Best time to visit Mikumi National Park
The best time for a dream safari in Mikumi is between June and October, in the dry season, when the plains host large herds of elephant and ungulates clustering to the last remaining water sources where rare antelopes are most easily spotted in the nearby deciduous woodlands. Clear skies make for bright days but temperatures can drop at night in higher altitudes, so a light fleece is recommended if venturing into the foothills in the early morning.
The wet season will see the acceleration of the calving season as the rains renews the vegetation. Some ungulates like duiker and impala attend their new-born foals some distance from the main herds, making them difficult to find, but photo shoot opportunities are frequently most endearing.
In the wet, from November to May, East African game driving tours in Mikumi are often impeded soft black cotton soil, especially on the Mkata flood plains, but this is the best possible time for birding. There is usually some cloud cover, making for excellent photography in between sunlight, and rain falls but not every single day.
The breeding season begins with the rut in between March and May, when lyre-horned impala can be seen wrestling, heads down and horns locked, for the favors of a harem of gentle does. Resident birds such as widowbirds and bishops assume their striking breeding plumage whilst migratory birds such as the European stork travel to Africa from cooler countries. Flocks of thousands of pink-hued queleas and rare cuckoo weaver can be seen near the dams.
Grassland tussocks hide the nests of longclaws, with their pretty, pastel-tinted eggs, and African marsh harriers are relatively common. In the miombo woodland, the goshawks have been seen while many raptors, such as cuckoo hawks and snake eagles hunt the southern hills. Stanley’s Kopje closes completely in the wet but Vuma Hills is open all year round.
The temperature does not vary greatly so close to the equator, but high humidity can encourage tsetse fly although high temperatures deter them. To be on the safe side, avoid wearing dark blue, dark brown and black garments that attract them like animal hides. An interesting theory about zebra stripes is that they confuse the flies as it disrupts the preferred solid color uniformity enabling this single representative of the horse family to be found commonly on photographic safaris.
In low season, April and May, when it is wettest, the park is still relatively accessible. Since there is very limited accommodation available in this season, and bird-watchers are keen to visit, there is minimal room price differential and no change in logistical costs. The high season in Mikumi is from June to October, but one could never call it crowded. Most tourists stick to the central plain, leaving the rugged southern terrain to more adventurous souls.