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26 November 2019

Fly camping in the spectacular Selous: a client review

Jenny Bolton-Clark and her husband journeyed to Tanzania’s southern Selous Game Reserve, where they stayed at Sand Rivers and went fly camping. Here’s Jenny’s description of the 24-hour experience.

The afternoon at Nomad Sand Rivers started in a leisurely manner as I soaked off the dust of the morning’s game drive in the swimming pool, watching the hunched, shadowy figures of the vultures on the opposite bank of the Rufiji River. The hippos snorted loudly and I heard the swish of the resident crocodile’s tail as George slid into the water.

Meanwhile, my husband was waking from his siesta to find two boot button eyes peering at him through the mosquito netting of our four-poster bed. The small, hairy paw of another vervet monkey stretched out for the toothpaste in the bathroom. Sand Rivers felt so much part of the landscape, with its open rooms and resident animals, that it almost seemed a shame to leave for our evening adventure fly camping in the bush.

Arriving at our camp just before sunset, we were greeted by our wonderful team for the night, who had set up before we’d arrived. On the banks of the river was our tent, complete with dressing table set out with fresh flowers, washbasin and mirror, and, at a discreet distance, a loo and shower. Chatting with our guide, gin and tonic in hand, we watched the sun go down, the stars come out, and we listened to the sounds of the day give way to the night visitors. After a delicious supper, we relaxed next to the campfire, watching the seemingly limitless night sky. Gazing at Jupiter and three of its moons through the binoculars whilst being serenaded by a chorus of bull frogs, was a magical end to the evening. 

The tent itself consisted of two parts: a solid tent to change in connected to the sleeping area, which was a large cube of mosquito netting so that one could still see those vast skies. At 2.30am the serious excitement began – duelling hippos and a grunting leopard gave way to a lion’s roar. We listened to the lion starting to circle the camp, getting nearer and nearer until it was echoed on the opposite bank by a rival. They roared at each other for the whole night – it was absolutely thrilling and we were safe in the knowledge that our guide was not too far away, so it was easy to be brave! Amazingly we drifted back to sleep, awakening a few hours later to a rose and apricot sky, the extraordinary calls of hadada ibis, and the smell of bacon.

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One of the many joys of Selous is that there are very few tourists, and so not only did we have our guide to ourselves for most of our stay at Sand Rivers, but we rarely saw another vehicle. The variety of terrain is remarkable: during our drive that morning we passed lakes punctuated with flood-blasted trees, drove through jungle areas camouflaging baby elephants and napping hyenas, saw scrubland thick with impala and bleached skulls, across a sepia-tinted, post-apocalyptic landscape with the alien faces of wildebeest peering through silver thorn bushes, and finally emerged in front of a giant baobab rumoured to be nearly 3,000 years old.

It seemed inconceivable that we could find anything else to equal the incredible experiences of the trip, but we ended our journey metres away from a pair of lions eating a baby giraffe whilst its grieving mother watched from a distance and the vultures waited patiently.

During the rest of our holiday we saw some spectacular sights and did some extraordinary things, but Sands River and our fly camping trip was, and I’m sure will remain, one of the highlights of our lives. 

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If you’d like to experience fly camping or stay at Nomad Tanzania’s camp Sand Rivers, please take a look at our related pages and trips below. Alternatively, why not contact our experts here to discuss the ideal Tanzania holiday for you?