KITULO NATIONAL PARK

Kitulo National Park is located in Mbeya region and a small part of it is in the Iringa region. The Park is generally lies in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania and is made up of alpine grasslands and montane forests. Within this protected area of the park visitors will find the Kitulo plateau and the Livingstone Forest where most of the beautiful flowers (The Garden of God) are found. Kitulo National Park is a Tanzania’s 14th largest National Park but is definitely Tanzania most beautiful park in terms of flowers and flora scattered in big plans which extends to Mount Rungwe Forest area where visitors can see new species of primates Kipunji. The Kitulo National Park is the first national park in tropical Africa to be established unique protection of flora. From every species to every colour and shape, the flora in the Kitulo National Park is breath taking and overwhelming… a spectacular variety of orchids awaits the travelers.

Kitulo National Park is administered by Tanzania National Parks – a Government agency – which protects the flora and promotes the growth of protected and rare orchids for international trade and, of course, to make the Kitulo National Park this special safari destination of which People from all over the world can come to Kitulo to explore the forests and to capture stunning pictures of some rare orchids and other flowers. Having its unique flower species remained wild and untouched, with birds singing and migrating to the highland forests, Kitulo Plateau National Park is latest and a new comer to Tanzania’s tourist attractive sites.

Kitulo National Park stands as tourist attractive site in the continent by offering floristic visits than the traditional wildlife photographic holidays which most tourists to Tanzania are used to experience. Tourists from all around the world are now exposed to this park.

If you are looking to find botanical beauty while exploring and discovering the beauty of Tanzania on your safari then you have to go to Kitulo National Park. Kitulo is one of the kind national parks which offer forest walks, primate sightings, orchid discoveries and others more visitors can experience while being in the park.

The Best time of your safaris at Kitulo National Park

Kitulo National Park can be accessed from Mbeya town with a distance of about 110 Km away via Chimala road and 70 Km via Isyonje road. It is about 90 Km from Songwe Airport. Songwe airport is an airport in the southern highlands region of Tanzania serving the city of Mbeya and the nearby regions. The park can only be reached by air. By Air: the park can be accessed through Songwe Airport; 90 kms via Isyonje and 125 via Chimala small town to Kitulo. Moreover, the park can be accessed by Railway – This is TAZARA – Tanzania – Zambia Railway Authority which passes at Iyunga to Makambako stations. Songwe Airport can accommodate commercial jet traffic. The services of domestic flights are provided by Air Tanzania, Precision air and Tropical air.

The climate is influenced by altitude despite the Lake Nyasa has largely temperate. The maximum daily temperature varies from 14.5°c to 18°c and minimum ambient temperature ranges from 7°c to 8°c between December and April, and can go as low as 0.5˚c during June to August ,during this period frost occurs. The rain season begins from October to May. The best time to visit the park is from June to September.

The uniqueness of Kitulo  National Park

These are plenty places of interest inside the Kitulo National Park where tourists can visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited natural or cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, offering leisure, adventure and amusement.  The Park has vast expanses of rolling upland grassland, rounded hills stretching away to the horizon, waterfalls, rivers and Crater Lake.

Kitulo Plateau

The plateau is characterized by three main vegetation types: Well drained grassland on volcanic soils with species like Aster transaniesis, Kniphofia Grantii and other more, Seasonally or permanently in undated bogs with species such as Lobelia and Gladiolus and Rocky ridges and associated talus slopes on soil derived from metamorphic rocks with species like Moraea callista and Romulea companuloides.

Flowers

Kitulo National Park is one of the great flowers gardens of the world with over 40 species of ground orchids alone. Flowers come out in their thousands making unparalleled carpet of color especially from late November to April.

Physical Features and Vegetation

Kitulo National Park is floristically touched with at least 350 species of vascular plants documented so far from the plateau. Kitulo highlands appear to be a main geographical ground for species typical of Eastern and Southern Africa region and so tremendously rich in widespread and rare species not protected elsewhere in Tanzania.

Mount Livingstone Forest

Mount Livingstone Forest in Kitulo National Park bares some of the tree species in the forest such as Hagenia abyssinica, Ocotea usambarensis, Juniperus procera, and Khaya anthoceca. The forest is also categorized by baring mountain Bamboo, (Sinarundinaria alpina). Kitulo is rich in flora species with over 350 species of high plants recorded, including 45 species terrestrial Orchids, of which 31 species are endemic to Tanzania, 16 are endemic to Kitulo and Poroto Mountain sand.  3 species are endemic to Kitulo national park. Two species are only known to be in Kitulo and adjoining forest. The abundance of plants in the wet season has been described as the greatest flora marvel of the World.

