Mikumi National Park
Mikumi National Park is in Southern-Central Tanzania.
The park has large open plains of grassland, similar to the Serengeti.
Flora and fauna
Many of the same sort of animals are seen as in Ruaha. The most unusual phenomenon is the "midget" elephants. These look like the normal African elephant but are of a diminished size and with smaller and thinner tusks. Local lore says that this is a survival adaptation to protect the herd from ivory hunters as the lesser tusk makes the animal less desirable to poachers.
Mikumi National Park is about 250km west of Dar es Salaam and is the closest national park to the city. Driving there takes about 4 hours due to the poor conditions of the road.
Travel agents and tour companies can arrange transportation to Mikumi and through the park. You must ensure the vehicle used is a reliable 4x4, e.g. Land Cruiser and Range Rover. No Rav4 and CRVs. Although it's possible to navigate most of the main roads with a sedan, you will not get the best sightseeing experience.
All such issues should be addressed, clarified and agreed to with the tour company before giving a deposit. Ask for pictures of the vehicles, ensure the have a/c. You may want to inspect the vehicles tires before leaving to ensure they are in good condition.
Taking the bus is also quite convenient. Good bus companies are Sumry and Scandanavia and Mbeya Express. In Dar es Salaam the ticket must be bought in a part of the city called Ubungo. It is recommended to buy the ticket one day before departure.
The two nearest towns are Morogoro and Iringa. There are no scheduled flights from Dar to Iringa, Morogoro or Mikumi.
Park Fees A visitor's permit costs $20US per person and is valid for 24-hours from time of purchase. Be advised that non-residents are expected to pay the park entry fee by credit card in US dollars not Tanzanian Shillings. Visitors must enter before 4pm and exit before 7pm. Those staying in one of the park's lodging facilities must be back at camp by 7pm.
You require a 4x4 vehicle to travel through the park. The village of Mikumi is at the western entrance to the park, 15km from the park gate.
As of October 2012 all intersections in Mikumi have been numbered and correspond to a map available at the front gate.
Safaris If you have your own 4x4 vehicle, just ask your lodge for a map of the trails. There aren't many trails in the park and most secondary roads are closed during the rainy season. The hippo pool is always a good spot to see animals. If you spend two days driving in the park you should expect to see lions, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, zebras, hippos, boars, wildebeests, impalas, and copious amounts of birds. When entering the park, ask the guards at the gate which areas are best for viewing that day and if they've seen any lions around. Also, look for circling vultures, which indicates a dead animal. As mentioned, lions are present, but you may not see them, as they do not stand in view. When they hunt other animals, they tend to move away from those that are ill or weak when doing so. They hunt with their pride from their den. They may go 4 days to two weeks between hunts. They can be omnivores in some circumstances. Only an incapacitated/deranged lion will go after humans, normally they will run from them. Those are then tracked and killed as they are dangerous.
There are three places to stay in the park. Two are owned by Foxes Safari and the other is Kikoboga. Foxes Safari Camp is the first tented camp site when you enter the park from Dar es Salaam. This camp is almost in the center of the park and offers a great view from the top of the hill where the restaurant and pool are located. The staff is very friendly and the food is good, although not exceptional, especially given the price. At night you can hear animals walking around and under the elevated tents. The other lodging owned by the Foxes is Vuma Hills which is about 6km from the main gate. Very nice accommodation and excellent food. The huts look nice and there is a watering hole nearby which attracts many animals especially during the dry season.
City of Mikumi
In the city of Mikumi are several accommodations. Among lodgings are cheap ones, which are used by African truckers, and more expensive hotels as well. A nice place is the TAN-SWISS lodge partly owned by a Swiss. They also organize half-day and full-day safaris to the Mikumi National Park and the Udzungwa Mountains National Park.
Camping in Mikumi is allowed in several established campgrounds and at least one "special campsite" (this term means back country camping with no facilities). Some of the old camping areas near the front gate were closed in 2012 and new areas were established. One new area, site 1 or site 3, depending on who you ask, is about one kilometer west of the Hippo Pool. Construction was not yet complete in October, 2012, but you are permitted to camp there. Another new site is off Mwanabogo Road. Both sites have new bathrooms with showers but elephants had destroyed the supply pipes at the Hippo Pool site. Rangers may be willing to bring water to fill the toilet tanks but wasps have taken up residence. The Hippo Pool site is in the middle of an area loaded with animals; visitors here may include hyenas, lions, hippos, elephants, cape buffalo, wildebeast, impala and more. Keeping a fire going all night is recommended.
If you plan on hiring a car in Tanzania and driving yourself to Mikumi be prepared in the event of a breakdown or accident. (See the Tanzania main page on the recommendations for driving in developing countries.)
DO NOT enter a national park without a FULL tank of petrol. You should also have an emergency jerry can with at least 20 liters of fuel and a full-sized spare tire in case you damage your tire in a remote area and need to drive through difficult terrain.
Other equipment to bring includes a tow rope, shovel, machete, torch (flashlight), first aid kit and extra drinking water for unexpected delays.
Although it's very unlikely you will have any difficulties if you must change a flat tire in the park, be aware that some wild animals are ambush hunters. Don't stray to far from the vehicle and keep the children inside at all times.
Tsetse flies: They are very abundant in Mikumi. They are somewhat similar to houseflies but sting. In more densely forested parts of the park, keep your windows closed. If one does get in, kill it immediately as they are quick to bite. Tsetse fly bites can potentially be harmful to humans as they are carriers of sleeping sickness.