Tanzania’s private and protected Kigosi Game Reserve encompasses 8,265 square kilometres of Miombo woodland dotted with open plains and fascinating rocky outcrops. The Moyowosi River divides Kigosi from its neighbour, the Moyowosi Game Reserve.
The twisting and turning tributaries of the Moyowosi River are responsible for exquisite riverine valleys, fresh springs and waterholes. The swampy terrain is more evident in the south of the reserve, while the drier woodlands dominate the northern part.
This type of environment is the perfect habitat for rare water-loving birds such as the shoebill stork, wattled crane and Pel’s fishing-owl. Kigosi houses Tanzania’s biggest wetland and floodplain ecosystem; a perfect environment for abundant wildlife.
Although not a well-documented destination, Kigosi has certainly earned its place on the map. The reserve is located within the Kigoma Region and is accessible by road and air. The closest international airport is in Dar es Salaam, which offers commercial flights to Mwanza on Lake Victoria or Kigoma.
Tanzania’s western sector is known for its lion populations—and Kigosi is no different. In addition to lion, big game dwells deep in the Miombo woodlands. There are noticeable numbers of buffalo, sable, roan, kudu, leopard and topi.
In the swampy south, there are sightings of sitatunga, the coy water-loving antelope. This is one of the largest protected sectors in East Africa for the sitatunga. The waterlogged regions also provide the perfect habitat for waterbuck, hippo and crocodiles.
The swamps are also the perfect habitat for rare water birds that include—but are not limited to—shoebills, wattled cranes and the great snipe.
The dry season, which is from June to September is the best time of year to visit. Roads are clear and less muddy. The thickets thin out, making it easier to spot wildlife. February and November are the heavy rainfall months, making the area quite swampy and flooded; especially in the south of the park.
Kigosi is relatively unheard of when it comes to commercial tourism. It’s one of those unchartered destinations that are only really known for its sustainable tourism. The reserve has now shifted its focus to tourism and offers private guided photographic safaris in one of Tanzania’s most untapped regions.
Visitors will need permits to access the reserve—and getting there is an expedition alone. Safari-goers who are privy to the wonders of Kigosi charter private planes to the area.
There are 4WD routes and trails through the reserve, which make for an exciting self-drive experience. There truly is nothing better than navigating previously uncharted territory in search of lifers, big game and wild landscape vistas.
There are no accommodation options within the reserve. Camping is recommended, but visitors would need permission to camp in the area. Visitors can stay in typical safari lodges and tented accommodation on the outskirts of the park, or in basic A-frame tents in the adjoining Moyowosi Game Reserve.