The Selous Game Reserve covers over 55,000 square kilometres and is well over twice the size of the Kruger National Park. It is one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries anywhere. The Selous is world renowned for its wild character and large populations of elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and African wild dog. Within this special place, deep in its southern reaches and far from anyone else, is Lukula Selous.
The vast wilderness, which comprises the Selous Game Reserve, offers respite to some of the largest populations of wildlife in Africa – one-third of all African wild dogs, and huge herds of elephant and buffalo. The Lukula sanctuary, with numerous perennial rivers and a variety of ecosystems, upholds the Selous’ reputation. It attracts the widest range of prey – from the rare Nyassa wildebeest and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest to the stunning Greater kudu, sable and eland. Predators wait on the fringes, where lion stalk and wild dog strategize. The sandy substrates are home to busy bee-eater nests with Giant kingfishers hunting from the banks. Other frequently spotted species include waterbuck, impala, klipsringer, hippo, Nile crocodile, leopard, and duiker. Birdlife abounds as well, with common sightings of the rare Pel’s Fishing owl, Wattled crane and Palmnut vulture among the 350 recorded species.
Lukula Selous, in the southern sector of this vast reserve, is a private photographic sanctuary of over 300,000 acres. The sanctuary’s diverse habitats – flood plains, dense riverine forests, savanna, forested hills, rocky ridges – host an equally diverse range of flora and fauna. This is a landscape seldom visited and little changed by man. Each season exposes yet another dimension of Lukula Selous’ breadth and beauty as the rhythms of nature dictate our experience. You will have a rare chance to watch the drama of the life cycle unfold in an atmosphere of utter privacy and freedom. Imagine 300,000 acres reserved for no more than eight individuals. This privilege is possible here – where the spirit of wild Africa lives on.
Lukula Selous experiences the cyclical rainfall pattern typical of the East Africa region. The ebb and flow between wet and dry cycles is characterised by two primary periods of rain each year. The ‘short’ rains usually arrive in December and fade quickly with the arrival of January. The ‘long’ rains commence in mid to late February and persist through early April. With each arrival of the rains, the land is energised. It washes the exhausted land of the dust and ash of the dry season, and fills the sandy riverbeds with sparkling fresh water. The small streams feed the main channel of the Luwego River and wake it from its seasonal lethargy. As the river rises, it floods the nearby plains and fills dried wallows. Then, vegetation greens, births occur and lives pass. It is as if one is watching it all through a time-lapse camera.
Lukula Selous is an experience not a destination. It is a unique work of art, never the same twice, and never predetermined. There is no detailed itinerary – or at least none that we know of – it is about impromptu experience. It is designed to change a life. But what is consistent are the core pillars of our approach: Commitment, Philosophy and Practice.
Lukula Selous is managed by a group of friends who share a passion for Africa’s big wild spaces.
It is a gift to provide stewardship of this vast area, and it is our goal to nourish it in the present while investing in its sustainability as a conservation icon. We tread very lightly and minimize our impact. There is no set routine at Lukula Selous; our activities are at the whim of the day. We look to the rhythms of the wilderness around us for opportunities to explore and expand our knowledge and understanding. This flexibility – in part due to our small group size – allows us to seize the moment: to track wildlife on foot; to follow the massive footprints of an old bull elephant, cut crisp and smooth in the white river sand; to note the passage of a female leopard dragging her recent kill, her tracks leading to a nearby tamarind tree; to examine the industrious workings of termites; to shiver at the rush of five hundred buffalo stampeding away through tall grass. Lukula Selous will transport you to the wilderness of F.C. Selous’ day- a unique source of adventure, discovery, freedom and solitude. The reserve is a rare gem – a place to commune with your inner spirit, and feel Africa’s pulse.
We welcome you to walk tall in the grass and leave your footprints in the sand.
Lukula Selous offers an enhanced wilderness adventure. Instead of a set schedule of morning and afternoon game drives, focus is on a close connection with the landscape and its wildlife. This is possible in a vehicle or even a kayak, but the real experience of Lukula is on foot led by experienced porters, trackers and professional (and armed) guides. Following the paths of buffalo and elephant forms the foundation of the day and reveals other natural phenomena. Using traditional tracking techniques and temporary “grass hides”, we can safely observe and photograph animals while leaving them undisturbed.
The Lukula, Luwegu and Chi rivers are navigable by canoe and inflatable kayak. Guests can gently plough the waters for just an afternoon in search of a quiet sundowner spot, or choose a two-day expedition. Lukula Selous hosts small groups or individuals (no more than eight), offering the opportunity to explore this wilderness in utter privacy. We recommend a minimum stay of three nights in order to absorb and experience the beauty of Lukula Selous.
PORTERED FLY CAMPING
For stays for more than three nights, a lightweight, yet fully equipped and authentic fly camp allows us, in the tradition of F. C. Selous, to venture deep into the most remote parts of the sanctuary, on foot or by canoe. The fully serviced and well-appointed fly camp, carried in by porters, is available for one night or more. A traveling chef and kitchen provide great food, and cold drinks are always at hand. Sleeping tents are on the ground, in custom-made canvas valises with linen sheets, blankets and mosquito nets. Facilities are a shared hot bucket shower, canvas washbasins, and proper sit-down ‘loo with a view’.
