The Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania is nearly four times the size of Serengeti National Park, but is relatively unknown on the safari circuit, especially to tourists visiting from the U.S. who tend to hit the more popular game-viewing parks in the north.
It's a shame, because The Selous turned out to be one of my favorite destinations on a recent press trip to Tanzania. I saw a lion nearly take down a wildebeest and boated on Lake Tagalala, reputed to have the densest crocodile population in the world.
Perhaps the best part was that our camp, called Beho Beho, was so remote that we didn't see a single other safari vehicle during our two-day stay in the park. It was like we had the entire 21,000-square-mile reserve to ourselves.
Beho Beho was a unique and stunning property. The British owners overhauled it from a private camp to a grade "A" lodge a little more than a decade ago, and have managed to create what they call a "house party" atmosphere in the middle of the bush.
The camp is centered around a massive stone "banda" — a three-sided building with an open front looking out onto a man-made watering hole and the plains beyond. Meals are communal, and guests rotate among the safari guides for their daily game-viewing drives.
The rooms — ten smaller bandas on either side of the main building — are huge, with canopied beds, sitting areas, and outdoor showers. The rate, including accommodations, meals, drinks, laundry, and safari activities, is $920 per person per night, and there's a three-night minimum.
There are also options for guests who prefer more privacy. Beho Beho recently opened a "treehouse" lodge a half-hour walk from camp, where couples can sleep in a tent hoisted onto a large platform. Another option is Bailey's Banda, a two-bedroom house that comes with a pool and private chef, available for a $1,000-a-night surcharge.
For travelers looking for something off the beaten path, there's no better place to stay.
Disclosure: Our trip to Tanzania, including travel and lodging expenses, was sponsored by the Tanzania Tourist Board, Africa Adventure Company, Singita Grumeti Group, Coastal Aviation, Qatar Airways, Tanzania National Parks, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority and Wildlife Division.
Beho Beho has its own airstrip, just a five-minute drive from camp.
I could tell from the moment I arrived that the place had a sense of humor.
Until about 14 years ago, the camp was used as a vacation home by its owners. After a major overhaul, it's a high-end resort in the middle of nowhere.
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