From Chris’ Smartphone, July 2013
Size: 3,200 sq. km. Best time to visit: Anytime
Mikumi National Park is one of the largest and most accessible parks in Tanzania (appx. four hour drive from Dar es Salaam) and is often a destination for students of ecology and conservation.
A variety of wildlife inhabits the park including giraffe, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, eland, elephant, python, and the little-seen tree-climbing lions. African hunting dogs, which have become rare throughout the continent, can also be seen mainly in the southern end of the floodplains.
The landscape is dominated by open grasslands; at the northern end of the floodplains some areas remain swampy year-round. These swampy areas are separated by hard ridges that remain relatively dry and treeless. Swamp life includes monitor lizards that grow up to 6 feet (2 meters) long, frog-eaters and other types of large waterfowl.
The elephants in the area are small but have caused some areas of the park (including that surrounding the park headquarters) to become increasingly open through their taste for the Sclerocarya tree. The elephants like the fruits so much that they will shake and push the trees when there is no fruit to be found on the ground.
Mikumi Wildlife Camp
Situated near the main park entrance, Mikumi Wildlife Camp has stone-built African cottages, spacious bedrooms, bathrooms with showers and verandahs with beautiful views.
Located in Morogoro town, this mid-sized tourist hotel features 37 comfortably furnished rooms (link). All rooms are ensuite with bathrooms, telephones and televisions. The restaurant offers Indian, Chinese and Tanzanian cuisine.
Size: 450 sq. km. (including water area) Best time: June-Aug. (dry); Nov.-March (wet: birds, flowers)
Rubondo Island National Park is composed of Rubondo Island itself and eight smaller islands in Lake Victoria, just off the Tanzanian coast. The islands are very secluded and offer a glimpse of unique African habitats and wildlife. Most of the park is primary forest with a dense canopy; papyrus beds and grassland make up the rest.
Rubondo Island is home to many Sitatunga, a type of aquatic antelope that cannot be observed anywhere else in Tanzania. Rubondo is also a good place to observe chimpanzee as well as colobus and vervet monkeys, crocodiles, hippos, elephants, eagles and storks. The experience of Rubondo Island is unique in that, due to the lack of large predators, visitors can explore the African wilds on foot. The island is a naturalist’s delight with myriads of exotic orchids, lilies, insects and trees.
Although the island takes a while to reach, its pristine seclusion is well worth the trip. Chimpanzee treks, boat and walking safaris and fishing are all available. Luxury camping is possible on the island itself with advance reservations.
Did you know?
Lake Victoria is the second largest freshwater lake in the world, second only to Lake Superior on the border of Canada and the United States.
Camping in the park
Rudimentary camping facilities are available on the island; be sure to take all your own equipment and supplies.
Luxury Tented Camp
Flycatcher Hotel Ltd. have opened a 20-bed luxury camp on Rubondo Island.
Size: 1100 sq. km. Best time to Jan.-Feb. / June-Aug.
Some people say that Saadani is the only place in the world to see elephant bathing in the Indian Ocean; to be sure, Saadani is the only coastal reserve in Tanzania. It is a very new park, previously a game reserve, and is located across from the Island of Zanzibar.
The park is fairly small but because of its unique situation it is a completely unique wildlife experience. Green turtles come to its beaches to breed and Roosevelt Sable Antelope, previously thought to reside only in the Shimba Hills of Kenya, have found a home in Saadani. Visitors can relax on the beach, take a walking safari or take a boat up the river to see the hippos, crocodiles and flamingos.
Different types of protected habitats in Saadani include tropical forest, coastal savannah, mangrove forests and coastal dunes.
Saadani Tented Camp
The camp is situated on the beautiful sands of Saadani beach. Accommodation is offered in permanent tents with full bathroom facilities including shower, toilet and wash basin. The camp features a bar, library and restaurant.
Size: 55,500 sq. km. Best time to visit: July-Oct.
Selous Game Reserve is the largest protected wildlife area not only in Africa, but in the world. It is an awe-inspiring African experience to visit this area, larger than the country of Switzerland and home to thousands of different species of wildlife, insects and plants.
One can view the wildlife by land, by water and by air. Boat safaris can be taken on the Rufiji River and visitors can take a cruise on Lake Tagalala. Meandering though the channels and rivers by boat is a unique way to experience the wilds of Selous and one may be lucky enough to catch some elephants bathing. Hot springs in a hidden ravine near Lake Tagalala have created a picturesque group of sulphur pools surrounded by lush greenery; one can soak in the pools but bathing in the Lake is not permitted because of crocodiles. The area is also rich in large wildlife such as zebra, wildebeest and lions.
Stiegler’s Gorge is another magnificent feature of the park and the boldest visitors might even decide to brave the cable-car trip across the river. Other areas of the park include hilly woodlands, wetlands, swamps and canopy forest. To describe the gigantic park in its entirety would be impossible, not surprisingly, visiting the area requires several days to soak up the grand surroundings and witness all that Selous has to offer. Mikumi National Park, just to the north, is more easily accessible and is also part of the Selous ecosystem but the experience is not nearly the same.
Rufiji River Camp
Located in the north-eastern part of the Selous Game Reserve overlooking the Rufiji River, the tented camp accommodates guests in 20 comfortable tents. Each tent has ensuite bathroom facilities and a veranda facing the river.
Selous Safari Camp (formerly Mbuyuni Tented Camp)
Here you can sleep under canvas tents in the bush with all the modern comforts you would expect at a standard hotel.
Private cabins, stunning views of the Rufigi river and an excellent staff are only a few of the amenities to be enjoyed at Sand Rivers.
Contributed by Ingrid Betten July 2011
Size: 390 sq. km. Best time to visit: April – May
Amboseli is a popular destination and prime location from which to view and photograph Mt. Kilimanjaro. Directly on the Tanzanian border, the park lies near the road from Arusha to Nairobi. The park’s clean and constant water supply is maintained by melting snow and ice at the peak of Kilimanjaro that filters through hundreds of feet of volcanic rock. The ubiquitous dust is actually volcanic ash that remains from the eruptions of Kilimanjaro thousands of years ago.
Amboseli is one of the best places to view elephant, which congregate in large numbers and whose bulls sport some of the longest tusks in all of Kenya. Other wildlife includes lions, leopards, impala, dikdik, giraffe, wildebeest and many others. Bird life also abounds and bird enthusiasts will be happy to espy pelicans, bee-eaters, kingfishers, African Fish Eagles, Martial Eagles and Pygmy Falcons.
A curious attraction at Amboseli is the lake bed during the dry season, upon which visitors will be sure they see herds of zebra, wildebeest and gazelles; in reality these images are far away horizons projected as hovering mirages.
Did you know?
“Amboseli” means “salty dust” in the Masai language. Amboseli and the surrounding lands have been important to the Masai tribe for centuries. Today the Kenyan government works with the local Masai elders to develop eco-friendly tourism that will benefit local people.
Amboseli Serena Lodge
Situated in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Amboseli Serena Lodge features natural architecture and beautifully-kept grounds. 96 rooms in separate cottages all offer private bathroom facilities and a unique African decor. The Lodge also features a lighted waterhole and salt lick.