| Thanks to private conservation initiatives, the park has received a lot of publicity.
You shouldn't expect a mammal wildlife nearly as good as the one you'll find in the
main parks of northern Tanzania (Serengeti, Ngorongoro,
Lake Manyara and Tarangire,
or even Arusha National Park), though. Water is scarce in
Mkomazi, and little wildlife may be present during dry seasons.
Mkomazi used to be herding grounds for local pastoralists, but these and their livestock
were evicted by the authorities in the late 1980's.
Some mammal species found in Mkomazi are elephant, African buffalo, lion, leopard, lesser
kudu, fringe-eared oryx and aardwolf. There is also the largest Tanzanian population
of gerenuk, a long-necked gazelle. When reading
about Mkomazi from some sources, you may get the impression that black rhinos and African
wild dogs are roaming the savanna as an integrated part of the Mkomazi ecosystem; some
sources even refer to Mkomazi as a Big
Five park. Both these species are in fact present, but in projects to reintroduce
them. The rhinos are kept in a fenced sanctuary covering some 2 % of the park,
and the wild dogs are also enclosed.
The birding can be good. Some 400 species have been recorded, including many birds of
prey, such as Wahlberg's eagle, pearl-spotted owlet, martial eagle and secretary bird.
Visiting the park
Mkomazi has few visitors, and this may be reason enough for some safari-goers to visit
the area. We have found ourselves all alone in the park. The wildlife is less habituated
to vehicles than in the main parks such as Serengeti, and is therefore shyer.
The park rangers manning the entrance gate and doing the paperwork for visitors may
not speak English; you may need your Swahili phrasebook if you visit the park on your
Mkomazi is situated off the main road from Arusha/Moshi
es Salaam, three to four hours' drive from Arusha. When travelling in direction
towards Dar es Salaam, turn left after the bus station in the small town Same, and follow
the bush road some km/mi to the park gate.
Umba Game Reserve
Umba Game Reserve (1,500 km2/580 sq mi) borders Mkomazi National Park and is a continuation
of the Mkomazi biotope. Some dry-area species can be found, for example gerenuk and
The Eastern Usambara Mountains are situated in north-eastern Tanzania, south of Mkomazi
National Park. The mountains (up to 2,440 m/8,000 ft) are forested, and home to for
example the rare antelope Abbot's duiker and endemic bird species. The nature is beautiful,
offering a diverse flora. There is an 85 km2/33 sq mi nature park accessible by roads
and trekking routes, as well as lodges, a number of camping sites and a few hostels.
Lodges, camps and hotels
There are basic camping facilities in the park.
Motel in Same is less than 10 km/6 mi from the park gate and is conveniently located by the
main road. The standard is basic. The motel has 20 rooms with private bathroom and television. Some
rooms also have air conditioning and refrigerator. There is a bar, a restaurant and some business
services, including Internet.
Web site: www.elephantmotel.com
Lodge in the Pare Mountains may be an interesting experience for the
more adventurous safari-goer. It's situated high in the mountains and offers
good views of the park and the surrounding landscape.
The lodge is very basic (and inexpensive), and offers accommodation, meals,
and cultural walks and trekking in the Pare Mountains. Drive an hour southwards
on the bush road from Mkomazi park gate to Kisiwani village, where you (after
asking for directions) turn right into the mountains for a one-hour drive
on a very, very poor mountain road to the lodge. You'll need four-wheel
drive and a strong heart. Start in good time before dusk.
Web site: www.tonalodge.org
Babu's Camp is a small tourist class tented camp in Mkomazi, situated some
10 km/6 mi from the western Zange Gate. The tents, set right in the bush, are
fairly spacious and have ensuite bathrooms. Meals are eaten in a dining tent.
Electricity is provided by a generator during parts of the day, but not at night.
The camp offers night game drives and bush walks. You can expect a good safari
Web site: www.babuscamp.com
Mkomazi Camp is 8 km from the Zange Gate in Mkomazi and has tented rooms
with ensuite bathrooms. It is a small camp offering campfires and bush atmosphere,
and activities such as conservation education, horseback riding, walking safaris
and night game drives.