Lukwati Game Reserve is a preserved and remote landscape in Western Tanzania and neighbours Piti Game Reserve. Both reserves are untouched by civilisation and certainly have a “Lost World” feel about it. The reserve borders the mighty Rungwa River and Lake Rukwa, and parts of the reserve are completely inaccessible.
The steep escarpment climbing up from the shores of the lake is smothered in clumps of impenetrable green riverine vegetation, that very quickly changes into flat Miombo woodlands and belts of thickets.
The two main sources of water (the lake and river) are responsible for the numerous marshy regions and natural springs in the area. It’s here where visitors will find waterbuck and reedbuck thriving in their natural environment. In addition to antelope, burly lions, stocky buffalo, leaps of leopard and sable have also found a home within the reserve.
Visitors can get a charter flight from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya, and from there it’s a further six to eight-hour drive to the reserve. Lukwati Game Reserve is unbelievably remote and hard to access.
Game viewing in the Game Reserve is unpredictable. There are dense populations of heavy-maned lions, but safari-goers will need to be prepared to spend quite a bit of time in the area trying to spot them.
Aside from lions, there are also plenty of giraffes, sable, elephants, buffalo, oribi, hyena, wild dogs, Defassa waterbuck, zebra, bush pig, hippo, crocodile and vervet monkey.
The ecosystem provides the perfect place for prolific birdlife to thrive. A few notable species include great white pelicans, African skimmer, white-winged tern and the glossy ibis.
This region enjoys plenty of seasonal rain and is a well-watered area. The best time for safaris is from August to November. A network of tourist roads is currently being built, but safari-goers would need to check before arrival if the reserve is open for visitors.
Lukwati is a new wildlife paradise with exceptional landscapes and incredible wildlife densities. Both reserves hold great appeal because they’re so far removed from civilisation, making them a sought-after sector of Tanzania for explorers.
Privately guided photographic safaris are possible, and take place in modified 4WD vehicles fully-equipped to be in the wilderness. With the new network of roads crisscrossing through the reserves and introduction of motorboats for the rivers, a world of photographic opportunities has opened up.
Parts of the Lukwait Reserve are set aside for tourist conservation activities, which provides the means to preserve and protect the land. There’s only a small window for this activity, but the profit made helps with anti-poaching and wildlife recovery.
There is no tourist accommodation in the reserves. Both Lukwati Game Reserve and Piti Game Reserve are completely removed from civilisation, and the only accommodation option is to camp. For private safari activities, there is one tented camp that’s hired out exclusively.