West of the bustling town of Morogoro, and East of bustling Dar es Salaam city, Mikumi National Park is small reserve with some lovely scenery that offers a gentle game experience – ideal for a two-night stop and a good base for day-trips to the Udzungwa Mountains. Mikumi shares a border and its wildlife populations with the Selous Game Reserve, so you’ll find plenty here, including elephant, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, impala and buffalo. The vast Mkata plain is often a good place to search for lion, whilst the lucky will spot leopard or even wild dog.
In fact, 80% of Mikumi National Park southeast of the Tanzam Highway is inaccessible to tourists. The Mkata River floodplain at the centre of the Park lies within the circuit that is open to tourists, and is comprised of open grassland interspersed with acacia woodland and lone baobab trees. The open horizons and abundant wildlife of the Mkata Floodplain is often compared to the more famous Serengeti Plains. The dawn is often hidden by misty swirls before the Sun pierces through to the bushy grasslands where zebra herds stand like soldiers standing watch for predators.
Indeed, Predators abound with Lions on the lookout for zebra, wildebeest, impala and buffalo herds that migrate across the Mikumi National Park.
Termite mounds with flat tops are also abundant, sometimes spotted in tree during rain seasons and create an odd scenery as giraffes forage in the isolated acacia stands that fringe the Mkata River. The same trees also provide a sun shelter for the elephants while Hippos are the star attraction in the pool situated 5km north of the main entrance gate, supported by an ever-changing cast of waterbirds: there are over 400 species of bird in Mikumi with such colourful common residents as the lilac-breasted roller, yellow-throated longclaw and bateleur eagle joined by a host of European migrants during the rainy season.
What’s more? The Mkata Floodplain in Mikumi National Park is perhaps the most reliable place in Tanzania for sightings of the powerful eland, the world’s largest antelope. The equally impressive greater kudu and sable antelope haunt the miombo-covered foothills of the mountains that rise from the park’s borders.
In short, Mikumi Natioanl Park offers some of the best wildlife viewing in Tanzania with the benefit of being extraordinarily close and accessible via Dar es Salaam, making it a favourite for ex-pats and Tanzanian citizens working in the busy city. That’s said, it is a quiet park with less crowds making for an intimate safari.
There are a few fairly simple camps here; all suitable for stopping at with your own vehicle and guide. The best in the area is probablyFoxes Safari Camp with twelve en-suite tents. Though Kikoboga Camp is also good with 12 simple, clean cottages made of stone and thatch. There is also Vuma Hills which is only 15 minutes from the park entrance and has 16 spacious en-suite tents.