Udzungwa Mountains National Park : Udzungwa National Park is located in the Eastern Arc Mountains and is home to a remarkable variety of wildlife. Eastern Arc Mountain, known for its high concentration of endemic animal and plant species, is an important biodiversity hotspot on the planet. The park’s diverse landforms, such as rolling hills, mountains, valleys, and waterfalls, contribute to its high aesthetic value. Mountain forests are home to a variety of rare, unique, and endangered species of flora and wildlife, including the endemic sange mangabey, Iringa red colobus, endemic Udzungwa Forest Partridge, and Rufous-wing sunbird to thrill while on Tanzania Safaris Tours .
The Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of Tanzania’s most spectacular and thrilling wilderness places, home to a diverse diversity of wildlife species. Udzungwa is a monkey park with 12 species of primates, including two that are found nowhere else on the planet (the Sanje Mangabey and the Iringa Red Colobus). Udzungwa is home to over 400 bird species, many of which are peculiar to the region. The park is known for its high level of bird and animal richness. Because of its high levels of biodiversity and endemism, the mountain range is often referred to as “Africa’s Galapagos Islands” (the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location).
With the rainforest spreading across rolling hills, valleys, and mountains, the park’s beauty is breathtaking. The park has a number of beautiful waterfalls, notably the Sanje waterfall, which is the tallest in Tanzania’s national park system at 170 meters. Swimming in the waterfalls’ plunge pools is wonderfully soothing after a hot climb. From November through May, the park receives the majority of its annual rainfall. The park may be visited at any time of year, but it might be slippery when it rains. In October, the maximum temperature is 31 degrees, while the lowest temperature is 21 degrees in July.
History of udzungwa national park
In 1992, the Udzungwa Mountains National Park was formed. The park was created in the 1950s through the merger of five forest reserves. These woods have been connected to the Congo Basin and West Africa for over 30 million years. In 1992, WWF founder and then-president Prince Bernard of the Netherlands opened the park. Udzungwa name is derived from the Kihehe word “Wadzungwa,” which means “those who live on the mountain sides.” Due to taboos and traditional beliefs, the huge expanses of the Udzungwa Mountains are still pure, where man has not damaged the earth and its natural populations.
Wildlife at Udzungwa national park
The newly discovered Highland Mangabey (found in Ndundulu Forest), the Sanje Crested Mangabey, the Iringa Red Colobus, the Matundu Dwarf Galago, and the Mountain Dwarf Galago are among the five Tanzanian endemics found in the Udzungwa Mountains.
The Vervet Monkey, Sykes Monkey, Black and White Colobus, Yellow Baboon, Grant’s Galago, Small-eared Galago, and Greater Galago are among the other primates. The freshly rediscovered Lowe’s Servaline Genet, which was photographed for the first time in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, leads the other animal species. It had been seen before, but only on a single skin, some 70 years ago.
Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, Bushbuck, Sable, Greater Kudu, Harvey’s Red Duiker, Bush Duiker, Palm Civets, Miombo Genets, Hyena, Sun Squirrels, Climbing Mice, Spiny Mice, Pouched Rats, Elephant Shrews, Shrews, and Hippo are among the other animal species found in the Udzungwa Mountains.
Birds in Udzungwa national park
With approximately 400 bird species, the Udzungwa Mountains National Park is one of Africa’s top 10 locations for bird conservation (IBA). The number of birds in Udzungwa Mountains National Park, which contains over 400 species, would appeal to bird lovers. The area is regarded as one of the top three African mainland bird protection zones by birdwatchers.
The African marabou, crowned eagle, Rappel’s vulture, and African hobby are among the bird species found in Udzungwa. The Francolin and Rufous-winged Sunbird were only recently found by scientists. The Dappled mountain-robin, Sharpe’s akalat, Olive-flanked robin-chat, and White-chested alethe are among other species found there. There is also a large and diversified assortment of endemic butterflies, amphibians, and reptiles, notably the Pygmy Bearded Chameleon, within the Udzungwa Mountains National Park.
How to get to udzungwa mountainous national park
By car- Take the Morogoro road from Dar es Salaam- Tanzania largest city and drive for around 4 hours through Chalinze, Morogoro, and Mikumi National Park to Mikumi town. Take a left at Mikumi town and follow the signs to Ifakara and the Udzungwa Mountains National Park.
