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Mkomazi National Park

Size

3,245 km² (1,240 mi²)

Founded

1951 (Game Reserve) | 2006 (National Park)

Best time to visit

All year-round

A beautiful tranquil park with an amazing story

Mkomazi National Park is not famed for its vast number of animals but for its beauty. To the northwest are incredible views of Mount Kilimanjaro, and to the south are the Pare and Usambara Mountains. Kenya’s huge Tsavo National Park borders the park. Together, they create a large and important ecosystem, allowing numerous animals to migrate back and forth. However, dig a little deeper here, and you will discover a remarkable and a continually unfolding story of habitat and wildlife restoration. Plus, the re-introduction of two endangered species - the Black Rhino and the Wild Dog.

Mkomazi National Park

Mkomazi National Park: From disaster to restoration

The Mkomazi National Park is located in northeast Tanzania, between Moshi and Tanga. It is in a beautiful setting, with the Pare and Usambara mountains towering above its boundaries. Depending on the weather, Mount Kilimanjaro can also be seen from the park.

Visitors to Mkomazi National Park discover something special. Although it is not home to vast numbers of wildlife, it is a tranquil place, rarely visited, with exceptionally beautiful landscapes and an incredible story to tell.

In 1951, Mkomazi was designated a Game Reserve. However, this did not stop the habitat turmoil that transpired. Persistent poaching erased the Black Rhino from the landscape, and elephant numbers plummeted to 11 individuals. At the same time, heavy grazing and annual burning led to extreme land degradation. A natural disaster was taking place.

1989 was a pivotal year in Mkomazi’s history. The Tanzania Government stepped in to resolve the situation, and they hired the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trusts (GAWPT) to restore the reserve and re-introduce the Black Rhino and the African Wild Hunting Dog.  Tony Fitzjohn, George Adamson’s (Born Free) successor, managed the project.

Over the years, Tony and his team established vast kilometres of roads, fences and water systems. A team of rangers and an air unit started patrolling the park for ivory poachers whilst breeding programs for Wild Dog and Black Rhino were established. It was a huge task. Importantly, the local community was involved, and several projects were set up, including ‘Rafiki wa Faru’ (Friends of the Rhinos), which teaches young school children about the park’s conservation work.

Today, over ~500 elephants have been recorded and ~200 Wild Hunting Dogs run free. It is home to Eland, Zebra, Buffalo, Hartebeest, Giraffe, and Warthog. Moreover, it is also one of the best places to see large herds of Oryx and Gerenuk roaming freely in the open bushland. Other small and large mammals that call Mkomazi their home include Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, Hyenas, and Jackals. However, sightings of the larger predators are rarer.

A healthy population of ~450 bird species are also found in the park and several species can be seen during a game drive. The most commonly seen species include Go-away birds, Ostriches, Long-crested eagles, Hoopoes and Bustards. Around the Umba River, sightings of Kingfishers, Flamingos, Cormorants, Plovers, and Ducks.

 

Highlights

  • Go to the Black Rhino Visitor Centre
  • Possible sightings of African Wild Hunting Dogs
  • Fantastic bird-watching
Mkomazi National Park map
Remoteness

Remoteness

It’s an ideal park if you want to experience vastness and remoteness. Very few visitors travel here, making it a secluded destination to take a break from the rest of the world.

rhino

Black Rhinos

Black Rhino ranged freely between Tsavo and Mkomazi. Then poaching erased them from the landscape. The Black Rhino Sanctuary reversed this situation and today you can see Rhinos at this park.

wild hunting dogs

Wild Hunting Dogs

One of the longest running Wild Hunting Dog breeding programs exists at Mkomazi and they have successfully released ~200 dogs into the ecosystem. Giving you an excellent chance of seeing them.

Landscape seen from Mkomazi Wilderness Retreat

Stunning scenery of Mkomazi National Park seen from Mkomazi Wilderness Retreat.

