Mikumi National Park
Mikumi, to the north of the Selous, is only 283 km away from Dar-es-salaam. The Park was established to protect the environment and resident animals and is also an important educational centre for students of ecology and conservation. The Mikumi flood plain is the main feature of the Park along with the bordering mountain ranges.
Animals commonly found here include lion, eland, hartebeest, buffalo, wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, hippo and elephant. The Mikumi elephants are mainly grazers and do not cause tree damage Lions roam the Mikumi plains and will take refuge in the branches of trees. Wild dogs can be seen in packs here.
Mikumi’s vegetation includes woodland, swamp and grassland with two water holes, Mkata and Chamgore. Apart from the saddle-bill stork, hammerkop and malachite kingfisher, you will also find monitor lizard and a deadly python inhabiting the pools.
Ruaha National Park
The Kisigio and Rungwa River Game Reserves and Ruaha National Park total a protected area of 25,600 sq. kilometers. Ruaha is Tanzania’s second largest national park and one of the wildest. Crocodiles, hippos and clawless otters soak and play in the water and on the banks of the great Ruaha River.
Reedbuck, waterbuck and buffalo drink, ever watchful for lion, leopard, jackal, spotted hyena and hunting dog. The grassland borders of the River are home to greater and lesser kudu, a large elephant population, eland, impala, Grant’s gazelle, dik-dik, zebra, warthog, mongoose, wild cat, porcupine and the shy civet.
There are plenty of Eurasian migrant birds on their outward and return journeys as well as resident kingfishers, plovers, hornbills, green wood hoopoes, bee-eaters, sunbirds and egrets. The best months to go are between July and November when the animals are concentrated around shrinking water holes.
The Selous Game Reserve
Tanzania is home to one of the single largest remaining elephant populations in the world. Most of these elephants are found in the remote and wildly beautiful Selous Game Reserve, a World Heritage Site. The name derives from hunter-explorer Frederick Courtenay Selous, a keen naturalist and conservationist as well as a hunter.
He was killed in the First World War in the Beho Beho region of the Reserve. Larger than Switzerland in size, the Reserve is the largest in Africa and is second only to the Serengeti in its concentration of wildlife. The Reserve has a varied terrain of rolling savannah woodland, grassland plains and rocky outcrops. Buffalo, crocodile, hippo and wild dog can also be seen here.
The Reserve can be reached from Dar-Es-Salam by road, air charter, and rail (Tazara) and the best time to go is in the cool season between the end of June and the end of October. Walking safaris can be taken from the camps in the Reserve, in the company of an armed guard.