Other Destinations

Arusha National Park

BLACK COLOBUSThe closest national park to Arusha town – Northern Tanzania’s safari capital – Arusha National Park is a multi-faceted jewel, often overlooked by safari goers, despite offering the opportunity to explore a beguiling diversity of habitats within a few hours. The entrance gate leads into shadowy alpine forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colorful turacos and trogons – the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey is easily seen. In the midst of the forest stands the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, whose steep, rocky cliffs enclose a wide marshy floor dotted with herds of buffalo and warthog.
Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one a different hue of green or blue. Their shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos, the lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and shaggy water-bucks display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, while pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs.
Although elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park and lions absent altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, only 50km (30 miles) distant.
But it is Kilimanjaro unassuming cousin, Mount Meru – the fifth highest in Africa at 4,566 meters (14,990 feet) – that dominates the park’s horizon. Its peaks and eastern foot slopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbor, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.
Passing first through wooded savannah where buffalos and giraffes are frequently encountered, the ascent of Meru leads into forests aflame with red-hot pokers and dripping with Spanish moss, before reaching high open heath spiked with giant lobelias. Everlasting flowers cling to the alpine desert, as delicately-hoofed klipspringers mark the hike’s progress. Astride the craggy summit, Kilimanjaro stands unveiled, blushing in the sunrise.

Lake Victoria

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Covering an area of almost 70,000 square kilometers, Lake Victoria is one of the African Great Lakes. With half of the lake in Tanzania, it also spreads across Kenya and Uganda. The lake receives most of its water from direct precipitation. Its largest in-fluent is the Kagera River, the mouth of which lies on the lake’s western shore. The only river to leave the lake (flowing north) the White Nile (known as the “Victoria Nile”), leaves at Jinja, Uganda, on the lake’s north shore.
Lake Victoria is relatively shallow. It has a maximum depth of 84 meters (276 ft) and an average depth of 20 meters (66 ft).
The lake was first sighted, IN 1858, when the British explorer John Hanning Speke reached its southern shore while on his journey with Richard Francis Burton to explore central Africa and locate the Great Lakes. Believing he had found the source of the Nile on seeing this “vast expanse of open water” for the first time, Speke named the lake after Queen Victoria. Burton, who had been recovering from illness at the time and resting further south on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, was outraged that Speke claimed to have proved his discovery to have been the true source of the Nile, which Burton regarded as still unsettled. A very public quarrel ensued, which not only sparked a great deal of intense debate within the scientific community of the day, but also much interest by other explorers keen to either confirm or refute Speke’s discovery. In the past, the famous British explorer and missionary David Livingstone failed in his attempt to verify Speke’s discovery, instead pushing too far west and entering the River Congo system instead. Ultimately, the Welsh-American explorer Henry Morton Stanley, on an expedition funded by the New York Herald newspaper, confirmed the truth of Speke’s discovery, circumnavigating the lake and reporting the great outflow at Ripon Falls on the lake’s northern shore.
The introduction of exotic fish species, especially the Nile perch, has altered the freshwater ecosystem of the lake and driven several hundred native species to near or total extinction.
Around the lake shores, you can enjoy a range of activities like canoe trips on the lake, visit to a fishing village, mountain bike riding, bird walks and lake cruises.

Mikumi National Park

Mikumi has never acquired the near-mystical status of more remote counterparts such as Ruaha and Katavi. But the very accessibility of this 3,230 sq km sanctuary – the country’s fourth-largest national park and an extension of the 150,000 sq km Selous-Niassa ecosystem – makes it a thoroughly attractive goal on a more extensive safari through southern Tanzania. Those who do make the effort to visit Mikumi can expect to encounter few other tourists and plenty of wildlife – indeed the park’s open horizons and high wildlife concentrations have drawn frequent comparisons to the more famous Serengeti Plains.
The landscape of Mikumi can be compared to that of the Serengeti, with the north-west area dotted with acacia and baobab trees. With spectacular rock formations at mountains Rubeho and Uluguru, the National Park is off the beaten track from the regular safari routes but one of interest nonetheless. Add a game drive or walking safari in Mikumi to your itinerary to experience this well protected area of Tanzania.

Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Mountains National Park lies on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Kigoma Region, Tanzania. Named after the Mahale Mountains range that is within its borders, the park has several unusual characteristics. First, it is one of only two protected areas for chimpanzees in the country. (The other is nearby Gombe Stream National Park made famous by the researcher Jane Goodall.) The chimpanzee population in Mahale Mountains National Park is the largest known and due to its size and remoteness, the chimpanzees flourish. It also the only place, where chimpanzees and lions co-exist. Another unusual feature of the park is that it is one of the very few in Africa that must be experienced by foot. There are no roads or other infrastructure within the park boundaries, and the only way in and out of the park is via boat on the lake.
The Mahale Mountains were traditionally inhabited by the Batongwe and Holoholo people, with populations in 1987 of 22,000 and 12,500 respectively. When the Mahale Mountains Wildlife Research Center was established in 1979 these people were expelled from the mountains to make way for the park, which opened in 1985. The people had been highly attuned to the natural environment, living with virtually no impact on the ecology.
A visit to Mahale Mountains National Park will be filled with a variety of exciting activities including chimpanzee trekking, forest and bird walks and water activities including snorkeling, kayaking and boat safaris. A rare and once in a lifetime experience!

Gombe Stream National Park

gombe chimpGombe Steam National Park is the smallest national park in Tanzania. But don’t let the size deter you. With such high levels of diversity in flora and fauna, Gombe is a great addition to your safari itinerary. Accessible only by boat, the park is most famous as the location where Jane Goodall pioneered her behavioral research on chimpanzee populations.
Located along the shores of Lake Tanganyika, Gombe Stream National Park activities include game drives, chimpanzee trekking and snorkeling. The most visible of Gombe’s other mammals are also primates. A troop of beachcomber olive baboons, under study since the 1960s, is exceptionally habituated, while red-tailed and red colobus monkeys – the latter regularly hunted by chimps – stick to the forest canopy.
The park’s 200-odd bird species range from the iconic fish eagle to the jewel-like Peter’s twin spots that hop tamely around the visitors’ centre. After dusk, a dazzling night sky is complemented by the lanterns of hundreds of small wooden boats, bobbing on the lake like a sprawling city.

http://gombechimpanzees.org/

 

Katavi National Park

Isolated and seldom visited, Katavi is a true wilderness, providing the few intrepid souls who make it there with a thrilling taste of Africa as it must have been a century ago. Tanzania’s third largest national park, it lies in the remote southwest of the country, within a truncated arm of the Rift Valley that terminates in the shallow, brooding expanse of Lake Rukwa.
The bulk of Katavi supports a hypnotically featureless cover of tangled woodland, home to substantial but elusive populations of Elands, Sable and Roan antelopes. But the main focus for game viewing within the park is the Katuma River and associated floodplains such as the seasonal Lakes Katavi and Chada. During the rainy season, these lush, marshy lakes are a haven for myriad water birds, and they also support Tanzania’s densest concentrations of hippopotamus and crocodile.
It is during the dry season, when the flood waters retreat, that Katavi truly becomes unique. The Katuma, reduced to a shallow, muddy trickle, forming the only source of drinking water for miles around, and the flanking floodplains support game concentrations that defy belief. An estimated 4,000 elephants might converge on the area, together with several herds of 1,000-plus buffalos, while an abundance of giraffe, zebra, impala and reed-buck provide easy pickings for the numerous lion prides and spotted hyena clans whose territories converge on the floodplains.
Katavi’s most singular wildlife spectacle is provided by its hippos. Towards the end of the dry season, up to 200 individuals might flop together in any river pool of sufficient depth. And as more hippos gather in one place, so does male rivalry heat up – bloody territorial fights are an everyday occurrence, with the vanquished male forced to lurk hapless on the open plains until it gathers sufficient confidence to mount another challenge. This remote national park is less frequently visited than other Tanzanian parks however it is certainly worth a visit.

