Swirls of opaque mist hide the advancing dawn. The first shafts of sun colour the fluffy grass heads rippling across the plain in a russet halo. A herd of zebras, confident in their camouflage at this predatory hour, pose like ballerinas, heads aligned and stripes merging in flowing motion. Mikumi National Park abuts the northern border of Africa's biggest game reserve - the Selous - and is transected by the surfaced road between Dar es Salaam and Iringa. It is thus the most accessible part of a 75,000 square kilometre (47,000 square mile) tract of wilderness that stretches east almost as far as the Indian Ocean. The open horizons and abundant wildlife of the Mkata Floodplain, the popular centrepiece of Mikumi, draw frequent comparisons to the more famous Serengeti Plains. Lions survey their grassy kingdom - and the zebra, wildebeest, impala and buffalo herds that migrate across it - from the flattened tops of termite mounds, or sometimes, during the rains, from perches high in the trees. Giraffes forage in the isolated acacia stands that fringe the Mkata River, islets of shade favoured also by Mikumi's elephants. Criss-crossed by a good circuit of game-viewing roads, the Mkata Floodplain is perhaps the most reliable place in Tanzania for sightings of the powerful eland, the world's largest antelope. The equally impressive greater kudu and sable antelope haunt the miombo-covered foothills of the mountains that rise from the park's borders. More than 400 bird species have been recorded, with such colourful common residents as the lilac-breasted roller, yellow-throated longclaw and bateleur eagle joined by a host of European migrants during the rainy season. Hippos are the star attraction of the pair of pools situated 5km north of the main entrance gate, supported by an ever-changing cast of waterbirds.
3,230 sq km (1,250 sq miles), the fourth-largest park in Tanzania, and part of a much larger ecosystem centred on the uniquely vast Selous Game Reserve.
283 km (175 miles) west of Dar es Salaam, north of Selous, and en route to Ruaha, Udzungwa and (for the intrepid) Katavi.
A good surfaced road connects Mikumi to Dar es Salaam via Morogoro, a roughly 4 hour drive. Also road connections to Udzungwa, Ruaha and (dry season only) Selous. Charter flight from Dar es Salaam, Arusha or Selous. Local buses run from Dar to park HQ where game drives can be arranged.
Game drives and guided walks. Visit nearby Udzungwa or travel on to Selous or Ruaha.
Accessible year round.
Two lodges, three luxury tented camps, three campsites. Guest houses in Mikumi town on the park border. One lodge is proposed at Mahondo and one permanent tented camp at Lumaaga
Ruaha national park is one of the few Tanzania's famous wilderness area where one can have a rare experience of game viewing spiced up by the fascinating landscape. The park is rich of plants and animals such as Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) which can not be found in any other national park. The park boasts of her almost untouched and unexplored ecosystem, making visitors' safari experience very unique.
The Great Ruaha River as other rivers like Mwagusi, Jongomero and Mzombe save as the life line of the park. During dry season, these rivers become mostly the main source of water for wildlife. There are few natural springs saving the same purpose. In the pick of dry season, elephants obtain water from dry sand rivers using their front feet and trunks. The remaining water falls along the Great Ruaha River are also important habitat for hippopotamus, fish and crocodiles.
Ruaha National Park has a bimodal pattern of rain forest; the short rainfall season begins November to February, while the long season is between March and April. The annual mean rainfall ranges between 500mm-800mm with the average annual temperature of about 280c. The park experiences its dry season between June and October when the temperature at Msembe headquarter reaches 350c.
The park history dates back to 1910 when it was gazetted Saba Game Reserve by the Germany then the name was changed by British to Rungwa Game reseve in 1946. In 1964 the southern portion of the Game was gazetted as Ruaha national park and in 1974 a small section of South Eastern part of the Great Ruaha River was incorporated into the park. The name "Ruaha" originates from the Hehe word "Ruvaha", which means "river". Ruaha National Park is part of Rungwa-Kizigo -Muhesi ecosystem which covers more than 45000km2. In 2008 Usangu game Reserve and other important wetlands in Usangu basin have been annexed into the park, making it the largest park in Tanzania and East Africa with an area of about 20226km2.
