Rufiji River – Tanzania

Rufiji River – Tanzania

Rufiji River

Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

River Rafting, Wilderness Walks & Adventure Unlimited…

Class II

By request only throughout the year

Would you like to get face-to-face with African wildlife, observing the best of big game without the background buzz of zebra-striped vans? Then raft and walk with us into the heart of Tanzania’s legendary Selous Game Reserve, the largest and perhaps wildest wildlife sanctuary in Africa. The Selous’ more than 18,000 square miles is home to vast numbers of wildlife, including the continent’s largest remaining elephant population. It has sparse and little used network of tracks, with tourism development kept to a minimum. It is Africa as Livingstone saw it!

This incredible float on the Rufiji River, a gentle and meandering waterway, will give silent passage for our rafts into a private world of wildlife untouched by safari vehicles. In the shadows of the riverine forest, animals come to the river to drink and delight us with surprise sightings as we drift quietly around bends. We take advantage of the cool mornings and evenings to penetrate the narrow band of forest on foot and emerge onto the woodlands in search of closer encounters.

The thrill of whitewater rafting is mostly absent, though the adrenaline-pumping challenge of hippo dodging and advanced crocodile evasion may prove more thrilling.  Our trips are led by professional rafting guides from the USA with plenty of African experience.  All guides have been tried and tested for this adventure.

John Yost, the founder of Sobek Expeditions (the world’s leading international rafting company), is one of these.  As John said when asked why this trip excited him; “Seeing the fabled fauna of Africa is an experience of which most world travelers dream, but looking at lions through the window of a van never fired my imagination. Floating the remote and tourist-free swaths of the Selous enjoying game walks through the bush, on the other hand, excites the heck out of me.”


DAY 1:                       Arrival – Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Arrive at Dar es Salaam International Airport, where you will be met by your trip leader or Wild Footprints representative.  You are driven to your hotel on the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. Here you can enjoy the sun & sea or sip a cocktail while enjoying the breeze and views of the bay.  Feel free to browse the lively stalls, stores and merchants of the Souk located in the same building as the hotel.  At 6pm there is a trip briefing, followed by a seafood feast for the group.

Dinner & Overnight… The Souk

DAY 2: The Safari Begins – Mikumi National Park

Today you will enjoy a few hours in a safari vehicle.  The 4-hr drive will take us through the charming Morogoro Town to Mikumi National Park which is one of the most underrated wildlife sanctuaries in Africa.  The park offers a wide variety of wildlife viewing and in mostly exclusive fashion, due to being the least visited.  The afternoon will be spent game driving through the Mikumi National Park.  Expect to be treated to some up close and personal wildlife sightings.

Breakfast at The Souk… Lunch en-route… Dinner & Overnight…  Mikumi Genesis Motel

DAY 3:           A Stretch of Legs – Udzungwa National Park

After an early morning game drive in Mikumi National Park, we proceed by road to Udzungwa National Park, known for its rich biodiversity, forests, walking trails and amazing waterfalls.  A mere 2-hr drive from Mikumi, the entire afternoon is spent walking the trails and experiencing gems of one of the smallest & newest National Parks in Tanzania.  All activities within the park are done on foot.

Breakfast at Motel… Lunch in Udzungwa… Dinner & Overnight… Hondo Hondo Camp

DAY 4:           To the River – Selous Game Reserve (SGR)

It starts with an early drive through a sugarcane plantation to the western gate of the SGR at Msolwa Post.  Permits and paperwork are dealt with.  Proceed by road to the confluence of the Kilombero and Luwegu Rivers at Shuguri Falls – the start point of the river expedition.  We inflate, rig and launch the rafts into the river.  The vehicle crew leaves us to meet again at the pick-up point at the eastern end of the SGR.  We are now on our own, on the mighty Rufiji river, in a vast and wild World Heritage Site known as the Selous Game Reserve.

