Mikumi National Park Tanzania

Introduction to Mikumi National Park Tanzania

Tanzania’s Mikumi National Park was gazetted in 1964 and covers an area of 3,230 square kilometres. This country’s fourth-largest National Park has an interesting landscape that is often compared to that of the Serengeti National Park. This scenic landscape of hardwood trees and grassy plains dotted with iconic baobab trees, tamarinds, and some rare palm harbours quite a number of wildlife species.

This national park shares the name ‘Mikumi’ with the village just beyond its western border of Dar es Salaam. The small town, in turn, takes the name from the (Borassus spp.) palm, which ones grew there in profusion but no stem is visible in the village. Mikumi National Park is in one ecosystem with Selous Game Reserve (the largest protected area in Africa) Making animals migrate to and from the northern part of the reserve in the park.

With almost guaranteed year-round wildlife sightings, Mikumi makes an ideal destination for a Tanzania wildlife safari. Highlights of a Tanzania tour to the park include reliable sightings of the elands, the world’s largest antelope. The equally impressive greater kudus and sable antelopes can be found in the miombo woodland-covered foothills of the mountains that rise from the park’s borders. Lichtenstein’s hartebeest is one of the more unusual antelopes found here. Other animal species in the park are hippos, yellow baboons, buffaloes, wildebeest, giraffes, elephants, lions, zebras, leopards, crocodiles, and endangered wild dogs, and the chances are high that you’ll see a respectable sampling of these within a short time of entering the park.

More than 400 bird species also call Mikumi National Park home including colourful lilac-breasted roller, yellow-throated longclaw, bateleur eagle and many European migratory birds from November to April.

Location and geography of Mikumi National Park Tanzania

Mikumi National Park is the most accessible Tanzania safari destination from Dar es Salaam. The park lies 288km west of Dar es Salaam. It is also 107 km from Morogoro town by the highway (which traverses the Park for 50km) from Dar es Salaam to Iringa Southern Tanzania and neighbouring Southern countries.

Mikumi National Park borders Selous Game Reserve on the south, the two areas forming a unique ecosystem. Two other natural areas bordering the national park are the Udzungwa Mountains National Park and Uluguru Mountains. Malundwe Mountain is within the park, the highest of a belt of hills that run east and west through the park, connecting the Uluguru Mountains to the northeast with the Uvidunda and Udzungwa mountains to the west. Malundwe Mountain consists of three peaks along a ridge running north and south. Malundwe’s south peak is the highest point in the park, reaching 1290 meters’ elevation.

Tanzania Safari Attractions in Mikumi National Park Tanzania

The Mikumi contains a wide variety of wildlife habitats that include: the Miombo woodlands, swamps, open grasslands as well as riverine forests that harbour a variety of animals and bird species. The major tourist attractions in Mikumi National Park Include the following.

1) Wildlife in Mikumi National Park Tanzania

Animals: Mikumi National Park is a great destination for Tanzania wildlife tours that offer a spectacular concentration of animals including four of the big five; elephants, Buffalos, Lions, and Leopards. The Mkata flood plain to the northwest of the main road, with the open landscape of the small but lovely Millennium (‘Little Serengeti’) area a highlights a Tanzania trip to the park. This floodplain is dominated by ridges and separated by a narrow depression of black cotton soil and it is a great wildlife spot in the park. The northern portion of the plain remains swamp all year round and it is a favourite ground for buffaloes.

The southern depressions of the plain form watercourses that flow to the Mkata River and supporting a large population of wildlife wild dogs, elands, elephants, giraffes, hartebeests, zebras, leopards, lions, impalas, sable antelopes, warthogs, waterbucks, wildebeests, and greater kudus. Yellow baboons, impala, and reedbuck are commonly seen at the Kisungura area along the Mkata River. The park herds of wildebeests are also a common sight on the Mkata plains.

Another spectacular attraction to see during a safari in Tanzania’s Mikumi National Park is The Hippo pool. The pool is just 5 km northwest of the main entry gate and it is where you can watch crocodiles and hippos wallowing and snorting at close range.

The Miombo woodland covered foothills of the mountains that rise from the park’s border harbour the impressive antelopes; greater Kudus and sable antelopes. Lichtenstein’s hartebeest is one of the more unusual antelopes that is also found here. The small islands of shade provided by acacia woodland are also favoured by elephants and giraffes.

Birdlife: With more than 400 species of bird, Mikumi National Park is a perfect destination for a fine Tanzania birding safari. The notable residents of the park include the colourful lilac-breasted roller, yellow-throated longclaw and bateleur eagle, joined by a host of European migratory birds from November to April. The hippo pool and Mwanambogo dam are good places to see some of the water-associated birds like African fish eagle, African spoonbill, and Hamerkop. The Mkata river offers great views of African openbills fishing.

