In Tanzania, wildlife destinations are so diverse that making a choice to explore the best can be tricky. Adding to that, not all of us are fortunate to have the luxury of time to travel wide and far for several days. Does that mean you have no chance to explore any safari destinations?
Here is some good news for you!
There are a handful of national parks that invite day visitors to explore the breathtaking beauty of the wilderness. These less visited attractions are famed for activities beyond mere game drives, wildlife watching and offer unique excursions beyond common itineraries.
Let us explore together some authentic safari destinations, ideal for day travelers, long weekends, public holidays or business cum leisure trips.
1. Udzungwa Mountains National Park
A wilderness paradise covered in tropical forests, this national park is no ordinary wildlife destination. It has received a mention as the top 34 World Biodiversity Hotspots and is one of the 200 Eco-regions listed by WWF of global critical importance.
Why to Visit
For its awe inspiring uniqueness of a mountain forested park situated by the coastal scrub of Tanzania. The Udzungwa Mountains National Park is encircled by the Eastern Arc Mountains formed nearly 100 million years ago and is a home to the diverse endemic plants and animals. The park protects almost 20% of the Udzungwa Mountains.
Location: Five hours from Dar es Salaam; 65 kms southwest of Mikumi.
What to See:
- A range of primate species, three of which are endemic; The Red Colobus, The Sanje rested Angabey and the Matunda Galago. Some others include Blue and Vervet Monkeys, Yellow Baboons and Angola Colobus.
- Above 400 species of birds including endemic such as the Udzungwa forest partridge and a dozen of other flora such as African Violets amphibians and reptiles.
- Exploring forest trails along green path ways such as the Mwanhihana Trail
- Hiking trips by the waterfall and streams amid vegetation, in particular the Sanje waterfall which is 170 metres high into the forested valley
- Camping by the waterfalls
Best Time to Visit: June – October just after the rainy season.
2. Mikumi National Park
Also known as the little Serengeti, covering an area of 3320 km2, Mikumi National park is in close proximity to Dar es Salaam and offers animal viewing right from the entrance. It offers guaranteed sightings of animals thus a preferred safari stop for day visitors than other parks.
Why to visit
Famed as the 4th largest national park of Tanzania, the park is a home to all the Big 5 of Tanzania apart from the large variety of birds. With few visitors, this park is less crowded and ideal for those on a short trip during holidays, weekends and for budget travelers. The park has a wide variety of wildlife that can be easy spotted and are also accustomed to visitors.
Location: Mikumi National Park is situated between the Uluguru and Lumango mountain ranges joining the Selous Game Reserve and Iringa to the North. It is only 5-6 hours away from the city of Dar es Salaam.
What to see
- Rewarding sighting of the ‘Big Five’ (cheetah, lion, elephant, buffalo, and rhino)
- Thomson gazelles, zebras and elephants spotted right at the entrance of the park
- Hippo pools that are also an inviting picnic spot to enjoy views of the mud bathing animals and birds enjoying the water ways
- Lions, wildebeest, buffalos, impalas and giraffes spotted within short distances from the Mkata floodplain along with elands, the world’s largest antelope, greater kudu and sable antelope.
- Above 400 bird species including lilac-breasted roller, yellow-throated long claw and battler eagle joined by a host of European migrants during the rainy season.
- Game Drives
- Guided walks
- Bird Watching
- Visiting the nearby Udzungwa National Park
Best Time to Visit: The park is open throughout the year however we recommend during the dry season from June to March after the long rains.
3. Kitulo National Park
Known as the ‘The Garden of God’, this park is an outstanding destination adorned with wild fauna thus titled as the floral spectacle of the world and The Serengeti of Flowers. Kitulo National Park is the only natural habitat area in Africa situated on the higher altitude and perched in the sky.