Rhinos in Mkomazi National Park Sanctuary

You can see rhinos and learn about conservation at the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary and Visitors Centre.

Camp Mkomazi National Park

Mkomazi is a great destination for nature lovers.

WHEN TO GO

Best time to go to Mkomazi National Park

You can visit Mkomazi National Park all year round. However, the best time to go to Mkomazi National Park is the dry season, from June to October. This season has the best weather and it is the best time to see the wildlife. June is the coolest month and October the warmest.

The Umba River in the southeast east corner of park is the only river existing in the area and wildlife can be seen here in the dry season.  Thankfully the park authorities have constructed a dam supplying multiple water points in several areas which means animals can stay in the park during the dry season.

dry season

Dry Season

June to October

Ideal for seeing the wildlife and the rhinos at the visitors centre.

rainy season

Green Season

March to May

The best time for photographing Mount Kilimanjaro thanks to clear skies and green landscapes.

Why to go

Undiscovered and underappreciated

You may leave this park with a promise to return. Visited by so few people, you can expect a tranquil experience in nature, surrounded by beautiful landscapes.

Yes, the number of animals here is lower compared to other parks, but thanks to the hard work going on, this is an evolving situation. Only 11 elephants remained in the park in the late 1980s. Today, ~500 migrate back and forwards from Tsavo National Park. Plus, seeing a Black Rhino is guaranteed if you visit the Rhino Visitor Centre. This truly is a lovable park.

Rhino Mkomazi National Park
Tanzania Safari Guide Eligard
Our Guide Eligard was excellent. Very friendly and super knowledgeable. He went out of his way to ensure we had an amazing time and saw everything we wanted to, taking a genuine passion in his job. Hard to imagine there is a better guide in Tanzania!
Andrew Sill | UK/Thailand

Experience Mkomazi National Park

Classic game drive
Classic Game Drives

Together with an experienced guide.

Black rhinos Mkomazi Wilderness Retreat
Black Rhinos at the Sanctuary

A great success story of rhino conservation in East Africa.

Guinea fowl Mkomazi Wilderness Retreat
Birding

On game drives all year-round

Things to do

A unique opportunity to see Black Rhino and Wild Hunting Dogs

Mkomazi is an excellent place to not only see but also learn about Tanzania’s wildlife and conservation management.

  • Classic game drives
  • See rhinos at the sanctuary
  • Birding
African Wild Hunting Dog
African Wild Hunting Dogs

Very rare predators, living and hunting in social packs.

Black Rhino at Mkomazi National Park
Black Rhinos

A conservation success story in East Africa

WILDLIFE & PLANTLIFE IN MKOMAZI NATIONAL PARK

A nature lovers’ park

Mkomazi National Park is famous for its endangered Wild Dogs and Black Rhinos. Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, Hyenas, Jackals, Elephants, Buffalos, Giraffes and Warthogs reside here in relatively low numbers.

~450 bird species, including the Go-away bird, Ostriches, Long-Crested Eagle, Hoopoe, Bustard, Kingfishes, Flamingo and Plover, can be seen here.

Acacias, Commiphora woodlands and dry land forests are typical of the vegetation found here.

Where to stay in and near Mkomazi National Park

Mkomazi View Camp

Mkomazi View Camp

Mkomazi Wilderness Retreat

Mkomazi Wilderness Retreat

Location

Mkomazi National Park is only 252km away from Arusha and 172km away from Moshi. This means, it is usually accessed by road. The Rhino Visitor Centre is found not far from the Zange Gate, whilst the Black Rhino Sanctuary is located near the Njiro Gate. The majority of the accommodation is located around the Zange Gate. The river is found in the south-easterly corner of the park. Whilst you are there you could visit the Pare and Usambara mountains to the south of the park to do some amazing hiking.

Lion paws closeup
Arno Snellenberg Tanzania Travel Expert
Tanzania-Experience safari vehicle

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