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Mikumi National Park – A Tanzanian Safari Adventure Awaits

Mikumi National Park is located in the Morogoro region of Tanzania, covering an area of 3,230 square kilometers. The park is intersected by the Tanzanian A-7 highway. This highway divides the park into two distinct environments and landscapes, making Mikumi National Park quite unique. One of the most interesting aspects of Mikumi National Park is the presence of a subspecies of giraffes, which biologists and scientists suggest may be a link between the reticulated giraffe and Masai giraffe.

The vast plains and abundant wildlife in Mikumi National Park have often led to comparisons with the famous Serengeti National Park. The southeast area of the park is often inaccessible to tourists. Mikumi National Park has become a perfect weekend getaway from Dar es Salaam, as it’s the nearest park to the city. It’s an ideal destination for travelers with busy schedules who still want to explore wildlife, even with limited time. The word “Mikumi” is derived from a popular palm tree dominant in the park.

Mikumi National Park boasts unique vegetation types. The Rubeho and Uluguru mountains at the backdrop of the valleys offer spectacular views. The landscape is characterized by golden savannah grasslands, baobab and hardwood trees, palm trees, Acacia trees, forests, rivers, and more, creating a superb habitat for various wildlife species.

Wildlife Watching

Mikumi National Park is rich in wildlife species, and some of the animals tourists can see during a game drive include elands, impalas, greater kudus, black antelopes, wildebeests, olive baboons, zebras, elephants, buffalos, sable antelope, lions, spotted hyenas, vervet monkeys, yellow baboons, leopards, cheetahs, hippos, lesser kudus, warthogs, giraffes, and many others. The best times for a game drive are during the early morning hours or late afternoon, as you may have the chance to see some nocturnal animals coming out or returning to their dens.

Wild game drives in the park are commonly done at the Mkata flood plains.

Birding

Mikumi National Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with over 400 bird species recorded. Bird enthusiasts can expect to spot species such as common ostrich, white-faced whistling duck, long-crested eagle, martial eagle, eastern chanting goshawk, African marsh harrier, African fish eagle, barn owl, African scops owl, spotted eagle owl, speckled mousebird, narina trogon, southern ground hornbill, crowned hornbill, malachite kingfisher, white-fronted bee-eater, lilac-breasted roller, moustached tinkerbird, black-collared barbet, lesser honeyguide, green-backed woodpecker, pygmy falcon, African hobby, yellow-collared lovebird, red-fronted parrot, white-breasted cuckoo-shrike, African black-headed oriole, black-throated wattle-eye, white-helmet shrike, Zanzibar boubou, fork-tailed drongo, northern fiscal, white-rumped shrike, white-necked raven, chestnut-backed sparrow lark, red-capped lark, red-faced crombec, yellow-breasted apalis, singing cisticola, African yellow warbler, little rush warbler, Angola swallow, common house martin, sombre greenbul, Fischer’s greenbul, African hill babbler, pale white-eye, violet-backed starling, lesser blue-eared starling, African thrush, cape robin chat, red-billed buffalo weaver, and zebra waxbill, among others.

Uluguru Mountains

The Uluguru mountain ranges rise to an elevation of 2,630 meters above sea level. These mountains derive their name from the Luguru tribe living around the mountain slopes. The Uluguru mountains are part of the Eastern Arc Mountains in East Africa. They are home to six amphibian species found nowhere else in the world, four species of reptiles, 100 species of plants, several bird species, and mammals. The mountains also serve as water catchments for the surrounding areas, including Dar es Salaam.

Guided Nature Walks

One of the best ways to explore Mikumi National Park is by taking a guided nature walk. Several trails have been established in the park for visitors. Before embarking on a nature walk, tourists will be briefed by a knowledgeable ranger guide who will accompany them during the walk, providing information about the plants, animals, and birds they may encounter.

Kinole and Choma Waterfalls

The splendid Kinole and Choma waterfalls are located in the Uluguru mountains. The cascading waterfalls from enormous rocks offer stunning sights for visitors. An exciting aspect is that you can swim below the waterfalls. On the way to the waterfalls, you can enjoy birdwatching and observe primates in the forest. The waterfalls are perfect for a day trip from Dar es Salaam, where you can bring packed lunch and have a picnic by the falls.

