Mikumi National Park is a grassland plateau studded with trees and surrounded by mountains. There are vast herds of impala and wildebeest (and lots of tsetse flies). Having seen lionesses the previous evening, we were keen to see more lions but did not expect to find a male lion sitting on the road very soon after we entered the park. There were Cape Buffalo, water buck, jackals, more hippos, crocodiles and mongooses. Maribou storks were feeding among the impalas and we also saw a number of ground hornbills and heard their curious calls. Bright red bishop birds flitted among the bushes and trees. After leaving the park and heading back to the hotel along the road that bisects it, we wondered why a van was parked by the side of the road. James glanced at it as we passed and shouted ‘lion cubs!’. There were four, about 3-4 months old with no mother in sight, playing on the grass verge. In the late afternoon we did another circuit and spotted a large number of birds. I will be checking my list against the Tanzania Bird Atlas in case I can add a location for any birds that they are monitoring. Spent the evening packing up for our return to Dar the next morning.
The drive back to Mikumi took only two hours as there was far less traffic than on the outward journey and Elwyin had got used to dodging the potholes. We fed the remaining sandwiches from yesterday’s lunch to the local baboons who were very appreciative. We checked into the Genesis Motel again and after a short rest went out for our first foray into Mikumi National Park. It is a grassland plateau surrounded by mountains and studded with trees. Impala and wildebeest abound and are often in much larger herds than we saw at Ruaha. We also spotted Cape Buffalo, water buck and troops of baboons. Maribou Storks were among the impalas, feeding on grasshoppers disturbed by their grazing in the long grass. There were crocodiles and hippos in the pool and groups of ground hornbills with their curious calls. We had turned round and were heading towards the exit and leave the park when we suddenly spotted a pair of lionesses in a tree close to the park headquarters. They were alert and listening to the staff trying to dissuade an elephant from entering the area. They eventually had to fire a shot in the air. We took some photographs and then headed back to the hotel for dinner, hoping to see more lions the next day.
We could not pick up our guide at the Park HQ until 8am and there was then a 10 kilometre drive to the trailhead for the Sanje Falls. So it was around 9am when we started to walk and getting pretty hot and humid. The trail was steep uphill in zigzags and before I had gone too far, felt quite light-headed. This was a bit surprising, as I have done plenty of trekking in hot and humid conditions. Everyone said I looked quite grey so I plodded slowly to the first picnic table and rested while the others went on to the pool at the foot and right up to the top of the falls. Although swimming is allowed, they decided the water was too cold. I sat and had a great view of the falls and two Egyptian Vultures who flew past me. The others came back down for lunch with me and we then descended and drove back to the hotel for a siesta. It soon became apparent that I had a viral infection so other than packing for the next days journey, I rested.
The tickets are booked, deposit paid and I am now studying the guidebook and map. In six months’ time we will be there