Exploring Nyerere National Park attractions

JUST returned from my visit to Nyerere National Park, I can’t wait to revisit the park in near future without penning down key highlights about the largest game reserve in the country.

I Joined the women tourists’ group from Kisaki Ward in Morogoro District, Morogoro Region and spent the whole day at Nyerere National Park as part of the commemoration of International Women’s Day.

Nyerere National Park, formerly known as Selous Game Reserve, is the largest Game Reserve in Tanzania and it is a protected area covering about 50,000 km2.

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.

The Conservation Officer, Mr Aldo Mduge told Daily News, how Nyerere National Park emerged, “It was named Selous after a British adventurer Fredrick Selous who died during 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,”

Mr Mduge said further that 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 five 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 that you can explore with both a game drive and a boat ride. Nyerere National Park is very safe for 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 and you can join your safari to Nyerere with other destinations in the country,” he explained.

How to get into the park? The National Park is just a few kilometres away from Dar es Salaam making it an easy place to get to but only if you are coming from Dar es Salaam.

If you are from Arusha, then it becomes a very long journey especially if you are driving. There are three transportation means that you use to get to Nyerere and these are road, railway and air transportation.

If you prefer Air transport, it might be expensive but it’s the best way since it gets you to the park easily. The flights to Nyerere can be obtained from Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and Arusha airports.

In terms of rail transport are the cheapest way to get to Nyerere and probably one that has lovely scenery for you to see before you get to the park.

You get to pass through a lot of rural villages and mountains before you get off at the Matabwe stop. From here you will be able to drive to Nyerere National Park since it is a short distance.

Therefore, you use road transport the most commonly used mode of transport to get to Nyerere. A drive to the park will take you between four to eight hours and during this time you can make stopovers at the different places as per your itinerary. It might take a while before you get there but it will be worth your time.

Abundantly attractions within the park which offer a lot of animals and birds plus vegetation that are worth being seen and these will determine the things that you can do while in the park. Some of the things that you should look forward to doing while here include the following:

Game drives, within Nyerere, are best done during the dry season experienced from June to October because this is the time when most of the animals can be seen at the different waterholes trying to beat off the heat and in search of food.

However, some of the animals that you should look out for when you get to Nyerere include the famous wild dogs, buffalos, hippos, lions, giraffes, baboons, zebras, rhinos, elands, impalas, elephants and baboons to mention but few.  Since the park gets few visitors, the animals tend to hide from tourists but with patience, you get to see all of them in their natural habitat.

The best time for one to enjoy a game drive in Nyerere is during the morning hours before 11:00 am and afternoon hours around 3:00 pm because this is the time when animals are not shielding themselves from the heat. This is how we did during our tour conducted in recent days.

Nyerere National Park is one of the best birding destinations in Tanzania and the best time for one to go for birding is between November and April during the wet season when migratory birds fly into the country.

The bird species specials that you should look out for include the yellow-bellied bulbul, mangrove kingfisher, black cuckoo-shrike, palm-nu vulture, red throated twin spot, red-winged warbler, African skimmer, spotted flanked barbet and the grey hooded kingfisher among others.

On his part, Armed Ranger Mr Charles Chipeka told Daily News that, the park also offers a walking safari through Nyerere might not get you to all the corners of the Reserve but it will get you to some of the best places.

A walking safari at Nyerere National Park comes with an armed ranger who is there to make sure that you are not attacked by wild animals.

“The walk will however be organised on a tamer side which doesn’t have predator animals and some of the animals that you get to see while on your walk include zebras and elephants.

Make sure that you follow all the guidelines given to you by the guide during your walk otherwise, you are endangering your life,” Chipeka told the Journalist.

Other attractions including Mwaseni are one of the things that you can engage in while on a safari to Selous. With the help of a tour guide, you get to spend the whole day with the locals engaging in their day to day activities.

Photo safari is one of the best activities that you should engage in while at Nyerere National Park. This can be done throughout the year as you get to take photos of the animals and the birds that live within the Park and the surrounding scenery.

If not, the case there is a boat safari one of the best ways in which you can explore the Game Reserve. You will take a boat ride along the River Rufiji where you will get to see aqua animals like hippos and crocodiles plus a large flock of birds. You must not miss out on the experience of a boat ride in the Selous.

If your plan to visit Nyerere National Park it has experienced two seasons and these are the dry season (June to October) and the wet season (November to April). The seasons highly determine the activities that you can engage in and in return, the activities determine the best time for you to visit the Selous.

After a long day tour which took three days consecutive, I made an exclusive interview with women tourists from Kisaki who confessed the reality and the abundant animals found in the jungle.

Speaking during the tour, Ms Mwanaidi Masinde thanked Nyerere National Park for a brilliant offer which opened their mindset concerning wild animals and conservation knowledge imparted to them and declared that she will be a good tourism ambassador in convincing Tanzanians and none Tanzanians to visit the Park.

Ms Glory Tesha one of the tourists who asked Daily News said, “Frankly speaking it is my first tour to a national park and learned about wild animals. I warmly welcome foreigners and indigenous to visit our national parks particularly Nyerere National Park isn’t expensive just visit our site to reduce stress and relax life is too short “She explained.

Mr Shahibu Nampesya who is also an extension Officer at Kisaki Ward told Daily News that Nyerere has a significant contribution to the surrounding community due to the support offed by the park to neighbour villagers.

“Currently we enjoy being neighbours with Nyerere National Park because we benefit through material and financially, for stance has supported school desks to our primary school based in Kisaki,” he said.

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