Mkomazi National Park visiting with Friends of Usambara Society
The Mkomazi National Park is a magnificent, 3,500 square kilometer game reserve in northern Tanzania. Remote and inaccessible, it was established in 1951, but never attracted the financial support provided for the better known wildlife strongholds such as the Ngorongoro and the Serengeti National Parks. Only since 1989, when the Tanzanian Government reexamined the reserve's status and designated it a National Priority Project, has its true significance and importance been recognized.
The Mkomazi National Park is a spectacular wilderness. Within sight to the northwest is Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest summit. To the south, the Pare and Usambara Mountains form a dramatic backdrop and, to the north, Kenya's vast Tsavo National Park shares a border with Mkomazi, making common ground for migratory herds of elephant, Oryx and zebra during the wet season. Together with Tsavo, it forms one of the largest and most important protected ecosystems on earth.
Mkomazi is the southern tip of the Sahel zone. It is a classic dry-country reserve of grey-green nyika bush, ancient baobab trees and isolated rocky hills. Elsewhere, the seas of bush give way to open savannah woodlands of umbrella acacias and mbugas - shallow valleys of grassland.
The animals, too, are typical of the arid nyika. Giraffe, Oryx, gerenuk, hartebeest, lesser kudu, eland, impala and Grant's gazelle share the reserve with elephant, buffalo, and numerous predators, including lion, leopard and cheetah. In all, 78 species of mammals have been recorded.
The birds of Mkomazi are even more numerous, with over 400 recorded species. Doves, hornbills, weavers and guinea-fowl are all present in large numbers - as well as such striking species as the martial eagle and violet wood-By 1988, Mkomazi was in steep decline. It represented a classic example of degradation. Heavy poaching had wiped out its black rhino and elephant populations. Overgrazing, deliberate burning and illegal hunting had also taken their toll. At one time, it was even feared that the reserve might be de-gazetted and released for subsistence agriculture. The Tanzanian Government then re-examined the status of Mkomazi Game Reserve, with a view to ensuring the complete rehabilitation of this vast area and the reintroduction of its endangered species, and the reserve was awarded National Priority Project status. The Government invited Tony Fitzjohn to to work with them on a program of habitat restoration and the reintroduction of endangered species. In 1989, the Mkomazi Project was born.
The George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trusts have been the Tanzanian Government's main partner in this unique and important Endeavour. Since 1988, the majority of the resources of the Trusts have been devoted to the project. Roads, boundaries and airstrips have been cleared, an entire radio network installed, water sources sited and pumped, dams constructed and de-silted, rangers recruited and equipped, and well over fifteen hundred air-hours flown on anti-poaching patrols. The captive-breeding program for the African Wild Dog has been established, and a rhino sanctuary has been constructed and stocked. Both form part of the Tanzanian Government's policy on endangered species. The result has been one of spectacular success. One of the most fragile, threatened and beautiful parts of Africa has been reborn.
Already, the years of hard work have had a profound effect on the animals living in the reserve. At the end of the 1980's, after two decades of slaughter at the hands of ivory poachers, only eleven elephants were left in Mkomazi. Today, during the rainy season, close on 1,000 elephants range freely across the reserve, including many herds of breeding females with their young.
Mkomazi National Park is the youngest National Park of Tanzania (2006). It is located in North Eastern Tanzania on the Kenyan Border. It was established as a Game Reserve in 1951 and is found in Kilimanjaro Region and Tanga Region. Mkomazi is one of the only places in the whole Tanzania to spot the black rhinoceros. The Reserve covers over 3,200 km² and is dominated by Acacia-Commiphora vegetation; it is contiguous with Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park.
What to do:
Mkomazi National park – Wildlife safaris, walking wildlife safaris, cultural walking safaris. Black rhino re-introduced into the area from South Africa along with wild hunting dog. Visiting researchers learn about the conservation efforts. Dry savannah plains giving a striking contrast to the bordering Usambara and Pare mountains ranges.
Rolling hills forest areas,Dry savannah plains, giving a striking contrast to the bordering Pare mountain ranges. Rolling hills, forested areas, swamp land, open grass land areas. Black rhino, elephant, hyena, leopard, wild hunting dog, giraffe, zebra, antelope, dik dik, gerenuk (giraffe antelope) kudu, primates, good birding. Luxury tented camp in the park along with public camps. Varying budget guest houses around Same town. Driving from Moshi town time 2 hrs and Driving from Usambara Mountains is 2 hrs.
Best time to visit
June to Oct – Dec – April
3,234 sq km (2005 sq miles).
North Eastern Tanzania, bordering Kenya's Tsavo East National Park to its north. Occupying Kilimanjaro and Tanga Regions, Mkomazi is 112 km (69 miles) from Moshi Town and 550 km (341 miles) from Dar-es-Salaam.
How to get there:
By road, Mkomazi is easily accessible via Same Town on the Arusha - Dar-es-Salaam highway. Charter flights are available to the Zange, Same, Kisima and Ibaya airstrips.With Friends of Usambara Cultural Tourism enterprises take 4 days trekking to Mtae and 2 days driving into this unique national park.
Below can be your itinerary:
3 days trekking to Mtae, 2 days Safari to Mkomazi National park and the rest Pangani Beach
Pre tour : Arrival visits our office for payment, checks inn Tumain Hostel and wonder around Lushoto town on your own.
Day 1: 6-7 hrs
After breakfast at the hotel, start walking with your packed lunch through the villages to the Magamba rain forest and sleep over night at Papaa Moze Lodge in Lukozi.
Day 2: 4-5 hrs
Trekking through traditional villages, farming areas and spend the night at Rangwi sisters convent,lovely land escape and interaction with traditional villages.
Day 3: 6-7 hrs
Trekking through the villages, to pottery village for the workshop and along the escapement of the mountains to Mtae the World view point for overnight. Kilimanjaro and Tsavo west Kenya can be seen from this point and sit for the sun set at the village and over night at the Local guest house. On this day the lunch will be organized by the local family.
Day 4: 6-7 hrs
Full day Mkomazi National Park game drive, overnight and over night at Elephant Motel in Same
After breakfast with your packed lunch do a full day game drive and overnight at Tembo Lodge
After breakfast depart to Tanga overnight at the Ocean Breeze Lodge. Make the Tanga town tour in the late afternoon.
After breakfast depert for Ambon caves and hotspring tour and back to town for lunch before departing for Pangani. Overnigh at Beach Crab Resort.
After breakfast drive to Pangani historical town for the town tour learn about history and visit the old buildings from 17th Century. Overnight at Beach Crap Resort.
After breakfast depart for snorkling at Maziwe island.