You can enjoy Selwo even if you are disabled thanks to the train of open backed safari wagons that take you from the entrance and through a network of tracks in the park via three strategically positioned stops. You are actually more likely to find yourself alongside a camel or buffalo from the safari wagon than if you walk since in many cases the wagon only track is through an animal enclosure whilst the pedestrian only track is around or above. If you do elect to walk then take comfortable shoes, some of the paths at the far end of the park are not surfaced and you will have three slatted wood suspension bridges to cross. Expect to walk about 6 kilometres. There are plenty of reasonably priced snack bars and one good restaurant on the site so you do not have to worry about refreshments.
Your safari starts just inside the entrance. On one side is an attractive botanical garden that leads to an unusual children's adventure area and on the other a large area that houses two of the, reputedly, most attractive animals on earth, the Red Panda. Nearby there is a childrens zoo with a selection of placid animals that are unlikely to eat any small fingers. In true Spanish style the whole area is open to the myriad swans, geese, peacocks and ducks, many native species that have discovered an easy food supply as well as more exotic introduced species. There are not many places where the birds are so accustomed to humans they are in danger of being trodden on. With a tripod you can take close up shots of rare birds that would make David Attenborough envious.
Penetrating further into the park you come across the usual monkey cages and a large lagoon, home to even more waterfowl, before the path takes you up a gully, about 650 metres long and netted at each side and above. This is the Cañón de los Aves with an advertised 40 species of bird within. The most predominant species are the Sacred Ibis, toucans and melodiously voiced and colourful bulbuls. Again these birds are now so accustomed to harmless humans that they have little fear and you will have the opportunity to take memorable photographs. If anybody can identify the chap above please email email@example.com. There is a 10 Euro book token at the English bookshop for the first correct answer drawn on the 5th November 2008.
Leaving the bird gully you enter the upper part of Selwo and experience a more realistic safari environment. The lush vegetation you walked through before the gully is gone and you find yourself in a dry almost treeless landscape with deep, wide ravines containing animals that thrive in a semi desert savannah type environment. Small herds of blackbuck live side by side with their relatives the nilgai whilst wildebeest stand cooling in the stream. The ravines are large enough to allow the herds to move around freely.
Further on you will see elephants, including a youngster just a few months old, and giraffes, Bengal tigers, buffalo and ostrich. There seems to be a comprehensive collection of animals from the savannahs and deserts of both Africa and Asia.
You will now have reached the central village with its toilets, cafes and souvenir shops as well as plenty of shaded seating areas. There are pavilions with displays of reptiles and nocturnal animals that are a favourite with youngsters.
From here you have to take a safari wagon to the farthermost village although you are allowed to walk back. The wagon takes you through herds of camels and buffalo and various antelopes that are encouraged to stay near the track by careful positioning of their feed troughs. You will also pass the brown bear, tiger and lion enclosures, huge areas of thin maquis in which it is easy for these animals to hide. The track alternates between the bottom of sun baked ravines and the top of ridges to take advantage of the terrain to allow the best views.
The walk back from the restaurant at the aptly named Mirador de Africa takes a series of rough paths that cross the ridges and ravines by a series of suspension bridges that give you an aerial view of the animals you saw earlier.
At various times during the day you will also see exhibitions of falconry and, one to send shivers down many spines, snakes, all harmless naturally though the Peruvian python looks as though it could give you a good hug. As if that were not enough you can also scare yourself on the aerial runway or the trampolines and, calmer pursuits, archery and camel rides.
A safari at Selwo Aventura is an adventure for the entire family.
© Nicholas Craig Nutter 2004 - 2012. Nick Nutter asserts his rights as the author of this article and all associated images. This article and images may not be copied or reproduced in any way without written permission of the author.