Mikumi revamping road to 'Barack Obama’ tourist site

By Marc Nkwame , The Guardian
Published at 08:32 AM May 20 2024
Tourists at Mikumi National Park
Photo: Courtesy of Mikumi National Park
Tourists at Mikumi National Park

TOURISM authorities are working to upgrade the road leading to an important tourist spot inside the Mikumi National Park, the ‘Barack Obama picnic site.

David Kadomo, senior conservation officer and head of operations at the park, said at the weekend that he spot located at a remote place dubbed ‘Millennium’ was prepared for ex-US president Barack Obama during his state visit to Tanzania in 2014, but he did not find time to visit the place.

He said the management is working to upgrade the road and other facilities at the site, under the World Bank funded Resilient Natural Resource Management for Tourism and Growth (REGROW) in the Southern Highlands regions, with the facility’s improvement being tied to expansion of the Kikoboga aerodrome nearby.

‘Millennium’ attracts groups of tourists and prides of lions, with Ibrahim Kassim, designated tour guide at Mikumi, saying that there is a man-made lake trapping water at the spot, a task that was done as the year 2000 was approaching.

The large pool with its assortment of hippos and crocodiles is the major attractions at the spot, alongside a giant baobab tree with a hollow trunk in which poachers used to hide in the past, he said, intimating that the baobab tree is said to be aged up to one millennium (1000 years).

Local communities relate magical happenings around the tree as it was for many years used as a sacrificial shrine, he said, noting that the spot is regularly visited by lions, a prime viewing item fo tourists, thus makes the picnic site “a spot to reckon with while touring Mikumi.”

Ex-president Obama is yet to visit the park, despite that he briefly came to the country 2017 after completing his second term in office, landing at the Kilimanjaro International Airport and then travelling to Arusha, later flying to Maswa Game Reserve.

Three former US presidents have so far visited Tanzania, in office or outside their presidential term,s, namely Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, with conservationists at the park still expecting tht the former US leader may still fulfil his Mikumi National Park tour plan.

Ex-president Clinton visited Tanzania in August 2000 just before leaving the presidency, participating in the culmination of Burundi peace talks in Arusha, accompanying ex-South African president Nelson Mandela, who had taken over the Burundi peace baton from the late Tanzanian leader, Mwalimu Nyerere.

Clinton has been coming to the country once in a while, with officials saying his favourite destination is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, while the Serengeti, arguably the most acclaimed of national parks in the region, has regularly received famous Americans, including the popular TV host and film actor, Oprah Winfrey.