Azura Selous – in Tanzania’s Selous National Park – is a window into the wild, untrammelled Africa that so enchanted early explorers. This vast World Heritage Site has a remoteness that ensures it is Africa’s largest undisturbed wilderness area and thus far more exclusive than its more famous African relatives. As one of just two lodges in this vast, untamed section of the park, Azura Selous guarantees its guests exclusivity and the solitude to savour their safari experience. While in the rainy season the Selous may at first resemble a vast English country estate with lush green grass beneath majestic shade trees, this impression is quickly discarded when your game drive yields up a nonchalant pride of 14 lions lolling on the sun-warmed rocks of a dry riverbed not three kilometres from the unfenced lodge. Excellent sightings of the endangered African wild dog at play so close you could touch them are truly remarkable.
The lodge itself is delightfully understated, intimate and unpretentious but über comfortable. The safari-style tented decor is relaxed and contemporary enough to give you a profound sense of place while avoiding the overstuffed colonial cliché you so often encounter. Having your own secluded plunge pool at your private river-front tented villa is a delightful touch, but the central rim-flow infinity pool – which seems to merge with the waters of the river beyond – offers a cooling front-row seat of sorts for all the game action at the water’s edge.
Hippo paths and animal tracks wind through the riverine shrubs and trees to the 12 secluded villas generously strung out along the river’s edge, each with its own magnificent view and private plunge pool. The combination of stone-walled bathroom and entrance hall combines beautifully with the generous tented canvas master bedroom (with a king-sized bed) to provide an authentic safari atmosphere. Concrete walls and floors give way to canvas sides and mosquito netting that can be drawn aside to allow cooling breezes to waft through the spaces and blur the boundaries between indoors and out. While the daytime soundtrack at Azura Selous is provided by the rude grunts of the hippos that crowd the river, at night expect to hear these nocturnal feeders munching loudly on the banks just metres from your room. Solar power is more than adequate to supply energy for your indoor and outdoor hot water showers as well as the air-conditioning that is an essential in the extreme Tanzanian heat.
Morning and afternoon game drives and guided bush walks with an armed ranger give you wonderful opportunities for rewarding game viewing. River cruise sundowners are a magnificent way to get close-up portraits of these massive creatures, or ask your guide to let you try your hand at tiger fishing (G&T at the ready) in the late afternoon.
Azura prides itself on serving meals in delightful unexpected locations. For sheer indulgence it is hard to choose between the magical five-course dinner served by lamplight on the banks of the Great Ruaha, with Tanzanian askaris keeping a watchful eye out for wandering hippos, leopards and lions, or the mouthwatering bush barbecue under the expansive African night sky deep in the bush, where the lodge staff create a fairyland of lanterns to light up the inky, mysterious bush.
Things to do
• Big 5 game drives
• Night drives
• Guided walking safaris
• Catch-and-release fishing
• Gourmet bush picnics
• Bush dinners
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