Distance: 199km (Cumulative: 11 037km)
Moving time: 8:43
Average speed: 23km/h
Road surface: 100% Tar between Mikumi and Morogoro; Gravel, mud and black cotton in Mikumi NP
New Savoy Hotel - R90 p.p
Budget option, friendly staff
We set our alarm for 06:00 and actually got up. The earliest yet. We managed to leave by 06:40 even though we still made popcorn and hot water in a flask for the road. The tent was unfortunately still wet, but we wanted an early game drive.
On the main tar road through the park, within 10km from TanSwiss we saw Giraffe, Impala, Elephant and Zebra, we had a good feeling about the day. We reached the main gate of the Mikumi National Park at 07:10 and had to fork out $118 for the day visit.
For the next 8 hours we basically just saw more of the same animals we already saw next to the main road. The park received a lot of rain recently so most of the roads were inaccessible, but no-one warned us where not to go, so we almost got stuck a few times, having to reverse a few hundred meters.
From the road in the East we tried to get to the West, but all the connecting roads were flooded. On one such road we just started to skid a came to a standstill perpendicular to the road. We went unto Black Cotton Soil without realising it and couldn’t move. We got our Grab & Go sand tracks out and managed to turn around. Going back the same way was much harder as the wheels were now slicks.
In the end we almost had to return all the way to the main gate to reach the other roads. We encountered hundreds of Impala, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest and Marabou Storks. On the roads close to the headquarters (which were the only passable ones) we saw Elephants with a small baby, Hippos and a crocodile. And a group of up to 30 Giraffe.
In a split second decision we decided to turn-off to Campsite No 1 to look for a toilet. Just as we stopped a very wet and muddy Ukrainian came running to Hugo. They’re Land Cruiser got stuck in a massive mud pool and needed our help to get them out. Just then massive raindrops started falling. We got out our sand tracks again and our recovery rope and got them out in no time. Five minutes later the rain stopped. The Ukrainian insisted on washing the tracks for us at the campsite, but the mud clung to it for life.
Just outside the campsite we saw a lone buffalo. We did a few more small circular routes, passing through a pool of water that almost reached the doors. At 13:00 we went to the Cottages and shared chicken and french fries for lunch at the restaurant. We can’t believe that some people pay even more expensive to stay and eat there, it is horrendous.
After lunch we left the main gate and went into the south section. This side of the park is more forest area as opposed to the more savanna looking north. We were hoping to spot a tree climbing lion, but had no luck. We got to Vuma Hills tented campsite, which is a privately run camp in the national park. The dutch owner welcomed us and said we are free to take pictures from their viewing deck. Their tents only cost $160 per person, maybe next time.
We had to take the same road back as they said all the other roads are also impassable. About a kilometer before the main road in another split second decision we decided to go right at a fork and got to a small man made pool with lot’s of antelope including the elusive Eland.
So all in all it we think it was worth it despite it obviously being the wrong season to visit. With the long grass we could have passed lions right next to us without even knowing. We, however, got to see plenty of baby animals as it is close to calving season and had some interesting adventures. We also got to use two pieces of recovery equipment for the first time.
We still had 100km to go to Morogoro and only got to the main road at 16:15. We didn’t really know what the speed limits were so just tried to follow the other traffic. Just outside Doma, the first village after the national park, the police stopped us. Hugo greeted the officer with Habari and a friendly smile as usual. We could see that she didn’t share the same attitude as her colleagues that previously waved us through. She claimed we went 79 in the national park and asked for Hugo’s driver’s licence. In a momentary lapse of judgement he gave it. She took it and left to the other side of the road. We parked and Hugo got out after emptying his wallet. Hugo asked the other officers whether they had any proof, as we were only going 50 (it is quiet possible that we did actually go 79, but there were no signs). One officer called someone on the phone and had a long conversation. Finally he put the phone down and said: “Just go”. Hugo requested his driver’s licence back, went to the car and drove away. Very strange.
We got to Morogoro without further incident and went to the New Savoy Hotel, which was the cheapest place in Morogoro that was listed on Jumia. We got a room for 30 000 shillings. The shower didn’t work and we were full of mud. The receptionist opened about 8 different rooms, but the shower didn’t work in any of them. In one room she opened a tap and then it came out all the way with the water spraying out. We couldn’t get the tap back in so she just left it like that. We finally found another room that at least had a normal tap working and said it is fine, we’ll take a bucket shower.
After showering another night manager called our room and said they have an executive room for us where the shower is working with warm water and we can stay there for the same price, we declined as we were already clean.
For dinner we went to the Oasis hotel and ordered Chinese Fried Rice and Tika Massala Chicken with Naan. They also brought a huge tray of condiments. It was cheap and delicious, their menu was massive. We could easily eat there every night for a month.