Mkomazi National Park

Mkomazi National Park is located in northeastern Tanzania on the Kenyan border, in Kilimanjaro Region and Tanga Region. It was established as a game reserve in 1951 and upgraded to a national park in 2006.

The park covers over 3,200 km2 and is dominated by Acacia-Commiphora vegetation; it is contiguous with Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park. The area commonly called ‘Mkomazi’ is actually the union of two previous game reserves, the Umba Game Reserve in the east (in Lushoto District, Tanga Region) and the Mkomazi Game Reserve in the west (in Same District, Kilimanjaro Region); in government documents, they are sometimes called the Mkomazi/Umba Game Reserves. Of the two, Mkomazi is larger and has more diversity of relief and habitat, and a long shared border with Tsavo West National Park. In the rest of this entry ‘Mkomazi’ will refer to both the Mkomazi and Umba reserves together.

History of contest

Like many national parks and game reserves, Mkomazi’s history is one of the contest, with the main contenders being government conservation planners and local rural resources users. It differs from many other cases in East Africa because limited resource use within the reserve was initially permitted. When Mkomazi was first established a number of pastoral families from the Parakuyo ethnic group were allowed to continue to live there with a few thousand of their cattle, goats, and sheep. The (colonial) government of the time permitted them to reside there because they had been in the area for many years and were thought not to threaten the ecological integrity of the reserve. The pastoralists were only allowed in the eastern half of the reserve. Immigrant Maasai pastoralists and families from other ethnic groups were evicted when the reserve was established.

However, Mkomazi was soon subject to immigration by other herders, some of which were resisted by the Parakuyo residents, and some which were facilitated by them. What with resident stock breeding and immigrant stock joining the reserve, the first decades of Mkomazi’s history were dominated by rising cattle populations. Some 20,000 animals were counted in the eastern half of the reserve in the early 1960s. In the early 1970s pastoralists began living and grazing in the western half of the reserve and by the mid-1980s around 80,000 cattle were counted inside the reserve as a whole. There were probably thousands more using it intermittently. Many of the immigrants were Maasai, who are very closely related to the Parakuyo, speaking the same language and sharing many customs. But local herders from other ethnic groups, such as the Sambaa and Pare, also grazed thousands of cattle inside Mkomazi.

The quantities of cattle within the reserve caused considerable concern for the environment and there was continual pressure to have them evicted. In the late 1980s the government resolved to cease all grazing permission within Mkomazi and evicted all herders. By July 1988 these evictions were complete. Evicted Maasai and Parakuyo pastoralists contested the legality of the evictions, claiming customary rights to the reserve in the Tanzanian courts, but lost their case. After the evictions, the British charity, the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust, and its American sister charity the Tony Fitzjohn / George Adamson African Wildlife Preservation Trust became interested in Mkomazi and have since been spearheading a campaign to restore the reserve. They have set up fenced sanctuaries for African wild dogs and black rhinoceros, and are restoring the reserve’s infrastructure and supporting local communities with its outreach program.

Sample Itinerary

3 Days Mkomazi National Park

Day 01: Arusha/Mkomazi National Park

Morning pick-up from your hotel Moshi/Arusha/Dara es Salaam and departure to Mkomazi National Park. Arrive in time for a full day of game viewing.

Today Mkomazi National Park is easily accessible and is a truly spectacular wilderness! In the northwest, you can see Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. And in the south, the Pare and Usambara mountains create a dramatic backdrop. To the north, Kenya’s Tsavo National Park borders the Mkomazi National Park. 

These two parks form one of the largest and most important protected ecosystems. They provide a common base for herds of elephants, ory,x, and zebras. Mkomazi is located on the southern tip of the Sahel. It has a classic arid area with gray-green nyika bush, old baobab trees, and isolated rocky hills. In other places sc, es the scrub seas give way to savannah forests with umbrella acacias and mbugas – flat grassland valleys. After a hot lunch, we’ll go back to the camp in the evening to clean up and share stories around the campfire. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel/Camp (FB)

Day 02: Mkomazi National Park full day  

Collect lunch boxes and drive for a full-day game drive, Mkomazi national park has thinly populated and quite skittish wildlife. It is typical for the dry landscape: giraffes, antelopes, small kudu, impala, and grant‘sant’s gazelle. They share the park with elephants, buffalo, and numepredatorsatoincluding ionsnsn, elaborate, and cheetahs. And with some luck, you can also spot other anliklikes ldisksdiksks, zebras, wildebeests, eland, and, topi regularly on a game drive. Visitors can see a total of 78 species of recorded mammals living here. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel/Camp (FB)

Day 03: Mkomazi/Arusha

After breakfast drive to Arusha/Moshi/Arusha

End of Program

  • Meals and Accommodation
  • Park entry fees,
  • Game drives by 4WD safari vehicle.
  • English-speaking driver-guide.
  • Bottles of mineral drinking water.
  • All Government Taxes

 Not included in the price:

  • International Flight
  • Airport transfers
  • Before and After accommodation in Arusha
  • Alcoholic drinks and beverages.
  • Tip for the driver

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