Sand Rivers Camp

Sand Rivers Camp: Our full report

5 standard rooms, 3 suites with plunge pools
Traveller's rating
Excellent (95%) From 54 reviews
1st June to 31st March

Sand Rivers has a wonderful position deep inside the Selous Game Reserve, where it overlooks a wide curve in the Rufiji River. It has a long-standing reputation as one of Tanzania’s best camps, with luxurious accommodation, pleasant views and generally excellent guiding. They are constantly looking at ways to help make the lodge more eco-friendly.

The lounge and dining area are situated in a thatched boma with open sides right on the edge of the Rufiji River. The soft furnishings are comfortable with cushions, large sofas and chairs. With the mix of white washed and stone walls, carved wooden furniture and African decorations, the result is a rustic yet homely and relaxed atmosphere.

Immediately adjacent is the open air curved swimming pool which sits under a large baobab tree. Whilst you are swimming and relaxing during the heat of the day you can enjoy the panoramic views of the river and wilderness beyond.

Sand Rivers also has a small curio shop which sells a variety of items including beaded jewelry, kikois and goods such as t-shirts and caps with the ‘Sand Rivers’ logo on.

The rooms are all fairly similar - there are five Standard rooms and three Suites which are situated a little further up the hill and also have plunge pools.

When we last visited Sand Rivers, the varied activities included motorboat trips up the towering Steigler’s Gorge, and boat safaris downstream where the landscape is flatter – but there are more hippos and crocodiles. Sand Rivers also offers a good variety of long and short walks which begin from the camp, or after a short drive away. The long walks take place in the morning; they start at a time that suits the guests, but it’s wise to start by 7am to avoid the heat of the day. Shorter walks are offered as an afternoon activity, starting at 4.30pm and continuing to return to camp around sunset.

Most popular are the camp’s 4WD safaris, which explore the plains and lakeshores. In the morning these also begin at around 7am, returning at midday for lunch. An afternoon safari will head out again at 4pm. Often you can combine a 4WD safari with a short walking safari. Meanwhile other options include a spot of fishing, or a relaxing soak in the Tagalala Hot Springs.

For those wanting to just sit and watch the game come and go, Sand Rivers also has a nearby hide – raised up on stilts, and overlooking a large marshy area. (You can stay here on your own for a few hours if you wish!) This permanently wet area is frequented by a variety of wildlife – often in surprising numbers – from playful elephants and herds of giraffe coming down to drink, to a kaleidoscope of birds looking for food. It’s remarkably good, even when there is other water around, and a first-rate spot during the dry season.

Our view

Sand Rivers is an up market, stylish and very comfortable safari camp, with plenty of space and excellent food and service.


Location: Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

Ideal length of stay: 3-4 nights – or 5-7 nights if you choose to include a fly-camping trip

Directions: Fly for 35 minutes into the Selous Game Reserve, where you will land at Kiba airstrip. It's then a short safari drive back to Sand Rivers. Alternatively, it is around a 6-hour drive from Dar – depending on the weather and therefore the state of the roads.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Nomad

Staff: Camp Managers: Cameron and Kate

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: The dining times for breakfast and lunch are very flexible for each guest, depending daily on what they have decided to do for their safari activities. Breakfast usually consists of tea/coffee, fruit, cereals, toast and a cooked breakfast with eggs of your choice.

Lunch is then a self-service buffet with plenty of salads, breads, fresh vegetables and cold meats. There’s an ‘afternoon tea’ at about 4pm – with tea, coffee, juices and delectable cakes.

Dinner has 3 courses with a choice for the main and is usually a mix of international cuisine. Dietary requirements can be easily catered for with prior notice. On our last visit in November 2013 we enjoyed cream of courgette soup to start; red snapper, mixed vegetables and mango salsa for main, and a delicious coconut crème brulee for desert. Dining takes place in a variety of imaginative locations.

When we last visited the food at Sand Rivers was very tasty and imaginative with extremely fresh produce used throughout.

Dining style: Mixture of group dining and individual tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: At Sand Rivers most drinks are included – from all soft drinks to house wines and local beers & spirits. However, this excludes champagne, vintage wine and certain imported spirits.

Further dining info: No

Special interests

Honeymoons: Sand Rivers has a very romantic setting right on the Rufiji River and a level of personal service that will make your trip feel very special. The rooms are very private with lovely views across the river. Expect special touches to make your honeymoon to Tanzania unforgettable.

See more ideas for Honeymoons in Tanzania

Birdwatching: The Selous Game Reserve is a great park to see a real variety of bird species. When we were here last, we saw different types of kingfisher, birds of prey, hornbills and a great deal more. The Sand Rivers hide is a fantastic place to camp out for a few hours and observe these birds - amongst many others – that come down to the marsh to drink and hunt for small fish and insects.

See more ideas for Birdwatching in Tanzania

Photography holidays: Sand Rivers is an excellent lodge to include on a Tanzania holiday with the emphasis on photography. Nearby, they have a photographic hide overlooking a large marshy area which is frequented by surprising numbers of wildlife, from playful elephants and herds of giraffe.

See more ideas for Photography holidays in Tanzania

Wildlife safaris: The Selous Game Reserve and area around Sand Rivers has an abundance of game, especially during the dryer months of July, August and September when game is drawn to the river for water. However throughout the year you can expect to see good numbers of giraffe, impala, elephant and maybe even lions and wild dog which are also found in the area.

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Tanzania


Attitude towards children: The camp are happy to welcome children over the age of 8 years.

Property’s age restrictions: No children under 8 years of age are allowed in the camp. Children under 12 are not permitted to go on the walking safaris or fly camping.

Equipment: We would recommend this camp for children over 8 years

Notes: Sand Rivers is not a suitable camp for very young children as all of the bedrooms and the lounge and dining area have open fronts with a drop down to the Rufiji River. Furthermore parents should also be aware that this camp is not fenced and wildlife can pass through at any time – children who do stay should not be left unaccompanied.


Power supply: Generator

Power supply notes: Type of plug: 3 pin English plug

Communications: For all intents and purposes you should consider yourself out of contact, though there is usually mobile reception at the airstrip for emergencies. Sand Rivers has a satellite phone and basic email in the office – however these are for camp use and emergencies only.

TV & radio: There is no TV or radio – this is deepest Africa!

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: Members of the Sand Rivers team are first-aid trained and there is some first aid equipment on site for minor illnesses and injuries. For more serious emergencies Sand Rivers has links to the flying doctors in Dar es Salaam.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Security measures: Askaris are on guard around the clock; you will be escorted to and from your room at night. There are also whistles in all of the rooms in case of an emergency during the night.

Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the communal areas and in each room.


Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A free laundry service is included – although local taboos mean that you must wash your underwear yourself. (laundry soap and a washing line are provided in the rooms for this.)

Money: No currency exchange is available. There is a safe in each room.

Accepted payment on location: The camp prefers payment for any extras in cash and they accept all major currencies. However they also accept travellers cheques, Visa and Mastercard.

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