A number of bird species, such as ground hornbills can be spotted in Mkata flood plain.

2) The afro-montane forest in Mikumi National Park

Found on the summit of the Malundwe Mountains is part of forest type that is renowned for its unique flora and fauna. It offers a spectacular view of different flowers depending on seasons, ranging from the fragile purple to deep purple.

Tanzania Safari Activities in Mikumi National Park Tanzania

The things to do in Mikumi National Park include game viewing-both day and night game drives, walking safaris, bird watching, picnicking, camping and cultural tours in adjacent communities. The park entry fees include US$30 for Non-East African citizens of or above the age of 16 years and US$ 10 for children between the age of 5 and 15 years. Expatriates in Tanzania/East African Citizens of or above the age of 16 years pay US$15 while children between the age of 5 and 15 years pay US$ 5. All fees are per person per day for a single entry. A fee once paid is nonrefundable.

1) Game viewing in Mikumi National Park Tanzania

The main activity for visitor’s enjoyment is game viewing in various tourist areas and circuits within the Park. The most reliable wildlife watching is around the Mkata floodplain, to the northwest of the main road, with the open vistas of the small but lovely Millennium (‘Little Serengeti’) area a highlight. This area is especially good for spotting buffaloes – often quite near the roadside – as well as giraffes, elephants, and zebras. Another attraction: The Hippo Pools, just northwest of the main entry gate, where you can watch hippos wallowing and snorting at close range. There are both day and night game drives in Mikumi.

Night Game drive in Mikumi National Park Tanzania

This is arguably the most unique way to explore the animal specials of Mikumi during your tours in Tanzania. During this experience, tourists are able to see the day and nocturnal animals at night. It is conducted from 8 pm to 11 pm. The tourists must be escorted by the armed rangers (US$ 20 ranger fee).  The activity fee includes US$ 50-per person (Adult) and US$ 25 per person (Children).

Best Time for game viewing in Mikumi National Park Tanzania

The Dry season, from June to October, is the best time for wildlife viewing in the park. Wildlife is easier to spot because the vegetation is thinner and animals gather around predictable water sources such as the Mkata River, the hippo pool and other waterholes. At the end of the Dry season, during September and October, these waterholes are almost constantly visited by big herds of buffalo and elephant as well as other wildlife.

2) Walking safaris in Mikumi National Park Tanzania

Short walking (3-4 hrs.) is conducted in the designated walking trails, where visitors enjoy a feeling of wilderness. Three walking trails exist, Kikoboga, Vuma Hills and Mikumi Wildlife Lodge. Through the guided short, visitors enjoy walking through short savanna grassland and along with wilderness areas consisting of Miombo Woodland. This activity is conducted only in the dry season and strictly for adults (for safety reasons). The activity fee is US$ 20.

3) Bird watching tours in Mikumi National Park Tanzania

Mikumi National Park offers wonderful Tanzania bird watching safari opportunities. Species to look out for include lilac-breasted rollers, yellow-throated longclaws and bateleur eagles and malachite kingfishers This activity can be done in various areas of the Park. Waterbirds can be easily seen at the Hippo Pool. The Park habitat is also among one of the richest in the world for residence and migratory birds. The several Swamps and water pools in the park offer many spectacular viewing locations and opportunities for the bird watcher.

4) Picnicking in Mikumi National Park Tanzania

At Mbuyuni, Millennium and Mwanambogo Picnic sites this recreational activity can be done by day-trippers, full-day visitors although this cannot deny the chance for those who overnight in the park to do the same. Excitingly, some lunch boxes can be opened to mark the most important moment once in a lifetime which comes after a long game viewing. In these sites, food and soft drinks can be enjoyed coupled with the beauty that nature would provide.

5) Camping in Mikumi National Park Tanzania

Camping can be done at the public campsite which is located in the Northern part of the Park. It is mainly done by nature lovers in specified areas for camping. While at resting potential at a campsite, one can view and feel the nature and the voices of different nocturnal animals with roaring lions. Basic facilities such as toilets, bathrooms, kitchen, and water are available.

Camping fees Mikumi National Park

Public Campsite

Adults of or above the age of 16 years- US$ 30

Children between the age of 5 and 15 years- US$ 5

Special Campsites (prior booking is required)

Adults of or above the age of 16 years- US$ 50

Children between the age of 5 and 15 years- US$ 10

6) Cultural Tourism around Mikumi National Park Tanzania

This is conducted in adjacent villages. Tourists may enjoy traditional dances, traditional food, and local market tour village tour while meeting with different tribes found in Mikumi town to complement with wildlife tourism.

