[vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_tta_tabs style=”flat” shape=”square” color=”white” gap=”5″ active_section=”1″ no_fill_content_area=”true”][vc_tta_section title=” Southern Tanzania Safari” tab_id=”1486470667537-a2a85fab-e1dd”][vc_column_text] The Southern safari route is anchored on Dar es Salaam, and covers Ruaha National Park, Mikumi, Udzungwa Mountains National Parks and the Selous Game Reserve. It is more discreet, less accessible and has fewer visitors. Adventure lovers and those who seek closer contact with some of Africa’s most complex ecosystems will be rewarded. Here you can view game in a variety of new ways- walking, riding and boating. If you have not had the privilege of getting up close to wild animals in their natural habitat, it is an exciting and refreshing experience. Allow us to show you the essence that is Tanzania, the sense of freedom in the humbling vastness of the wide open spaces, of being close to nature where you will feel beguiled and spellbound by the beauty and tranquility, in this continent of contrasts…
[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Selous Game Reserve” tab_id=”1486470667589-2483ee5c-5337″][vc_column_text] Located in southern Tanzania and far from the madding crowds, the Selous Game Reserve is Africa’s largest game reserve and one of our favourite wildlife viewing areas. This really is a hidden gem! The rivers and lakes of the Selous are the lifeblood of a park that hosts some fabulous game, including elephant, wild dog, buffalo, hippo, crocodile and fantastic prides of lion.
As you may have gathered, we are huge fans of Selous safaris. The reality is that this park is so vast it is impossible to count its game and that is exactly what we love about it; Selous is untouched African wilderness and yet still easily accessible from Dar and Zanzibar. All in all, it is probably our favorite Tanzania safari location.
Introduction to a Selous Safari
At the heart of the Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania’s largest river, the Rufiji, forms a complex network of channels, lakes and swamps that create one of the most outstanding ecological systems in East Africa. This river also splits the reserve into two different sections:
The northern Selous covers only around 5% of the reserve’s total area. No hunting is allowed here; this area is dedicated exclusively to photographic safaris. Virtually all of the small exclusive camps which we offer operate in this area.
The southern Selous, south of the Rufiji, is split up into a number of ‘hunting blocks’ – each of which typically cover about 1,000km². Expert Africa doesn’t offer hunting safaris.
Access to the Selous Game Reserve
Getting to the Selous is easy, it is served by light aircraft flights from Dar and Ruaha daily – a flight takes about 45 minutes from Dar, and about 90 minutes from Ruaha.
Park entrance fees are (at time of writing) US$75 per person per day (US$50 for park fees plus US$25 conservation charge). Current park fees are usually included by us in the price of a trip here.
.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Mikumi Park” tab_id=”1486470715622-f35d8aab-395a”][vc_column_text] Mikumi is Tanzania’s fourth-largest national park. It’s also the most accessible from Dar es Salaam. With almost guaranteed wildlife sightings, it makes an ideal safari destination for those without much time. Mikumi National Park abuts the northern border of Africa’s biggest game reserve – the Selous – and is transected by the surfaced road between Dar es Salaam and Iringa. It is thus the most accessible part of a 75,000 square kilometre (47,000 square mile) tract of wilderness that stretches east almost as far as the Indian Ocean.
The open horizons and abundant wildlife of the Mkata Floodplain, the popular centre piece of Mikumi, draws frequent comparisons to the more famous Serengeti Plains. Most visitors come to Mikumi National Park aiming to spot the ‘Big Five’ (cheetah, lion, elephant, buffalo, and rhino), and they are always not disappointed. Hippo pools provide close access to the mud-loving beasts, and bird-watching along the waterways is particularly rewarding. Mikumi National Park borders the Selous Game Reserve and Udzungwa National Park, and the three locations make a varied and pleasant safari circuit.
About Mikumi National Park
Size: 3,230 sq km (1,250 sq miles), the fourth-largest national park in Tanzania, and part of a much larger ecosystem centred on the uniquely vast Selous Game Reserve.
Location: 283 km (175 miles) west of Dar es Salaam, north of Selous, and en route to Ruaha, Udzungwa and (for the intrepid) Katavi. .
How to get there
A good surfaced road connects Mikumi to Dar es Salaam via Morogoro, a roughly 4 hour drive.
Also road connections to Udzungwa, Ruaha and (dry season only) Selous.
Charter flight from Dar es Salaam, Arusha or Selous. Local buses run from Dar to park HQ where game drives can be arranged.
What to do
Game drives and guided walks. Visit nearby Udzungwa or travel on to Selous or Ruaha.
