Tanzania upside down

2013-02-04 09:40

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It is quite hard to argue that Northern Tanzania is a first grade safari destination. But while the main stream of the country’s safari tourism follows the great migration and the Big Five into the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, the unexplored gems are waiting in the south of Tanzania

The call of game-rich wildernesses with no other vehicles in sight is music to the ear of safari purists and provides a real alternative to the attractions of the north.

From Dar es Salaam the first stop is Mikumi National Park, the 3 230 km² wilderness is known for large buffalo herds and an elephant population of approximately 2 000 animals. The vast Mkata Plains are somewhat reminiscent of the Serengeti. The treeless expanse makes it easy to view zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, hyena and lion. A four-hour drive on the A7 from Dar es Salaam makes Mikumi one of Tanzania’s most accessible parks and a popular starting point for the Southern Safari Circuit.



In the south Mikumi borders the biggest wildlife conservation area in Africa. The Selous Game Reserve is a true wilderness that still has a healthy population of the endangered African wild dog as well as lion and a diversity of antelope. In an area almost the size of Switzerland you will come across miombo woodlands, open grassland and savannah. With very few permanent structures the Selous has an authentic wilderness feel that will appeal to intrepid nature lovers.

The next stop in the circuit is Ruaha National Park, but before you make your way to Tanzania’s second largest park, a stop in the Udzungwa Mountains is well worth the detour. The magical mountain forest is a biodiversity hotspot full of colourful birds, butterflies and monkeys. A hike up to the Sanje Waterfall will give you the best of this wonderland in about half a day.

By the time you get to Ruaha National Park you are deep into the Tanzanian wilderness.



On the border of two different ecosystems Ruaha offers a unique mix of species. Here roan and sable antelope occur alongside greater kudu and Grant’s gazelle. The park is overflowing with life and diversity and the best thing is that you will not have to share the sightings with other tourists. The 10 000 km² wilderness is filled with lion, wild dog, leopard, cheetah, 10 000 elephants and 450 bird species.

The Great Ruaha River is the life-giving element of the park and attracts many of the large mammals.

Ruaha is as far as most travellers will go. However, the most adventurous can venture into a park that is as close to pre-colonial Africa as you will ever be. Due to its inaccessibility Katavi National Park is in a completely pristine state with no other travellers to spoil your experience.



When the dry season reaches its end, the hippos are piled into the few remaining puddles and the fights among the bulls are a spine-chilling sight.

Safaris in southern Tanzania take you far off the beaten track and this luxury comes at a cost. The distances are far and western conveniences are not always available. If you want to explore these beautiful wilderness areas, but don’t have the courage or the kit to take it on by yourself you can book accommodated safaris to southern Tanzania.

For more information on safaris in Tanzania, visit www.tanzania-experience.com.
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