Ruaha National Park has a high diversity of plants and animals including elephants, buffalos, antelopes and some of rare and endangered species like wild dogs. The park serves as water shade both for wildlife and human being. This makes it to be economically significant as it supports agricultural activities down stream and contributes to hydro- electric power (HEP) for the country at Mtera and Kidatu dams.
Birds The park is one of the Tanzania birds' paradise with more than 571species and some of them are known to be migrants from within and outside Africa. Migrating species from Europe, Asia, Australian rim and Madagascar have been recorded in the park. Species of interest in the park include Ruaha red-billed hornbill (Tokus ruahae) which is dominant in the area. The recently annexed wetland, the Usangu basin is one of the country's important bird area (IBA) as recognized by Birdlife International. Though birds can be seen all the year around, the best time for bird watching is during the wet season. Animals Ruaha is believed to have high concentration of elephants than any national park in East Africa. It is also a place where, magnificent mammals like Kudu (both Greater and Lesser), Sable and Roan antelopes can easily be spotted in Miombo woodland. The male Kudu have beautiful spiraled horns while male Sable antelope have impressive curved horns. The park is also a habitat for endangered wild dogs. Other animals in the park include lions, leopards, cheetah, giraffes, zebras, elands, impala, bat eared foxes and Jackals. Reptiles and Amphibians Apart from large animals, the park also harbors a number of reptiles and amphibians such as crocodiles, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, monitor lizards, agama lizards and frogs. The Great Ruaha and Mzombe rivers are presumably the most preferred habitat for crocodiles. Vegetation The park is characterized by semi-arid type of vegetation, baobab trees, Acacia and other species. There are over 1650 plant species that have been identified. The park is the transitional point of two vegetation zones, the Zambezian (characterized by Miombo vegetation) and Sudanian (characterized by Acacia vegetation).
Tourism activities in the park include Game viewing, long and short wilderness walking safari, bird watching, picnic, bush meals (break-fast, lunch, dinner) in the untouched bushes.
Best time to see predators and large mammals is during the dry season (mid May-December). The wet season (January -April) is best for bird watching, lush scenery and wildflowers. The male Greater kudu is most visible in June which is their breeding season.
There are park and privately owned facilities
Are as follows
Self catering tourist bandas
Special camping sites
Public camping sites
Hostel for school groups
Single room with sitting room
Single room without sitting room
Inside the park
There are several luxury tented camps operating in the park such as Jongomero, Kigelia, Mwagusi safari, Old Mdonya River, Kwihala and Flycatcher and one lodge namely Ruaha River lodge. These are privately owned.
Outside the park
There are several accommodation facilities just outside the park: these are hill top lodge, Sunset lodge, Tandala tented camp to mention a few.
Located in the centre of the historic triangle of Bagamoyo, Pangani and Zanzibar, Saadani National Park covers 1100km square. It is the only wildlife sanctuary in Tanzania bordering the sea. The climate is coastal, hot and humid. It offers a unique combination of both marine and mainland flora and fauna in a culturally fascinating setting. About 30 species of larger mammals are present as well as numerous reptiles and birds. Besides many species of fish (over 40), green turtles, humpback whales and dolphins occur in the ocean nearby Gazetted in 2005, it encompasses a preserved ecosystem including the former Saadani game reserve, the former Mkwaja ranch area, the Wami River as well as the Zaraninge Forest. Many villages exist around the boundaries of the park. Before being included in the national park, the Zaraninge forest was managed by the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) whose goal was to preserve the extremely high botanical diversity of one of the last coastal rain forests remaining in Tanzania.
