Mkomazi National Park
The Park finds itself in a beautiful setting with both the Pare and Usambara mountains towering above its boundaries. Depending on the weather, Mount Kilimanjaro can also be seen from the park. To the south the pare and usambara mountains form a dramatic backdrop and to the north, Kenya’s vast Tsavo National Park shares a border with Mkomazi, making common ground for migratory herds of elephant, oryx and zebra during the wet season. Together with Tsavo, it forms one of the largest and most important protected ecosystems on earth.
Mkomazi derives its name from Pare-ethnic language; “Mko and Mazi”. “Mko” means a traditional tiny wooden spoon used by the Pare people for eating and “Mazi” means water.
This implies that the water in the Park is hardly enough to fill up the wooden spoon. It covers an area of 3,245sq km.
The animals of Mkomazi are typical of the arid area. Giraffe, oryx, gerenuk, hartebeest lesser kudu, eland, impala and grants gazelle share the park with elephants, buffalo and numerous predators including lions, leopards and cheetah.
Bordering Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park in northeastern Tanzania, Mkomazi which was commissioned as a Game Reserve in 1951 has been gazetted a National Park from 2008… Located to the east of Pare Mountains near Same town, about 190kms from Arusha, Mkomazi National Park lies along the edge of a semi-arid savanna arc that stretches into Kenya’s Tsavo West, falling into the Mkomazi-Tsavo Ecosystem, which is the second largest trans-boundry ecosystem in East Africa after the famous Serengeti – Maasai Mara. Before coming under TANAPA authority, Mkomazi, with an area of 3,245sq km, was managed by the government as a game reserve. As a national park, Mkomazi have the potential to develop into a glorious sanctuary where visitors will have the opportunity to explore more of the Tanzania’s hidden natural treasures.
Umba River on Mkomazi’s south eastern border and other water holes keep the park teeming with small and large mammals, including silver backed jackal, lion, cheetah, leopard, giraffe, buffalo, elephant and zebra, with the rare gerenuk, lesser kudu and fringe-eared oryx easily sighted. There is a sanctuary for the endangered black rhino and another one for the wild dog created within the national park to protect these rare species. The Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary has attained international renown for rehabilitating rhino, and it offers viewing and educational opportunities for visitors. Mkomazi is a fascinating destination for bird watchers, boasting more than 450 avian species including some Eurasian migratory species.
Quite a few activities can be conducted in Mkomazi, including game drives, walking safaris, mountain hikes and bird watching. Mkomazi can be visited throughout the year, with late June to early September best for large mammal and bird watching, Mkomazi National Park would smoothly fit into the Arusha – Usambara – Tanga – Pangani – Saadani – Dar es Salaam / Zanzibar circuit, or may be visited as a single destination from Arusha or after Kilimanjaro climbing.