Nyerere National Park was formerly called “Selous Game Reserve,” and in 2019 it gained national park status. It is the largest national park in Africa. Covering an area of 30000 square kilometres, it is the size of some small European countries. This park’s history and sense of mystique adds to its attractions. It was named after Fredrick Courtney Selous, a well renowned explorer and British Army Officer in the Royal Fusiliers. Selous was killed in combat along the Rufiji River, which flows through the Park. Today, it takes its name from Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania, widely viewed as the father of the modern nation-state.
A river runs through it
The defining feature of Nyerere National Park is the river systems that flow into it from the surrounding highlands. As these rivers lose altitude, they move towards each other and convene to become the Rufiji river. The Rufiji meanders its way towards the Indian ocean, and over time, this massive body of water has chiselled features into the land such as gorges, lakes, swamps and marshes, all of which make for a very dramatic landscape. The river systems attract and sustain a diverse range of wildlife and vegetation. Nyerere National Park is one of the few places in Tanzania where it is possible to go on a boat safari along the river and its tributaries, an incredible experience that gives a unique perspective on the wildlife.
Plenty to see
The varying vegetation zones add a whole other dimension of flora, ranging from dense thickets to open wooded grassland scattered with palm trees. In terms of wildlife, one of the main attractions is the chance to see hunting dogs, which have become rare in other parks. Sightings of large predators like lions, leopards and hyenas are common in this park. The park also boasts a large population of African elephants, hippopotami, crocodiles and cape buffalo, along with an impressive number of antelopes and gazelles.