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Mikumi National Park

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

Mikumi National Park is a hidden gem located in the Morogoro region of Tanzania. Established in 1964, the park's landscape is often compared to the famous Serengeti and is divided into two regions by a road. The northwest area is characterized by the alluvial plain of the Mkata river basin and boasts a savannah dotted with various trees such as acacias, baobabs, and tamarinds, as well as stunning rock formations in the Rubeho and Uluguru mountains. The southeast part of the park, on the other hand, is less abundant in wildlife and more challenging to access.





The park's fauna includes many species commonly found on the African savannah, such as lions, a subspecies of giraffe that serves as a bridge between the Masai and Somali giraffes, elephants, zebras, impalas, elands, kudus, black antelopes, baboons, wildebeest, and buffaloes. There are also two artificial pools inhabited by hippos located around 5 km north of the park, and the park is home to over 400 different bird species.


Mikumi National Park is part of the circuit of Tanzania's wildlife parks, which are less frequented by international tourists and more environmentally protected. Most routes through Mikumi lead to the Ruaha and Selous national parks. The best time to visit the park is during the dry season from May to November, when the weather is warm and the sights are particularly breathtaking.


As Tanzania's fourth-largest national park, Mikumi is also the most easily accessible from Dar es Salaam. Its guaranteed wildlife sightings make it an ideal destination for those with limited time to spare on a safari. The completion of a paved road connecting the park gate to Dar es Salaam has made Mikumi National Park a popular destination for tourists in Tanzania.


Located between the Uluguru and Lumango mountain ranges, Mikumi is just a few hours' drive from Tanzania's largest city and is known for its wide variety of easily spotted, game-viewing accustomed wildlife. Its close proximity to Dar es Salaam and the abundance of wildlife within its borders make it a popular choice for weekend visitors from the city or business travelers who don't have time for a longer safari itinerary.


Most visitors to Mikumi National Park come with the goal of spotting the "Big Five" (cheetah, lion, elephant, buffalo, and rhino). The park's hippo pools offer close access to these mud-loving animals, and birdwatching along the waterways is particularly rewarding. Mikumi National Park shares borders with the Selous Game Reserve and Udzungwa National Park, making it a popular choice for a varied and enjoyable safari circuit.


The open horizons and abundance of wildlife in the Mkata Floodplain, the park's popular centerpiece, often draw comparisons to the more famous Serengeti Plains. Lions can be seen surveying their grassy kingdom and the herds of zebra, wildebeest, impala, and buffalo that migrate across it from the flattened tops of termite mounds or, during the rainy season, from high perches in the trees. Giraffes forage in the isolated acacia stands along the Mkata River, which are also favored by the park's elephants for their shade.


The Mkata Floodplain is criss-crossed by a network of game viewing roads and is considered one of the most reliable places in Tanzania for sightings of the mighty eland, the world's largest antelope. The equally impressive greater kudu and sable antelope can be found in the miombo-covered foothills of the mountains that rise from the park's borders.


Getting There

So, how do you get to Mikumi National Park from Dar es Salaam? The easiest way is to take a bus or hire a private car for the approximately 4-hour journey. The park can also be accessed by air, with several small airports located within a short distance of the park. Once you arrive at the park, you can access it by hiring a private vehicle or joining a group safari tour.


Accomodation

As far as accommodation goes, there are several options within the park, including campsites and lodges, as well as a few options just outside the park's borders. It's worth noting that the park can get quite crowded during peak tourist season, so it's a good idea to book your accommodation in advance.


When to Visit

In terms of the best time to visit, as mentioned earlier, the dry season from May to November is generally considered the best time to go, as the weather is warm and the wildlife is easier to spot due to the lack of vegetation. However, the park can also be visited during the wet season, which runs from December to April, although the roads may be more difficult to navigate and the wildlife may be harder to spot.


How Long to Visit

As for how much time you should spend in the park, it really depends on your interests and how much time you have available. A minimum of 2 or 3 days is recommended to get a good feel for the park and see a variety of wildlife, but you could easily spend a week or more exploring all the park has to offer.


Why Mikumi National Park?

So, why would you choose Mikumi National Park over other national parks in Tanzania or the surrounding region? Well, for starters, Mikumi is quite easily accessible from Dar es Salaam, making it a convenient choice for those with limited time or those who want to combine a safari with a visit to the city. Additionally, the park has a wide variety of easily spotted wildlife, including the "Big Five" (cheetah, lion, elephant, buffalo, and rhino), and the hippo pools offer unique close-up encounters with these creatures. The park is also located near the Selous Game Reserve and Udzungwa National Park, making it a great choice for those looking to do a circuit of multiple parks.


As far as hiring a guide goes, it's definitely recommended, especially if you're a first-time visitor to the park. A guide can not only help you spot and identify the various species of wildlife, but they can also provide valuable information about the park's history, culture, and environment. You can hire a private guide or join a group tour, depending on your preferences and budget.


As for what to pack, the most important items to bring are a good pair of binoculars for spotting wildlife, a camera or smartphone for taking photos, comfortable walking shoes, a hat and sunscreen for protection from the sun, and insect repellent to protect against mosquito bites. Depending on the time of year you visit, you may also want to bring warm layers for cooler evenings, as well as rain gear if you're visiting during the wet season.


Finally, if you want to take great photos of the park's wildlife, it's important to be patient and try to get as close as possible to the animals while still respecting their space. Using a telephoto lens can help you get closer without disturbing the animals, and it's always a good idea to have your camera ready at all times, as you never know when a photo opportunity may present itself. It's also important to remember to be mindful of your surroundings and the safety of both yourself and the animals.


In conclusion, Mikumi National Park is a fantastic choice for a safari in Tanzania, offering a wide variety of easily spotted wildlife, convenient accessibility from Dar es Salaam, and the opportunity to combine a visit with a trip to the Selous Game Reserve and Udzungwa National Park. With the right guide and a bit of planning, you can have a truly unforgettable and rewarding experience at Mikumi. So, whether you're a seasoned safari-goer or a first-time visitor to Tanzania, Mikumi National Park is definitely worth considering as your next destination.

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