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Sand Rivers, Tanzania

Sand Rivers

Set on a bend of the Rufiji River and blending well into its surroundings, Sand Rivers has spectacular views of the unspoiled wilderness beyond. There is a small resident pod of hippo nearby and it's not unusual to see African skimmers on the sandbanks in the middle of the river. The laid-back, traditional style of Sand Rivers evokes a bygone era.

You can stay in one of the five riverside stone-and-thatch rooms, each with sides that open up so you can sit and take in the sights and sounds of the river and its wildlife. Or, opt for one of the three hillside suites, which come complete with a private plunge pool.

The main mess area sits under thatch and is the life and soul of the lodge, offering panoramic views over the reserve. Nearby, you can watch bright yellow weaver birds building their bauble-like nests in the trees, while evening drives give you a chance to see bush babies up close. 

Our rating: Deluxe

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Rooms

Sand Rivers has five stone-and-thatch cottages set beside the river, as well as three hillside suites. All rooms are set within the riverine forest and can open up to give you peaceful views of the river. Each offers plenty of space and comes furnished with a large double bed draped with mosquito nets, an armchair, dressing table and en suite bathroom with flush toilet, basins and a hot shower.

The stylish suites have a large lounge area and a deck complete with loungers and a private plunge pool where you can relax while taking in views over the river. All of the furniture throughout the lodge is made from locally sourced materials.

Location

The property occupies a beautiful, remote spot on the banks of the mile-wide Rufiji River, in the heart of Selous Game Reserve. Its position gives you plenty of opportunity to view hippo partially submerged in the water, birds flitting across the banks or monkeys up in the trees.

Food and drink

The main dining and bar areas are under thatch and have lovely views over the river. Meals are served around the carved wooden table, giving you a chance to get to know other guests and the camp staff and swap stories from your safari experience. Complimentary drinks are available at all times and all meals are cooked on site, comprising fresh vegetables and salads and good quality meats.

Families

Children aged eight and over are welcome at Sand Rivers, though only those aged over 12 can participate in walking safaris. One of the hillside suites includes an attached children’s annexe. 

Facilities and activities

There is a large swimming pool in the main area, ideal for cooling off in the heat of the day, and a small curio shop. All proceeds from the curio shop go towards the lodge's chosen charities.

During your stay, you can take half- and full-day game drives in open 4x4s, boat safaris and fishing trips on the river, and visit the Tagalala hot springs. The lodge also offers specially tailored fly-camping trips for a true wilderness experience. Sand Rivers was one of the first lodges in the area to take guests out on walking safaris, and is still at the forefront of bringing the bush and wildlife ever closer for a more authentic experience. 

Environmental and social responsibility

Nomad Tanzania, the management behind Sand Rivers, works closely to support the Selous Rhino Trust. This is dedicated to securing the future of the black rhino in Selous Game Reserve. This huge wildlife reserve, one of the largest in Africa, is one of the few places left in the world where black rhino still naturally roams free. But, following years of uncontrolled poaching, there are only a handful left of the 3,000 that could be found there in the 1970s. The Selous Rhino Trust’s mission is to protect these remaining rhinos and to create a secure and peaceful environment within which they can start to thrive once more. Further details can be found at www.selousrhinotrust.org.

Our opinion

Sand Rivers occupies a superb location, and we love just sitting on the terrace watching hippo and birds in the river at any time of day. We think the stylish rooms are very comfortable, the guides are extremely knowledgeable and and the service is impeccable.

Selous Game Reserve tour ideas

Nearby accommodation

Nearby places

Places & hotels on the map

    Alternative places to stay nearby

    Where possible, we like to offer a range of accommodation for each stop of your trip, chosen by our specialists as some of their favourite places to stay. To help you make the right choice, we give each property a rating based on its facilities and service, but we also look for hotels with distinct character or a location that can’t be bettered.

    • Private plunge pool at your Beho Beho banda

      Beho Beho

      Deluxe

      Beho Beho Camp is a top safari camp and one of our favourites in the country. There are stunning views from everywhere in the lodge and the food and service are excellent.

    • Kiba Point, Selous Game Reserve

      Kiba Point

      Deluxe

      This is a fantastic option for groups who want a really private, personal experience in the heart of the Selous. The rooms have so many little luxurious touches and have sweeping views of the Rufiji River.

    • Tent at Lake Manze Camp

      Lake Manze Camp

      Medium

      Lake Manze is a simple but very authentic option for safari in Selous. With no electricity, evening meals are enjoyed by fire and candlelight for a truly atmospheric safari experience.

    • Rufiji River Camp, standard tent

      Rufiji River Camp

      Medium

      Set on the banks of its namesake, Rufiji River Camp is a perennial favourite in the Selous. It’s prime location offers a great variety of animals, and views from the camp itself may afford viewing of crocodile and hippo in the waters below.

    • Selous Impala Camp, Selous Game Reserve

      Selous Impala Camp

      First Class

      Selous Impala Camp enjoys an excellent location within Selous Game Reserve, set on the banks of the Rafiji River.

    • Selous Impala Fly Camping, Selous Game Reserve

      Selous Impala Fly Camping

      Simple

      These days fly-camping provides the same intimate experience of sleeping out in the bush away from distractions, but on a slightly grander scale. At Selous Impala fly camp, guests are provided with simple yet comfortable accommodation.

    • Deluxe tent at Selous Kulinda

      Selous Kulinda Camp

      Medium

      Selous Kulinda Camp is situated on the banks of the Rufiji River, about 20 minutes from the border of Selous Game Reserve. With fantastic views overlooking the river, it's a great value option for exploring the remarkable wildlife in Selous.

    • Siwandu Camp, Selous Game Reserve

      Siwandu

      Deluxe

      Siwandu Camp is located on the banks of Lake Nzerakera, part of the criss-cross of waterways from the Rufiji River, allowing for fantastic views out over the water from the main area.