Why to visit
This botanical wonder has a spectacle of 350 species of fauna with a large variety of terrestrial orchids that stretch across the park forming a natural wildflower display. Unlike other popular wildlife destinations, Kitulo National Park is covered with nearly 400 kilometers of forested land, wild flowers are rare animals. Some say that park resemble the Biblical Garden of Eden.
Location: Perched at around 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) the park stands between the rugged peaks of the Kipengere, Poroto and Livingstone Mountains near the Mbeya region.
What to see
- African wild flowers around 400 species that are all natural plants and endemic orchid species
- Bird species such as Blue Swallow, Mountain Marsh Widow, Denham’s Bustard, Njombe Cisticola and Kipengere Seedeater
- Endemic butterflies and lizards, frogs, chameleons and grass eating mammals.
- Floral explorations of above 400 plant species, most of them are wild flowers.
- Bird watching; resident and migrating birds from South Africa and European destinations such as the white storks
- Walking safaris on grasslands amid wildflowers and birds.
- Hiking on natural trails and climbing mountain ranges such as the Livingstone.
- Visiting Lake Nyasa and the Matema Beach
Best Time to Visit
From September to April
4. Arusha National Park
Situated in the safari capital of Tanzania, Arusha National Park has a unique charm and is often overlooked by safari goers. This wildlife destination is well connected to the forests, lakes and the Ngurdoto crater, all natural attractions that can be covered during the day.
Why to visit
Do not expect to spot lions and elephants in this park, however you can see the hyenas and leopards during broad day light and also the peaks of Kilimanjaro and the Meru.
The park is 40 minutes drive from the main city of Arusha and 60 km from the Kilimanjaro International Airport.
What to see:
- The park is partially covered in montane forests and is a home to blue monkeys, trogons and Turacos. It is also the only place with acrobatic black and white Colobus monkey on the Northern Safari Circuit.
- The Ngurdoto crater with rocky cliffs is a home to the large herds of buffaloes and the warthog
- The Momela Lake surrounded by green hills is an inviting spot for pink flamingoes and other species such as the waterfowl, waterbucks, giraffes, zebras and the Dik Dik.
- Leopards and Hyenas can be spotted in the early morning and late afternoon
- Thriving population of buffaloes and giraffes are frequently around the savannah and the forests
- Forest walks,
- numerous picnic sites;
Best Time to Visit
June to February. Best views of Kilimanjaro December-February.
5. Mkomazi National Park
Sighting of the dik dik and the rare antelope in the virgin Mkomazi Park
The location of Mkomazi National Park makes it a unique wilderness destination, one that is away from the populace and surrounded by majestic natural attractions. Visitors can see the Mount Kilimanjaro to its North West, Pare Mountains to the South and abutting Kenya’s Tsavo National park in the north, together forming an integral protected ecosystem on planet Earth.
Why to visit
Known to be a Game Reserve since 1951, this newly formed national park is inviting natural attraction for bird watchers; above 450 species have been recorded and with a thin chance of large visitors that visit popular natural attractions, Mkomazi National Park is an ideal destination to enjoy undisturbed game viewing in its virgin breath-taking beauty.
Mkomazi National Park connects via Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Udzungwa and Mount Kilimanjaro.
What to see
- Large birds such as the ostrich, kori bustard, secretary bird, ground hornbill and migratory species like the Eurasian roller. Other small birds include doves, hornbills, weavers and guinea-fowl are all present in large numbers.
- Unique animals such as arid nyika, Oryx, gerenuk, hartebeest, lesser kudu, eland, impala and Grant’s gazelle sharing habitats with the lion, leopard and cheetah. In all, 78 species of mammals have been recorded.
- Mkomazi is also home to the charismatic black rhino and the African wild dog, both of which were successfully reintroduced in the 1990s to this park.
- Game drives
- bird watching
- walking safari
- hiking (uphill)
Best Time to Visit: Year Round expect April and May during the long rains
Interested to book a day trip? Inquire today about our special offers on tailored safari packages.