UDZUNGWA MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

Udzungwa Mountains National Park covers an area of 1990km2. 20% of the total area lies in Morogoro region while 80% being in the southern highland of Iringa region. Udzungwa Mountains National Park is a national park in Tanzania with a size of about 1,990 km². The habitats found within the park include tropical rainforest, mountain forest, miombo woodland, grassland and steppe.

Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of Tanzania’s most special features because of its expanded biodiversity. The Udzungwa Mountains is the part of the Eastern Arc Mountains which are also found in Kenya and Tanzania. These mountains were formed centuries ago. Currently, these mountains hold a unique collection of flora and fauna which cover only 2% of Tanzania’s total area but hold between 30-40% of the country’s plant and mammal species. The park is also a home of 6 species of primates, 2 of which the Iringa red colobus and the Sanje crested Mangabey occur non else in the world.

Mammals found in the Udzungwa Mountain National Park include elephants, leopards, bush bucks, duikers, palm civets, Miombo genets, elephant shrews and hyenas and there over 400 species of birds in the park. This characteristic treats the park as a place for bird watchers to experience differences during their visitation in Tanzania. Some birds are endemic to the Eastern Arc Mountains and four among them are found only in Udzungwa. Other common birds in the park include ruppell’s vultures, crowned eagles, marabous, malachite kingfishers, woodland kingfishers, silvery cheeked hornbills and trumpeter hornbills. Over 2500 species of plants have been discovered in the park of which 26% are endemic to the area. Recently, there is a new species of snakes found in the park and it is claimed to be endemic.

The vertical height of the Udzungwa forests ranges from 250 m to 2,576 m and with numerous forest trails which offer different kinds of activities including hiking.  A day tour to Sanje waterfall at a soaring of about 170 m is definitely worth activity.

The Best time of your safaris at Udzungwa Mountain National Park

The best time to visit Udzungwa Mountain National Park is during the dry season from the month of June to September and wet season  from the month of November – March when wildflowers are flourishing and plentiful of butterflies. For bird watchers, December – February is their best time as most migratory birds are nesting in the park.

The park can be accessed by road network from Dar es Salaam which is 380km as well as fromArusha, Kilimanjaro and Mbeya regions. There are two airstrips in the park namely Msolwa and Kilombero which can be used by tourists through air transport before they connect using hired vehicles to the park’s main gate. Transport arrangements should be made by GVTS tour experts and air travelling agents for those who use charter/air transport through provided timetables for dates and times of both departure and arrival for park visit.

The uniqueness of Udzungwa Mountain National Park

Udzungwa Mountain National Park has got interesting places inside the park so visitors can visit and experience enjoyable moments. Enjoyable places include natural or cultural centers as follows;

Waterfalls

The park has a lot of natural waterfalls and river streams which flow and produce  fascinating sounds in the heavy forest.

Natural trails for hiking

The Park offers chance summiting to the highest peaks of Luhomero and Mwanihana. As the weather allows most times, hiking can best be carried out throughout the year, but dry season is the most convenient time for most mountain climbers.

Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and Amphibians as well as the endemic Udzungwa lizards together with endemic chameleons can be seen in the park during park safaris.

Tropical Rainforest

The park possesses Tropical Rain forest which has 2500 different plant species including three endemic plants. The park also has got more than 160 plant species of medicinal value.

Sanje Crested Mangabey and Iringa Red Colobus Monkeys

Udzungwa Mountain National Park has got eleven (11) primate species with two being endemic (Sanje Crested Mangabey and Iringa Red Colobus Monkeys).

Tourism Activities

Udzungwa Mountain National Park has various tourism activities that visitors can execute during their trips in the park. These activities include; Mountain Climbing to the highest Peaks of Mwanihana (2500m) and Luhomero (2576) above mean sea level. Bird Watching, Swimming, Nature Walks on the Forest and Waterfalls, Picnicking, Filming, Cycling (Organized by the GVTS to be carried outside the Park), Camping and Cultural Tourism.

Mountain Climbing

Mountain climbing – Offers chance to go summit to highest peaks of Luhomero and Mwanihana. The activity can best be carried out throughout the year, but dry season is the most convenient time for most mountain climbers.

Bird watching

Within the park, bird Watching is conducted along all trails – roads and entire forest where most bird species (native and migratory) are available looking for food and materials for nesting. The endemic Udzungwa Forest Partridge and Rufous Winged Sunbird can be seen through specific details of their location and behavior provided by the GVTS tour guides.

Photographing and Filming

It is also the most recreational activity that can be done throughout the year, the best quality photos and films require a silent and calm then in all cases, the activities are recommended. During short rains, photographic safaris can be more exciting in the park as it is the time when wild flowers flourish and there are plenty of butterflies. Moreover, most migratory birds can be seen during that time which is between December and February

Camping

Nature camping is mainly done in specified areas for camping areas within the park called campsites. While at resting potential at a campsite, one can view and feel the natural forest, the voices from forest birds, insects and nocturnal animals without forgetting amazing sounds of water flowing downstream the whole night through.

Cycling

Upon planned activity, cycling will be organized and done outside the park to villages close to the park as well as in rubber plantations. Tourists can take time to learn the native farming and irrigation patterns, view the local dress patterns, traditional dances and taste the local foodstuff and beverages to local people. It is one of the exciting muscles stretching activities that complements nature based tourism.

Cultural tourism

The eastern part of the park is covered by a dense evergreen tropical rainforest which is a source of so many permanent rivers that pour water into the great Kilombero valley, having these rivers and natural ponds just at the bottom of several waterfalls make the swimming in the park to be carried out throughout the year in specified locations inside the park. Visitors are advised to bring in their swimming gears in order to enjoy the activity.

Accommodation

The 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.

KARIBU TANZANIA – KARIBU UDZUNGWA MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK