When booking a Safari in Tanzania, the obvious choice is Serengenti. Being restricted with time, we only had a 4 day stay booked for Dar Es Salaam and upon realising the size of the country, this would not have been enough time to fly or drive to Serengeti, it is over 900 km away.
I began researching the National Parks around Dar Es Salaam and stumbled upon some reviews for Mikumi National Park. They were definitely mixed, some people claiming to ‘have seen everything,’ whilst others were quick to call out that they had ‘driven around grasslands for hours seeing only birds,’ so it was definitely a gamble booking the smaller National Park. With that in mind, I wasn’t prepared to spend thousands on a fancy tour so I was back on trip advisor to source some local insights.
We ended up booking with Camp Bastian directly, instead of through a tour agent, who were AMAZING from start to finish. Our guide picked us up from our transit hotel at 5am in Dar Es Salaam, I was actually surprised when they arrived; being dubious after only communicating via email and that we had paid $0 deposit. We boarded the mini van and snoozed in the back whilst we hurtled through the country-side. Around half way we stopped for some coffee and cakes and a DJ set at the servo and continued on our journey. The journey was around 6 hours which wasn’t so bad at this time because honestly we probably slept 3/4 of it.
On arrival at Mikumi NP we immediately met with Emmanuel who was going to be our guide for the next two days – yay! We boarded his open vehichle and entered the park. He communicated at the gates, got the tickets and maps etc whilst we watched with anticipation.
Safari is mind blowing, you come face to face with wild animals that you’ve maybe only ever seen in books, or worse in zoos. The sense of their freedom and enormity is pretty overwhelming. So who did we see?
We were super lucky that we were immediately taken to where a pack of lions had been sighted earlier in the morning. We saw 4 lions all spread out across different sides of the path; a little scary being so close and not knowing which one to keep your eye on. We were then treated to The real King of the Jungle; Mr Elephant who swooped in on one of the lions and chased him away. Even Emmaunel gave a few gasps of excitement at this spectacle.
We saw a lot of giraffes, impala, warthogs, water buffalo and zebras and even a pregnant Zebra (at least we thought she was pregnant). We hung out with the hippos, birds and crocodiles at the water-hole which was the one location you are allowed to get out of the vehicle.
On sundown driving back the camp we followed a family of Elephants migrating towards the water-hole. Magical. Leaving the park we were treated to a plethora of monkeys and baboons who seemed to be ushering us down the highway where we were still seeing a multitude of wildlife which truly enhanced the fact that these were wild animals and truly free to roam where they pleased. Only bound by their need for water!
We opted for a basic camp to take in the great outdoors so on arrival at Camp Bastian we were granted the keys to our tent. We had delicious home-cooked food and a night cap by the camp fire. We proceeded to fall fast-asleep revelling in the excitement of the day.
The following day, Camp Bastian asked us when we would like to leave, they said anytime up until 4pm we could be driving for. We asked to leave at 1pm just so we could get back to Dar Es Salaam at a decent time. The second day was equally magic seeing all the same animals again, except this time the Lions were a lot further away so we were happy to have seen them so close the day before.
We drove back to Dar Es Saalam which took around 7 hours this time, probably because it was later in the day, and although we had only been there 2 days, it felt like a lifetime. Many people told me that I wouldn’t see much in 2 days, I am super pleased to report that we saw more than I ever imagined. You can definitely go on safari with only 1-2 days !