Set below the slopes of the Usambara and Pare Mountains and lying directly south of Kenya's Tsavo West Game Park, Mkomazi is a vast area of largely dry thornbush where a number of dry country specialists can be found. These include the spectacular fringe-eared oryx and the spiral-horned lesser kudu. Oddest of all is the gerenuk, a gazelle distinguished by its slender neck, bizarre alien like head, and habit of standing tall on its hind legs to stretch for acacia leaves that other browsers cannot reach.

This is a relatively new National Park and it takes its name from Pare tribe’s word for “scoop of water”, referring to little water. It is a fantastic destination for birdwatchers, with more than 450 avian species recorded.

At the moment the wildlife is very shy of people and can be difficult to find in the thick bush. As the park is developed further and receives more visitors this will hopefully change.

Mkomazi is a vital refuge for two highly endangered species. Both black rhino and African wild dog have been reintroduced in the park. Nomadic by nature, wild dog might be seen almost anywhere in the park although sightings are extremely rare. The black rhino are restricted to a 50 sq km fenced sanctuary inside the park. Both these programmes are ongoing and receive support from a number of charities.

Mkomazi is just over 3,000 sq km in size and is less than a two hour drive from Moshi which makes it a great destination for people who might be based there to climb Kilimanjaro. However, at the moment it is not an ideal destination for people visiting East Africa for the first time since the animals are so difficult to find. First time visitors will generally find visiting the popular parks more rewarding since the animals in places like Manyara, Ngorongoro and the Serengeti are much easier to find and see. For people wishing to get away from it all and wanting to spend time in a true wilderness, well off the beaten track, then Mkomazi can make an ideal destination.

Kilimanjaro Manyara Mkomazi Ngorongoro Serengeti Tarangire