Mikumi National Park: Tanzania
A safari to the Southern Circuit of Tanzania should include the Mikumi National Park is the gateway to the game parks all the other parks on this the Southern Safari Circuit. The Selous game reserve joins onto this park in the south and a short drive to the south west is the Udzungwa National Park – which was created primarily for the protection of flora rather than fauna. The lovely remote Ruaha National Park is a four hour drive south-west from Mikumi.
The main road from Dar es Salaam to Iringa bisects the northern area of this park; an area known as the Mkata Flood Plain. Animals tend to use the highway as game trail and this often makes for unusual photo opportunities. The flood plain is known for the very fine black cotton soil, which means when the rains come the soil is transformed into a sticky, clogging mud and the area becomes inaccessible to vehicles. The rains transform the plains into a lush green meadow. This area of the park has herds of Elephant and lions, giraffes, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, eland, buffalo and impala. There is a tented lodge in this section of the park along with a youth hostel and a number of campsites.
The park lies has low mountains and hills on three sides. The southern section of the park differs markedly from the northern flood plains. The animals also differ they are unused to people and vehicles and tend to run and hide before approaching safari enthusiasts have a chance to spot them. This park suffered in the 1980’s from heavy poaching and the animals have learnt to distrust humans; although slowly the animals are becoming habituated once again.
There is a natural road stretching from the Vuma hills it passes through ravine and forested country and crosses over the boundary into the northern section of the Selous. These ridges have been used for centuries by Elephants that have decided to avoid the rivers and keep their feet dry.
This park is becoming increasing popular, especially as a weekend break from the nearby Dar es Salaam. This park makes for a perfect start to you safari in the southern parks of Tanzania. It also has amazing light in this park which makes for spectacular photographs.
Return to Top of Page
Ruaha National Park: Tanzania
This park is sometimes know as Giraffe Park as it has in excess of 8,000 Maasai giraffe. The outstanding Kudu is also prolific in this park and when surprised this animal will stand as a statue, blending perfectly into the background. It has been known for visitors to the park to drive right up to the Kudu before seeing it.
Access to the park is by light aircraft; or by tarmac road and is reached over the Rubeho Mountains. Descending to the Ruaha River offers views along the Ruaha Gorge and the first thing to strike visitors as they enter this area is the profusion of the unusual and huge baobab trees. Although in general the park is covered by Combertum woodland with a thinning out to acacia.
The rare and endangered African hunting dog are fairly common in Ruaha. Known as the painted wolf [Lycaon Pictus] these endangered animals are sociable if not noisy and it is a real treat to see them whilst on a safari drive in the park.
Ruaha is probably the most arid of Tanzania’s parks. It is the most southerly extension of the Maasai Steppes. The Great Ruaha River bisects the park. The flora and fauna of southern Africa overlaps with the distinctive east African species; to see greater and lesser Kudu as well as sable and roan in one park is part of the attraction of Ruaha. There is a rich selection of plain animals, predators and Elephants in this park.
As in most areas of Tanzania bird life here is spectacular. The park is known for large numbers of the rare Eleanor’s falcons from December to January. Over 456 species of birds have been identified to date with new species discovered every year. January to May is the best time to visit this park for bird and butterfly collectors; otherwise October to November is warmer and recommended if a bird safari is not on the agenda.
Few visitors visit this park. Although in recent years visitors to Tanzania have begun to succumb to the Southern Circuit Parks and in particular the magic of Ruaha.
Selous Game Reserve: Tanzania
The Selous game reserve is massive; roughly the same size as Belgium; this Park is huge and wild. It has much to offer and although it has been rarely visited in the past in recent years visitors to Tanzania have begun to realize this park has much to offer the tourist looking for the remote wilderness experience. The Selous was plagued in late 1970’s and 1980’s by poaching; it is thought the populations of Elephants fell from 110,000 to 30,000 in twenty years.
The northern section of the park is where a handful of luxury camps are found. This area has three major habitats; riverine thickets where elephants, hippo, antelope and crocodiles will be found; open grassland where wildebeest, zebra, lion and wild dogs are found; the miombo woodlands on the mountain ridges around Beho Beho [a new camp has just opened here] and Stieglers Gorge are home to Kudu and Roosevelt’s sable. A great deal of this area northern Selous is set aside for photographic safaris.
Rhino, was once common in the are but were almost poached into extinction but numbers are now beginning to recover. Lake Tagalala is one of the main attractions to this area with its many species of grassland and water bird. The hot springs are another lure and is a nice place for a picnic and a swim in the hot waters.
To the South is the Rufiji River; where luxury camps cater for tourists offering game safaris at sunset cruisers along this majestic river through pools of wallowing hippo and crocodiles basking on the banks of the river.
To venture into the almost trackless south of the Rufiji River; to the network of tributaries and oxbow lakes is truly wild. Visitors must be fully self sufficient to venture in to this part of the Selous. It is only the north of this park that is developed in any way for tourists.
The Selous is recommended for a truly out of Africa experience; the camps here are luxurious although a little expensive. However, the added expense is worth it to experience this African wilderness.
Return to Top of Page