Saadani village once was an important harbour-town and slave trading centre in east Africa. Now it is a small Swahili fishing village with about 800 inhabitants whose livelihood is mostly fishing. Other villages adjacent to the park make their living through farming, especially coconut growing. After periods of Portuguese and Arab domination, the region gained importance in 18th and 19th centuries following a rising international demand for ivory and slaves. The actual Saadani village emerged with towns like Bagamoyo and Pangani as new trading centers connecting Zanzibar with long-distance trade routes from Tabora. At the end of the 19th century, Bwana Heri bin Juma was ruling Saadani. In oral tradition he is the mythological founder-hero of the village as he resisted all Zanzibari attempts to occupy the town and defeated the sultan`s troops in 1882. In 1886 the German protectorate`s borders were established. Two years later, the coastal people organized resistance against the Germans under the joint leadership of Abushiri bin Salim al Harth and Bwana Heri. On 6th June 1889 Saadani was bombarded and taken by Germans. Bwana Heri being considered by the Germans as an honourable enemy, he was told to rebuild Saadani. Saadani`s and Bagamoyo`s caravan trade declined at the end of the 19th century while Dar-es-salaam rose to be the most important trading centre of the coastal region. Commercial production along the coast, such as rice, sugar and copra, which were exported to Zanzibar and the Indian Ocean, disappeared after the German invasion. These were replaced by cash crops such as coffee, cotton and sisal for the European market. Following the transfer of the protectorate to the British after the First World War sisal, kapok, cashew estates and cattle ranches were established in the Saadani area. Ruins of stone houses still bear testimony to the former flourishing condition. An old German boma (government house) and several graves can still be found in Saadani.
The humid savannah of Saadani National Park can be divided into three easily distinguishable types: tall grass savanna with herbaceous cover growing up to 2m and scattered palms, short grass grazing land mostly situated on former sisal plantation and black cotton plains where the clay soil creates particularly harsh conditions. Different degrees of tree cover can be distinguished: typical for Saadani is Acacia Zanzibarica with its long spines, which cover large areas of the park. Inhabitants of the tall grass savannas are the buffalo which weigh up to 850kg and several herds of hartebeests can be observed grazing in Saadan National Park. The common waterbuck occurs all over the park area. Weighing up to 270kg these grazers can be easily recognized by the white ring around their tails. The density of reedbucks is especially high in Saadani National Park, although this medium-sized antelope (45kg) might be difficult to spot in tall grasses where they lie down for shelter. Warthogs are omnipresent and even come into Saadani village. As most of the villagers are Muslims, warthogs have learned that they will not be harmed. The tallest animals in the world and the national symbol of Tanzania, giraffes, are numerous in Saadani National Park .Their tongues have special callus plates which make them particularly well adapted to browse on spiny acacia trees.?Large herds of white-bearded wildebeest graze in the short grass savannas. They were released in the area in the 1970's. Other introduced species are plains zebra and eland. The lion, the largest of the African carnivores, is also found in Saadani although it is rarely seen. At night you may hear the hyenas and encounter genets, porcupines and civets. Other species which can be observed within the perimeter of the park are bushbucks, bush pigs, yellow baboons and vervet monkeys.
From East to West, the open ocean with coral reefs changes to brackish water ecosystem characterized by mangrove forest, salt pans and bare saline areas. Further inland, the Wami River is the most important fresh water source beside numerous temporary rivers and dams. At low tide the sea retreats up to 100 metre to form a convenient passage for local people and wild animals. These beaches are the only place north of Dar-es-salaam where sea turtles still come to lay their eggs. The most common species is the green turtle, the largest of the hard-shelled sea turtles. Beside nest thieves on the beach, turtles are particularly threatened by commercial fisheries and water pollution. The marine extension of the park includes the Mafui sandbanks, whose colorful coral reefs are important breeding sites for many fish species. Evergreen mangrove trees grow in the transactional zone, just above the mean sea water level. These salt tolerant tidal forests provide a resting and feeding place for many bird species, bats, monkeys, hippos and reptiles. Numerous species of fish such as prawns also lay their eggs in these protected habitats. The high demand for the resistance mangrove wood leads to over exploitation, making the protection of these forests even more important. In Saadani National Park, large mangrove forest grows along the Wami River. This is also the place where large groups of hippos can be observed. Nile crocodile also live here. The Wami River is a very good place for watching birds such as kingfishers, fish eagles and many species of wading birds
The less known coastal forest is characterized by a high biodiversity with many plants occurring only in this area (endemics). Forest plays an important role in protecting the soil against erosion and thus regulates the water cycle. Besides the two large forests of Zaraninge and Kwamsisi, many of the smaller patches of forest and shrubs represent an important habitat for animals. These forests and shrubs are vulnerable to illegal logging, charcoal production and farming expansion. In Saadani, elephants are relatively shy and usually hide during the day in woody parts of the park. Leopards are also found in dense bushes and trees (thickets). Seldom seen, these animals are mainly nocturnal and can live in close proximity to humans. Other showy animals living mostly in woody areas are the greater kudu and smaller antelopes such as suni and duiker. The tree crowns are inhabited by colubus monkeys which subsist mainly on leaves, strictly nocturnal bush babies as well as many fruit eating bird species, insects and butterflies.
