Stanley's Kopje

Mikumi National Park, Southern Circuit, Tanzania Book from US$450

An alluring hilltop camp, formerly called Foxes Safari Camp, overlooking the savannah grasslands of Mikumi National Park
Abutting the northern edge of the vast Selous Game Reserve, Mikumi gets less press than its illustrious neighbour. Yet this 3,200 square mile tract of savannah and miombo woodland offers prime game viewing and has a mind-boggling number of bird species. The reserve is easily accessible from Dar es Salaam and makes a natural stopover between Foxes’ Ruaha River Lodge and their Indian Ocean hideaway, Lazy Lagoon.

Our Mikumi safari got off to an unforgettable start with giraffes scattering away from the bush landing strip as our light aircraft touched down. By the time we reached the delectable camp, wrapped round an isolated kopje with 360º views of the Mkata floodplain, we’d seen lion, zebra, hippo, huge numbers of buck including the elusive eland, and feathered things galore. The makuti-thatched hilltop lodge seemed lifted straight from the pages of Karen Blixen and throughout our stay we couldn’t fault the Foxes’ attention to detail nor the excellence of our safari guides.

Highs

  • The setting is bush-at-its-best with uninterrupted vistas out across the floodplains
  • The tented accommodation strikes a perfect balance between simple authenticity and solid creature comfort
  • The Foxes have been fine-tuning their safaris for decades: nobody does it better in southern Tanzania; families are welcome
  • Camp manager Kate goes that extra mile to ensure all guests get the most out of their Mikumi safari. We enjoyed her infectious vitality and enthusiasm
  • Mikumi is home to a staggering 400 species of birds, and the open miombo forest and grassland make for easy ornithological observation

Lows

  • The busy Tanzam highway cuts straight across the park. But rangers plan game drives in such a way that you’ll be unaware of the road
  • Expect to see a fair number of game vehicles; easy accessibility from Dar makes Mikumi a really popular game-viewing destination

Best time to go

Any time between July and November is a great time to visit Mikumi as you’re guaranteed masses of wildlife action around the camp’s Mwanambogo watering hole. November is a beautiful month, too: after the short rains the grasses push up, the Miombo woodlands come into leaf, and huge herds of animals graze the plains. During the Long Rains, which generally fall between March and early May, many roads in the northern part of the Reserve become impassable.

Our top tips

Useful things to take: a head torch, binoculars, mosquito spray, your swimming costume, a bird field guide, antihistamines if you’re allergic to grasses and pollens, walking boots, a foldaway day pack and a money belt.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Safari Camp
  • 12
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

The 12 guest tents, raised on high wooden platforms beneath shelters of thatched makuti palm, fan out around the base of the hill beneath the main lodge. Each is a good distance from the next so as to ensure maximum privacy and all have heart-stopping views out across the floodplains. Twin director-style chairs on the decked veranda are in perfect synch with the setting; we were treated to the sight of elephants grazing in the fading evening light just yards from where we sat.

All door and window openings are mosquito-netted with white cotton curtains to keep the sunlight at bay: we left ours open to the visual and aural extravaganza of the African night. Each tent has a chunky wooden double and single bed with excellent mattresses. Bright durries and naïve paintings add a splash of colour.

The shower room of each tent is tucked away behind a hessian and reed-covered wooden screen. Twin sinks are set into a small wooden vanity unit where you’ll find bottled water and mozzie spray. Further partitioning lends extra intimacy to the toilet and shower. Water is solar-heated and all tents have 220V electricity for about 8 hours a day when the camp’s generator is running.

Features include:

  • Extra beds
  • Free laundry service
  • Internet access
  • Mosquito net
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries

Eating

Meals can’t fail but be special occasions in the camp’s airy banda-style thatched dining room. Uninterrupted views of the surrounding grasslands mean there’s a good chance that you’ll be watching grazing ellies, wildebeest and zebra whilst you eat. Be sure to have your binoculars to hand at meal times.

Breakfasts are served, rather than laid out buffet-style, adding to the cosseted vibe at the lodge: you just need to help yourself to tea and coffee at a central table. A fresh fruit salad, as well as fruit juice, is brought to your table along with freshly baked cinnamon rolls, then a hot breakfast order is taken.

Lunches back at the lodge take the form of a cold buffet. Ours was excellent; honey-cured ham, homemade quiche, a leaf and pepper salad, coleslaw, and a big choice of chutneys and sauces. If you’re spending the day in the bush you can expect an equally interesting picnic.

As at most safari camps, dinner is the culinary focus of the day, kicking off with drinks round the boma and the chance to talk to Kate about the Mikumi Park. You can then choose from a small selection of South African wines, all generously priced. We were served a scrummy leek soup then helped ourselves from the hot buffet; chicken slow-cooked in a rich and spicy tomato sauce, cauliflower cheese and roast potatoes dusted in paprika. A dessert of baked banana and cream ended our dinner on a suitably indulgent note.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Children meals
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Morning and evening game drives are an integral part of the experience, taken in small groups of 2-6 with an English-speaking guide and an experienced driver at the helm of an open 4WD vehicle; expect to see lion, zebra, hippo, huge numbers of buck including the elusive eland, and plenty of birdlife
  • Chill out by the camp’s small swimming pool
  • Retire to your private terrace with your binoculars and the camp’s own birding checklist. Expect to see kingfishers, hornbills, sunbirds, egrets, plovers and fish eagles
  • Mikumi is also a great base for exploring the road-free Udzungwa National Park an hour away - in fact, the only real option since there is no accommodation in the park. Here you'll find some extremely rare birds, several endemic species of monkey (including the sanje-crested mangebey and the red hehe colobus) and some wonderfully adventurous rainforest hikes to waterfalls and panoramic 2,000m viewpoints

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife

Kids

Children are welcome, rather than merely tolerated, at all of the Foxes’ lodges and camps, unlike many safari operators - the owners are pioneers of family safaris, have children of their own and know how to look after families. Bear in mind that it's a long drive and likely to be a big trip, so we'd recommend it for older children - but we know there are exceptions to the rule that younger nippers don't travel as well.

Children between the ages of 1-12 are charged at half price when sharing with 2 adults.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Tents have a double bed plus a single bed and there's plenty of room to add another bed (maybe 2) if needed.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available, allowing you to go on a game drive without the whole family if you'd like.

Baby equipment:

  • High chairs

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Kids meals are arranged with the camp host; earlier meal times can be accommodated.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Small swimming pool

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Twice-daily game drives
  • Birdwatching
  • Daytrips to the southern end of the reserve
  • Udzungwa National Park excursion from Mikumi (3 hour canopy rainforest walk to Sanje waterfalls, where kids can swim, sighting birds and endemic primates en route)

Families Should Know:

Mosquito repellent is essential. Naturally, you'll need to keep a close eye on children at all times - the wild bushlands are right outside your door. Note a Maasai escort is always on hand to ensure families get between their rooms and the facilities safely. Anyone visiting the country should take anti-malarials if they pass through Dar or Zanzibar when travelling to Tanzania.

Distances:

  • Airport: 4 hour drive or short bush plane hop (Dar es Sala'am)
  • Shops: 120km
Kid Friendly:

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