Africa is a continent that has many national parks which aim to protect the numerous species of plants and animals which help to make Africa such a special place. One of the lesser known national parks in Tanzania is Mkomazi National Park which, despite being easily accessible from that country’s biggest city Dar Es Salaam, and Arusha, a town that is central to that country’s tourism industry, Mkomazi is one of Tanzania’s least visited national parks.
The name Mkomazi is the local word for `scoop of water’, and is indicative of the scarcity of water in the park. Spreading across an area of 3,245 sq km (1,240 sq miles) in northern Tanzania, not far from Mt Kilimanjaro. Part of the reason for it being one of the least visited parks in Tanzania, a country which boasts two of the best parks in Africa in Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, is that it does lack many facilities, and many of the comforts afforded in the other parks.
There is, however, accommodation at the Elephant Motel, which is located just six kilometres outside the park in the town called Same.
Even though facilities may be scarce, the opportunity to watch wildlife is excellent, and it is particularly popular with bird enthusiasts as the park contains over 405 species of birds.
Because there is also a lack of water in Mkomazi, you are more likely to spot arid land species of wildlife, some of which are not only rare, but distinctly bizarre. One of these is the gerenuk, a little known gazelle that is mostly distinguished by its slender neck, unusual head, and which has a habit of standing tall on its hind legs stretch for acacia leaves that most other animals cannot reach.
A couple of animals that are on the highly endangered list, namely the black rhinoceros and the African wild dog have been re-introduced into the park and are generally doing well. The African wild dog does have the run of the park, but the black rhinoceros are restricted to roaming within a fenced area for their own protection.
Of course, you can also see lots of other wildlife there, including giraffe, eland and elephants. Mkomazi is Tanzania’s newest national park, one which has been reclaimed from former grazing land, and the fact that it is not overflowing with tourists is perhaps one of the better reasons for deciding to visit the park, for the sheer joy of having much of it to yourself.