Lake Eyasi

Lake Eyasi is a seasonal shallow salt lake on the floor of the Great Rift Valley at the base of the Serengeti Plateau, just south of the Serengeti National Park and immediately southwest of the Ngorongoro Crater in the Crater Highlands of Tanzania. The lake is elongated, orientated southwest to northeast, and lies in the Eyasi-Wembere branch of the Great Rift Valley.
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The principal inflow is the Sibiti River, which enters the southwestern end. The river may continue to flow somewhat year round, at least in wetter years; the other inflows are all seasonal. The second largest inflow is the Baray, at the northeast. The water carried by the Baray has increased in recent years due to deforestation of the Crater Highlands. Seasonal water level fluctuations in the lake are dramatic, though the northwestern shore is constrained by the cliffs of the Serengeti Plateau. During the dry season the lake may dry up almost entirely, especially in drier years, so that Datooga herders and Hadzabe foragers will cross the lake on foot, but in El Niño years it may flood its banks and attract hippopotamus from the Serengeti. It is a seasonal stop for migrating flamingos.
The lake supports minor local fishing in wet years, but more often catfish and lungfish are taken from the streams and springs that feed the lake. Even during wet periods, lake depths typically remain less than one meter. The Hadzabe are the indigenous inhabitants of the lake. They are found along most of the perimeter, though camps are few along most of the Serengeti, which is Maasai territory. The Datooga inhabit t
he Yaeda Valley to the southeast, the Isanzu the south, and the Sukuma across the Sibiti River in the southwest. The Iraqw traditionally lived on the other side of Yaeda, but have come in increasing numbers to the Baray, which is now the primary onion-growing region of East Africa.
Mumba Cave is an archaeological site that is located by the shores of Lake Eyasi. The site has yielded a number of Middle Stone Age and Late Stone Age artifacts.
Lake Eyasi is a fantastic destination for those interested in meeting local communities and ready to do a walking trip with the Hadzabe. Birders will be in heaven as hundred species enjoy the lake shores.

Lake Natron

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Lake Natron is a salt lake located in northern Tanzania, close to the Kenyan border, in the eastern branch of the East African Rift. The lake is fed by the Southern Ewaso Ng’iro River and also by mineral-rich hot springs. It is quite shallow, less than three meters (9.8 ft) deep, and varies in width depending on its water level, which changes due to high levels of evaporation, leaving behind a mixture of salts and minerals called natron. The surrounding country is dry and receives irregular seasonal rainfall. The lake falls within the Lake Natron Basin Wetlands. Temperatures in the lake can reach 60 °C (140 °F), and depending on rainfall, the alkalinity can reach a pH of 9 to 10.5 (almost as alkaline as ammonia). The color of the lake is characteristic of those where very high evaporation rates occur. As water evaporates during the dry season, salinity levels increase to the point that salt-loving microorganisms begin to thrive. The alkali salt crust on the surface of the lake is also often colored red or pink by the salt-loving microorganisms that live there.
It is an important habitat for flamingos and is home to endemic algae, invertebrates and round the margins even fish that can survive in the slightly less salty water.
The lake is the only regular breeding area in East Africa for the 2.5 million Lesser Flamingoes, whose status of “near threatened” is a consequence of their dependence on the single breeding location. As salinity increases, so do the number of cyanobacteria, and the lake can support more nests. These flamingoes, the single large flock in East Africa, gather along saline lakes in the region, where they feed on Spirulina (an algae with red pigments). Lake Natron is a safe breeding location because its caustic environment is a barrier against predators trying to reach their nests on seasonally-forming islands. Even more amazing than the ability of the flamingoes to live in these conditions is the fact that two endemic fish species, the alkaline tilapias (Alcolapia latilabrisand A. ndalalaniA. alcalica is also present in the lake, but not endemic), thrive in the waters at the edges of the hot spring inlets.
A new threat to Lake Natron is the proposed development of a soda ash plant on its shores. The plant would pump water from the lake and extract the sodium carbonate to convert to washing powder for export. Accompanying the plant would be housing for over 1000 workers, and a coal-fired power station to provide energy for the plant complex. In addition, there is a possibility the developers may introduce a hybrid brine shrimp to increase the efficiency of extraction.
From Lake Natron, you can also access the Ol Doinyo Lengai, one of the most existing volcanoes on Earth. Sceneries are exceptionally dramatic and will thrill any demanding trekker.