Hiking

Hiking is one of the exciting activities you can enjoy at Mikumi National Park. Tourists can hike the Uluguru mountains and enjoy stunning views of the park’s landscape from the top. Visitors interested in hiking should come prepared with hiking gear, including waterproof hiking boots, raincoats, hats, sunglasses, insect repellents, long-sleeved clothing, plenty of drinking water, energy snacks, and other essentials.

Chilunga Cultural Tourism

One of the activities tourists can engage in at Mikumi National Park is having a cultural encounter with the local communities living around the park. This cultural experience can be organized by Chilunga Cultural Tourism, which provides knowledgeable local guides to take visitors around the village, offering insights into the people’s way of life, cultural beliefs, and traditions. Cultural tourism is a way to contribute to sustainable tourism. While in the villages, you can enjoy African music and dances and participate in their daily activities. Don’t forget to support the locals by purchasing local handmade crafts as souvenirs or gifts for your loved ones.

Best Time to Visit

The best times to visit Mikumi National Park are during the two dry seasons: from June to September and from December to February when the weather conditions are favorable. During the dry seasons, animals tend to concentrate around permanent water points in the park, and the vegetation is not as thick, making it easier to spot wildlife. The best time for birding in Mikumi National Park is from November to April when migratory birds from North Africa and Europe are present in the park.

Getting There

Mikumi National Park is located 283 kilometers west of Dar es Salaam. You can fly into Nyerere International Airport and then drive to the park. Tourists visiting Mikumi National Park can also combine their safari with Nyerere National Park, located south of the park. The driving time from Dar es Salaam is roughly 4 hours via Morogoro.

Where to Stay

While at Mikumi National Park, tourists can stay in hotels such as Mikumi Safari Lodge, Camp Bastian Mikumi, Vuma Hills Tented Camp, Tan Swiss Lodge, Voyage Village, Camp Atupele, Mikumi Resort Hotel, Mikumi Nalika Tented Camp, and Angalia Tented Camp, among others.

Nyerere National Park

Nyerere National Park is one of Africa’s largest national parks, covering an area of 30,893 square kilometers. It is located in the southeastern part of Tanzania. The area was first gazetted as a professional hunting area by a German Governor of Tanganyika in 1896. The reserve was later renamed after a big game hunter named Frederick Selous, who later became a conservationist. In 2019, Selous Game Reserve was upgraded to a national park, and the name was changed to Nyerere National Park in honor of the first Tanzanian president, Julius Nyerere.

Nyerere National Park is unspoiled and pristine compared to other national parks in the country. The park is renowned for its population of wild dogs. During game drives, tourists can see wildlife such as lions, zebras, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, wildebeests, African wolves, hyenas, buffalos, crocodiles, impalas, greater kudus, cheetahs, and elephants, to mention a few.

Nyerere National Park is home to about 440 species of birds recorded, making it one of the top birding destinations in Tanzania. Bird enthusiasts can observe several species of birds while at the park, such as African spoonbill, yellow-billed stork, white-headed lapwing, thick-billed cuckoo, rock pratincole, racket-tailed roller, white-backed night heron, white-backed vulture, African skimmer, black-winged stilt, Bohm’s bee-eater, northern carmine bee-eater, broad-billed roller, palm nut vulture, pearl-spotted owlet, Pel’s fishing owl, brown-headed parrot, and many others. The best time for birding is November to April.

Getting There

Nyerere National Park can be reached by road from Dar es Salaam or Arusha town. The distance and time it takes to reach the park will depend on the route and gate you choose to use. The park can also be accessed by air from Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar to Nyerere National Park, but there are several airstrips in the park, so you should choose one near your accommodation.

Where to Sleep

Tourists visiting Nyerere National Park can stay in lodges such as Serena Mivumo River Lodge, Momela Wildlife Lodge, Siwandu Camp, Kiba Point Selous, Beho Beho Tree House, Impala Camp, Selous Serena Camp, Sable Mountain Lodge, The Retreat Selous, Rufiji River Camp, The Mbuyu Safari Camp, The Siwandu Camp, Kananga Special Camp, and Azura Selous, to mention a few.


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