Mikumi National Park
Mikumi is Tanzania’s fourth-largest national park, and the most accessible from Dar es Salaam. With almost guaranteed year-round wildlife sightings, Mikumi makes an ideal safari destination for those without much time. Within its 3230 sq km – set between the Uluguru Mountains to the northeast, the Rubeho Mountains to the northwest and the Lumango Mountains to the southeast – Mikumi hosts buffaloes, wildebeests, giraffes, elephants, lions, zebras, leopards, crocodiles and more, and chances are high that you’ll see a respectable sampling of these within a short time of entering the park.
The most reliable wildlife watching is around the Mkata floodplain, to the northwest of the main road, with the open vistas of the small but lovely Millennium ('Little Serengeti') area a highlight. This area is especially good for spotting buffaloes – often quite near the roadside – as well as giraffes, elephants and zebras. Another attraction: the Hippo Pools, just northwest of the main entry gate, where you can watch hippos wallowing and snorting at close range, plus do some fine birding.
Selous Game Reserve
Selous Game Reserve is a vast, 48,000-sq-km wilderness area lying at the heart of southern Tanzania. It is Africa’s largest wildlife reserve, and home to large herds of elephants, plus buffaloes, crocodiles, hippos, wild dogs, many bird species and some of Tanzania’s last remaining black rhinos. Bisecting it is the Rufiji River, which cuts a path past woodlands, grasslands and stands of borassus palm, and provides unparalleled water-based wildlife-watching.
Only the section of the reserve north from the Rufiji River is open for tourism; large areas of the south are zoned as hunting concessions. Yet, the wealth of Selous' wildlife and its stunning riverine scenery rarely fail to impress.
Udzungwa Mountain National Park
Stretching across the Eastern Arc mountain range, Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountain National Park supports diverse wildlife, including elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, African wild dog and eland. 6 species of primate are found here and two are endemic, the Iringa red colobus monkey and the Sanje crested mangabey monkey.
Udzungwa mountain range represents part of the Eastern arc mountains. The range is unique in that its vegetation cover is still predominant from low to high altitude, and its canopy is relatively unspoilt. It harbours 30-40% of endemic, rare and endangered species of plants and animals, and supports some of the most ancient and diverse biological communities in Africa. The ranges are also a source of water for economic activities including power generation, farming and fishing.
Ruaha National Park
Ruaha is an astonishing park which offers a fascinating variety of landscapes and un touched nature. Ruaha, at 10,300sq km, is a naturalist’s paradise which provides even the most experienced travelers with something new. The undulating topography, glorious river and majestic trees combine to produce one of Africa’s most captivating landscapes. Situated in central Tanzania, the Ruaha National Park is the second biggest park in Tanzania.
Ruaha National Park forms the core of a wild and extended ecosystem covering about 40,000 sq km and provides home to Tanzania’s largest elephant population. In addition to the elephants, which are estimated to number about 12,000, Tanzania's largest national park hosts large herds of buffaloes, greater and lesser kudus, Grant’s gazelles, wild dogs, ostriches, cheetahs, roan and sable antelopes, and more than 400 different types of birds.
Ruaha is notable for its wild and striking topography, especially around the Great Ruaha River, which is its heart. Much of this topography is undulating plateau averaging about 900m in height with occasional rocky outcrops and stands of baobabs. Mountains in the south and west reach to about 1600m and 1900m, respectively. Running through the park are several ‘sand’ rivers, most of which dry up during the dry season, when they are used by wildlife as corridors to reach areas where water remains.
Kitulo Plateau National Park
This national park protects the flower-clad Kitulo Plateau, together with sections of the former Livingstone Forest Reserve, which runs south from the plateau paralleling the Lake Nyasa shoreline. The area, much of which lies between 2600m and 3000m in the highlands northeast of Tukuyu, is beautiful, and a paradise for hikers, although tourism infrastructure is almost non-existent. The park reaches its prime during the rainy season from about December until April, when it explodes in a profusion of colour, with orchids (over 40 species have been identified so far), irises, aloes, geraniums and many more flowers carpeting its grassy expanses. Rising up from the plateau is Mt Mtorwi (2961m), which is 1m higher than Mt Rungwe and southern Tanzania’s highest peak. The best months for seeing the flowers are December through March, which is also when hiking is at its muddiest. Orchids are at their peak in February.
The plateau is also home to some important bird species including endangered blue swallow, Denham’s, bustard, mountain marsh widow, Njombe cisticola and Kiperenge seedeater. Some of the world’s rarest butterflies also inhabit in he area along with chameleon, lizard, frogs, and few hardy red-buck and eland.