Udzungwa Mountains National Park
Udzungwa mountains “The Unearthly Mountains” is the largest and most biodiverse of a chain of a dozen large forest-swathed mountains that rise majestically from the flat coastal scrub of eastern Tanzania. Known collectively as “Shining jewel of the Eastern Arc Mountains”, this archipelago of isolated massifs has also been dubbed the African Galapagos for its treasure-trove of endemic plants and animals, most familiarly the delicate African violet.
Udzungwa Mountains alone among the ancient ranges of the Eastern Arc has been accorded national park status. It is also unique within Tanzania in that its closed-canopy forest spans altitudes of 250 metres (820 feet) to above 2,000 metres (6,560 ft) without interruption.
Not a conventional game viewing destination, Udzungwa is a magnet for hikers. An excellent network of forest trails includes the popular half-day ramble to Sanje Waterfall, which plunges 170 metres (550 feet) through a misty spray into the forested valley below.
Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of Tanzania’s most outstanding, pristine, paradise and unique exciting wilderness mountains forested with greatest altitudinal range of forest. It is one of thirty-four “World Biodiversity Hotspot” and one of 200 WWF Ecoregion of global critical importance.
Ornithologists are attracted to Udzungwa for an avian wealth embracing more than 400 species, from the lovely and readily-located green-headed oriole to more than a dozen secretive Eastern Arc endemics.
Four bird species are peculiar to Udzungwa, including a forest partridge first discovered in 1991 and more closely related to an Asian genus than to any other African fowl.
Udzungwa is home to eleven types of primate and out of them, the Iringa red colobus and Sanje Crested Mangabey both occur nowhere else in the world – the latter, remarkably, remained undetected by biologists prior to 1979. The Udzungwa Tour is supported by population of elephants, buffalo, lion and leopard. These larger species tend to be found in the less accessible area of the park. The major attraction of Udzungwa National Park is biologically diverse plants, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds , butterfly, and insects of which some of species are found nowhere else in the world.
Undoubtedly, this great forest has yet to reveal all its treasures: ongoing scientific exploration will surely add to its diverse catalogue of endemics.
About Udzungwa Mountains National Park
1,990 sq km (770 sq miles).
Five hours (350 km/215 miles) from Dar es Salaam; 65 kms (40 miles) southwest of Mikumi.
What to do
From a two-hour hike to the waterfall to camping safaris.
Combine with nearby Mikumi or en route to Ruaha.
Why and when to go
- diverse forest environments with a host of exceptional floral and faunal details
- Superb scenery: the Sanje water fall and mountains
- A paradise for nature-loving tourists specializing in birds, plants or butterfly
- Possible year round although slippery in the rains. The dry season is June-October before the short rains but be prepared for rain anytime.
- Camping inside the park – Bring all food and supplies.
- Two modest but comfortable lodges with en-suite rooms within 1km of the park entrance.