In September 2014 I got the chance to go on a safari to Mikumi National Park in southern Tanzania. Mikumi is located roughly 280km southwest of Dar es Salaam and is the fourth largest park in the country, covering an area of 3230km².
The park is split into two by the A7 highway that heads on to other ‘southern circuit’ parks like the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park.
Landscape-wise the park is very scenic, with the Mkata flood plains the main attraction and the area surrounding the Mkata plains somewhat resembling the Serengeti. It is also a great place to see plains game such as zebra, eland, impala and wildebeest. Mikumi obviously also has predators like leopards and lions; prowling around on the Mkata plains, searching for their next meal.
We spent a whole day exploring the park. Comparing Mikumi to the parks in the Northern Circuit, the main thing that stood out for me was the little number of other vehicles we met inside. This added to the spectacular landscape and wildlife and it made me feel like we were the only ones in the park.
Our guide took us to a watering hole in the north of the park known as Mwanambogo. This vast open area is dominated by a huge lake. The car was switched off and our guide told us to enjoy the nature…
At first there was not much happening, but then, as if from thin air, animals started to appear. A large herd (a few hundred) Cape buffalos led by their matriarch cautiously made their way towards the water’s edge. On alert for any predators, they moved as one. We just sat and admired the beauty of what we were seeing.
After finally getting to the water the herd drank and drank, never letting their guard down and the calves all the time protected by their mothers. We were so focused on the buffalos that we did not notice a herd of elephants also approaching.
It is fascinating to see how fast an elephant can move; one moment they seem like they are a kilometre away and the next they are right next to you.
This was a fabulous scene, two of the ‘Big Five’ drinking almost side by side! It seemed that the buffalos were not so happy with the elephants at their watering hole and decided that it was not big enough for the both of them.
The departure of the buffalos meant that the elephants could let their trunks down and enjoy the private pool.