HomeCategorySouthern Circuit

The hippos in Mikumi National Park of Tanzania.
The Mikumi National Park under the sunshine in Tanzania.
A jumping antelope in Mikumi National Park of Tanzania.
  • Distance from Dar es Salaam: 283km


The Mikumi National Park is in the Southern Tanzania and is part of the Selous ecosystem that always has a good number of wildlife moving in and out of the park. The landscapes in Mikumi National Park can easily be compared to those of the Serengeti National Park as acacias, baobabs and tamarinds dot the savannah. The Ruhebo and Uluguru mountains as well as some interesting rock formations can be seen close to the northern boundary of the park and the Mkata plains are by far the best place for game viewing. The park is famous for its healthy populations of elephants, buffaloes, leopard, and wild dogs which can easily be spotted out on the plains. Other unique wildlife is the greater kudus and sable antelopes. These shy antelopes like to hang around the Miombo woodlands in the southern part of the park near the Vuma hills area.

Apart from wildlife animals, Mikumi is also another phenomena place for bird watching where you can witness up to 400 species of bird’s life such as black bellied bustards, guinea fowls, marabou storks, bateleur eagles, ox peckers, colorful lilac breasted rollers and yellow throated long claws. These are just a few of the many species you are likely to spot in Mikumi park. The park also witnesses a passing of migrating birds from Europe during the rainy season. In the north there is two artificial pools which act as magnet hippos and water birds such as blacksmith plovers, cattle egrets, various herons, fish eagles and so many others.

21438734 - family of elephants walking in the bushland of tanzania - national park selous game reserve
21438734 - family of elephants walking in the bushland of tanzania - national park selous game reserve
21438734 - family of elephants walking in the bushland of tanzania - national park selous game reserve
  • Size: 54,600
  • Distance from Dar es Salaam: 200 Km
  • Established: 1922 and become UNESCO heritage on 1982


Nyerere National Park until 2020 was known as Selous Game Reserve was the largest Game reserve in Africa. The reserve was named after the famous English hunter/explorer Sir Frederick Courtney Selous who died in 1917 during WW1 in Beho Beho as Selous Game reserve. The reserve was changed to National park in 2020 and was given the name of Nyerere national in honor of the first president and father of the Tanzania Repulic Julius Kambarange Nyerere.

Nyerere has many diverse habitats and the land is made up of a mixture of Miombo woodlands, rolling hills, savannahs, rocky outcrops, swamps, lakes, and rivers. The majestic Rufiji River, the largest river in Tanzania, is the lifeblood of the reserve and along with a network of many tributaries, lakes, lagoons and channels, plays a vital role to the ecosystem.

The Nyerere national parks is divided into two parts. The northern covers only about 5% of the reserves total area and it is purely dedicated to photographic safaris. The southern is the area down Rufiji river was split in hunting concessions which was leased out for hunting companies.

When visiting Selous for a safari, visitors will travel to the northern part, which thrives with wildlife. Large concentrations of buffaloes, hippos, wildebeests, impalas, zebras, gazelles, hartebeests, giraffes, waterbucks, kudus, roan antelopes, sable antelopes, and crocodiles are all found here. Nyerere Park is also home to almost 3000-4000 lions and is considered to have half of Tanzania’s elephant population within its boundaries! In addition, thereto it is also home to the endangered African wild dog and black rhino. Leopards are also very much at home here and they prefer to live in the Miombo woodlands area.

With its more than 440 species a great place to learn and enjoy bird watching including African spoonbills, white fronted bee-eaters, white headed vultures, African fish eagles, spur-winged lapwings, francolins and many more. The reserve offers a variety of activities for guest to choose from. In addition to regular game drives, visitors can go on a boat safari or walk in the footsteps of people like Hemingway during a walking safari accompanied by an armed ranger.

ruaha 2 (2)
ruaha 3 (2)
  • Size: 13,00 sq Km
  • Distance from Dar es Salaam: 625km


The Ruaha National Park is in the southern part of Tanzania and bear its name from a majestic river flowing 160km in the park, River Ruaha. The vegetations differs drastically between flat treeless savannahs, Miombo woodlands, dry bush lands, swamps, and riverine forests. Almost 1650 different plant species can be found in the park, creating a one of a kind botanical paradise.

Apart from the river the park is well known for its varied scenery – from large open plains to rolling hills, river systems to wetlands and kopjes to mountains. The Ruaha National Park marks the transition zone where eastern and southern species of flora and fauna overlap. The Great Rift Valley also runs through the park with escarpment walls rising between 50 and 100 m in height. Natural springs associated with the rift valley are scattered throughout the park.