Tanzania Safari Accommodation in Mikumi National Park

Mikumi National Park has two lodges, three tented camps and three campsites for travellers. There is also a guesthouse in the Mikumi town on the park border. All accommodation options including luxury, mid-range, and budget are available in and around the park.

1) Stanley’s Kopje Camp-Luxury

Stanley’s Kopjey is set on a rocky kopje on the Mkata flood plain. It presides over the best game viewing area of the park; the Mwanambogo waterhole. The camp is named after explorer Henry Marton Stanley who led an expedition through Mikumi National Park.

Accommodation at Stanley’s Kopje Camp include;

12 precious tents and airy Meru-style tents generously spaced around a kopje each themed around the history of an explorer or slave trader. The tents are pitched on high wooden platforms with traditionally built thatched roofs that provide shade while you sit on your veranda and enjoy the game around the camp.

Each luxurious tent has its own bathroom with solar-heated running water for showering. In the front, there is a larger veranda with chairs and a table from which to fully appreciate the views with a coffee as a first thing the morning.

Facilities and services at Stanley’s Kopje Camp include;

  • Dining/bar: Built-in a typical Swahili style with pitched roofs the dining banda surrounds a central bar with a sitting area, dining areas facing north, south, east and west.
  • Swimming pool and lounge area: A little below the dining banda is a lounge area next to the swimming pool which one can cool herself from the heat of the day while continuing with game viewing from the pool’s edge.
  • Bush breakfast
  • Picnic lunches in the bush
  • Sundowners

2) Vuma Hill Tented Lodge-Semi-Luxury

Vuma Hill Tented Lodge about 8 km from the main gate. It is perched above the trees stretching over seemingly endless wilderness southwest of Mikumi. The Camp is set on a hillside overlooking the seemingly endless wilderness on the southwest of Mikumi National Park. It is about 300km from Dar es Salaam or 4 hours’ drive on the tarmac road. The camp is open all year round.

Accommodation at Vuma Hill Tented Lodge include;

Vuma Hill has 16 spacious and comfortable guest tents on a wooden platform with thatched roof complete with shaded wooden veranda at the front, and en suite bathroom facilities at the back with a shower, basin, and toilet. The tents are mosquito proof, and furnished with a rather old fashioned colonial décor, with each tent featuring a double and a single bed. Electricity is provided by generator and there are lights and sockets (3 pin square 220 V) in each tent. The generator will run from 10 am to 2 pm and again from 6.30 pm to 11 pm. All water is solar heated.

Facilities and services at Vuma Hill Tented Lodge include;

Dining and bar: The cosy bar area centres around the roaring log fire, opening onto the large decking area from where you can take in the setting sun over Mkata plains below.

Under the same thatch, the dining area enjoys widespread views through the lush trees and overlooking the swimming pool.

Any special dietary requirements should be made known at the time of booking. Activities include game drives in Mikumi National Park, while day excursions to Udzungwa Mountains National Park, just an hour’s drive away, can be organized from here for trekking and forest walks.

3) Mikumi Wildlife Camp-Midrange

Mikumi Wildlife Camp, located in the heart of the wilderness of the Mikumi National Park. A stay in the Camp will guarantee you a memorable and magical safari experience that will not forget the rest of your life. Mikumi Wildlife Camp is a cosy and intimate place. You will find time for reflection and relaxation. The camp, being open all year round, offers the guests different safari and wildlife experiences.

Accommodation at Mikumi Wildlife Camp;

At the Camp are 6 big banda’s, within a total of 12 spacious rooms. The banda’s are spread out on the property of the Camp, all overlooking the African open plains dotted with Sausage-trees, Tamarind Trees and paper-bark acacia’s. Because the camp is inside the national park, wildlife is never far away. Big herds of impala and buffalo are roaming around in between the rooms and on a regular base, you might be able to see elephants from your veranda.

All rooms are ensuite, each with a large veranda and individually decorated in an African style. The rooms are equipped with fans, safe boxes, and mosquito nets. In each banda, the two rooms are adjoining, which makes it a perfect option for families and children.

Facticity’s and services at Mikumi Wildlife Camp comprises;

Restaurant: For the hungry ones, Mikumi Wildlife Camp has one of the best restaurants in the entire region. The Chef creates on a daily base mouthwatering dishes that nobody can resist. During your stay at Mikumi Wildlife Camp, you can enjoy the creations of the Chef during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Take away boxes for a game drive meal can be organized. On a daily base, the camp offers guests complimentary coffee, after an exhausting and dusty game drive in the National Park.

