Nyerere National Park Tanzania

Nyerere National Park which was formerly known as Selous Game Reserve, is the largest Game Reserve in Tanzania and it is a protected area covering about 50,000km2. Selous was at first a series of National Parks that were made a protected area in the year 1896 but in 1905, it became a hunting reserve for all who wanted to enjoy the hunting game. It was named Nyerere after a British adventurer Fredrick Nyerere who died during the world war I. after his death, all the small game reserves around were combined by the British colonialists to form the current Nyerere National Park.

The Nyerere National Park is one of the least visited places in Tanzania and this makes it the perfect place for tourists who want to enjoy the big 5 without the large crowd. It has a diversity of vegetation especially the famous Miombo woodland, lots of wildlife and over 400 bird species that can all be viewed in their natural habitats.

The National Park is one of the few places in Tanzania which you can explore with both a game drive and a boat ride. The National Park is very safe for a safari but you must follow all the guidelines that are put in place by the tour guide, you can spend as many days as you want for as long as you can afford it and you can join your safari to Nyerere with other destinations in the country.

Things to do in Nyerere National Park

Nyerere National Park formerly known as the Selous Game Reserve is found in the southern circuit Tanzania and a good safari destination for tourists that do not like crowds.

There are quite a number of activities that one can engage in while in Nyerere and these are game drives, birding, a cultural tour, fishing and walking safaris. All activities within Nyerere are carried out with the help of a tour guide and below these have been listed below in detail so that you get to know what you are going to put on your list first.

Birding safari

A birding safari to Nyerere National Park is one interesting activity that you should engage in while in Tanzania. Nyerere has over 400 bird species which can be found in their different natural habitats which are lagoons, the Rive Rufiji, swamps and the vegetation that are found in the Park. An experienced tour guide who can identify the bird species will be assigned to you throughout the birding safari and some of the bird species that you should look out for include palm-nut vultures, African fish skimmers, pink backed pelican, yellow-billed stork, African fish eagle, white crowned spur winged plovers, the hornbills and the white fronted bee-eater among others. The best time for a birding safari in Nyerere is during the wet season which is experienced between November and April.

Nyerere Game Drives

This is one of the most anticipated activities for every tourist who visits the Nyerere National Park. Nyerere is the largest reserve in the country and even though it is not as popular as its counterparts in the Northern circuit, it has a large number of animals that can be seen during the game drive. You will be provided with an open roof van for easy viewing of the animals and an experienced tour guide to take you around the Park. Some of the animals that are found in Nyerere include wild dogs, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, black rhinos, hippos, buffalos, kudus, hyenas, impalas and waterbucks among others. The best time for game drives is during the dry season (June to October) and the drives are best done in the morning before 11 and in the afternoon hours around 3pm when the heat is still bearable. The National Park experiences two seasons : the wet season and the dry season. These seasons are what determine the activities that you can carry out while in Nyerere because each season has activities that are carried out, that is some of the activities that are carried out during the wet season cannot be carried out during the dry season and the reverse is true.

Nyerere Boat Ride

Nyerere is one of the few National parks within the country that can be explored with both a boat and a van. The River Rufiji is one of the main courses that you will take while boat riding although there are other smaller channels that you can use. A boat ride along the River Rufiji will take you around the Nyerere Park with a clear view of the animals and birds. Make sure that you have life jackets on and follow all the guidelines put up by the tour guide.

Fishing

A fishing safari in Nyerere is a perfect way to relax while on a safari in Selous. Fishing is mostly carried out at the Rufiji River although you can also go to the smaller channels and swamps within the National Park for the activity. Spot fishing is what is normally carried out in Nyerere, that is all the fish captured is supposed to be put back into the water and with the help of a tour guide your trip will be worth it. You will be provided with fishing equipment at a small fee and with your fishing rod, bait and life jacket, you will be ready to start your fishing expedition in the Nyerere National Park.

Walking safari

A walking safari through Nyerere is organized in the offbeat tracks where most of the animals that are considered to be dangerous are not found. It is normally organized during the morning hours and late afternoon during the dry season and this is because the morning and late afternoon the heat is a little bit bearable. You will be given some guidelines by the tour guide that you should follow so that you keep safe. An armed ranger will be with you for protection purposes and some of the animals that you will get to see include the elephants, hippos and zebras.

Hot air balloon rides

Engage in a hot air balloon ride while in Nyerere and get to see animals from a different point of view. There are only two National parks that offer the hot air balloon ride and the first one is the Serengeti National Park which is found in the Northern Circuit and the Nyerere National Park in the southern circuit. The hot air balloon ride is carried out very early in the morning in Nyerere and you get to see the animals, birds, landscape and the sunrise from above.

Photo safaris

Photo safaris in Nyerere are normally done in the Northern part of the National park. You will need a few things in order for you to enjoy a photo safari here and with your cameras ready, you take photos of animals, the landscape and the birds that are found in the National Park.

Best Time To Visit Nyerere National Park Tanzania

Nyerere National Park weather and best time to go

Game drives are what most tourists look forward to when a safari is mentioned and the best time for one to go for a game drive is during the dry season which is also considered to be the peak season. The weather in Nyerere can determine the best time for one to go for a safari and just like any other part of Tanzania, the Park has two seasons : the dry and wet season.  Below is a detailed explanation on when to go and what to expect of the weather in Nyerere National Park.

Nyerere weather

The Nyerere Game has three seasons with the mains being the dry season and the wet season. The dry season is experienced from June to October and the wet season is experienced from November to April. The shoulder season is experienced during the months of January and February.

  • The Dry season

The Nyerere National Park experiences the dry season from June to October and during this time the National Park receives little or no rainfall at all. The absence of rain forces the animals to move from their natural habitats in search of food and water and they can be found at the different waterholes, especially the Rufiji River.

