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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars

on 4 May 2014
This book was first published in 1981, has 210 pages, 11 chapters, 60 colour photos and endpaper maps of Selous Game Reserve. PETER MATTHIESSEN and HUGO-VAN-LAWICK join on safari in 1979 into SELOUS GR (established in 1922) in Southern Tanzania. Sand River is their beautiful account of a remarkable trip into this quintessential East African wilderness. Here in the glinting sand rivers and miombo woodlands, they see the African animals and birds and take a foot safari into its road-less interior. In August 1979, Matthiessen takes a flight from South London to Dar-es-Salaam for 4 weeks safari to Selous GR (the largest wilderness game sanctuary), 22,000sq miles and 4 times larger than Serengeti NP.
In a small plane, they landed at KINGUPIRA, east end of Selous. Brian Nicholson (bwana Niki) ex-game warden was also present. Their camp with green tents was in Kingupira forest for the 17 black and white people. The kitchen Mpesi steps on a blacked throated spitting cobra, who raised his hood, was disposed with a panga. He would wear the green rubber wellingtons for the remainder of the safari. Here the lions had no manes, the giraffe only existed north of the RUFIJI river, the cheetah stalk like leopards and the ostrich and dik-dik are absent.
Hugo used his blue Land Rover for photographing, covered with green net mesh and twined with branches - like a 'mobile bush'. After few days, they moved their camp 70 miles to MADABA, near Nandanga mountain, where CJP Ionides is buried. This was real Africa. However, the road tracks were bad and there were signs of poaching. Tsetse flies were biting 'like fire'. The Rufiji is the largest river in Africa. It and other rivers had shining waters and white sands.
Their next camp was at MKANGIRA on LUWEGU river. They eventually reach the wide MBARANGANDU sand river. They see the sable antelope (hippotragus) - horse antelope, with its elegance horse movements unlike other antelopes, who have odd bouncing gait -'pronking'. They find tools made of red stone and hand-axes of middle stone-age. They take 10 people up the Luwegu on foot safari, burning the dry grass on the way. They also find it safer to drink and bathe in certain parts of the river.
The rivers have broad canyon valleys between steep cliffs of red sandstone. They walk east and after 12 miles, come to Mbarangandu river. Man-eater lions were common in the south of Selous GR. Walking south, they arrive on the "Liwale-Konga footpath". Then they head north again to 'Mto-Bila-Jina' (the river without name). They shoot a buffalo for food, get charged by elephants and come face to face with a female rhino and her calf. Next, they arrive at the river plain of Mbarangandu and its valley, ending this African adventure in this wildest of places.
Some other books of interest are :-
(1) A Hunter's Wanderings in Africa, Frederick C Selous 1890
(2) Tanganyika Safari, Sheila MacDonald 1948
(3) Handbook of Tanganyika, Moffett 1958
(4) Life of Ionides, Margaret Lane 1963
(5) Selous Game Reserve, Baldus 1987
(6) Wild Heart Of Africa, Baldus 2009
(7) Safari Adventure in Southern Tanzania, Berry 2013
Having born in Kenya, I found this book interesting.
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on 20 July 2014
Probably most hard-to-find of Matthiessen's Africa travel stories. Excellent detailed account of safari through part of Selous game reserve, guided by ex-warden; a must for serious lovers of Africa and its fast-dinishing wildlife. Really quite poignant, in respect of the comparison between Selous in the warden's day, and the time of the Matthiessen treck, but still gives us a glimpse of the kind of fantastic, extended wilderness experience many of us would love to have, but few - if any - of us would be able to make.
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on 27 September 2011
I was delighted to find that I was able to get hold of a copy of this book as a friend of mine and her father are featured in it. However, I was disappointed that it did not have a dust cover - the picture suggested that it would as it showed a picture of elephants crossing a river. The actual book was a creamy white colour without the dust cover.
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