Mikumi National Park is located in south-central Tanzania, 283 km (175 miles) west of Dar es Salaam. It borders Africa’s biggest game reserve - the Selous, sharing its unique ecosystem. It is Tanzania’s fourth largest national park, covering an area of 3,230 km² (1,250 miles²). Also bordering the park are the Udzungwa Mountains and Uluguru Mountains, the latter offering some spectacular rock formations. The road crossing it divides the park into two distinct areas, of which the southeast part is mainly inaccessible, and the southwest offers an abundance of flora and fauna and is characterized by the Mkata Floodplain. The vast open plains and rich wildlife make this park comparable to the more famous Serengeti. The Mikumi was established in 1964 and receives less international tourists than the country’s other national parks.
Three of the big five can be regularly sighted within the Mikumi borders: lion, elephant and buffalo, many of which having characteristics specific to this area. Mikumi lions are famous for exhibiting the rare behavior of climbing on trees, and there is the unusual phenomenon of ‘midget elephants’, which are smaller than the normal African elephants, and have less distinct tusks. Mikumi is also popular for sightings of the world’s largest antelope – the eland. A subspecies of giraffe, that has been classified as a link between the Masai giraffe and the Reticulated or Somali giraffe, can be found grazing among the savannah’s baobabs, tamarinds, acacias and rare palms. In the north of the park, hippopotami inhabit the two artificial ponds, and are joined by an array of water birds. Mikumi is popular with birdwatchers, as it provides living and breeding space for over 400 species of birds, including European migrating birds using it as their winter residence.
Visitors can go on guided game drives and walks. If you have your own 4x4 vehicle, maps of the trails are available from the front gates.You can check with the guards where is the best place for viewing that day, and if lions have been spotted. The park can be reached in around four hours if driving from Dar es Salaam. The village of Mikumi is located 15 km (9.5 miles) from the western entrance to the park.
The park is accessible all year around, although most secondary roads close during the rainy season. The dry season runs between May and November, which is the recommended time for visiting.