So the time has come to finally be in the wild almost untouched bush, the Selous Game Reserve.
After a quick 40 minutes flight from Dar we landed in Beho Beho private airstrip – it is in the northern part of the reserve and for the airlines servicing this area it is in Lower Selous. One vehicle was waiting for us and in less than 10 minutes we were in our exclusive private villa! I had seen Baileys’ Banda just before it was finished, then had seen pictures as the works progressed and when it was completed but wow … actually being there was quite another matter! Being on the highest part of the hill, the view is just stunning and stretches as far as the eye can see: the river bend just below, the hippo pool, the plains and gentle hills in front … The design and décor of course are very elegant and classy, along the lines of the main camp, however what touched me most was the feeling of the house: we cannot say why exactly but we immediately felt at home in our beautiful home! the space, the design, the private pool (again with a view of course), the living room, the iPod dock, the bar counter, the 2 spacious bedrooms with their huge en suite bathrooms (1 with a king-size double bed and the other with a king-size double bed a sofa which can be converted into a single bed), the continuous and yet very discreet presence of our “private staff”, the different areas where we could have our meals … really incredible and beyond expectations. Without any doubt it is the perfect choice for families, for friends traveling together, for couples wanting maximum privacy and really for anybody wishing a feeling of privacy, a home away from home – but in the Africa bush!
Just a note regarding families: Beho Beho does not accept children below 12 years and even though some exceptions might be made in case it is a family who takes the private villa, I really wish to underline that I fully back this policy especially because there are a lot of open spaces and steep points (kids under 12 even if accepted would not be allowed on walks in any case).
Our 4 days just went by so quickly that we wish we had stayed longer … it is true I was a particularly active guest whilst my friend would have liked a bit slower pace but there are so many interesting things to do that unless you want to skip activities it is hard to have also some time off when you stay less than 5 nights 😉
We did a few game drives in the very comfortable open 4×4 – always fun and interesting in this area of Selous where the terrain is so varied with hills, clearings, forests, lakes and rivers – but our focus was mostly on walking safaris, since it is not everywhere in Africa that you can do walks and above all it is not always with such professional guides! The heat was intense ( it can be at this time of year in the build up to the long rains) so the longer walks were planned in the mornings (6.15 to 10.00) while the shorter ones in the afternoons (16.00 to 18.00), in any case the armed guide besides being very informative and giving a full sense of security, he also managed to alternate open areas with shady ones, carried extra water should we feel like drinking more, had snacks (we had a great picnic breakfast under a magnificent tree almost at the end of our morning walk!), adapted his pace to our needs, .. it is an activity I love, I highly recommend and I think it can be done by anybody with good sensible footwear and who is minimally fit.
We had our day at Lake Tagalala and it was just another beautiful day: morning game drive through the park passing in front of Frederick Courtney Selous’s grave – a little bit of history also when in the bush! – during which we had a glimpse of a leopard and saw very well hyenas, elephants, impalas, elands, gnus, hippos, zebras, giraffes and lots of birds including my beloved carmine bee-eaters and lilac breasted rollers. When at the lakeshore we boarded the private boat (again, like for the 4×4, maximum 4 guests + the guide) for an incredible boat safari in one of the lakes with the highest density of hippos and crocs in Africa, and boy we saw lots of them!!! Of course also lots of fish eagles and birds of many many types. The surprise hot breakfast served on the lakeshore managed to be a real surprise to the other guests – of course I had kept quiet 😉 Incredible to be enjoying such a classy breakfast in such a wild place, impossible not to compare our spoiled situation with what earlier explorers or travellers of a few decades ago had to endure … we even had a mobile loo for washing our hands and for not having to hide behind the bush!
Then after the boat safari we went for a short hike up to the 3 hot springs and a few of us managed to jump in the very hot water pool with some clothes on … just for the joy of drying up, cooling down, in the open vehicle 🙂
During the game drive on the way back to camp, we managed to encounter another species high on my favourite list: a pack of wild dogs resting in the shade! Not bad for a day in the Selous!!!
The last cherry on the cake was the night up in the Treehouse, what a treat!! Again I knew it was unique – I had done a bush night in SA a few years back – and loved the location of our new Treehouse but actually being able to live the whole experience as a guest was fantastic. It is not just “another” bush-night, it is an experience which lasts almost 20 hours and which is totally private. First of all you do not have to check-out of your banda so there is no stress of packing – you are just asked to put your “things” for the night in a basket and give it to the staff. So you get ready for a walking safari, meet your guide at teatime (around 15.15) and then start your walk … beautiful, gentle, varied, exciting (we saw giraffes and a young male elephant very close! and also saw a buffalo close by but from a very safe point!), fun, safe … just before sunset you reach the dry riverbed where the Treehouse is and admire the wild place where you will spend the night. Upon arrival the staff offers you cold towels and a nice glass of cool wine (or whatever you like :-0), the small fire, the lanterns and the camp table are already prepared … time for a quick shower – yes hot running water and … a real flushing WC up in the trees!!! – then a tasty dinner around the fire with the guide and the staff .. and also lions and hyenas joined in the conversations, quite loudly the whole night 🙂
Being tired from all the early mornings we went to bed quite early, tucked in our magnificent bed and its mosquito net protecting is from anything. Wake up at 6.00, quick tea and coffee and off we go for another walk … this time across the dry river into some beautiful plains… lots of animals were sighted and actually many were coming to see us rather than the opposite! Back around 09.00 for a real treat of breakfast up in our magic tree home and then back to the camp by open vehicle because my friend was too tired and could not think of going for another walking safari. An experience we will not forget, beyond glamping …
One note on food because I think it is expected from an Italian 🙂
Karin, Beho Beho’s joint manager and supervisor of the cuisine, was just superb .. I am vegetarian and at any meal there were always items catering for vegetarians and not, I happily noticed a good quantity of vegetables and fruit (we Mediterranean are addicted to these and to breads!), even the Italian dishes like lasagna were very tasty and “al dente”! The only thing we really could not manage to eat were the cakes at tea-time, too much food already and too hot for that 😦 – but we noticed that the Northern European were tucking in with gusto!
And at Beho Beho even eating is a journey, an experience so every meal is in a different location and is presented in a different way: surprise BBQ in the bush one evening, formal dinner at our private villa, lunch up in the Eagle’s Nest, casual lunch watching the water-hole etc
Yes indeed Beho Beho managed to play again its magic on me … regardless of the many times I have been there I hope to be back again soon!