Mikumi National Park, Tanzania Off The Beaten Path
Mikumi National Park, Tanzania Off The Beaten Path was originally published in December 2020
Often skipped over by tourists who visit Tanzania, Mikumi National Park sees only a small fraction of the Tanzanian stars of the Serengeti, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, and the island of Zanzibar. Conveniently located about 5 hours drive from the capital of Dar es Salaam, Mikumi National Parks makes for a great weekend escape from the city. For road trippers, Mikumi is the perfect stop to break up the journey between Dar and Iringa.
Why Visit Mikumi?
Mikumi is known amongst safari-lovers for its bountiful wildlife, home to 4 of the African Big 5 (sorry, no rhinos here). More so, Mikumi National Park is known for its staggering array of small game and bird species. Over 400 different types of birds can be spotted here.
It should be no surprise that Mikumi offers the array of wildlife it does, the national park is contiguous with the Selous Game Reserve, the largest by land size in all of Africa.
A unique feature of Mikumi is their elephants, which tend to be noticeably smaller than other African elephants with much shorter tusks, making them less attractive to poachers.
Another great reason to head to Mikumi is that it is very much off the beaten path Tanzania. The park only gets a small fraction of the visitors who travel to Tanzania each year, compared to the 200,000 tourists that visit Serengeti National Park annually. While the Serengeti is most definitely worth a visit, you won’t be dealing with the crowds (which we all know some can be quite obnoxious) here at Mikumi National Park.
Finally, as mentioned before, Mikumi is conveniently located and quite easy to get to. A 5 hour drive along the A7 Highway that connects Tanzania and neighboring Zambia will bring you to Mikumi from the big city of Dar es Salaam. The A7 also connects Iringa and Mikumi in about 4 hours.
How To Get To Mikumi National Park
Mikumi National Park is pretty easy to reach independently. Even for those short on time, you’ll pass through a part of the park along the A7 (if this is the case, keep your eyes peeled as you will almost certainly see some wildlife from the highway. The A7 will also give you epic views of the Udzungwa Mountains en route.
The drive will take around 5 hours to reach the town of Mikumi that is located about 15 kilometers outside the West Mikumi Gate. You can either opt to stay in Mikumi town and make trips into the park or plan to go camp in the park as part of your safari.
Busses make the haul from Dar es Salaam to the town of Mikumi daily. Good companies to book with include Sumry, Scandanavia, and Mbeya Express.
It is recommended to make your bus booking at least a day in advance. Your accommodation in Mikumi (and likely in Dar as well) can make your bus reservations for you, all they need is a copy of your passport so there is no need to visit the bus station twice.
Mikumi-bound busses depart from Ubungo Station which is located about 11 kilometers northwest of the Dar es Salaam city center. Know that traffic in Dar can be hellacious and it can take 2 hours to make it across the city, so factor that in to make it in time for your departure. You can expect the journey from Ubungo Station to Mikumi by bus to take around 6 hours.
On A Package Safari
This is by far the easiest as your safari operator will arrange everything for you. Most Mikumi National Park safari companies will either pick you up on arrival at Dar es Salaam Airport or from your accommodation in Dar.
Pick up a copy of the Bradt Tanzania guidebook and start planning your visit
Mikumi National Park Entrance Fees
Entrance fees to Mikumi National Park are $30 USD for foreigners per day and $15 per day for children 5-15 years. Residents pay $15 for park entry and resident children are $5 per day. Mikumi National Park fees are payable upon entry.
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The Best Time To Visit Mikumi National Park
June to October is the best time to visit Mikumi as well as the remainder of southern Tanzania as it corresponds with the dry season. This is when skies are the clearest and wildlife is the easiest to spot. The wet season falls from November to May, making wildlife viewing a bit more difficult, though birding is prime at this time. April and May are typically the worst and wettest months to visit Mikumi, but the park is still accessible even then.
Things To Do In Mikumi National Park
The main appeal to visiting Mikumi is for wildlife viewing. You can book packaged safaris that include transfers easily in advance or from Dar es Salaam.
For the DIY-style travelers out there, you can easily arrange a Mikumi safari from the town of Mikumi on arrival. Ask your accommodation in Mikumi to help you arrange a safari to get the best price. If you book a safari in advance of your arrival, you can expect prices to be a bit higher, around is $200-400 per day.
There are walking safaris on offer in Mikumi National Park, which are quite a unique experience (I’ve gotten to do one in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia and highly recommend going on one at least once). Walking safaris in Mikumi start at about $20 USD for four hours.
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Where To Stay In Mikumi National Park
Camps In The Park
Public Campsites In Mikumi National Park
There are two public campgrounds within the boundaries of Mikumi National Park. You’ll need to of course have your own tent and gear if you aren’t on a package safari. Campsites run $30 per night.
Public campgrounds are open year-round. Book your campsite on arrival at the Mikumi park gate.
Vuma Hill Tented Camp
Vuma Hills offers 16 beautiful fully furnished tents inside Mikumi National Park. The tent camp remains open year-round. Tents start around $150 per night including full-board, game safari packages that include your tent, full-board and 2 game drives start at $250 per person per night.
Stanley’s Kopje Camp
Stanley’s Kopje Camp safari camp can only be booked as part of a safari package given the difficulties of reaching the camp. The camp consists of 12 fully furnished tents located atop a kopje (small hill). Rates run $350-500 per night.
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Lodges Inside Mikumi National Park
Mantis Lodge & Camp
Mantis Lodge & Camp is a nicely priced lodge that sits in the heart of Mikumi National Park, perfect for those on a lower mid-range budget. Rooms are simple and beds have mozzy nets. Shop rates on booking and hotels.
Mikumi Wildlife Camp
Mikumi Wildlife Camp offers 12 spacious rooms set in 6 different bandas (a traditional round hut with a thatched roof). Located only a few minutes from the Mikumi National Park gate, giving you easy access to the park. Look out for the best rates on hotels.com.
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Accommodations Outside The National Park Boundary
With double rooms and bungalows for rent, Tan-Swiss Lodge is a steal for those visiting Mikumi National Park. Located about 2 kilometers from the national park boundary. Check prices on booking and Agoda.
Camp Bastian Mikumi
Mikumi Adventure Lodge
Mikumi Adventure Lodge features your choice of bush tents, cottages, and lodge rooms for rent. Located only a few minutes from the Mikumi National Park gate, you’ll be able to quickly get to the park for your safari. Look out for the best rates on hotels.com.
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Have Any Questions About Visiting Mikumi National Park?
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