Mkomazi National Park doesn’t offer as much wildlife viewing when compared to other parks in Tanzania, the wild scenery compensates for it with mountains rising in every direction. The park shares its northern border with Kenya’s vast Tsavo West National Park and migratory herds of elephant, zebra and oryx travel between these parks depending on rainfall patterns.
Wildlife & Animals
Topi, eland, giraffe, zebra, and gazelle are likely to be seen. Wild dog has been re-introduced, but are rarely seen. The black rhino has also been re-introduced but is kept in an enclosure for safety. Several dry country species can be spotted such as fringe-eared oryx, lesser kudu, and the odd-looking gerenuk. With more than 400 species recorded, the birding is good, with many dry-country specials present. Wildlife in the park is thinly populated and quite skittish. Animals that are regularly seen on a game drive are giraffe, dik-dik, zebra, wildebeest, Grant’s gazelle, eland, and topi. Herds of fringe-eared oryx can sometimes be seen on the plains, and Mkomazi is a Wet-season sanctuary for elephants coming from neighboring Tsavo.
Black rhino and wild dog have been re-introduced, but both are held captive for security. Other wild dog packs sometimes roam the area. The odd-looking gerenuk is sometimes found browsing while standing on its hind legs. The lesser kudu is another special antelope that can be found in the thicker bush.
The Dry season, from June to October, is the best time for general wildlife viewing in the park. However, the park isn’t a prime wildlife viewing destination and the scenery and views of the mountains are at their best in the Wet season, from November to May. This is also the best time to see elephants migrating into the park from Tsavo.
Set below the slopes of the spectacular Samara and Pare Eastern Arc Mountain ranges, and overseen by the snowcapped peak of Kilimanjaro, Nkomazi has particular scenic appeal and a sense of immense space. It is a classic dry-country reserve consisting of scattered grey-green scrubby bushes interspersed with savannah woodland and grassland.
Mkomazi is a fantastic destination for bird watchers. It has more than 450 bird species recorded, among them northern dry-country specials such as Shelley’s starling and three-streaked tchagra. It is also the only place in Tanzania where you are likely to see the striking vulturine guineafowl. Large ground birds such as ostrich, kori bustard, secretary bird is present from November to April.
Late June to October is the prime time for watching wildlife in Mkomazi National Park. This is the Dry season; vegetation is thinner and animals gather near water. However, elephants and some other herbivores migrate to the park from neighboring Tsavo NP during the Wet season months from November to May. The general scenery and mountain views are better at this time as well.
Mkomazi’s Dry season – June to September is delightfully sunny and warm. It’s only at night that conditions start to get a bit chilly, as well as in the park’s higher altitudes. The Wet season (October to May) can’t seem to settle on one climate. It begins with the ‘short rains’, then the precipitation eases off for two months before the heavier downpours of the ‘long rains’.
The climate in Mkomazi is usually dry and warm to hot. The warmest months are October to April, and the coldest months are May to September.
There are two Wet seasons. The ‘long rains’ are from March to May, and the ‘short rains’ are from November to December. Rains are very frequent during the rainy season but generally do not last all day.
Dry season –June to October
June, July, August, September & October – The daytime weather is clear, bright and sunny. Afternoon temperatures of around 27°C/81°F are common. It cools off at night with minimum temperatures around 16°C/61°F. There is almost no rain in this period.
Wet season –November to May
As in the Dry season, temperatures are quite uniform, but the humidity is higher, and the heat might become distressful. Afternoon temperatures are usually around 30°C/86°F, and night temperatures are around 19°C/66°F.
November & December – Sometime between the months of November and December comes a period of rain. These rains aren’t likely to impact your trip negatively, as it is uncommon for it to rain all day long. Afternoon showers are more likely.
January & February – There tends to be a drier spell with less rain between the short and long rains. The exact timing is uncertain. March, April & May – It rains with more frequency although not often for the whole day. These months are the wettest, and the most cloud-covered. The humidity is heightened, and it might feel very hot.
The best way to get to Mkomazi is by road from the town of Moshi or Arusha. Most people fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), which is situated halfway between Arusha and Moshi and about 30km/19mi from Moshi. It is also possible to fly into Dar es Salaam and fly Arusha Airport (ARK) or Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). Mkomazi is right next to the small town of the same, which is a comfortable 112km/ 69mi drive south from Moshi. Mkomazi lies a bit out of the way as compared to the other parks in northern Tanzania but could be visited en route to the Usambara Mountains.
Traveling to and within Mkomazi National Park is safe in our opinion. Crime towards travelers is rare in Tanzania, and especially so in the country’s wildlife areas. As is the case throughout the world, the crime that does occur mostly happens in urban centers.
Malaria is present in Mkomazi, so you need to protect yourself against this. We recommend taking antimalarial medicine and wearing mosquito repellent, particularly repellent containing DEET as this works best. Consider covering up in the evening too. Several vaccinations are recommended when traveling to Mkomazi. Seek out your local healthcare professional for advice before coming to Africa.
Tourists come to Mkomazi that it’s always low season here. What generally dictates when people come is the park’s weather. Visit in the wetter months (October to May) and it’ll be difficult to spot wildlife within the thick vegetation. You’ll also have to deal with showers in the afternoon. Visit in the drier months and you’ll have a good chance to see some wildlife near available water sources.