Tourism activities in the park include Game viewing, long and short wilderness walking safari, bird watching, picnic, bush meals (break-fast, lunch, dinner) in the untouched bushes.
Boat safari at the delta of Wami River and the ocean, mangrove vegetation, water loving birds, Hippos and Nile crocodile. Visit Green turtle Breeding site at Madete area. Visit to Mafui sand bank Island that opens during the day and closes in the evening, a sand bank where you snorkel in the caves with colorful fish and green turtles. A place where lunch and sun bathing can give maximum relaxation. Walking safari on natural trails of Saadani gets you close to nature. Day game drive. Night game drive for sighting nocturnal animals Relax on the cleanest beach on the coasts of Bagamoyo and Tanga, where one gets to see the sunrise.
The Park offers various types of accommodation and their facilities for both Residents and Non-residents visiting the Park. Rest house near the beach, with a furnished sitting room, master bedroom, three single rooms and a fully equipped kitchen. Bandaz which are located along the beach, each with two rooms of four beddings and single rooms for couples with outside dining and kitchen equipped with cooking gas, deep freezer and utensils. These facilities offer campers an opportunity to sleep at camping sites by pitching tents at the public camp site which is located along the beach of Saadani, Special camp sites: Kiwandi campsite located at Zaraninge forest, Kinyonga campsite located along Wami river and Tengwe campsite located in the wilderness zone. Visitors are advised to come with their own food that they may cook using park facilities. There are other privately owned accommodation facilities inside and outside the park include Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge, Saadani River Lodge, KISAMPA, Saadani Park Hotel, Tembo Kijani Lodge and A Tent with A View Lodge. Please visit their websites for more information.
Brooding and primeval, the forests of Udzungwa seem positively enchanted: a verdant refuge of sunshine-dappled glades enclosed by 30-metre (100 foot) high trees, their buttresses layered with fungi, lichens, mosses and ferns. Udzungwa is the largest and most biodiverse of a chain of a dozen large forest-swathed mountains that rise majestically from the flat coastal scrub of eastern Tanzania. Known collectively as the Eastern Arc Mountains, this archipelago of isolated massifs has also been dubbed the African Galapagos for its treasure-trove of endemic plants and animals, most familiarly the delicate African violet. Udzungwa alone among the ancient ranges of the Eastern Arc has been accorded national park status. It is also unique within Tanzania in that its closed-canopy forest spans altitudes of 250 metres (820 feet) to above 2,000 metres (6,560 ft) without interruption. Not a conventional game viewing destination, Udzungwa is a magnet for hikers. An excellent network of forest trails includes the popular half-day ramble to Sanje Waterfall, which plunges 170 metres (550 feet) through a misty spray into the forested valley below. The more challenging two-night Mwanihana Trail leads to the high plateau, with its panoramic views over surrounding sugar plantations, before ascending to Mwanihana peak, the second-highest point in the range. Ornithologists are attracted to Udzungwa for an avian wealth embracing more than 400 species, from the lovely and readily-located green-headed oriole to more than a dozen secretive Eastern Arc endemics. Four bird species are peculiar to Udzungwa, including a forest partridge first discovered in 1991 and more closely related to an Asian genus than to any other African fowl. Of six primate species recorded, the Iringa red colobus and Sanje Crested Mangabey both occur nowhere else in the world - the latter, remarkably, remained undetected by biologists prior to 1979. Undoubtedly, this great forest has yet to reveal all its treasures: ongoing scientific exploration will surely add to its diverse catalogue of endemics.
1,990 sq km (770 sq miles).
Five hours (350 km/215 miles) from Dar es Salaam; 65 kms (40 miles) southwest of Mikumi.
Drive from Dar es Salaam or Mikumi National Park.
From a two-hour hike to the waterfall to camping safaris. Combine with nearby Mikumi or en route to Ruaha.
To follow the wildebeest migration, December-July. To see predators, June-October.
Camping inside the park.
Bring all food and supplies.
Two modest but comfortable lodges with en-suite rooms within 1km of the park entrance.