Kigosi national park is one of the new Tanzania national park which was gazetted in in 2019. It has an area of 8265 km2 and is a part of the largest wetlands complex in East Africa, the Moyowosi/Malagarasi wetlands complex. The Malagarasi, Moyowosi, Nikonga, Ugalla, Kigosi, Nikonga, and Gombe (not to be confused with the Gombe Stream where the chimpanzees live) are seven slow-moving rivers that wind their way through a vast and intricate network of swamps, plains, lakes, and woodlands. In the end, these rivers merge to form the Malagarasi River, which flows into Lake Tanganyika in Ilagala. The system as a whole is larger than the entirety of Portugal, at around 92,000 square kilometers! It is thought to provide close to 30% of Lake Tanganyika’s freshwater.
The entire region has been declared a Ramsar site, a wetland of worldwide significance. Kigosi National Park is located in the northeast of the complex, where the Nikonga River joins the Moyowosi wetlands complex and drains the shallow, sloping Miombo woods. Because of the difficult terrain, many areas have never been visited or thoroughly explored, despite the fact that Africa is blessed with abundant wildlife of both exceptional quality and quantity.
The tall and exquisite wattled crane and the unusual and slightly ominous shoebill stork have their greatest populations in Africa there. The largest flocks of pygmy geese in Africa are present. The largest concentrations of Cape clawless otters in Africa can be found in the Moyowosi wetlands. Lion, leopard, buffalo, crocodile, topi, sitatunga, warthog, baboon, zebra, sable, roan, eland, bushbuck, oribi, common and Bohor reedbuck, hyena, hippo, and Defassa waterbuck are just a few examples of the abundant big game available in this area.
The landscape is interesting. Miombo woodlands surround vast lakes and marshes, many of which have floating palm and papyrus islands, and grassy flood plains dotted with palm trees. The water is crystal clear. Many of the lion prides in this area have learned to pursue buffalo into shallow wetlands and drown them before dragging them out to dismember and eat them.
Kigosi has earned its position on the map despite the fact that it is not a well-documented site. The reserve is in the Kigoma Region and is reachable by road and air. Dar es Salaam is the nearest international airport, with commercial flights to Mwanza on Lake Victoria and Kigoma.
CLIMATE AND VEGETATION WITHIN KIGOSI NATIONAL PARK
This game reserve has two rainfall peaks every year in February and November, with the dry season lasting from mid-May to mid-October. The average annual rainfall is 1000 mm and 1500 millimeters, respectively, and the maximum temperature is 29 degrees Celsius.
Grassy swamps dominate the area, particularly in the south, with open Miombo woodland to the north, allowing the Kigosi, Moyowosi, Gombe, and Nikonga Rivers to readily meander across the reserve’s wide floodplains. The Itigi thicket is also present, as is the Miombo woodland, which is interspersed with rocky outcrops, riverine valleys, open grasslands, springs, and scattered water holes.
WILDLIFE IN KIGOSI NATIONAL PARK
The western sector of Tanzania is well-known for its lion numbers, and Kigosi is no exception. Along with lions, big wildlife can be found deep in the Miombo woodlands. There are numerous buffalo, sable, roan, kudu, leopard, and topi.
Sightings of the coy water-loving antelope sitatunga in the swampy south For the Sitatunga, this is one of the most important protected areas in East Africa. The soggy areas are also ideal habitat for waterbuck, hippo, and crocodiles. The marshes also provide an ideal home for rare water birds such as shoebills, wattled cranes, and the great snipe.
BEST TIME TO VISIT KIGOSI NATIONAL PARK
The best time to visit is during the dry season, which lasts from June through September. The roads are less muddy. The thickets thin out, making wildlife more visible. The months of February and November see high rainfall, making the terrain muddy and waterlogged, especially in the park’s south.
SAFARI AVAILABLE AT KIGOSI NATIONAL PARK
Kigosi is relatively unknown in terms of commercial tourism. It’s one of those uncharted destinations best recognized for its sustainable tourism. The reserve’s focus has moved to tourism, and it now provides individual guided photographic safaris in one of Tanzania’s most remote areas. Visitors will require permits to enter the reserve, and getting there is an adventure in and of itself; safari-goers who have seen the glories of Kigosi charter private jets to the area.
The reserve has 4WD paths and trails that allow for an interesting self-drive Safari experience. Nothing beats exploring previously unexplored regions in search of life, large wildlife, and vast landscape panoramas.
WHAT TO DO AT KIGOSI NATIONAL PARK
The woodlands and grasslands are ideal for wildlife viewing by vehicle, while the lakes and swamps are best appreciated in shallow-draft inflatables and punt-style boats. Walking safaris are also an option.
ACCOMMODATION AT KIGOSI NATIONAL PARK
There are no lodging alternatives on the reserve. Camping is encouraged, although guests must obtain permission to camp in the area. On the park’s outskirts, visitors can stay in traditional safari lodges and tented accommodation or in simple A-frame tents in the adjoining Moyowosi Game Reserve.