Southern Tanzania safaris are so rewarding, so wild, so off the beaten track that they will ruin you for all future luxury safaris. The best thing (well maybe not quite the best thing, but a good thing!) about luxury Southern Tanzania safaris is their close proximity to Dar, this means that you can get into one of the most remote and pristine areas within just 25 minutes from a large International airport. It is the only luxury safari destination in Africa, which truly allows guests to get off the beaten track without having to do a lot of travelling. Nothing can compare to the vast open spaces of Ruaha, or the rolling hills and doum palm fringed rivers of the Selous. As Southern Tanzania is less known as a safari destination the value for money down there is also exceptional, and you can stay in some of the most exclusive and beautiful luxury safari properties in all of Africa, for much less than you would pay in Northern Tanzania. Southern Tanzania’s close proximity to Zanzibar and Pemba Island also mean that your luxury beach extension, taken after or before your safari is also within easy reach.
The game viewing on a Southern Tanzania safari is also wonderful and you can expect to see a huge variety of wildlife, and also expect a higher quality of guide than on a Northern Tanzania safari. Southern Tanzania’s wildness attracts some top safari guides, and due to the terrain and fauna the safari guides have to read tracks and listen to the signs of the bush, rather than radio other guides for help. When you do see something you will more often than not be the only person there, which is true luxury safari heaven. Here are our top five luxury safari camps and lodges in Southern Tanzania:
Sand Rivers is set on the mighty Rufiji River and every single suite or room in this small and intimate Selous safari lodge has dramatic views of the river and its occupants, of which there are many (mainly hippos and crocodiles, as well as some amazing birdlife). The rooms and main area are all made of natural materials and this gives this Southern Tanzania gem a real feel of natural tranquillity. The verandahs of each room provide the ideal place to chill out, and forget your worries. Sand Rivers has some of the best guides, food and staff in Tanzania and a luxury safari here will leave you feeling like a member of the family, not a tourist.
Siwandu is on the other side (to Sand Rivers) of Southern Tanzania’s main game viewing area, the Selous, and is a wonderfully luxurious mix of canvas and smooth cream surfaces. The views look out onto Lake Siwandu where you will enjoy boat safaris and sunset cruises, often seeing elephant come down to the lake to drink. Here you will be utterly spoilt by a whole team of staff who are all charismatic and charming. They have big characters and this ability to laugh and be laughed at / with will have you all feeling very jolly – this is what a luxury safari is all about after all, having fun!
Azura Selous is yet again in a completely different location to the first two luxury Selous lodges mentioned in this article. It has less abundant game, although there is still plenty to be seen, but has the most wild, pristine and beautiful location one can possibly imagine. The rooms have private plunge pools which are often surrounded by grazing antelope, and grazing hippos at night! The outdoor shower has wonderful views of the river and the food is sensational. Here the highlight is the walking safari, and the spoiling spa. Azura also has numerous special offers, which make your luxury safari even more appealing.
Kigelia is located in the Southern Tanzania National Park named Ruaha, a place which has been wrongly overlooked for a while now, but which offers such dramatic and prolific game viewing that it’s status has started to rise in the luxury safari world as of the last few months. Kigelia Ruaha is one of the best properties to stay in here, and your luxury safari will be exceptionally rewarding with unbelievable game viewing with some of Kigelia’s expert guides, widely known to be the best in the area. This is an authentic luxury tented camp experience with all the comforts one could possibly want.
Jongomero is another excellent luxury safari camp in Ruaha and is also half canvas and half lodge, just like luxury safari property Siwandu which is the sister camp of Jongomero. Here you will find the same jovial and relaxed atmosphere and special touches such as meals out in the bush are a highlight. Ruaha is easily combinable with the Selous and Zanzibar and really completes the Southern Tanzania safari circuit.