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Need advice on Ruaha & Selous, which TO, which places

Amsterdam, The...
Level Contributor
10 posts
1 helpful vote
Need advice on Ruaha & Selous, which TO, which places

Hello, this is Bas and I am planning for 2024 a two weeks trip to Ruaha&Selous. It will be our firtst Safari in Tanzania. We love to see animals, and we are happy with a bit less luxury if that would mean we stay into budget, but still we want the best locations for seeing wildlife.

I read already a lot of the recommendations on this forum, but still need some advice:

We think about 4 or 5 nights Selous, here we are specially interested in seeing the African Dogs and than Ruaha 9 or 10 nights in one or two camps. We think about June or shoulder season, or, if not too much more expensive July.

- I see Asilia has some offers with discounts up to 15/25% for long stay or a one free flight. So my questions are: Are they recommended, do they have good guides and are the locations well placed in the NP?

- There are ofcourse also other camps, which would be fairly affordable and best for a stay in Ruaha? With best I mean guides, price and location.

Furthermore, is direct communicating and dealing with the camps/owner, cheaper than via an Tour Operator? And if not, what are reliable local operators who can organise the stay and the inland flights? Would like to hear all your suggestions, thanks in advanced!

3 replies to this topic
Arusha, Tanzania
Level Contributor
298 posts
1. Re: Need advice on Ruaha & Selous, which TO, which places

Booking your tour with camps directly can be cheap and also you can have cheap tour with operator too, depends on type of tour or safari you would like to have (budget, standard or luxury). Camps can offer very limited tour (group tour) unless it's private safari compared to an operator where it will be a private safari and you can stay in different lodges or camps in different locations too than being in one camp that can limit your access to different locations as you know animals are always moving.

London, United...
Destination Expert
for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
Level Contributor
9 034 posts
2. Re: Need advice on Ruaha & Selous, which TO, which places

"Hello, this is Bas and I am planning for 2024 a two weeks trip to Ruaha&Selous. It will be our firtst Safari in Tanzania. We love to see animals, and we are happy with a bit less luxury if that would mean we stay into budget, but still we want the best locations for seeing wildlife."

There aren't a huge number of camps in these parks, so you may not be able to pick and choose exactly what style suits you AND have the best location AND the best guiding. Ruaha still only has about a dozen camps in the whole park, which is bigger than the Serengeti.

"We think about 4 or 5 nights Selous, here we are specially interested in seeing the African Dogs and than Ruaha 9 or 10 nights in one or two camps. We think about June or shoulder season, or, if not too much more expensive July."

Those timescales are fine, although depends what your budget is. I have been twice in June and TBH was a bit disappointed in the game viewing last time (2017) although back in 2012 I had an amazing June trip to Ruaha. I'd be inclined to push your trip to the end of June if you can, if you can afford peak season then I'd try for Aug or Sept. However, you should be aware this isn't the best time to see dogs, as they will have just started denning which can make them harder to see. There was someone recently posting about dogs on the Zambia forum who had just been in Selous and Ruaha and missed out. If you want dogs at shoulder pricing, I'd probably go for November.

"- I see Asilia has some offers with discounts up to 15/25% for long stay or a one free flight. So my questions are: Are they recommended, do they have good guides and are the locations well placed in the NP?"

Asilia are now pretty pricey. They are closing their more affordable camp in Ruaha, Kwihala, so in the main area it's now only the uber lux Jabali Ridge. I've been going to Kwihala since before Asilia bought it, and IMO it's been gradually going downhill and in 2019 I was rather unimpressed with the guiding. It depends what you mean by "good guiding" though. I've become quite a keen birder, and when a guide can't tell the difference between a lappet faced and a hooded vulture, and doesn't know the sound of a Scops owl or a honeyguide, I think that's pretty poor. But if you are not birders, and just want someone who can find you big cats, that doesn't actually take a great guide. One problem with Asilia is they move their guides around so much you might get someone who has only been in Ruaha a few months and has come from the northern parks, which are very different.

The only Asilia camp I'd now consider is their Usangu one, as it's a very unique location. If you do have 9-10 nights in Ruaha, I'd consider splitting time between Usangu and one in the core game viewing area.

-" There are ofcourse also other camps, which would be fairly affordable and best for a stay in Ruaha? With best I mean guides, price and location."

I would suggest Mwagusi or Ikuka in the core game viewing area, combined with Usangu or Mdonya or Kichaka for something in a different area. I would guess the cheapest combo would be Mwagusi plus Mdonya. In Selous, I think the best value with the best location is Lake Manze, which is co-owned with Mdonya. Hence a Manze-Mdonya-Mwagusi combo would probably work out best value, and would be a good itinerary to price up first to test your budget.

"Furthermore, is direct communicating and dealing with the camps/owner, cheaper than via an Tour Operator? And if not, what are reliable local operators who can organise the stay and the inland flights? Would like to hear all your suggestions, thanks in advanced!"

You have mentioned inland flights, so the above assumes you are planning fly in. I don't think dealing directly with camps will be any cheaper. For a TO, I use Expert africa in the UK for my trips. If you want to drive in, then it will limit your choice of camps as many only offer full game package rates, but then it would definitely be better to use a local operator. But I've never done drive in so can't really comment.

Temse, Belgium
Level Contributor
102 posts
24 reviews
9 helpful votes
3. Re: Need advice on Ruaha & Selous, which TO, which places

we did a Selous-Ruaha trip in september 2022. We stayed 4 nights at Sand Rivers Selous (drives, boat, walking) and liked that very much. We then went for 2 nights to Kichaka (not really our cup of tea, very nice accomodation but too much "show"). Finally 4 nights at Ikuka (they had a promotion pay 3 stay 4) which was also a very nice camp. I see you are from the Netherlands, we booked this trip with Explore Tanzania (Dutch company with roots in Tanzania)

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