During the dry season, the Ruaha River also dry and becomes waterholes of which predators take complete advantage of hide in wait, knowing that thirst will drive herds of impalas, gazelles, and other antelopes to come drink. The riverine vegetation on the shores around the river helps provide enough cover for lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, and hyenas making it the best hunting ground in the park.

The Ruaha National Park is famous for having one of the highest concentrations of African elephants in East Africa. Huge numbers of up to 200 are often spotted below giant baobab trees. Furthermore, the park is home to both species of kudu (greater and lesser) as well as the majestic sable and roan antelopes both of which are frequently seen.

Apart from mammals, 529 species have been sighted in the park. Some of the famous birds include the endemic Ruaha red billed hornbill, kingfishers, sunbirds, black collared lovebirds, ashy starlings, ground hornbills, bateleurs, fish eagles and many more.

Saadani National Park 3
Saadani National Park 2
Saadani National Park 1
  • Size: 1,062 Km sq
  • Distance: 200km


The park is situated between Dar es Salaam (200 km, 4 hours) and Tanga (75km, 3 hours) and borders the mainland coast.

The Saadani National Park is home to a variable mix of both marine and mainland flora and fauna. The vegetation in the park is quite unique and includes mangrove forests around the winding Wami River and ocean, clumps of palm trees, coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, short and tall-grass savannah, and the harsh black cotton plains.

In terms of wildlife, Saadani has a thriving population of waterbucks, wildebeests, hartebeests, reedbucks, buffaloes, and giraffes. Warthogs, baboons, and colobus monkeys are often spotted, while elephants, lions and leopards are quite shy. But even for ornithologists this place is truly spectacular. A boat safari on the Wami River is a true highlight for any visitor and apart from pods of hippos and huge crocodiles, malachite, pied and even giant kingfishers can also be seen. Other common birds include the woolly necked stork, common sand pipers, lilac-breasted rollers, palm nut vultures, fish eagles and ground hornbills.

In Sadaani National Park you can enjoy game drives, boat safaris and walking safaris accompanied by an armed ranger. Historical tours to the old Saadani fishing village to see the remains of buildings that existed when this place was a bustling port trading ivory and slaves, can also be organized. Even cultural tours to the main ethnic tribes in the area (Waswahili, Wazigua and Wadoe) are on offer. Further ethnic groups from other regions have also migrated to the region because of better trade opportunities. The Wamangati, originally from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, send their cattle to Zanzibar on traditional dhows to make a living.

Unlike as in other national parks in Tanzania, visitors can combine a safari with a relaxing beach stay in Saadani National Park. The beaches are clean and lined with palm trees. Saadani’s coast is hot and humid and swimming is pleasant with the ocean’s temperatures usually reaching around 25°C. Maziwe reef can easily be reached by boat from anywhere along the Saadani coast.

Udzungwa Mountains 2
Udzungwa Mountains 3
Udzungwa Mountains 1
  • Size: 1,990 sq Km
  • Established: 1992
  • Distance from Dar Es Salaam: 350 km


The biodiversity of this park is by far one of Tanzania’s most special features. Habitats include mountain forests, tropical rainforests, Miombo woodlands, grasslands, and steppe. The Udzungwa Mountains are part of the Eastern Arc Mountains which are found in Kenya and Tanzania and were formed some 200 million years ago. Today they hold a unique collection of flora and fauna and cover only 2% of Tanzania’s area but hold between 30-40% of the countries plant and mammal species.

The vertical height of the Udzungwa forests ranges from 250 m to 2,576 m and with numerous forest trails, offering different kinds of activities, the park is a true hikers paradise. A half day tour to Sanje waterfall at a towering 170 m is worth doing.

The park is home of six primates, two of which are Iringa red colobus and the sanje crested Mangabey which occur nowhere else in the world. Other wildlife found in the parks includes elephants, leopard, bush bucks, duikers, palm civets, miombo genets, and hyenas.

Bird watchers are also in for a treat as the park boasts with over 400 species of birds. Some of them are endemic to the Eastern Arc Mountains and four of them are found only in Udzungwa. Other common birds include ruppells vultures, marabous, crowned eagles, malachite kingfishers, woodland, kingfishers, silvery cheeked hornbills, and trumpeter hornbills. Over 2500 species of plant have been identified in this park of which 25% are endemic to area.

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