CALL OF THE WILD

Tanzania 2015 | TOURISM | PHOTO ESSAY: NATIONAL PARKS

For adventure seekers looking for something new to see, Tanzania's extensive network of national parks and game reserves should provide the answer.

Almost half of Tanzania is made up of game reserves and national parks, and there is much more to see than just the northern circuit. While Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti receive most of the spotlight for good reason, those seeking a more off-the-beaten-path adventure in Tanzania are advised to look to the country's other pristine parks to the south and west of the country.

MIKUMI

Mikumi's proximity to Dar es Salaam (less than 300 kilometers) makes it one of the more popular parks for short safaris and weekend warriors. The 3,230 square kilometer park is mostly comprised of flood plains and open grassland, and serves as an important center for university students studying ecology and conservation. The most common wildlife seen here include buffalo, civets, giraffes, impalas, warthogs, wildebeests, and zebras. Lions are also common, as well as the occasional elephant.

RUAHA

After recent expansions, Ruaha National Park became the largest in East Africa and the second largest on the entire continent after Zambia's Kafue National Park. The park's namesake, the Ruaha River, provides Ruaha National Park with its eastern border and a series of breathtaking gorges. With over 13,000 square kilometers of territory (without counting the attached Usangu Game Reserve), Ruaha is home for over 10,000 elephants. Beyond its famed elephant population, Ruaha is also an important stop for bird watchers, with over 400 identified species.

SELOUS

A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Selous is one of the largest game reserves in the entire world, easily larger than many countries. The reserve's name is derived from Sir Frederick Selous, an English big game hunter and conservationist, who died within the reserves borders while fighting German forces during World War I. No permanent human settlements are allowed within the 54,600 square kilometer territory, which houses a diverse number of animals. Wildlife that can be seen at Selous are those of the savanna, such as elephants, hippopotami, crocodiles, zebras, wildebeests, and lions, but often in larger numbers than other parks.

MAFIA ISLAND MARINE PARK

Often overshadowed by Zanzibar, Mafia Island and its marine park should not be missed. The waters of Mafia Island Marine Park contain some of the world's most diverse reefs, featuring over 400 species of fish. With only six permanent accommodation options on the entire island, enjoying the pristine beaches and water will never be a crowded experience. The island is located 200 kilometers south of Zanzibar and 25 kilometers off the coast of the mainland, and is reachable only by light aircraft.