Two lodges, three luxury tented camps, three campsites.
Guest houses in Mikumi town on the park border. One lodge is proposed at Mahondo and one permanent tented camp at Lumaaga
.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Udzungwa Park” tab_id=”1486470717375-aab82118-48bf”][vc_column_text] Udzungwa is the largest and with most biodiversity and a chain of a dozen large forest-swathed mountains that rise majestically from the flat coastal scrub of eastern Tanzania. Known collectively as the Eastern Arc Mountains, this archipelago of isolated massifs has also been dubbed as the African Galapagos for its treasure-trove of endemic plants and animals, most familiarly being the delicate African violet.
Udzungwa alone among the ancient ranges of the Eastern Arc has been accorded the national park status. It is also unique within Tanzania in that its closed-canopy forest spans altitudes of 250 metres (820 feet) to above 2,000 metres (6,560 ft) without interruption.
Location: Five hours (350 km/215 miles) from Dar es Salaam; 65 kms (40 miles) southwest of Mikumi.
Drive from Dar es Salaam or Mikumi National Park.
What to do
From a two-hour hike to the waterfall as well as camping safaris.
Combine with nearby Mikumi or en route to Ruaha.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_tabs][vc_tta_tabs style=”flat” shape=”square” color=”white” gap=”5″ active_section=”1″ no_fill_content_area=”true”][vc_tta_section title=”Ruaha Game Park” tab_id=”1488106131716-7df16b1a-116a”][vc_column_text] Located at the heart of Tanzania, Ruaha is the ‘other park’ on the Southern circuit. Ruaha’s relative inaccessibility means it gets far fewer tourists than the Selous and less than any comparable park in the Northern circuit. The rewards of travelling this far are a wild landscape with baobab studded hills and rocky escarpments, with superb wildlife; Ruaha safaris have reliably exciting predator concentrations, huge elephant and buffalo herds and a cross over of game from southern and Eastern Africa.
Ruaha is well known for its varied dramatic scenery, which includes rolling hills; large open plains; groves of skeletal baobabs and along its southern border, the Great Ruaha River, from which the park gets its name. This is by far the most dominant geographical feature of the national park and, for the wildlife it is the most important. Ruaha has a hot, dry climate which means the animals don’t tend to stray too far from dependable water sources. This makes predicating game movements far easier particularly in the dry season.
The best game viewing in this national park is generally from May to November, but the bush is greener and prettier from January to June, and birding peaks during the European winter months of December to April.
Access to Ruaha National Park
Ruaha is relatively far from Dar, which is part of the reason why so few visitors come here, having said that it is still reasonably accessible. It is served by daily flights with Coastal Aviation and Safari Airlink from Dar es Salaam. These usually cost around US$380 per person. When you land at the local airstrip in Ruaha you will be collected and transferred by a representative from the lodge where you are staying.
Park entrance fees for Ruaha are (at time of writing) US$30 per person per day. We usually include current park fees in the price of a trip here. (There is also a small concession fee which is included into the nightly rate at all the lodges).
[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Katavi Park” tab_id=”1488106131959-8df69382-96ec”][vc_column_text] The far west of Tanzania gives home to two of Tanzania’s lesser known national parks: Katavi National Park and Mahale Mountains National Park. This western circuit is extremely remote, tricky to access and pretty costly to visit. As a result few people make the effort to come here and so it has remained an untouched, unique experience, and absolutely worth visiting.
Katavi National Park is a name to conjure with. It is one of the best parks in Africa and many safari operations would love to start camps here. However, the logistics and costs are so difficult, that there are only a couple of small, permanent safari camps sharing this 4,500km² of wilderness. You sometimes run across more prides of lion than other people on a game drive.
Getting to Katavi National Park
Katavi’s isolation has helped it to remain untouched and largely un-visited; by light aircraft it takes four or five hours to reach here from Dar or Arusha. However, the result is that whilst the Serengeti National Park sees around 120,000 visitors per annum, Katavi has only a few hundred visitors per year!
The least expensive way to get to Katavi (and Mahale Mountains, which is relatively nearby) is by using twice-weekly scheduled flights which link these parks with Arusha, in northern Tanzania. Operating on Mondays and Thursdays, their relatively high cost helps to make these parks two of Tanzania’s most expensive destinations!
There are also flights routing Dar-Selous-Ruaha to Katavi/Mahale, and back. These also run on Mondays and Thursdays. Sadly, the costs for these are similar to the costs of chartering; certainly no lower than the schedule flights from Arusha.
