The main source of water in Mkomazi comes from the Umba River in the southeast. Apart from that, the park sees very little precipitation all year round making game drives along the river area worthwhile.
The most famous members of the Mkomazi natives are surely the African wild dogs and the endangered black rhinos that live in a private sanctuary. This park is also one of the best places to see large herds of oryx and gerenuks roaming freely in the open bushland. Other small and large mammals that call Mkomazi their home include lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, elephants, buffaloes, hartebeests, giraffes, and warthogs.
A healthy population of 450 bird species is 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 kingfishes, flamingos, cormorants, plovers, ducks, and crocodiles basking on the banks are common.
Every day, thousands of people pass within a few kilometers of Mkomazi on one of Tanzania’s busiest highways. These and the northern circuit safari-goers are now most welcomed to discover the treasures of this wedge of hilly semi-arid savannah – home of large herds of giraffe, eland, hartebeest, zebra, buffalo, and elephant.
Mkomazi is a vital refuge for two highly endangered species, the charismatic black rhino and the sociable African wild dog, both of which were successfully reintroduced in the 1990s. Nomadic by nature, wild dogs might be seen almost anywhere in the park, however, the black rhino is restricted to a fenced sanctuary, ensuring their safekeeping for the enjoyment and prosperity of future generations.
Mkomazi supports several dry–country specialists species that are rare elsewhere in Tanzania; these include the spectacular fringe-eared oryx, with its long back–sweeping horns, and the handsome spiral-horned lesser kudu. Oddest of all is the gerenuk, a gazelle distinguished by its slender neck, bizarre alien-like head, and having the habit of standing tall on its hind legs as it stretches for acacia leaves that other browsers cannot reach.
A game reserve since 1951, this new National Park takes its name from a word from Pare tribe denoting “scoop of water”, referring to little water. It is a fantastic destination for birdwatchers, with more than 450 avian species recorded, among them are the dry–country endemics such as the cobalt–chested vulturine guinea-fowl, other large ground birds such as ostrich, kori bustard, secretary bird, ground hornbill, and some migratory species including the Eurasian roller.
Location: Northern Tanzania split between Kilimanjaro and Tanga administrative regions. The park borders on the west of the Tsavo National Park in Kenya. The Zange entrance gate lies 112 km (69 miles) from Moshi, 550 km (341 miles) from Mwalimu J. K. Nyerere International Airport – Dar es Salaam, 142 km (88.7 miles) from Kilimanjaro International Airport, 120 km (75 miles) from Kilimanjaro National Park and 6 km (3.7 miles) from the town of Same.
How to get there
By road, Mkomazi is easily accessible via Same, which lies on the surfaced highway connecting Arusha to Dar es Salaam. The Park is also easily accessible on special arrangements through Njiro, Kivingo, and Umba gates. The park can also be easily accessed from the nearby existing tourist attractions in the Eastern Arc Mountains, The Coast, and Kilimanjaro Mountain. Charter flights are available to the Kisima airstrip.
What to do
Game drives, camping, site seeing, bird watching, walking safari, and hiking (uphill). Learn more about conservation and rhinoceros at Mkomazi rhino sanctuary.
There is one semi-permanent tented camp near the Park headquarters. Few designated basic campsites where one must bring his/her camping gear and food. There are several small hotels and guest houses in the Same town