Mikumi And Udzungwa
Mikumi and Udzungwa
When a safari in Tanzania is mentioned, thoughts immediately turn to the more well known parks such as the Serengeti, Selous and Ruaha. These two parks, north west of Selous are often overlooked, and this means fewer visitors. Combining them with Selous makes an excellent southern safari circuit. Udzungwa Mountains National Park can be visted as a day trip from Mikumi, but you may prefer to spend a night or two there and explore this unique eco-system more indepth.
Mikumi National Park is the 4th largest park in Tanzania. An improvement in the roads between the gate and Dar Es Salaam has seen it become more accessible, though the downside is the road does run through the centre of the park. Game wise, you have all the usual suspects here such as elephant, zebra, wildebeest, lions, leopards and more, in addition you also get wild dog and herds of eland.
The focal point of the park is the vast Mkata floodpain in the heart of the park. This is quintessential African safari scenery, the landscape stretches out before you, dotted with acacia trees, giraffe nibbling at the higher branches, herds of buffalo and wildebeest roaming the plains, it’s also prime hunting ground for the park’s lions.
Udzungwa Mountains National Park has more of a focus on hiking, away from the crowds. If birding or botany is your thing then look no further. The lush forested slopes of the Uzsungwa mountains form part of the 1900 sq km park. There is a huge array of unique plants in the park and also more species of primate than in any other park in Tanzania, 10 to be precise. Over 400 birds have been recorded here and over a quarter of the plants are endemic to the park – it’s a pretty special place.
Things to do in Mikumi and Udzungwa Parks
- Game Drives – take morning and evening game drives in Mikumi to showcase the wonderful wildlife that thrives in the park.
- Guided Walks – a walk gives a different perspective on the area and you will see things you might otherwise miss. It’s a chance to appreciate the little things and also marvel at the wonderful scenery.
- Sundowners – there’s nowhere better to enjoy a sundowner than Africa. Watch the colours change go down with a drink in hand as you sit overlooking the hippo pool.
- Waterfalls – hike to Sanje waterfalls in Udzungwa, once you make it to the falls, take a cooling dip in the water pool. There are hiking routes of varying length to a variety of waterfalls and destinations.
- Views – while enjoying a hike in the mountains, there are spectacular views to be had from various vantage points, a reward at the end of a trek.
- Village Tour – it is possible to visit a local village in Udzungwa and get a feel for what everyday life is like for the locals.
- Canoe Trip – spend the day or just an hour in a canoe on the Kilombero River. You sit back and relax as you are punted upstream by your guide.
- Rubber Plantation Visit – ever wondered where rubber comes from? Well if you are staying at Udzungwa Forest Lodge, you have the opportunity to visit a rubber plantation and find out.
When to visit Mikumi And Udzungwa Parks
As with many areas of Tanzania, it is best to avoid the rainy season in April and May as the roads become more difficult to navigate. Peak game viewing season is June through to October, but never dismiss November to March – it’s always a little quieter and prices are lower, but it’s still a good time to visit.
Excellent Good Fair Not Recommended
JUNE TO OCTOBER
- This is the dry season and the most popular time to visit
- There is less plant life and animals gather round water sources so are more easily viewed
- Days are sunnier, cooler and less humid than in other months
- The risk of malaria is lower
- The air is dry and can be dusty, not so good for photography
NOVEMBER TO MAY
- After the November rains the landscape is greener
- Bird watching is best with the arrival of migratory species
- The rainy season is best for seeing butterflies in the Udzungwas
- Increased vegetation and water makes wildlife viewing harder
- Heat and humidity are higher
- During the main rains (April and May) some roads may become impassable, and trails in the Udzungwas can be slippery
Where to stay in Mikumi And Udzungwa Parks
Your options are fairly limited as there is not a lot of choice of accommodation here. In Mikumi Vuma Hills is a good choice as it has an isolated location in a densely forested area. If you are staying in Udzungwa then Udzungwa Forest Camp, also known as Hondo Hondo, is your only real option.