UDZUNGWA MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK TANZANIA
Udzungwa Mountains National park is a Tanzanian National park and has a total area of 1,990km² in size which is approximately 770 miles. Located in the South-central Tanzania, between Iringa and Morogoro regions, within the Eastern Arc Mountains, the Udzungwa is about 10km south west of Mikumi National park. The National park contains habitats within and there is a vertical height range of 250 – 2,576 meters which is the peak of Lohomero that incorporates the Udzungwa Mountains part of the Eastern Arc mountains. The park has the second largest biodiversity of a national park in Africa with more than 400 bird species, 2500 plant species and 25% of which are endemics and 6 primate species. The Udzungwa Mountains National park’s Tourism revolves around hiking and trekking as the park has no roads and is accessible only on foot. Here the hiking trails range in difficulty from the short one-hour Sonjo trek and the common is the Sanje waterfalls trail.
History of Udzungwa Mountains National Park
In the year of 1950s the park was formed from five forest reserve which was then established and in 1992 the Udzungwa Mountains National Park was established. Over 30 million years the forests survived and were once connected to the Congo Basin and West Africa and in the year 1992 the park was inaugurated by WWF founder then president prince Bernard of Netherlands.
The Udzungwa’s Name comes from the Kihehe word “Wadzungwa” which means the people who live on the sides of the mountains and the vast areas of the Udzungwa mountains are pristine still where man has not disturbed the earth and its natural communities due to and cultural beliefs taboos.
Tanzania Safari Attractions in Udzungwa Mountains National Park
The Udzungwa mountains is covered with mountain forest, tropical rainforest, miombo woodland, grassland and steppe which are a home to many large mammals including the Udzungwa red colobus and Tana River mangabey and the unusual animals such as the grey faced sengi. With an extremely high biodiversity with numerous endemic species that rise up to 8,461 ft at Luhombero and 10 percent of them are protected by the Udzungwa Mountains National park and the Udzungwa scarp Forest Reserve. The endemic species found only on the Rubeho Mountains and Udzungwa Mountains is known as the Udzungwa forest partridge with its closest relatives appearing to be the hill partridges of Asia.
The park has over 6 species of primates recorded of which five of them are endemic and the Iringa red colobus and Sanje crested mangabey are only found in the Udzungwa Mountains National park, the mangabey species was undetected by biologists prior in the year of 1979. The bird species here include the Eastern arc and Rufous winged sunbird, malachite Kingfisher, woodland kingfishers, Rupells vultures, crowned eagles, marabous, trumpeter hornbills, silver cheeked hornbill, francolin, green headed Oriole and many more.
The valley is situated half way between Mikumi and Iringa. There are numerous baobab trees in the valley as the name suggests which gives it a really prehistoric feel and the Udzungwa Mountains National Park borders the valley with the Ruaha River denoting much of the border. The valley is a good place for buying onions because it’s the major local crop and here the local stall holders with piles and buckets of onions by the side of the TANZAM highway.
Sanje Waterfall as a Tanzania Safari attraction in Udzungwa Mountains National Park
Sanje Waterfalls has a base of 180m and it has a truly magnificent experience and it offers a jumping through one of the smaller 30m falls into a plunge pool for a swim.
The Kilombero valley which is on the south east side the most accessible and the main area for visiting the Udzungwa mountains National park. The area which is part of the Udzungwa has spectacular waterfalls and abundant monkeys and it has also the main hikes to Sanje waterfalls, Njokamoni, Hidden Valleys and Mwanihana.
Mangula Village as a Tanzania Safari attraction in Udzungwa Mountains National Park
Mangula Village has a vibrant market and lively drumming group and it is a base of operations for most visitors to the Udzungwa Mountains National park and the area has three local tribes that is the Wapogoro, Wandamba and Wabena. Cycling and Birdwatching are excellent in this area with several sites of interest such as the rubber plantation and endemic birds.
Udzungwa Mountain Cave as a Tanzania Safari attraction in Udzungwa Mountains National Park
The Udzungwa Mountain Cave has its special cultural values to the local people around the area because of the traditional taboos and beliefs it holds hence making it an attracting site for visitors.
Tanzania Safari Activities Udzungwa Mountains National Park
Birding is popular and the Udzungwa Mountain National park has a very rich forest bird habitation and some of the bird species that are viewed in Udzngwa include the African Marabou, crowned Eagle, Ruuml;pell’s vulture and the African Hobby with Francolin and Rufous-winged sunbird and the forest is among the top three African mainland bird conservation areas.
The Udzungwa Mountains National is well known for excellent hiking, mountain climbing and forest walks and there are several trails ranging from short 20minutes strolls to 5-day expeditions and here the most popular hike is up to Sanje Waterfalls which involves looking for monkeys, swimming in plunge pools and enjoying the spectacular view and the mountains keep their secrets from all but the most adventurous.
This activity involves you coming with your own bike or rent one and there are no cycling trails within the National park itself but the valley provides plenty of great cycling terrain full of things to see. This activity can also be combined with village tour, canoeing and rubber plantation adventures which gives access to exploring the local rural villages and provides great opportunity for photography and interaction with rural Tanzanian life.
HOW TO GET TO UDZUNGWA MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK TANZANIA
The National park is accessed by road from Dar es Salaam or Arusha and it is about a 5-hour drive from Dar es Salaam and 12 hours from Arusha and also 2 hours’ drive from Mikumi National Park.