.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Gombe Park” tab_id=”1488106132195-b3612866-3f2e”][vc_column_text] Gombe Stream National Park, located on the western border of Tanzania and the Congo, is most famous for Jane Goodall, the resident primatologist who spent many years in its forests studying the behaviour of the endangered chimpanzees. Situated on the wild shores of Lake Tanganyika, Gombe Stream is an untamed place of lush forests and clear lake views. Hiking and swimming are also popular activities here, once the day’s expedition to see the chimpanzees is over.
Gombe Stream’s main attraction is obviously the chimpanzee families that live protected in the park’s boundaries. Guided walks are available that take visitors deep into the forest to observe and sit with the extraordinary primates for an entire morning — an incredible experience and one that is the highlight of many visitors’ trips to Africa. Besides chimpanzee viewing, many other species of primates live in Gombe Stream’s tropical forests. Vervet and colobus monkeys, baboons, forest pigs and small antelopes inhabit the park.
About Gombe Stream National Park
Size: 52 sq km (20 sq miles), Tanzania’s smallest national park.
Location: 16 km (10 miles) north of Kigoma on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania.
Kigoma is connected to Dar and Arusha by scheduled flights, to Dar and Mwanza by a slow rail service, to Mwanza, Dar and Mbeya by rough dirty roads, and to Mpulungu in Zambia by a weekly ferry.
From Kigoma, local lake-taxis take up to three hours to reach Gombe, or motorboats can be chartered, taking less than one hour.
What to do
Chimpanzee trekking, hiking, swimming and snorkeling;
Visit the site of Henry Stanley’s famous “Dr Livingstone I presume” at Ujiji near Kigoma, and watch the renowned dhow builders at work. .
[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Mahale Mountain Park” tab_id=”1488106132444-e57b77c4-b1e7″][vc_column_text] Mahale Mountains National Park is home to one of Africa’s most studied chimpanzee populations. The support that visitors give through payment of park entrance fees provides the Park with the means to safeguard and protect this unique population of chimpanzees and the beautiful forest that they inhabit.
Best time to visit the park
The dry season (mid-May to mid-October) is the best period in which to visit the park. During this period, chimpanzees are likely to be seen in big groups, the sunshine illuminates the fish in the Lake and the beach is an inviting place to relax. However, Mahale Mountains National Park is accessible all year round. A visit in the rainy season can also be a memorable experience, made remarkable by views of Congo across the water, and by incredible lightning storms that light up the lake at night.
Infrastructure and Communication
Mahale is accessible by air and boat only. However, there are several different flight and boat options, to suit most budgets and time frames:
Direct flights to Mahale
This is the easiest way to reach Mahale. During the peak tourist season (June to October) the three tour operators with camps in Mahale schedule regular flights between the park and Arusha town. Between October and March flights arrive and leave twice each week. Only during March, April and the first half of May are there no scheduled flights, since the camps close for the heaviest rains.
It is also possible for visitors to arrange their own charter flights. Tanzania has a large number of charter flight companies (for example, Air Excel, Northern Air and Regional Air). Private charters can be arranged from Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar and visitors should expect to pay between $5 000 and $10 000.
The airstrip at Mahale is suitable for light aircraft only. The largest planes able to land can carry up to 12 passengers.
Travel to Mahale via Kigoma
Kigoma can be reached via several routes:
By Air: Precision Air schedules daily flights from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma. The flight takes about 3 hours.
By Road: Road provides accessibility to Kigoma, but it can be rough and impassable, especially in the rainy season. From Arusha it takes 2 or 3 days to reach Kigoma by car, and a 4-wheel drive vehicle is essential.
By Rail: Trains from Dar es Salaam leave 2-3 times per week. The journey takes about three days and two nights.
From Kigoma, Mahale can be reached by boat or by light aircraft:
Transport to Mahale by speedboats or timber boats from Kigoma can be arranged with the Park or private operators in Kigoma. The speedboats take between 4 and 6 hours to reach the park while timber boats can take up to 15 hours.
A large steamship – MV Liemba – leaves Kigoma each week on a Wednesday afternoon, carrying passengers and cargo the length of the Lake to Zambia.
It makes numerous stops along the way, including one for Mahale, which is referred to as Lagossa (the old name) or Mgambo. A Mahale Mountains National Park boat meets the Liemba each week and transfers passengers to park headquarters. The Liemba takes around 10 hours to reach Lagossa-Mgambo from Kigoma, and it passes Mahale again on its return journey each Saturday.
Mahale is 45 minutes from Kigoma by light aircraft. A few safari companies offer private charter flights from Kigoma to Mahale and other National Parks in western Tanzania.
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