Nhumbe Valley

Nhumbe Valley is often referred as the jewel of the Park where small streams emerges from the verdant hill sides sometimes flowing down in little waterfalls. This forms the heads of waterfall for Nhumbe River and this is the one of the main tributary of the Great Ruaha River. The gap of the valley is occupied by Juniper forest, one of the most extensive in East Africa. They tower to about 50 m high and are indeed the tallest junipers in the world.

Nhumbe Waterfall

The height of Nhumbe Waterfall is approximately to be 100 meter. The waterfall is 20 km from Mwakipembo main gate and takes one hour to walking down the waterfall and up to the picnic site. This place is very attractive. Most visitors cool their bodies and then take brilliant photos.

Mwakipembo Waterfall and Usalama Waterfall

Mwakipembo Waterfall is located along the road to Nhumbe valley 4 km from mwakipembo main gate. Its height is 8 meters. The area is characterized by orchid flowers, everlasting flowers, Erica plants and Clematopsis uhehensis.

Cultural Attractions

Mlivili cave is located along Matamba Ridge after Mwakipembo water fall and Usalama cave about 8 kilometers away from Common works Junction of the the road to Mbeya via Isyonje. During those days of intertribal war, the caves were used as the hiding point by indigenous people from Wawanji, Wakinga and Nyakyusa from Mwakaleli. Now days, these area are used as poachers hides.

Birds

Kitulo National Park is an important bird area (IBA) with suitable wintering condition for various bird species from South Africa and Europe. Some species from North Africa, Abdim’s stock in particular use Kitulo as a wintering area. The plateau is also a home of breeding colonies of Blue swallow and Denham’s bustard. Other prevalent bird’s species includes: Lesser kestrel, Pallid Harrier, Cisticola njombe, Kipengere Seedeater and Uhehe fiscal. A number of waterbirds can be found at Dhambwe Crater Lake are: Yellow billed-duck, White-faced whistling ducks, Common teal, Open-billed stocks and Red knobbed coot.

Attractions Outside the Park

These are places of interest which are outside the Kitulo National Park where tourists can visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited natural or cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, offering leisure, adventure and amusement.

Tourism Activities in the Park

The park is gifted to have various tourism activities that visitors can do during their visit. The activities includes; Hiking, Nature Walking Safaris (Short Walking Safaris (SWS)), Long Walking Safaris (LWS), Picnicking, Bird Viewing, Camping, Filming, and Cycling (MB). Visitors can take one in order to explore the park and nature along nhumbe forest with good habitat for over 50 meter trees, black and white colobus monkey, waterfalls and others more.

On mount Livingstone ranges and grassland plain there are very interesting trails for flowers, hikers and forest lovers. Look at these interested trails;  Nhumbe walking trail takes (1 – 3hrs), Matamba ridge trail takes ( 4 – 10hrs walk), Kipunji hiking trail takes (8 -12hrs), Kilasi hiking trail takes (3 – 6hrs), Bamboo hiking trail takes (3 – 6hrs), Ikubo hiking trail takes (3 – 6hrs). Also there is a Trail from Ipelele to Matema Beach- Lake Nyasa that take you couple of days.

Game viewing

The Kitulo National Park offers exploring of game drive along Matamba ridge, montane grassland, bamboo forest and Mt. Livingstone trees, waterfalls and around nature flower garden. GVTS have Four wheel (4X4) drive vehicles special for this activity.

Nhumbe trail (Short walking safari)

While being at Kitulo National Park, short walking safari starts from nhumbe picnic site, then descends to waterfall base through very steep built steps and ascend back to picnic site, takes two hours (2hrs) walking.

Matamba Ridge (Long walking safari)

Here the safari starts from mwakipembo campsite then hikes to matamba ridge and descends to mlivili cave. This activity takes a maximum of six hours (6hrs) walking. Walking to matamba ridge route gives nice scenery vision to grassland plains and horizons.

Accomodation Inside and Outside the Park

The Kitulo National Park provides a variety of accommodations which are found inside and outside the park. Beautiful public and special camping grounds are available inside the park. There are also good guests and Lodges outside the park at Matamba small town which provides good accommodation to visitors. However three Star Hotels are found at nearby Mbeya City.

KARIBU TANZANIA   –  KARIBU KITULO NATIONAL PARK