Mkomazi National Park Safaris
Discover the Untamed Wilderness of Mkomazi National Park
Mkomazi National Park may not have the fame of Tanzania’s larger parks, but therein lies its charm. It is a place where you can experience the wild as it was meant to be: raw, unspoiled, and beautifully serene. Whether you’re a seasoned safari-goer or a first-time visitor to Africa, Mkomazi is a destination that promises an unforgettable adventure and the joy of discovering the road less traveled.
As you traverse the rugged terrain, with the silhouette of Kilimanjaro on the horizon and the untamed heart of Tanzania unfolding before you, Mkomazi is more than just a national park. It is a testament to the enduring spirit of the wild and a sanctuary where the whispers of ancient Africa are heard through the rustling of the acacia and the distant roar of a lion. It’s an experience that beckons to be lived.
So pack your binoculars, dust off your safari hat, and set forth on a journey to Mkomazi National Park, where the adventure of a lifetime awaits amidst the untamed wilderness of Tanzania.
Mkomazi National Park is among the northern Tanzania parks located in the south East of Mount Kilimanjaro. This park derives its name from the Pare ethnic language: Mko and Mazi” where “Mko” means a tradition wooden spoon used for eating and “Mazi” means water. Mkomazi derives its name from Pare-ethnic language; “Mko and Mazi”. “Mko” means a traditional tiny wooden spoon used by the Pare people for eating and “Mazi” means water. This mean there is insufficient water in the park to fill fill the wooden spoon.
Mkomazi covers the area of about 3,245 square kilometers and it is surrounded by the Pare and Usambara mountains to the south and to the north it borders with the Tsavo National Park. These two parks form one of the world largest protected ecosystems. Herds of animals such as elephants, zebras and oryx can see migrating during the wet season. Mkomazi national park is also a safe home to the highly endangered species in the African savannah the black rhino and African wild dogs. While on game drive you can encounter the pack of wild dogs freely move at different location in the park but the black rhino in restricted fenced areas.
The presence of black rhinos and other members of the big five (elephants, leopards, lions and buffaloes) makes Mkomazi safari special as it among the few safari destination where you can see all these legendary animals.
Established as a game reserve in 1951 and later upgraded to a national park in 2008, Mkomazi spans an impressive area of approximately 3,245 square kilometers. It is part of the Tsavo-Mkomazi ecosystem, forming a crucial trans-boundary wildlife corridor with Kenya’s Tsavo National Park.
Mkomazi is particularly significant for conservation efforts, as it is a sanctuary for two of Africa’s most endangered species: the black rhinoceros and the African wild dog. The park is part of the Black Rhino Conservation Project, which aims to increase the black rhino population through stringent anti-poaching measures and careful habitat management. Visitors to Mkomazi may have the rare opportunity to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, contributing to the conservation efforts through their park fees and awareness.
The park’s landscape is a picturesque blend of ancient mountain ranges, deep rock-strewn valleys, and savannah dotted with umbrella acacias and baobabs. During the wet season, from March to May, the park transforms into a lush, green paradise with wildflowers blooming across the plains.
The Mkomazi River, which the park is named after, is a seasonal river that comes to life during the rains, drawing a plethora of wildlife to its banks. The park’s diverse habitats, including savannah, woodland, and forest, support an impressive array of flora and fauna, creating a mosaic of ecosystems waiting to be explored.
Wildlife in Mkomazi National Park
While Mkomazi may not boast the vast herds of the Serengeti, it compensates with its rich biodiversity and the chance to spot some of the more elusive species. The park is home to a large number of giraffes, hartebeests, elands, elephants, zebras, and various antelope species. Predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas roam the terrain, though they can be more challenging to spot due to the dense bushland.
Birdwatchers will be delighted by the park’s avian inhabitants, with over 450 recorded bird species. The open savannahs are ideal for spotting raptors, including the martial eagle and the African hawk-eagle. The park’s woodlands are alive with the calls of colorful birds such as the violet wood-hoopoe, the white-headed buffalo weaver, and the stunning lilac-breasted roller.
The main attractions in Mkomazi national park is the rhino sanctuary where rhinos are kept in safe place against poachers and predators. There are several species of predators like lions, leopard, cheetah, hyena and the endangered wild dogs. Other animals which are commonly seen while on safari in Mkomazi national park are oryx, giraffe, hartebeest, generuk, lesser kudu, eland, impala, grants gazelle, elephants and buffalo.
When on Mkomazi safari you will gate an opportunity to see the rare black rhinos which could not seen in most Tanzania parks. These unique creatures spend their days and nights grazing and only sleep during the hottest parts of the day. When they aren’t eating, they like a cooling mud soak.
Ride into Mkomazi to come and see these majestic and powerful creatures that conquered the world.
These long legged canines can only be seen in abundance when you visit Mkomazi. Their four toes per foot unlike other dogs make them unique. They live in packs therefore they are social animals and communicate by touch, actions and vocalizations.
Mkomazi marks the southern tip of the sahel zone which resembles that of a dry desert like landscape. Due to the climate, the vegetation consists of Acacia commiphora woodlands and towards the western mountains the vegetation changes to a dry land forest
Mkomazi national park is a bird paradise with 450 species of birds which can be seen during a game drive. The most commonly seen species of birds include go away birds, ostriches, long crested eagles and bustards. Doves, hornbills, weavers and guinea-fowl are all present in large numbers as well as such shrinking species as the martial eagle and violet wood-hoopoe.
The cultural heritage of Mkomazi is as rich as its biodiversity. The park is surrounded by various ethnic groups, including the Pare people, who have lived in the adjacent mountains for centuries. Visitors can embark on cultural tours to nearby villages to learn about traditional ways of life, including farming, cattle herding, and age-old customs that have been passed down through generations.
Activities in Mkomazi National Park
Wilds of Africa offers a range of tourism activities inside and nearby outside of Mkomazi national park which include morning and afternoon drives which offer the best chances to witness wildlife activity. For a more intimate experience with nature, guided walking safaris are available, allowing visitors to learn about the smaller wonders of the bush, from insects to plants, that are often missed on vehicle safaris.
Those with a passion for the great outdoors can also engage in mountain hiking in the adjoining Pare and Usambara ranges, where breathtaking vistas and the cool mountain air provide a welcome respite from the African sun.
Climate in Mkomazi National Park
The climate in Mkomazi is semi arid where the warmest months are October to April and coldest months are May to September. It also experiences two rainy seasons, the short rains are from November to December while the long rains from March to May. The mean annual rainfall ranges from 570 mm in the lowlands to 1,910 mm in the highlands.
Plan Your Visit
Mkomazi National Park is accessible by road from Moshi, which is approximately a two-hour drive away. The park can also be reached from Arusha, a major tourist hub in northern Tanzania, within a four-hour drive. The best time to visit Mkomazi is during the dry season, from June to October, when wildlife congregates around water sources, and the vegetation is less dense, improving visibility.
There are several accommodation options within and near the park, ranging from basic campsites to luxury tented camps. These lodgings offer a chance to stay amidst the wilderness, often with stunning views of the surrounding landscape
How to get to Mkomazi National Park
Travelers who want to go on Safari in Mkomazi national park can access it by both road and air. From Moshi Kilimanjaro they should drive for 120 km along Dar es Salaam highway to Same and from here 6 km through dirty road to the entrance gate of Mkomazi. There are other entrances to Mkomazi through Njiro, Kivingo and Umba gates.
For those prefer travelling by air to Mkomazi there are chartered flights available to Kisima airstrip in the center of the park near the rhino sanctuary