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Mikumi National Park

We booked our trip through Makomo Safaris, which had the distinct advantage of our being picked up at the doorstep in Dar es Salaam. Wildlife guide Julius Mtuy then took us on a five-hour drive east to Mikumi National Park, the fourth largest park in the country.

Near miss...

On arrival at the boundary of the park we opened the roof of the Landcruiser enabling us to stand on the seats, keep a lookout and take pictures. We also saw our first zebras: A female with her foal. Mummy Zebra had a large wound on her stomach Ė presumably from a lion attack.

First we drove to our lodging: Vuma Hills Luxury Tented Camp and were greeted by the manager, Mette, a Dane who has lived in Kenya and Tanzania for more than 25 years. To our great relief the camp wasnít made up of tents but more like log cabins with tents inside and furnished with shower, toilet, electricity and all with a view of the savanna. And as a very nice luxurious extra a small swimming pool to flush off the dust from a busy day on the game drive.

One of many highlights was our lunch break at the Hippo Pool (thereís a hippo pool in every park, Iím sure). We sat in the shade of a big tree and watched the drama of everyday life on the savanna. Two adult elephants and a relatively newborn baby elephant were down by the water line getting a drink and some mud.

At the restaurant overlooking the savanna

The zebras wanted a go as well but the elephants were quite attentive, not letting the zebras get too close to the baby elephant. A zebra was cut off from the shore and was in obvious distress, the crocodiles were near, but finally it decided to gallop in deep water in a big arch around the elephants. Then the elephants left and the zebras approached. And with them the two crocs Ė very slowly, and only eyes visible. Soon they disappeared from the surface. The zebras were all jumpy.

This lasted a while but it turned out that, unfortunately, the water was too shallow to allow the crocodiles any form of surprise attack. In the midst of this drama we had visits by monkeys, herons, ducks, impalas, vultures, small birds.

Late in the afternoon we still hadnít seen a lion. Julius was constantly on the VHF with his buddy Filippo who drove around elsewhere in the park, and finally we got the position of not one but two male lions.

I must admit I was slightly comprehensive about being just 2 metres from a lion that could easily jump into the car and eat us all Ė well, at least jump into the car. But Julius was quite relaxed with his elbow out the window chatting to Filippo on the VHF so what the heck.

The lion didnít move until someone flashed it right in its face. Then it growled a little bit, looked straight at us (*gasp*) but simply turn its back on us and plodded headfirst into a large bush for shelter and protection from the sun and the stupid humans as well. Great stuff.

Scruffy old lion

But we got it all. We were bitten by tse tse-flies (use mosquito spray) and saw lions, elephants, crocodiles, hippos, buffalos, girafs, zebras, monkeys, baboons, ducks, wildebeast, and birds, and a whole range of different deer like impala, eland, gazelles and possibly some more we didnít notice.

In the evening after yet another sumptuous 3-course meal we were left to ourselves on the restaurent terrace Ė only watched over by a Masai whose job it was to follow us to our cabins after generator shut down at 22:30. It really wasnít a big deal walking from the restaurant to our cabin but apparently some one at one time did miss the cabin in the dark and got lost.

Wildebeast and impalas

But we heard squashing in the forest below and soon we could see a couple of elephants on their way up to the camp. We went over the to cabins, got comfortable on the porch and soon saw three adult elephants and a baby elephant drinking from the pool (the chlorine content had been drastically reduced because of this as nobody wanted the elephants to get sick), and they passed very close to the cabin before they headed back into the forrest. Really cool and recommendable experience.

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