LUKULA SELOUS WING SAFARI
In an effort to make Lukula Selous more accessible as part of a southern and western Tanzania safari circuit, we have introduced guaranteed set departures. Each Lukula Selous Wing Safari is guaranteed at a minimum of two guests, and departures commence on June 2, 2010.
There will be two guaranteed departures weekly, a 4-day/3-night (Sunday) and 5-day/4-night (Wednesday) departure from Dar es Salaam as follows:
3-night safari: Depart Dar on Sunday, return to Dar the following Wednesday
4-night safari: Depart Dar on Wednesday, return to Dar the following Sunday
The rate for the Lukula Selous Wing Safari is inclusive of return air transfers from Dar es Salaam, accommodation at Lukula Camp or fly camp, all meals and beverages and activities.
LUKULA SELOUS CANOE TRAIL
We offer three departures of this exploratory adventure. It is an ideal opportunity to experience the Lukula Selous landscape as a continual paddle down river.
The 5-day/4-night safari consists of four full days of paddling and four nights in impromptu fly camps along the way. Our stops are not pre-arranged. We begin each day early, when the peace of dawn is breaking. After an early coffee and light breakfast, we begin the day’s adventure. Upon paddling we may encounter activity along the banks, which warrants investigation. We disembark our canoes and begin walking, looking for tracks and signs. We enjoy brunch and bit of a siesta at mid-day before continuing onward in the afternoon, and selecting our campsite. Snacks will be available throughout the day for sustenance.
ACTIVITIES BY SEASON
THE ‘NATURAL’ HIGH SEASON (15 June – 15 November)
With the departure of the seasonal rains (summer) and the onset of the dry season (winter), the environment becomes progressively drier. In response, wildlife concentrates along the Chi, Lukula and Luwego Rivers.
By October, the landscape is at its driest, broken only by the deep emerald green of the remaining river water. Hippo concentrate in pods often numbering in the hundreds. Elephant emerge from the riparian forests to dig for clean water even in the mid-day sun. Female zebra, wildebeest, impala and waterbuck grow swollen with pregnancy, awaiting the onset of the rains.
Come early November, the Yellow acacia sense the impending arrival of the ‘short’ rains and begin to flush with blossom. Termites emerge from deep within the earth and begin to construct their mud citadels, complete with high turrets to withstand the approaching deluge. Then, migrant birds begin to arrive, with flocks of European bee-eaters whistling overhead. Borassus palm fronds bustle with the activity of weaverbirds.
The dry conditions allow for easy navigation throughout the entire Lukula Selous area, both by vehicle and foot. Vegetation is low, and water is limited, providing easy spotting. Walking along the river’s sandy embankments, crossing from side to side gives unrivaled access to tracking. Fly camping is at its prime in this season, with predictable weather. All camp facilities and activities are available. From August to early November, canoeing is dependent on water levels and can be limited.
THE ADVENTURE SEASONS (1 May – 15 June and 16 November – 31 January)
The ‘short’ rains arrive… December! With the first drops, wildflowers begin to paint the landscape. Impalas begin to drop their foals, while wild dog wait in the fringes for an opportune moment. The river responds immediately and rises, allowing the great congregations of hippo to disperse among the tributaries. The reserve comes alive. By January, led by zebra and wildebeest, huge herds of buffalo move slowly toward the hills from the floodplains. The fresh green grass blanketing the whole area provides nourishment. Then from May to June, following the ‘long’ rains, waters begin to recede and the smaller tributaries drain. Buffalo emerge again from the high grass to relax and ruminate on the river’s warm white sand bars. With each passing day, elephant and other smaller game continue to draw toward the main rivers in search of water. As prey moves, the predators follow.
Aptly named, this season is for the more adventurous. There are fabulous opportunities for extended walking expeditions, paired with enhanced water activities. We often follow the wildlife into the hills, where walks along the high ridges afford unrivaled views into the Luwego and Lukula River valleys. Vehicles are used less frequently, and the primary focus is on full or multi day walking and canoeing journeys. All camp facilities and activities are available, with access to an extensive canoeing area.
PATROLLING AND MONITORING SEASON (1 February – 30 April)
From February through April, the Chi, Lukula and Luwego Rivers flood. In response to the plethora of resources, wildlife spread far and wide throughout the Lukula Selous. Elephant herds wander along ancient migratory routes, accessing fresh sources of vegetation hidden in remote habitats. With prey scattered, the predators respond in-kind. Lion call to locate their pride, while hunting becomes increasingly challenging in the tall grass.
Designed as an experience for guests with a passion for wildlife and conservation, this is an intrepid experience. Activities focus on fieldwork, from participation in game censuses to patrolling. Guests accompany the Lukula Selous team on game management patrols and monitoring. Patrols consist of a drop at a start point by light aircraft or vehicle, and a pick-up at a pre-determined point across the reserve, days later (up to one week). Porters assist with equipment, food, radios, monitoring and survey equipment to sustain the team on its journey. Patrols sometimes use canoes or small-motorised boats for re-supply or access. Camp facilities and vehicle movement are more limited.