Mikumi National Park
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.
Close to Dar es Salaam and easily accessible.
Nearby Udzungwa mountains can be reached in the same safari trip.
Safari driving tours
Can be part of wider Selous or Ruaha safari trip.
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Mikumi National Park Flora & Fauna
Ruaha really has it all. Aside from rhino, all major safari animals are present in good numbers. Lions tend to live in large prides of sometimes more than 20 individuals. To feed themselves, they often attack big animals like buffalo. Ruaha has an unusually high diversity of antelopes, including many of the rarer species like lesser kudu, roan and sable antelopes. The male Kudu have beautiful spiralled horns while male Sable antelope have impressive curved horns. Ruaha is also believed to have one of the highest concentration of elephants of any national park in East Africa.
Ruaha genuinely feels wilder than any of the parks in the North of Tanzania, but its real claim to fame are the wild dog packs, which are seen quite easily. There are only a handful of places where these charismatic pack animals are easily observed and Ruaha is one of the best.
Ruaha is also home to the largest population of greater kudu in East Africa.
In terms of vegetation, Ruaha National Park is characterized by semi-arid type of grassland with baobab trees, Acacia and other species populating it. There are over 1650 plant species that have been identified. The park is the transitional point of two vegetation zones, the Zambezian (characterized by Miombo vegetation) and Sudanian (characterized by Acacia vegetation).
Apart from large animals, the park also harbors a number of reptiles and amphibians such as crocodiles, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, monitor lizards, agama lizards and frogs. The Great Ruaha and Mzombe rivers are presumably the most preferred habitat for crocodiles.
For birdlife, Ruaha National Park is famed as one of Tanzania’s bird paradises with more than 571 species recorded and some of them are known to be migrants from within and outside Africa. Migrating species from Europe, Asia, Australian rim and Madagascar have been recorded in the park. Species of interest in the park include Ruaha red-billed hornbill (Tokus ruahae) which is dominant in the area. The recently annexed wetland, the Usangu basin is one of the country’s important bird area (IBA) as recognized by Birdlife International. Though birds can be seen all the year around, the best time for bird watching is during the wet season.
Mikumi National Park Location & Map
Ruaha National Park is located in the Southern safari circuit area of Tanzania. Most safaris to Ruaha National Park embark from Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) in Dar es Salaam, probably via charter flight to the Ruaha air strip. In fact, Dar is a great place to relax before and after your trip to the Ruaha Park. Chartered flights can also be arranged from Arusha and other regional airports such as the Selous Game Reserve airstrip, about 90 mins flight away. There are both scheduled and chartered flights into the park mainly from Arusha, Dodoma, Kigoma and Dar-es-salaam.
Ruaha’s entrance gate is reachable by car in a 130km drive from Iringa town and 625km from Dar-es-Salaam. The road into the park is passable throughout the year.
Ruaha National Park has a bimodal pattern of rain forest; the short rainfall season begins November to February, while the long season is between March and April. The annual mean rainfall ranges between 500mm-800mm. The park experiences its dry season between June and October when the temperature at Msembe headquarter reaches 35c.
The middle and end of the dry season (June to October) is the prime time for watching wildlife in Ruaha National Park. Animals are easier to spot because the bush thins out and wildlife concentrates around trusted water sources.
Fast Facts On Mikumi National Park
Total Land Area
3,230 sq km About the same size as Cyprus
Elevation above sea level
About 236 stacked giraffes
Nearest Major City & Airport
About 277 km East
When To Visit Mikumi National Park
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
Mikumi National Park
Ruaha National Park
Selous National Park
Udzungwa Mountains National Park
Saadani National Park
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Infographic & Map of Mikumi National Park
More information on Mikumi National Park as part of your Tanzania safari
A standout amongst the most incredible sorts of occasions you can take on the planet is an African safari. Furthermore, where else is ideal to go on such a get-away than a definitive safari goal of Tanzania. In Tanzania, you can discover the best National Parks...