Located just off the busiest highway in Tanzania, between Arusha and Tanga, Mkomazi is surprisingly overlooked by safari lovers and tour operators. Once actively used by Parakuyo pastoralists and migrant Maasai tribes, Mkomazi was turned into a nature reserve in the middle of last century. Since then, sanctuaries were set up in the park to take care of black rhinos and African wild dog. African Wild Dog looks like a dog covered in splashes of white paint on the front. Black rhino, one of the most endangered animals in Africa, frequently targeted by poachers, looks like a big train approching you from the bush. The sanctuaries will allow you to see the animals in close proximity, as well as learn more about conservation of endangered species.
The semi-arid savannah of Mkomazi lies right on the route between the great Kilimanjaro climb and coastal paradise by the ocean. Here, you will be constantly accompanied by large herds of giraffes, hartebeests, zebras, buffaloes and elephants. Besides these, you may be lucky to see gerenuks – bizarre alien-resembling gazelles who can stretch their neck and stand up on their rear legs in order to reach for acacia leaves. Mkomazi also has a big population of fringe-eared oryx and stripy spiral-horned lesser kudu, whom you will see skipping on the plains and running away from your vehicle.
Avid birdwatchers, brace yourselves for a few endemic species of Mkomazi, such as a vulturine guinea fowl. The park is also abundant in ostriches, kori bustards, secretary birds, starlings and several types of migratory birds. Besides game drives, Mkomazi is fabulous for walking safaris and hiking trails, so arm yourselves with cameras and enjoy bush camping!