River camp…all meals

DAYS 5-9:     River Days – Selous Game Reserve

River days give us the usual comforts of the adventurer; beautiful camps, heart-warming campfires, cheerful interaction, delicious & hearty meals, wonderful sunsets, uplifting sunrises, exciting wilderness walks and priceless experiences…

A typical river day involves an early start with rich coffee or tea, a walk through the wilderness, return to camp for a proper breakfast & break of camp, followed by loading the rafts and a few hours of paddling with a lunch break in between.  A campsite is selected in the afternoon, whereby everyone participates in setting up camp for the night.  Daily chores will be assigned by the trip leaders.  After a hot meal, the evening is usually spent around the campfire, reflecting on the day’s events and discussing what adventures lay ahead.

The bush and gently rolling miombo woodland is ideal terrain for morning and evening walks.  We spend plenty of time on our wilderness walks in search of wildlife, the raison d’etre of our trip.  On these normally eventful outings, we may see impala, giraffe, buffalo, lion, elephant, wildebeest or even some of the rarer denizens of the savannah, such as leopard and wild dog.  Our expert guides will show and share with you some of the secrets of the bush such as rhino scrapings or leopard tracks and even the various uses of trees & plants.

As we proceed downriver, the Rufiji narrows and the current picks pace for an exhilarating paddle to the Ruaha confluence.  Mkalinzu Rapid & Stiegler’s Gorge await further down.  The gorge challenges us with Pangani, ConMan’s Foil and the Ropeway rapids.  After the sheer 100-meter walls of the gorge drop away, we enter a labyrinth of channels, swamps and lakes created by the Rufiji when it left its original bed in 1973.  This area is especially rich in birds; fish eagles, kingfishers, geese, storks, bee-eaters and many more.  We may surprise buffalo or elephant on the banks, while we vie with hippos for the right-of-way.  This is a fantastic area of tall borassus palms rising out of the waters, some drowned and some still flourishing… a phantom landscape making a superb tableau backlit by glowing dusks and dawns.

River camps…all meals

DAY 10 – 11: Safari Time – Selous Lodge

We float to our selected lodge, just outside the Selous Game Reserve, featuring the craved-for comforts of civilization:  beds, showers, sumptuous food and COLD BEER.  We spend two nights here, enjoying game drives into the Selous to find game we may may have missed on the river, like lions and wild dogs.  Optional boat rides and bush walks can be organized at added cost.  You could throw-in a line and try for a giant catfish or just sit back in the shade overlooking the river and reflect on a safari of a lifetime.  The choice is yours.

Selous Lodge…all meals

DAY 12:         Back to Dar es Salaam

A long drive back to your hotel in Dar es Salaam.  A free afternoon to shop for arts, crafts and souvenirs.  You can also just spend time lounging in the Souk. We get together at 7pm for a farewell dinner and lots of trip talk.

The Souk…all meals

DAY 13:         The End – Departure

You will be transferred to the airport for your home-bound or onward flight.

No meals


On demand for four or more participants.  Please enquire about seasons; trips can be run most of the year.


Approximately $5000 per person.  Quotes available on request.

National park entrance and use fees are not included.  Current Tanzanian Parks charges are $1000 per person, but these may change before the trip.

Trip costs are based on double occupancy. Should you prefer single rooms and tent, there will be a single supplement cost. Should you be traveling alone but willing to share rooms and tent, we will try to match you up with a roommate. If we are unable to do this, there is a smaller surcharge for involuntary singles.

International airfare is not included.  You will need flights to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.


Expert leadership, airport transfers, guides, accommodations, meals as noted, all arrangements in the field, cook, staff, group gear & equipment, ground transport.


Visas, airfare, liquor, laundry, drinks with meals, breakfast on day 13, tips, trip insurance (strongly recommended), excess baggage, airport taxes, park fees, lodging not mentioned on itinerary and other items of a personal nature.


Due to the heat, slow current, hippo dodging & hard work, we normally use only rafts rowed by the guides.  However, should a group of adventurers signing-up together wish to paddle (minimum 4 per paddle boat); we can entertain this request if notified well in advance of the trip.