SUNDAY March 28, 2010
By Deus Bugaywa
Tranquility News Correspondent, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
THE promotion of part of the former Selous Game Reserve to Nyerere National Park has given packages of the tourists’ attraction-rich Tanzania a new height.
Named after Julius Nyerere, founding father of the East African nation, the new spot with the size of 30,893 square kilometers is now the largest national park in Africa.
Nyerere National Park, along with the 20,000-square-kilometer Selous Game Reserve remainder, is strategically connected to other two eye-catching Tanzania’s national parks — Mikumi and Udzungwa.
The trio does not only share the same ecology but is also intertwined to form a striking triangle for tourists. It is conveniently situated, making it easier for a tourist to enjoy three different destinations with various landscapes, scenarios and escarpments within a short span of time.
While Nyerere National Park is the Africa’s wild dogs’ stronghold with a largest number of elephants, Udzungwa Mountain National Park is part of a chain of 23,700-square-kilometre Forest Mountains straddling the coasts of Tanzania and Kenya.
Dubbed the Eastern Arc Forests, the woodland is highly important for the livelihood of millions of people, as it serves as a water tower, providing Dar es Salaam City, home to about 10 per cent of Tanzanians, with the precious liquid.
The forests also generate a significant percentage of Tanzania’s electricity through hydroelectric power plants, let alone providing medicinal plants, fuel wood, forest foods and building materials for the surrounding communities.
A trip to the Tanzania’s southern tourist circuit, trekking within the Udzungwa Mountain National Park and viewing the water falling from the height of 170 metres at Sanje is not only the most rewarding adventure, but is also an expedition worth attempting.
A tourist gets a chance to swim in one of the waterfall plunge pools before climbing 1,600 metres above sea level to explore a stunning view of Kilombero Valley Ramsar Site.
While still at the Udzungwa Mountain National Park, a tourist sees six species of monkeys, including the endemic Sanje Crested Mangabey and Iringa Red Colobus.
Udzungwa, one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots and of 200 World Wildlife Fund eco regions of global critical importance, indeed is among the Tanzania’s outstanding pristine.
Mikumi, the Tanzania’s fourth largest national park situated a few-hour drive from the commercial city of Dar es Salaam, is another hotspot for tourists interested in spotting the Big Five, namely elephant, lion, cheetah, buffalo and rhino.
Besides the Big Five, other animals easily sighted within Mikumi are eland, hartebeest, buffalo, wildebeest, giraffe and zebra, among others. Wild dogs come and go in the park.
Driving from Nyerere National Park to Mikumi is an extra trip full of nature delights; it takes a tourist across rivers, villages and farms on the foot of the Uluguru Mountains also covered by the Eastern Arc Forests.
The unforgettable experience safari makers get while at Mikumi National Park is the open horizons of the Mkata floodplain teeming with abundant wildlife, including over 300 species of birds.
Dar es Salaam, the city closely placed to both Nyerere National Park and Zanzibar or Spice Islands as they are fondly known, conveniently links them up, preventing a tourist from stressful itinerary planning.
Seth Mihayo, Senior Tourism Officer with Nyerere, says a visitor to the national park enjoys boat safari along the mighty Rufiji River.
The boat safari brings the tourist into close contact with hippo, crocodile and amazing birdlife, as the park hosts over 400 bird species.
“The boat may approach an elephant, waterbuck and other wildlife at close range as the animals sip water along the river banks.
“Crocodiles glide into the water and hippos grunt and blow steam for fear of the boat’s proximity,” he explains.
Game drive at the park enables a tourist to have good photographic opportunities and the chance to explore different sections of the vast park.
The Nyerere National Park though is famous for its elephants and wild dogs, frequently seen also are lions, buffalo, bushbuck, impalas, elands, baboons, zebra, wildebeest and greater kudu.
A walking safari is an unforgettable experience in Nyerere National Park, it gives a visitor an intimate feeling for African wild, Mihayo explains.
“A tourist comes into direct contact with nature in an unspoiled wilderness and sees different foot prints and droppings of different wild animals and small creatures that can’t be seen during game drive,” he adds.