Selous, Mafia, and beyond 21 Days Self-drive safari.
This itinerary is ideal for those wishing to get a glimpse of Tanzania’s wildlife and beaches away from the more standard northern circuit–Zanzibar Archipelago combination. Allow about 10 days for a straight Selous – Mafia combination, and up to one week for extended versions taking in Kilwa and Mikindani, further south.
Starting and ends anywhere or in Dar es Salaam, spend a couple of days enjoying the city’s restaurants and craft shopping. Wonder Workshop and Mwenge Carvers’ Market are two highlights. Other possibilities include a museum visit or a cultural tourism tour.
From Dar es Salaam, drive to Selous Game Reserve, but it’s a long, rough ride. The Selous is a magnificent reserve – our favorite in Tanzania – and well worth at least three to four days enjoying the fine lodges, the boat ride, the wildlife, and the amazing night sounds, especially hippos grunting in the Rufiji River.
From Selous, there are daily flight connections on to Mafia, just offshore. Spend the remaining few days of your stay here in one of the lovely island lodges, diving, and snorkeling, trying to spot whale sharks, or sailing to some of the smaller islands to get a glimpse into the archipelago’s fascinating Swahili culture and long history. From Mafia, take one of the several daily flights back to Dar es Salaam.
For adventurous travelers with more time and a taste for the offbeat, it’s easily possible to continue from Selous Game Reserve (or from the mainland coast opposite Mafia island, for those who depart Mafia by boat) to Tanzania’s far south. Tiny, sleepy Kilwa Masoko makes a pleasant destination for spending a day or two. The town is also the springboard to the famed ruins at Kilwa Kisiwani, just offshore. Another possible excursion from Kilwa Masoko is to nearby Fanjove Private Island, which has a lovely, upmarket lodge, and which is easily combined with both Mafia and Kilwa. Once you’ve finished exploring in the Kilwa area, drive south via Lindi to the Mtwara area, where Mikindani – with its coconut plantations and long history – and the beach at Msimbati, in the Mnazi Bay-Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park, are the highlights.