Africa Tours and Safaris
Udzungwa Mountains

Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of Tanzania's newest National Parks, recently gazetted in 1992. The Udzungwa Mountains are the highest mountains in the Eastern Arc mountain range (a range of forest-clad mountains which stretches from Southern Kenya to South Tanzania, known as the 'Galapogos of Africa' due to the high degree of endemism). The Eastern Arc makes up just 2% of the land area in Tanzania and has around 40% of the plant and animal species. This is a place of beautiful forests and clear, sparkling streams where only walking is allowed. The Udzungwa Mountains are the largest block of the Eastern Arc with the range taking up over 10,000 square kilometers. The Udzungwas reach a maximum altitude of 2,576m at Luhomero Peak. The Udzungwa has the highest level of endemism in the Eastern Arc making it a Biodiversity Hotspot. It is possible to see up to 4 endemic species in just one day if you know where to look. The eastern escarpment of the Udzungwa supports sub-montane forest with a canopy reaching over 50m in places. Heading west the elevation decreases, where there are arid conditions in the rain shadow of the mountains. The boundary on the northern side of the Park is the Great Ruaha River.

Udzungwa is described as a "Primate Park" due to the ten species of primate living in its pristine forests. Four of the species are endemic including the Sanje Crested Mangabey and the Iringa Red Colobus. Quiet hikers are most likely to see the black and white Colobus Monkeys Iringa Red Colobus and Sykes' Monkey. The park is also a favorite amongst bird-watchers, with over 400 recorded species. See our Specialist Itineraries - Bird Watching, for more information. A short hike of about 2 hours (slightly steep in places) into the forest takes you to Sanje Falls, which is in fact a series of waterfalls that plunge over 300m in three separate stages. The largest section, with a drop of 180m can be seen from the road below, and it is at the top you will find one of our favorite campsites. Here you will be rewarded with breathtaking views across Kilombero Valley and if you decide to stay the night you will be treated to a spectacular sunrise breakfast. Explore the pristine forest and take a refreshing swim in one of the many plunge pools. Have a scenic lunch on top of the falls and visit the endemic African Violets, clinging to rocks next to one of the waterfalls.

For the keen hiker, Mwanihana peak at 2150m is one of the highest peaks in the Eastern Arc. The 38km hike takes 3 days, 2 nights at a leisurely pace, although for the very fit it can be completed in 2 days. For those who want to make the most of the hike we recommend that you take your time as the trail passes through Miombo woodland, low-land forest, sub-montane forest, highland plateau and pristine montane forest. Just before the bare rock and grass of the summit eerie glades of bamboo rustle in the wind. This is, in terms of habitat and associated wildlife, a very diverse journey. Much of the trek is alongside sparkling mountain streams with butterflies dancing through the dappled forest light. This is also the most successful route for spotting the elusive Sanje Mangabey. Although rarely encountered there are also elephant and buffalo up on the plateau so your trek will be accompanied by an armed ranger. Visit the Udzungwa Mountains as a day trip (whilst staying in Mikumi or Baobab Valley) for the more adventurous camp at the top of Sanje and witness the spectacular sunrise.

How to get there

Drive from Dar es Salaam or Mikumi National Park.

Accommodation

1. Njia panda is located along Mwanihana trail at 37M 0260231 UTM 9138484
2. Campsite No.1 is found at the Park Headquarters at 37M 0266389 UTM 9132488
3. Campsite No.2 is found at the Park Headquarters at 37M0266032 UTM 9132566
4. Campsite No.3 is located at the Park Headquarters at 37M 0266716 UTM 9132062
5. Mizimu is positioned along Mwanihana trail at 37M 0263092 UTM 9136765

 

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