Located close to the border of Burundi in the western reaches of Tanzania, resting comfortably on the edge of a plateau, is the 6,000 square kilometre Moyowosi Game Reserve. The Moyowosi Reserve is contiguous with Kigosi Game Reserve and is divided by the Moyowosi River and its affluent. Moyowosi is chiefly a floodplain wetland habitat, recently declared a RAMSAR Wetland of international importance. Gazetted in 1981, Moyowosi now provides a sanctuary for wildlife and migratory birds during the dry season.
The riverways are home to crocodiles and hippos and tiger fish. Miombo woodlands and swamp regions provide a refuge for rare sitatunga antelopes, “dagga boys” and breeding water-birds.
The easiest way to access the reserve is via a scheduled flight departing from Dar es Salaam to the main area of Kigosi. Adventurous visitors can self-drive in a 4WD into the reserve.
Papyrus lined swamps, floodplains and riverine forest provide the ideal domain for general game, big game, and aquatic life. The reserve is recognised for its prolific numbers of giraffe, roan, kudu, zebra, topi, waterbuck and hartebeest. The most notable antelope species in the waterlogged areas are the shy sitatunga, one of the rarest aquatic antelopes.
Big game such as buffalo, hippo and crocodiles can be spotted throughout the reserve. On the plains, it’s not uncommon to spot rare African wild dogs. Threatened bird species are found throughout the reserve, three of which include the wattled crane, great snipe and shoebill stork. There are regular sightings of the shoebill stork in this part of Tanzania.
The peak rainfall season is November to February, which sees the flooding of landscapes and wildlife dispersing. The dry season is the best time of year to visit the reserve, which is from June to November. Even during the dry season, the area can be tricky to navigate because of the floodplains and various rivers cutting through the land.
The Moyowosi Game Reserve is unexplored terrain, which makes it an adventurous holiday. Birding safaris provide front row seats to some of the most incredible water-bird sightings. It’s worth making the trek to see shoebills. The protected swamp regions boast staggeringly high numbers of shoebill sightings.
Private birding safaris can be arranged, or visitors can attempt a 4WD journey into Tanzania’s wetland paradise. The swampy terrain offers a contrasting ecosystem to the Miombo woodlands, where unique activities such as tiger fishing take place. This is a destination that should be earmarked by wildlife photographers—it's unexplored and provides rare photographic opportunities.
There is a simple, luxury tented lodge located in the swampy regions of Moyowosi. There are campsites located on the outskirts of the reserve, and a wide choice of hotel and lodge accommodation in small towns outside of the reserve.