to January the heat is more noticeable than in other months of the year. However, there is good shade and usually a breeze. During November, there is a chance of some rain showers.
Prices are often lower between January and March and again in November.
How to get there
Most travelers fly in and out of Nyerere National Park. If you are traveling from Northern Tanzania, you fly via Dar es Salaam with stops there and in Arusha. There are several airstrips so you will fly into the one closest to where you are; so times vary (as do the number of stops you make en route).