Landing into Dar es Salaam after my long flight from London Heathrow, I hoped on a Coastal flight to the Selous. My pilots were wonderful, very efficient, friendly and informative – especially for someone who can be on the nervous side of flying in these small planes and I was on my own. However, we dodged a few clouds on route to Selous, flying over stunningly lush scenery. I finally hit the rather soggy runway, with warthogs scattering into the bush startled from the plane.
I was met by the most wonderful guide from Siwandu where I would be staying for my first night in the Selous. Gracious took my bags off the plane and after chasing a few stray zebras off the runway so the plane could take off again, we were on our way through the very lush landscape of Selous. At this time of year Selous experiences quite a lot of rain, within a short amount time, which can make the game quite hard to find but these short rains provide the wildlife with plenty of water and fresh lush grass and vegetation to gorge on.
On arriving at Siwandu I was given another wonderfully warm welcome by the team. From the word go I felt totally at home here. Martin and Gregory, the managers at Siwandu gave a brief summary of what to expect during my brief stay – all sounding incredibly spoiling and very relaxing – I was introduced to my personal butler Alphonso and Maulid who would be my room attendant (in charge of making sure my room was clean and tidy!) Every guest has their own butler and room attendant who are utterly delightful and incredibly friendly.
My room was located down by the shore of the Nzerekera Lake (there is an island within the middle of the lake where the last chief of the Ndengereko tribe is buried – chief Nzerekera whom the lake is named after).
Wonderful and very spacious tented accommodation raised on wooden decking. A large double bed looking out onto the lake with a large en suite bathroom with flushing loos, sinks and an outside shower. Bliss.
The food at Siwandu is incredible. Looking out onto the lake, with herds of impala and the odd zebra. Did you think I wasn’t going to tell you what I had to eat? Of course I am! Siwandu’s food and their chefs, are THAT good – I had Teriyaki beef with an avocado and mango salad along and home-made noodles and to finish I had a treat of chia pannacotta with fresh mango, watermelon, passionfruit and melon… absolutely delicious. This was enjoyed up high within their main mess area designed so that you can take in the stunning views of the lake and beyond.
Due to the rains, our afternoon game drive wasn’t hugely exciting, but it was just such a beautiful area to enjoy. The sights, sounds and smells the rains had resurrected were stunning – we followed a journey of giraffes with young slowly browsing within the acacia thickets. Down by the lake we enjoyed a stunning sundowner with hippos jostling and laughing, spouts of water shooting up as they emerged from below the water surface to take a curious closer look at us enjoying a gin and tonic on their home turf!
Supper that evening was again, superb. It was made even more special as after the other guests had left for bed, with just three of us chatting over a nightcap, we were joined by 3 bush babies who were after the sugar that had been opened on the tea and coffee table! For our first night in Selous, it was pretty magical.
The next morning, I was woken up at 6.30 – I had woken up in the middle of the night with a hyena howling right outside the tent which then spooked a herd of zebra that galloped loudly through the sodden earth down towards the lake, love these sounds at night!
Before I left Siwandu, I went out on the lake on a water safari. Unbelievably fascinating. John, the captain of the small boat and my guide for the next few hours, welcomed me onto the boat and we went on our way. Before we even boarded the boat, John stopped in his tracks and pointed towards the ground at the mass of crushed African snail shells and what looked like rocks. He picked up one of the pebbles and explained that when you see these ‘pebbles’ they are actually the remaining fragments of clay pots that had once been used to cook food from the tribes that once lived within the area. The local tribe are called the Ndengereko people, these remaining fragments are evidence of where they once lived for a time in years gone by. There are 5 indigenous tribes to the Selous: the Ndengereko, the Pogoro, the Yao, the Zaramo and the most primitive tribe being the Ndingo who to this day still use plants for both medicine and hunting.
The Ndengereko lake is an oxbow formation created by the Rifiji River and is packed full of superb game: pods of hippo, tonnes of olive-green crocodile’s catching fish or slipping silently into the depths of the lake, barely making a ripple. If you a keen birder, this place is paradise: fish eagles, weaver birds chattering away, elegant yellow billed storks sieving the water hoping a fish will pass through for his breakfast and mountains of kingfishers flashing wonderful electric blue’s and oranges.
Siwandu is a wonderful property with stunning scenery, delightful staff, extremely comfortable accommodation and a perfect stay for your first time in the wild Selous. If you would like to find out even more information about this property, or book your next stay here, please get in contact.