Southern Tanzania: Off the Beaten Path

A World-Class Safari in Undiscovered National Parks with Goodluck Urassa


Tanzania’s true wild side is in its southern reaches, where legendary wildlife reserves like Ruaha National Park and the great Selous (now Nyerere National Park) stretch for thousands of square miles relatively undisturbed by human activity. Selous and Ruaha have been protected for more than a hundred years and they shelter globally important populations of wildlife: massive prides of lions (10 percent of Africa’s lions reside here), plenty of crocodile, lion, leopard, cheetah, hippo, elephant, black rhino, buffalo, and more than 400 bird species. And southern Tanzania is absolutely the best place in Africa to watch packs of African wild dogs on the hunt. Yet these remote reserves see a fraction of the tourists that visit the northern parks!

With our long-time Tanzania safari leader Goodluck Urassa, we’ll set off for exciting game drives, off-road tracking, bush walks, river safaris, and even a rainforest hike. Urassa is known for his keen spotter’s eye and extensive knowledge of African wildlife, and he’ll be joined by local guides at all our camps. We’ll explore Nyerere National Park, Tanzania’s second largest wildlife sanctuary, watered by the photogenic Rufiji River, Mikumi National Park, with its plains game and African hunting dogs, and the immaculate rainforest of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, home to a wide array of endemic birds and plants—and even two endemic species of primates! Our grand finale finds us in immense Ruaha National Park, Tanzania’s best kept secret, with 7,800 square miles of wildlife-rich wilderness spanning both the eastern and southern African biomes. There are but a handful of safari camps in this vast region, and we’ve chosen the most comfortable and best located ones, where we’ll enjoy a warm welcome. Join us for an unforgettable off-the-beaten-path safari!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-4
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania / Nyerere National Park

A quick morning flight from Dar brings us to Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous Game Reserve), the largest wildlife preserve on the continent and home to Africa’s largest populations of lion and African wild dog. On game drives and boat safaris, we should see leopard, buffalo, elephant, spotted hyena, hippo, and marvelous birdlife including the Goliath heron and African spoonbill. From our lovely camp, we can watch elephants wandering by and fall asleep to a chorus of hippos.

Salaam Serena Hotel
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Day 1 (1 night)
Roho ya Selous
Nyerere National Park, Tanzania
Days 2 to 4 (3 nights)
Days 5-6
Mikumi National Park

Mikumi borders Selous Game Reserve, and together, they share a vast ecosystem of open savanna, dense forests, and water holes that attract game. The centerpiece of Mikumi is the Mkata Floodplain, which draws frequent comparison with the Serengeti Plains—but with a fraction of the visitors! Lions rule this grassy kingdom and stalk the wildebeest, impala, zebra, and buffalo herds that migrate across it

Vuma Hills Tented Camp
Mikumi National Park, Tanzania
Days 5 to 6 (2 nights)
Days 7-8
Udzungwa Mountains National Park

A drive through rural Tanzanian villages and farms brings us to Udzungwa, a forest-cloaked wonderland and one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, hosting Tanzania’s widest selection of small primates—including the endangered and endemic Sanje crested mangabey—and an array of amazing birdlife. We’ll enjoy a hike beneath the forest canopy, a leisurely canoe ride in the Kilombero basin, one of East Africa’s largest seasonal wetlands, and a visit to a local village.

Hondo Hondo Camp
Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Tanzania
Days 7 to 8 (2 nights)
Days 9-12
Ruaha National Park

At over 7,800 square miles, Ruaha is a rugged, baobab-studded thirstland notable for its high predator densities, plus the largest elephant and giraffe population of any African reserve—and yet it’s blissfully off the beaten path. On our game drives, we’ll see lion, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, and less common animals like kudu and sable antelope. On foot, we’ll discover the smaller inhabitants of the bush, and a night drive brings us into the nocturnal world of bush babies and hyenas. Depart via Dar es Salaam on Day 12.

Kwihala Camp
Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
Days 9 to 11 (3 nights)



Safari in the less-traveled wildlife reserves of southern Tanzania, with fantastic elephant herds, plenty of lion prides, leopard, hyena, hippo and huge Nile crocs
Discover Ruaha National Park, Tanzania’s best-kept secret, a kingdom of predators and home to 12,000 elephants
Explore Nyerere National Park (“the Selous”), an oasis for wildlife and the best place in Africa to spot endangered African wild dogs
Hike in the Udzungwa Mountains, a biodiversity hotspot of virgin forest full of primates and birdlife
Enjoy 4WD exploration, walking safaris, river safaris, and a rainforest hike
Stay in remote safari camps where you’ll see abundant game and few other safari-goers


Length: 12 days
Cost From: $11,195  
Arrive: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Depart: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Lodging: 10 nights safari camps, 1 night hotel
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 1 dinner as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Walking, Safaris
Trip Level:

Wildlife viewing, easy to moderate walks and hikes, boat safaris, some long drives