Udzungwa Mountains National Park
The Udzungwa Mountains National Park is an untouched paradise for hiking enthusiasts. With less than an average of 30 visitors per day, this park is a hidden gem with an incredible variety of species: 400 different species of birds, 25 of which are only found here. Endemic monkeys also live in these mountains, such as the Sanje Crested monkey, which was only discovered in the 70s.
This national park does not offer classic game drives, because there are no roads, only hiking is allowed. It is a destination for nature lovers who can enjoy waterfalls and virgin tropical rainforest with high biodiversity. If you have enough time, you can go on a highly recommended two-day hiking safari to the highest point of the park at about 2800 meters. The most popular excursion is a half-day hike to the Sanje Waterfall.
Facts and Figures
Area: 1.990 km²
Travel: 355 km from Dar es Salaam
Visitors: 7.750 / year
Known for: Birds, Monkeys, Waterfalls, Rainforest
Activities: Walking Safari, Waterfalls Visit
Udzungwa Mountains National Park
The Udzungwa National Park was declared a protected area in 1992 with the support of the World Wildlife Fund. It was opened by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands as a co-founder of the WWF. This mountainous region covers an area of approximately 2,000 square kilometres, with mountain forests extending between 300 and 2,800 metres in altitude. The Udzungwas are an important watershed and the water resources there irrigate the fertile Kilombero Valley. As a result of the different altitudes there are four vegetation zones: flat forest, submontane mountain forest, low mountain forest and high mountain forest. Rainfall in the south-eastern part of the Udzungwa Mountains reaches 2,000 mm per year, while the north-western side is in the rain shadow, so only about 600 mm of rain falls there per year. During the day, the average temperature in the mountains is between 21 and 27 degrees Celsius.
The main attraction in the Udzungwa Mountains is, of course, the biologically very diverse and unique rainforest with its endemic plants and animals, embedded in the mountain range of the Eastern Arc Mountains (25 million years old), which extend from the coast of southern Kenya to southern Tanzania. The highest peaks are over 2,500 meters high, ideal for mountain hiking. Due to the inaccessibility of the Usambara Mountains and the isolation that has lasted for millions of years, hundreds of bush and tree species, climbing plants and herbs have developed, of which 50 species do not even occur anywhere else in the world, only in the Udzungwa Mountains – from tiny violets to trees up to 30 meters high. 200 plant species are of great medical importance here and are used by the locals for healing processes. Therefore, the most important task of the national park is to ensure the protection of these botanical treasures, which are highly endangered by ruthless logging.
During the last 25 years, four new bird species – a weaver bird, a cisticola (singer), a nectar bird with fox wings (=rufous-winged sunbird) and the Udzungwa Partridge – have also been discovered in these mountains. The animal world can also present two newly discovered primate species that can only be found here in the Udzungwa Mountains: the Iringa Red-necked Stumped Monkey (= Uhehe Red-headed Guereza) and the Sanje Crested Mangabey, in English Sanje Crested Monkey, a carrot. It was not until 2005 that researchers discovered a new species of monkey in a remote corner of the dense jungle. The locals call these monkeys Kipunji. He lives in the trees, his long sideburns and a long tuft of hair on his head are striking. He lives in social groups of 30 to 36 individuals. Altogether, four other primate species can be found in the Udzungwa Mountains, but they can also be found in the other national parks of Tanzania, such as steppe baboons, green monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys and diadeem monkeys. In this mountainous landscape, which has moved between heaven and earth, a truly rich and perfect fauna and flora has developed; one place is more beautiful than the other and you will certainly want to stay at each one.