Bar: The bar is fully stocked, in order to offer you a refreshing sundowner or a glass of crispy, South African wine.

Swimming pool: A swimming pool is available with plenty of shade, where guests can cool down and escape from the blazing African sun. Do you feel like lounging on one of the sunbeds, overlooking the African Savanah? This swimming pool is the right place for you.

Souvenir shop: There is a Curio Shop with a large variety of souvenirs, curios, and guest necessities.

Safari activities: Mikumi Wildlife Camp offers a wild range of activities and excursions including, morning game drives, afternoon game drives, full-day game drives, bicycle safaris, bush breakfast, birdwatching tours and a sundowner at the Hippo Pool.

4) Angalia Tented CampMidrange

Angalia Tented Camp is located in the Green Belt of Mikumi National Park. The campsite offers guests stunning views of wildlife and rooms with a rustic feel.

Accommodation at Angalia Tented Camp;

Angalia Tented Camp has charming bungalows perfectly integrated into the breathtaking landscape. All constructions are built with makuti roof (palm leave) and Tanga stone, commonly used in Tanzanian traditional constructions, and are equipped with individual bathrooms accessible from the interior. Everything has been designed to comfortably enjoy wild nature.

Facilities and services at Angalia Tented Camp include;

Bar- restaurant “Barazani”

The perfect place to relax with your favourite drink. If you prefer you can enjoy it by the campfire. To eat Swahili dishes like pilau (rice with spices) or wali wa nazi (coconut rice) are recommended. You will love discovering African cooking, but the lodge also has great Mediterranean cuisine. The dishes are elaborated with fresh products from solidary farming projects.

Barazani is where the elders meet. It may be under a tree, but it is also how the Council of Ministers is called. It is also the living room of the Swahili homes.

5) Mikumi Safari Lodge-Budget

Mikumi Safari lodge offers 8 cottages integrated into the environment with total privacy, each fitted with a warm and cold shower in a spacious bathroom.

Each cottage is with a raised balcony offering stunning views. It is powered by solar with a standby generator for limited times.

The restaurant offers both Tanzanian and international meals made fresh from local products.

6) Tan-Swiss Lodge-Budget

The Tan-Swiss Lodge is 2 km from the Mikumi National Park boundary and 17 km from the main entrance gate of the Park. The accommodation is 60 km from the Udzungwa Mountain National Park where guests can enjoy safaris as organized by the lodge.

The lodge has comfortable rooms sleeping up to three adults. The rooms are fitted with mosquito nets, fans, TVs, and have private en-suite bathrooms. Each room has a private veranda. There are five spacious bungalows each sleeping up to four adults or three adults and one child. The spacious campground has a clean ablution facility with hot showers. There are a fireplace and large trees providing shade for your tent.

The on-site restaurant and kitchen offer a wide range of dishes with Tanzanian, Swiss, Chinese, Indian and Italian food. Game drives and safari trips can be arranged, for those looking to explore the nearby national parks.

Facilities and services at Tan-Swiss Lodge

  • Airport Shuttle
  • Swimming Pool
  • Satellite TV
  • Wi-Fi
  • Restaurant on Premises
  • Parking on Premises

7) Public Campsites-Budget

The Park has 4 Public campsites namely No1, no 3-5, Public campsites have basic facilities such as water and bathroom.

8) Special Campsites -Budget

Special campsites are natural sites where water and bathroom facilities are not provided. Mikumi National Park has one special campsite namely Chogawale. In the special campsite, campers must come with their camping gear.

How to Get to Mikumi National Park?

The Park can be accessed by road, air, and railways

By road

from the city of Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Iringa and from other southern countries (Malawi, Msumbiji, and Zambia). The highway from Iringa to Dar es Salaam makes easily and comfortably reached by vehicles. Also from Selous Game Reserve via Pwaga and Mahondo Ranger Post to the Main entrance gate.

By air

Aircraft with the capacity of 4 to 30 seater through airstrip which is located at Kikoboga near the park headquarters.

By railway

From Dar es Salaam to Man’gula and from Man’gula using the road to reach the Park

When to visit Mikumi National Park?

The Park has a bimodal rain season, characterized by short rain in October to early November, followed by long rain lasting for five/six months, although the rainfall pattern is very unpredictable.

However, there is always a definite dry period between January and February. The wet months are associated with hot humid weather, where temperatures reach up to 30degrees centigrade. Dry months are always cooler with a temperature between 20 and 25degree centigrade. The annual average temperature is 25.5-degree centigrade.

The best time to visit the Park is during the dry season. However, the northern part of the park is accessible throughout the year.