The vegetation is very thin and scarce and the animals migrate from one part of the National Park to the next in search of pasture making it the perfect time for tourists to go for a game drive in Selous.

You can either drive to Nyerere which will take you about 6 to 7 hours from Dar es Salaam or take a flight from Dar es Salaam and this will take about 45 minutes. Even though the park is not visited by many tourists like those that are found in the southern circuit Tanzania, during the dry season it has a large crowd of its own and you will find many tourists crowding around the Rufiji river to get a closer look at the animals.

  • The shoulder season

The shoulder season is experienced during the wet season from January to February. This is not the best time for one to go game viewing because the animals are extremely hard to spot due to the abundance of pasture and water. It is, however a good time for birding.

  • The wet season

The wet season in Nyerere is experienced between November and April and this is considered to be the best time for ardent birders. During this period many of the accommodation facilities close down due to floods and the crowds are less as compared to the dry season. The safari costs during this period are reduced and it is considered as the best time for tourists who are on a budget to travel to Nyerere for a safari and it is sometimes hard to get where to stay during this time especially in the months of March, April and May due to the closure of most facilities.

The roads both leading to the National Park and those that are found within the park are sometimes inaccessible due to the floods and mud but with a powerful 4×4 van, you can still enjoy a trip through Nyerere.

nyerere park

Best time to go to Nyerere

Nyerere National Park can be visited all throughout the year. The best time for a safari to Nyerere depends on the activities that you decide to carry out while there. The different seasons that Nyerere experiences have different activities that are carried out within them and have been listed below:

  • The dry season

The dry season is considered to be the best time for one to enjoy a safari within Nyerere especially if you love game drives. Some of the activities that you can engage in while in Nyerere in the dry season include game drives, walking safaris, fishing along River Rufiji, photo safaris and many more others.

  • The wet season

The wet season is considered to be the best time for a safari for those that love birding. During the wet season, migratory birds fly from the different parts of the world and converge in the game Reserve joining the rest of the indigenous birds in the Park. You will also be able to see some animals during the wet season although it is a little bit hard.

Nyerere National Park Wildlife Game Drives

Nyerere National Park is one of the best safari destinations in the southern circuit Tanzania. Formerly known as the Selous Game Reserve, the National Park is a home to quite a large number of animals and bird species which are found in their habitats in the different parts of the Park. There are several ways in which you can explore the Nyerere National Park and one of them is through Game Reserves.

When it comes to Game drives in Nyerere, they are both carried out in the morning hours and afternoon and these take 2 to 3 hours for each drive. Unlike other National Parks in the country, the Nyerere National Park does not offer Night Game drives and only has day drives. A game drive in Nyerere might cost about $400 to $500 although this might change at any time.

Selous Leopard

Morning Game drive

The morning drive normally starts at either 6:30 am or 8:00am depending on your itinerary. This drive enables tourists to see the bird species and the animals that move around the park in the morning.

Afternoon drive

The afternoon drive starts immediately after lunch at around 3:00pm when the heat has reduced. This is normally done along the banks of the River Rufiji where most of the animals can easily be spotted.

Vehicles used on a Game Drive in Selous

The different tour operators in Tanzania use different types of vehicles to take tourists to Nyerere but the two that are commonly use are the 4×4 jeeps and the minibuses which are mainly used for tourists travelling in a large group. The 4×4 open side vehicles are mostly restricted to be driven within the National Park and not on the highway because of the dusty roads that lead to the Park are so dusty and bumpy during the dry season and slippery during the wet season.

4×4 safari Jeeps

The 4×4 safari jeeps are the most commonly used vehicles by tour operators in Tanzania. It normally has a capacity of 5 people however it can do a maximum of 6 people if an extra seat is added to the vehicle. The vehicles are very spacious and can easily give you a great view of the wildlife.

They are considered to be the best way to travel through Nyerere because of the bad roads that are found within the Park. The open roof shield jeeps are can be driven all the way from Dar es Salaam and in most cases they come with the safari cost but in case you are planning on driving yourself then there are several places where you can hire one from Dar es Salaam from trusted vehicle agencies.

Open side safari 4×4 vehicle

The open side safari 4×4 vehicles are only used within the National Park and it is not advisable for them to be used along highways. You will find that most camps have these vehicles and they are used to take you around the National Park for a game drive where you will enjoy clear views of the animals and bird species.

Minibus/ minivans

The Minivans are the best way to travel to Nyerere especially if you are travelling on a budget. These can take up to 9 tourists and are recommended for highway travelling to Nyerere unlike the open jeeps. They are not 4×4 vehicles but they are good for travelling although it is not advisable to use them during the wet season due to the slippery roads. The good thing about using the mini vans is that they are reliable and comfortable, cheap and can easily get you to your destination.

Best time for a game drive in Selous

The dry season is the best time for one to go for a game drive in Nyerere is the dry season which starts in June and ends in October. The roads during this time are passable and it is also the best time to spot animals like the Greater Kudu, zebras, elephants, lions, antelopes, baboons, crocodiles, wildebeests, hippos, buffalos, hyenas, leopards, wild dogs, elands, giraffes, impalas and others.

What are Game drives?

A game drive refers to an adventure into a wildlife area for example a Game Reserve or a National Park using a vehicle. The main aim of a game dive is to explore the National Parks and the Game Reserves to see the variety of wildlife that is the animals and the birds that live within the gazetted area while in their natural habitat. The difference between a safari and a game drive is that a safari has different ways of exploring the National park whereas a game drive is just a drive through the Park.

Wildlife Safaris and Game Drives

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