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As the first rays of the sun kiss the grassy plains, your eyes are treated to a breathtaking sight. Large herds of game animals pose for photographs, confident that their camouflage leaves the park’s many predators oblivious to their presence. The Mikumi National Park is a part of the Selous ecosystem and it vastly benefits from the amazing diversity found in this particular conservation area of Tanzania.
Made popular by Henry Morton Stanley during his search for Livingstone, Tanzania’s fourth largest national park covers an area of 3220 sq. kms. and can be easily accessed from Dar es Salaam. Year-round sightings offer a fascinating option for those wanting to enjoy a brief encounter with the country’s rich wildlife. The varying altitude of 199 to 1259 meters can make sightings difficult, but you can always expect reliable wildlife encounters along the Mkata floodplain. Think of the area as a mini Serengeti.
- Wildlife Rating: 3 stars out of 5
- Scenery Rating: 4 stars out of 5
- Bush Vibes: 2.5 stars out of 5
Your adventure begins the moment you step foot into the park as huge hippo pools can be spotted close to the main entry gate. And as you spend more time in the park, you meet all sorts of animals such as zebras, elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, impala and buffalo. Spotted hyenas and lions also live here, but predator sightings are usually rare. Mikumi also promises some fascinating bird-watching experiences. More than 400 species of birds have been recorded and some of the most common observations include the yellow-throated longclaw, lilac-breasted roller and the bateleur eagle.
The biggest advantage of visiting the Mikumi is that it is an excellent option for a brief encounter with the wild. Its proximity to Dar es Salaam makes it easily accessible and you can experience what an authentic African safari is all about without having to actually live in the wild. Unfortunately, the lack of wilderness appeal also means that the park is very low on its bush vibe.
There are 4 ordinary campsites in Mikumi. Two facilities located close to the headquarters have toilets and one particular campsite also has a shower. Those preferring proper accommodations can take a look at the Tan-Swiss Lodge, a comfortable lodge that presents Swedish hospitality with a traditional Tanzanian charm. The onsite kitchen offers all kinds of cuisines ranging from Italian and Swiss to Chinese and Indian. For something more unique, head over to Stanley's Kopje Mikumi National Park. This personalized camp offers spectacular views of the Mwanamboga waterhole, a popular game viewing area, and combines African-style camping with modern-day creature comforts to present an authentic bush experience without taking you away from luxury.
The best season to visit the Mikumi is between the months of June to October. The dry season thins out the vegetation and animals tend to concentrate around the few remaining rivers and waterholes. Moreover, the risk of catching malaria is far lesser during the dry season and the heat isn’t as severe. The wet season can prove to be a challenging experience and wildlife viewing may be restricted, but this is when most of the migratory birds stop by and pose for photographs.
Extending your vacation is quite easy when visiting the Mikumi National Park. The following options ensure that you not only get an overview of the African wildlife, but also get to see and enjoy its rich history and beautiful culture.
- Dar es Salaam: Dar es Salaam has transformed itself from a sleepy fishing village to a modern-day metropolis that is now home to more than four million people. Considered to be the cultural and commercial hub of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam is where you need to be to explore African culture at its beautiful best. Some of the star attractions in the city include the National Museum of Tanzania, Uhuru Monument, Village Museum and the Mbudya Island.
- Zanzibar: Zanzibar really needs no introduction. The western side of the island might be the first stop for most travelers, but it is the Stone Town that makes Zanzibar so famous. Walking through those historic alleys and enjoying views of the Indian Ocean is the best thing to do here. Every turn promises something new and unique, be it a local coffee vendor selling some of the tastiest coffee you’ve ever had or an ancient Persian bathhouse offering insights into a bygone era. They say that the best thing to do here is to lose track of time and let the area unfold itself in front of your eyes.