Established in 2019, Tanzania’s Ugalla River National Park is “good news that has been almost completely overlooked in the aftermath of Covid-19,” says Sophy Roberts in the FT. At 3,865 square kilometers, this little-visited wetland is more than twice the size of the Masai Mara. It had previously been leased to big game hunting companies but now only photo safaris are allowed. Some hunting enthusiasts point out that the area’s appeal is only seasonal (it turns into a floodplain for part of the year) and argue that the abundance of tsetse flies deters tourists and that the new arrangement will bring in less money for wildlife authorities . But naturalists say it’s “a definite win for conservation” and bolsters protection of an underexplored wilderness rich in rare species.
The nearest town is Tabora, a place with bustling souks and elegant minarets. Spend a night at his old railway hotel and visit the house where David Livingstone lived in the 1870s (now a museum) before heading to Ugalla. There is no visitor accommodation in the park yet, so the best way to explore it is by 4×4 and camp in a different spot each night. There’s an “enchanting abundance” of wildlife and “a deep sense of privilege to have such a “vast” wilderness to one’s own. Still, photography can be tricky – years of hunting has made wildlife “shy,” and experts say it will take a few years for the animals to relax again in the presence of humans.
In such a deserted landscape, even ordinary animals like giraffes and impalas take on an “edenic” vibe. But chances are you’ll also see creatures you’d never see on “the usual East African safari circuits,” like Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest and black sable antelope, while the park’s swampy areas are home to Cape clawed viper and many rare waterfowl.
The edge of the map (maps-edge.co.tz) can schedule six-night fly camping trips starting at $1,150 per person per night, including flights.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/travel/956529/trip-of-the-week-safari-tanzania-ugalla-river-national-park Ugalla River National Park: On safari in Tanzania’s new national park