You proceed past Kilombero and cross the great Ruaha River to Kidatu, home of the Ilovo headquarters and a hydroelectric power facility. The tarmac road ends here, and you continue for another 24 kilometers on a graded dirt road. When passing through Sanje Village, keep an eye out for the Sanje waterfall on your right. When you approach Mang’ula village, look to your right for a sign for the National Park.
By train- On every Tuesdays and Fridays at 2 p.m., the TAZARA train from Dar es Salaam to Zambia departs. It takes 6-7 hours to get to Mang’ula, where the park headquarters are located. The train is an excellent method to get to the park because it is comfortable and inexpensive, plus it offers food, drinks, and refreshing beers. It travels through some beautiful landscapes, including the Selous Game Reserve, where you may view some wildlife. Patience is a virtue because trains are not always reliable and can be delayed.
On every Thursdays and Sundays, the train returns from Zambia to Dar es Salaam, passing through Mang’ula. Because of the great distance between Zambia and the United States, there may be significant delays. Daily flights from Udzungwa/Kilombero to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar are operated by Coastal. This airplane connects Udzungwa to the rest of the safari circuit every afternoon. It is also feasible to travel to Mikumi airport and then drive down the valley to Udzungwa, utilizing Safari Air link.
Getting around the park-The Udzungwa Mountains National Park is only accessible by foot. There are a variety of hiking trails inside the park, ranging from short and scenic excursions (about 2 km) to tiny waterfalls (e.g., Prince Bernard Falls and Sonjo Waterfalls) to the ambitious scaling of Mwanihana peak (38 km) or the Lumemo Trail (65 km). The most popular walk is to the majestic Sanje waterfalls, a 5-kilometer circle with breathtaking views of the plains and three magnificent waterfalls where you may swim, rest in the plunge pools, and enjoy a picnic dine.
Because the landscape is rather flat, the surrounding area is best explored by bicycle. By bicycle, you can get a first-hand look at African village life. Bicycles can be rented from Udzungwa Forest Camp in Hondo Hondo.
What to see at Udzungwa National Park
A trip down the Kilombero River in a dugout boat is a must for bird lovers. Locally carved canoes are the traditional mode of transportation along the river, where the endemic Kilombero Weaver, bee eaters, pelicans, and other seasonal water birds can be easily spotted. Hippos, crocodiles, and Nile monitor lizards are all possible sightings. Enjoying a picnic lunch on the beach is a wonderful way to spend a quiet afternoon.
There is also a beautiful, hassle-free market for souvenirs in Ifakara, as well as the superb Women’s Weavers, a local enterprise dedicated to women’s empowerment. They produce and sell beautiful blankets, table mats, and napkins, among other things. You can keep an eye on them as they work.
What to do in Udzungwa National Park
Aside from hiking in the park, the surrounding area offers a variety of other activities. Exploring the nearby villages with a bicycle and a local guide is a terrific way to do so. You get a fantastic first-hand picture of African village life while riding a bike, with the opportunity to explore the local markets, businesses, and schools. There is also a rubber plantation where visitors may observe the entire process, from tree extraction through rubber drying and shipment. A visit to the local witch doctor is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover more about the traditional recipes, lotions, and potions.
In the village, there is a traditional Ngoma (drum and dance) ensemble that can entertain you with wild dancing, rhythmic drumming, and singing. This is a beautiful evening spent around the campfire, dancing and singing in traditional and improvised ways. Another popular activity in this area is walking safaris to the Sanje River waterfalls (170 meters). The Udzungwa Mountains can be coupled with game drives in nearby Mikumi National Park, an hour’s drive north, or included in itineraries to Ruaha National Park (4-5 hours’ drive) and the Selous Game Reserve.
Where to stay in Udzungwa National Park on safari
Udzungwa Forest Camp, is a tented camp with very pleasant en-suite forest tents and thatched huts in the native style, located near to the Park Headquarters. The place is quite quiet and serene, and monkeys from the national park occasionally cross the border into the reserve, so you can observe monkeys and birds there. They feature a bar with cold beers and imported spirits, as well as delicious meals. They also have a camping area where you can rent tents and blankets.
Camping: Camping is permitted within the National Park. A number of tiny camp sites are available. The national park requires that you pay camping fees if you want to enjoy your night in these accommodation. Another alternative is to camp at Udzungwa Forest Camp in Hondo Hondo and hike into the park during the day.