You’d think that the largest island national park in Africa will cause more buzz and yet, Rubondo is quite the hidden treasure. This is situated in the south of Lake Victoria. Apart from the chimps and elephants, you can also train your binoculars and see how many of the 430 bird species and more you can locate. Come December and the island does attract excited bird watchers who are there for a glimpse of migratory birds making the island home. In the dry season from June to October, you have a better chance of catching wildlife in their natural habitat. You can reach Rubondo by using the park boat from Kasenda or Nkome in Geita.
This is truly one of Tanzania’s hidden gems. Mafia is renowned for being the location of the first Marine Park in Tanzania. If you’re an avid scuba diver, Mafia should be on top of your diving map. In fact, it’s the place to be in if you want to watch whale sharks in their environment and even swim with them. Among the other things to do is a visit to the Kua Ruins that have been around for centuries. While people come here for the marine life, the island abounds with hippos, antelopes, wild pigs, monkeys, and bush babies. Mafia is also home to the rare Comores Flying Fox and the even rarer Dugong, the most threatened animal in Africa. July to October is the best time to be in Mafia and you can get here easily by plane from Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Selous.
Tanzania’s biggest game reserve is relatively unknown. That doesn’t take away anything from it. Huge herds of elephants, hippos, cape buffalos, black rhinos, wild dogs, crocodiles and a wide variety of birds roam the park. The Rufiji flows through the park and makes for great opportunities to observe wildlife. The Stiegler Gorge is another place worth visiting. This is a canyon that is 100 metres deep and 100 metres wide. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is where you can see nature in a pristine state and animals at their most natural self. Well-controlled by the Wildlife Division, Selous retains its charm and is enchanting for visitors everywhere. There’s a range of different types of green to see here. From wetlands and grassland, to Miombo woodlands and Acacia savannah, Selous is a treat for all the senses.
Kitulo National Park
How about visiting a park for the flowers and not the animals? No wonder that Kitulo is referred to as the ‘Serengeti of Flowers.’ Peaceful, inhabited by herbivores and birds that live together in the most beautiful of settings, the Park is in full bloom from November to April, with 350 species of wildflowers. Imagine trekking through this! If you love birds, you will enjoy looking for the endangered Blue Swallow, the rare Denham’s bustard, and the Mountain Marsh Widow. In fact, Kitulo is where migratory birds rest at different parts of the year. Of special mention is the migrating Stork. Go here if you’re looking for a truly scenic space where flowers, not predators are the biggest draw.
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